We hope you’ve had a great summer filled with lots of family-fun adventures! Chauffeuring kids here, there and everywhere? You’re not alone. With everyone “Going Back”, why not bring your vehicle back to Searles Auto? We’ll ensure your vehicle’s ready for Victoria’s rainy season, aka Winter.
You may think your car’s running fine. But ignoring an illuminated “check engine light” can result in serious engine trouble and costly repairs. At the very least, this warning light could alert you to an engine problem that is negatively impacting fuel economy. So it’s best to book an appointment at Searles Auto – Voted “Best of the City” yet again, as the most trusted Auto Repair destination in town!
Why are regular vehicle tune-ups so important?
The process of inspecting, diagnosing, testing and adjusting or replacing parts on your car is vital. If left unchecked, any number of factors could decrease your engine’s performance or lead to other problems. A basic tune-up includes removing & inspecting ignition coils and spark plugs and replacing them if necessary. On older vehicles, we inspect the distributor cap and rotor for wear & cracks as this could lead to metal corrosion and cause your car to misfire. These parts should be replaced at recommended intervals or if they show excessive wear. Other systems checks include: brakes, clutch, fuel lines, hoses and belts.
For today’s cars equipped with electronic ignition and at least one on-board computer that automatically adjusts fuel mixture, ignition timing and idle speed, “engine performance maintenance” is a more accurate term. But whatever you call it, it’s necessary to have it serviced at least once a year to maintain peak engine performance or restore the engine to its original operating efficiency. Here are some other maintenance tips, you might not have thought of:
Replace your floor mats. The thick rubber construction and deep grooves of floor mats helps keep the mud and slush from staining your carpets.
Install new wiper blades. Between cold temperatures and perpetual dirt and grime of the road, wear-and-tear on your wipers increases significantly from season-to-season.
We can also help with these items on your to-do list:
Check your battery. Similar to windshield wipers, the wear-&-tear on it, is also much harsher as cold weather tends to drain them. As Tim-the-Toolman used to say on Home Improvement: Your engine requires “MORE POWER” to start in the cold.
Replace your oil and oil filter. The cold makes your vehicle’s oil thicker/more viscous, which places increased strain on your engine when starting. New oil stays runnier when cold, which makes it easier to start.
Check your defrosters and heaters. It goes without saying that your vehicle’s defrosters and heaters are crucial for driving especially Up Island. Therefore, it’s ideal to check them before you need to rely on them, so that any malfunctioning can be fixed.
How’s your tire pressure? According to the US Tire Manufacturers Association, for every 10 degree temperature drop, tire pressure drops one-to-two PSI. Checking tire pressure ensures vehicle safety, lengthens tire life and helps with gas mileage. Decreased tire pressure can lower gas mileage by 0.3% Now that may not seem like a lot, but with gas prices around $1.50 a litre, checking monthly over the winter will save you money in the long run.
With shorter days & inclement weather ahead, make sure all lights are functioning properly, so that you can see and be seen. Check exterior and interior lights; replace any that are dimming, rapidly blinking or not functioning at all.
Consider installing a back-up detection device that provides rear-view video or warning sounds when moving in reverse. While drivers should not rely solely on these devices, they can help to reduce the risk of backing over something, or worse into someone! And this last one might sound like a “Thanks Captain Obvious “ moment, but please take the time to ensure everyone is BUCKLED UP and child safety door locks are set. In all the excitement, it’s easy for kids of all ages to be distracted. If you make car safety your number one priority, so will they.
Lastly, don’t go too long between visits to the car wash. Really? Yup! Going too long without a wash not only reduces visibility, but also subjects your vehicle to a big buildup of damaging chemicals and dirt. And that could lead to something no one wants…RUST!
Celebrating 25 years as part of Searles’ unparalleled customer service, NAPA AutoPro is offering this incredible Fall & Winter Special: Book an oil, lube & filter, tire rotation and comprehensive multi-point visual inspection and you’ll be entered-to-win: One of 75 Arlo Home Security Systems from our friends at NAPA AutoPro.
We hear it all the time: “Wasting a quarter-tank, just to save 5-cents a litre at Costco… who has time for that?!”
While there’s lots of pain at the gas pumps right now, here’s some great advice to help you save money year-round despite soaring gas prices:
Check the owner’s manual
Dealerships provide a list of recommended services and timeline in which to get things done. Searles qualified service technicians can help with that. We also specialize in warranty-approved maintenance!
Your vehicle can burn up to 30% more fuel if proper maintenance isn’t performed regularly, so book a regular engine check-up. Corroded battery cables cause the alternator to work harder, using more gas. So it’s best to have them cleaned with each check-up.
Between visits? Check your tire pressure at least once a month. Under-inflated tires burn more fuel, and their rolling resistance can increase by 5%. And SUV owners should consider switching from a patterned off-road tread to a fuel efficient highway tread.
Check what octane is suggested for your particular make and model. Octane ratings measure fuel’s ability to resist engine knock, but the higher the octane, the higher the price.
Only about 6% of cars sold need premium gas. Resist the urge to buy higher octane gas for “premium” performance.
When filling up, keep the hose in the tank until after the pump shuts off. Then be sure to allow all the fuel to pour out. As much as a ¼ cup can pour from the hose. You paid for it, so don’t leave a drop.
Packing to leave? Remember the lighter the load, the lower the fuel consumption and emissions. An extra 46 kilos (100 lbs) in the trunk reduces your car’s fuel economy by 1 to 2%. Not using your roof rack? Why not leave it at home until your next trip? Carrying excess weight wastes fuel.
Don’t idle for more than a minute
Idling consumes anywhere from half to a full gallon of gas per hour and needlessly pumps CO2 into the atmosphere. The modern engine consumes less fuel turning off-and-on than idling for extended periods of time.
To effectively warm up an engine, simply start the engine, wait for 20 seconds to build up the oil pressure and drive away.
Speaking of driving, did you know you can save up to 6% in fuel consumption by using “Cruise Control” on the highway? Avoid excessive high speeds. At 120 km/h, a vehicle uses about 20% more fuel than at 100 km/h. Also: maintain a steady speed. Frequently varying your speed can really affect your tank and lead to higher consumption. The harder you accelerate the more fuel you consume. So accelerate gently, and coast to decelerate. The same goes for braking. “Jackrabbit” starts and stops can increase fuel consumption by up to 40%
Speaking of highway driving: Speeding not only leads to unwanted tickets and run-ins with the law, aggressive driving can lower your gas mileage by 33% at highway speeds and by 5% in town. According to the US Department of Energy and the EPA’s website on fuel economy: you can save up to $477 a year (or between 13 and 89 cents a gallon) depending on how you drive.
These are warning signs that your car’s air conditioning system may be failing:
Rough idling or high engine temperatures whenever you run the A/C
A fan or blower that’s louder than usual; dash controls that don’t work
Musty odors and/or water on the floor
If you’ve noticed any of these things or book our summer maintenance special call (250) 475-2000. Get an Oil-Lube and Filter change, tire rotation and comprehensive multi-point visual inspection all for just 99.95+tax before August 31st, and you’ll also be entered-to-win you’ll be entered-to-win one of 75 Toro Lawnmowers.
While teens may approach their 16th birthday full of excitement, many parents will find themselves feeling the opposite. The thought of one’s precious baby handling an expensive machine that weighs a few thousand pounds can be a terrifying prospect. Fortunately, with a little pre-planning and patience, the task of teaching your teen to drive doesn’t have to be a hair-greying experience
Wait Until Your Teen Feels They’re Ready
A nervous new driver can be a dangerous driver. While we tend to think of teenagers as eager for independence, the truth is that kids will take new things in life at different speeds. The passage of a sixteenth birthday doesn’t automatically mean your son or daughter is ready to get behind the wheel. Leave expectations behind and talk to your child about how they feel about driving. If they seem anxious about it, don’t press the issue – just remind them that they can wait until they feel ready.
Relax and Keep the Mood Light
In most cases, your teen will already be aware of what’s at stake when they get behind the wheel (be it an injury, damage to an expensive possession, or even just their ego). The important thing is to keep them calm and avoid adding additional pressure to the situation. It may be tempting to correct their every minor mistake, but giving positive reinforcement (such as noting when they check their rear-view mirror) is much more effective at making good habits stick then negative feedback.
If your teen does slip up, try a question-asking approach. Rather than telling them they’re speeding, try asking your teen what the current speed limit is so that they can learn to correct their own mistakes.
In the event you find yourself getting agitated or nervous, ask your teen to pullover for a break.
Plan Your Route
Where your teen can drive should depend on how much experience they have behind the wheel. If it’s their first time out, find an empty parking lot to practice driving in a straight line and turns. For roads, choose a route you are familiar with, taking additional factors into account such as traffic, pedestrians, weather and time of day. Be aware of any laws in your province that may restrict the hours in which your learner can drive.
Teach Basic Vehicle Upkeep
It’s important to instill basic vehicle maintenance habits into your future driver – even if they aren’t getting behind the wheel for a few more years. Basic automotive care isn’t only a matter of practicality, it’s also a matter of safety. (No one wants to stranded in the middle of nowhere with a flat tire!)
Teach your teen how to check tire inflation, and which fluids to top up on a regular basis (including oil levels, windshield wiper fluid, brake fluid, and coolant).
Seasonal transitions are the perfect time for a lesson in tire changing. The next time you find yourself switching from summer to winter tires (or vice versa), have your teen do it with you. (See our tips for how to properly change a tire).
Know Your Limits
Has it been over a decade since you last parallel parked? Do you avoid roundabouts? There’s no shame in acknowledging your limits and booking a driving lesson for your teen. After all, these courses are taught by professional instructors who are familiar with all the ins and outs of passing the BC driver’s exam.
A certified driving instructor will be able to show your teen how to properly execute through some of driving’s more difficult maneuvers. And who knows – maybe your young driver will have some expert tips to help you out on your own parallel parking!
Optimizing your experience on the roads is what we do best here at Searles, which is why we were voted Best Automotive Service(Independent) in 2017 by readers of the Victoria News. Give us a call at 1-250-475-2000 or book an appointment online for your next inspection or service.
As gas prices continue to rise, you may be thinking about making your next car a hybrid. While it’s difficult to argue with the fuel savings, hybrid vehicles have their own set of maintenance requirements that differ from gas-powered vehicles. If you’re considering a new, more energy efficient set of wheels, here’s what you need to know.
1. Fewer Oil Changes
Good news – with a hybrid, you’re likely to see fewer oil changes! Thanks to the electric motor taking over certain duties, a hybrid’s gas engine doesn’t have to work as long or as hard, which translates into less wear and tear from daily driving. Depending on your driving habits, most hybrids can go anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 miles between oil changes.
2. Better Wear on Brake Pads
Hybrid cars experience less heat and friction when braking thanks to a regenerative braking feature that stores the energy for later. While hybrid brake pads last much longer than they do on a gas powered vehicles, it’s still important to know the signs of worn out brakes, as your pads directly impact both the safety and function of your vehicle.
3. Keep an Eye on Your Spark Plugs
Thanks to the electric engine constantly starting and stopping, your spark plugs and throttle bodies will require a little more attention than a gas powered vehicle. We recommend increasing the frequency with which both are inspected.
4. Baby Your Battery
Because hybrids rely on electricity, maintaining your battery’s function is critical. To avoid unnecessary strain in colder months, make sure your vehicle has adequate time to warm up before driving. Temperature can also affect your battery’s longevity, so it’s important to keep an eye on its charge. Avoid letting your battery drain out, and ensure it gets a decent recharge. As an added measure, keeping your tires properly inflated will go a long way in improving your vehicle’s efficiency and avoiding strain.
In addition, the starter battery and starter should also be tested more frequently, which can be done at your local auto shop.
5. Think Twice Before Popping the Hood
While there are certain repairs we always recommend using a professional mechanic for, on a hybrid vehicle even a simple DIY fix can become a complicated, if not dangerous endeavor. While you may be familiar with everything under the hood of a gas-powered vehicle, hybrids complicate the repair process with the addition of high voltage wiring running through the interior. To avoid accidentally damaging your car (or worse, causing significant injury to yourself), we recommend taking your vehicle to a hybrid repair shop.
The good news is that Searles has professional mechanics specializing in hybrid vehicle repair. We’ve recently even added a Toyota Prius to our complimentary vehicle fleet! If you need help with your vehicle, contact us today to book an appointment.
What to do to keep your fuel intake valves from becoming this
Once confined to diesel and high end gas vehicles, direct injection engines have gone mainstream in recent years. Offering noticeable improvements to fuel efficiency, this high performance system comes with a downside the average driver doesn’t know about: intake valve gunk.
Technically the remnants of oxidized fuel, this build up is easy to manage with regular maintenance. Unfortunately, most vehicle owners aren’t made aware of the additional needs of their GDI engine – at least, not until they roll into the local service shop with the ‘check engine’ light on.
How Direct Injection Engines Work
To understand how carbon builds up inside your engine, we first need to understand the process of fuel injection.
In a traditional gas engine, fuel is sprayed from injectors in the intake port to the engine cylinder. During this process, gas washes over your vehicle’s intake valves, clearing off any fuel that has oxidized along the way.
In a modern day GDI engine, the fuel injector lives directly inside the cylinder. This shorter distance allows for a more optimal spray, meaning that less fuel is consumed for combustion (hence your vehicle gets better gas mileage). On the downside, gas no longer washing over the intake valves, making it very easy for carbon deposits to form.
Why You Don’t Want Dirty Valves
Normal fuel intake valves need to open and close quickly and smoothly. Unfortunately, carbon deposits can interfere with their function, restricting air flow and leading to clogged fuel systems, as well as a host of other problems.
To keep your car’s engine running smoothly, GDI systems should receive a Major Fuel Service every 50,000 km. During this service, your mechanic may remove the intake manifold and clean your valves using a pressurized cleaner.
At Searles, we use a triple cleaning process to clear away build up. First we disable the vehicle fuel pump and tee into the fuel system with a tool that supplies cleaner for the engine to run on – effectively scrubbing away any build up on the fuel injectors. Next, we attach another tool that sprays cleaner into the air intake area of the engine to clean the passages and valves.
Once both cleaners have run through, we install a fuel system cleaner and dryer in the fuel tank. Post-service, we recommended that owners fill their tank – thereby ensuring the cleaner remains in the system as long as possible.
For a more detailed explanation of the process behind a Major Fuel Service, we recommend this informative video.
In extreme cases of carbon buildup, your mechanic may have to resort to stronger methods to clean your engine. The below photo shows the intake valves of a 2013 GMC that had gone 62,000 km without a fuel service. Thanks to massive carbon accumulation, our usual cleaners weren’t enough. Instead, we took a more physical route, spraying the valves with a high pressure walnut blast. (Yes, we use actual walnut shells – those things are tough!) As you can see, the difference before and after the blast is night and day.
It’s important to note that the above process is much more time consuming (and expensive) than your standard fuel service. Prevent a hefty bill (not to mention potential engine problems) by bringing in your vehicle for its fuel service at regular intervals.
What Else You Can Do:
In between Major Fuel Service Appointments, we recommend doing the following to help keep your engine clean and working properly:
Replace older spark plugs (typically good for 50,000 to 80,000 km, depending on the manufacturer
Add a fuel system cleaner to maintain the current condition of you fuel system
While these actions will help keep carbon build-up under control, it’s important to remember that your vehicle still needs a Major Fuel Service every 50,000 km. If your GDI engine is due for a cleanup, contact us for an appointment. At Searles Auto, we offers this service for $189.95. Rest assured that all of our work is backed by a Peace of Mind Warranty! Book you appointment today!
Your vehicle’s headlights let you see and be seen. But making sure your lights are on and working is only half the battle. Weather, location, brightness and time of day all have an effect on safety and visibility, and how you use your lights will greatly affect how effective they function.
In Canada, headlights come with three settings – daytime, low beam and high beam. Each mode offers its own set of pros and cons depending on environmental conditions, so knowing when to switch between them can help make your car ride safer.
When to Use Daytime Running Lights
Daytime running lights have been standard on vehicles in Canada since 1990. Meant for use during clear (sunny) daylight hours, daytime headlights improve safety by helping drivers to spot oncoming traffic.
It’s important to note that while many vehicles now have automatic DRLs, these lights do not activate tail lamps, which only illuminate when high beam and low beams are in use.
When to Use Low Beam Lights
Whether it’s rain, fog or snow, low beam lights should be switched on when visibility is less than 150 metres, regardless of the time of day. At night, low beams are best used when driving in traffic and in lit city areas where short-range breams are sufficient for lighting the road.
To improve visibility, wipe down your lights on a regular basis – especially during muddy fall and winter months.
When to Use High Beam Lights
High beams are meant for nighttime use in empty areas when no other vehicles or lighting is present. Because of their brightness, headlights should be switched to the low beam setting when an oncoming driver is within 150 metres. If another driver is approaching you with high beams on or extra bright headlights, keep your eyes to the right hand side of your lane to avoid being blinded.
High beams should not never used during foggy conditions as their light will bounce off of cloud particles and reflect back at the driver.
Rural vs City Driving: Which Headlight to choose
Depending on where you do most of your nighttime driving, different bulbs will have different effects. Halogen headlights are the standard for modern vehicles. Emitting a bright, non-blinding white light, they offer a longer lifespan than Xenon or LED bulbs and are less expensive and easier to replace.
At Searles, we have three kinds of halogen lights we recommend for drivers, each of which offers different advantages depending on where your vehicle is being driven.
NAPA LongLite: The LongLite provides an additional 120 feet of visibility over standard halogens, making it a great option for drivers who to do regular backroad and highway driving at night.
NAPA WhiteLite: Recommended for city driving, the eye-catching NAPA WhiteLite uses a cooler, white lite that reflects better off street signs without blinding other drivers.
NAPA SafetyLite: This premium headlight capsule is an excellent option for rural areas thanks to a 1600 lumen display that delivers a brighter and wider field of vision than other halogen bulbs. A unique tri-colour coating adds a non-glaring yellow light to ensure that oncoming drivers aren’t blinded.
Our expert mechanics are always here to help! You can also give us a call at 1-250-475-2000 or schedule an appointment online for any of your car repair needs!
Winter’s just around the corner here in Victoria, and while the west (wet?) coast may escape a traditional Canadian winter, BC drivers aren’t exempt from the hazards of cold weather. Whether it’s a struggling engine or a surprise ice patch, dropping temperatures mean extra challenges for car owners everywhere.
Fortunately some simple care can go a long way in keeping your vehicle running smoothly this winter. Here are some of our favourite cold weather maintenance tips for cars!
Check Your Tire Pressure
We’ve covered the difference between all-season, all-weather and winter tires previously, but another winter tire tip most drivers forget about is to check their pressure. In colder months, tires lose inflation faster thanks to cooler temperatures shrinking air molecules and pushing them closer together.
Fortunately, this problem is easily solved by checking pressure at regular intervals (at least once a month) and keeping tires inflated to the proper psi. Not only will doing this extend the life of your tread, it will also improve your vehicle’s winter handling.
Check Your Lights
With grey skies and longer nights comes less visibility. Ensure you can both see and be seen by giving headlights, signals and any other visibility features on your vehicle a quick inspection.
Of course, checking your brake lights on your own isn’t an easy feat. To save your neck from a lot of unnecessary strain, we recommend using a broom handle to press down on the brake pedal while standing outside your vehicle. A second option is to park with the back of your vehicle pointed against a reflective surface (such as a storefront window) and check for your brake lights through the rear-view mirror.
Put Together an Emergency Kit
Last winter, hundreds of drivers and passengers were stranded in their cars overnight after freezing rain closed several BC highways.
While we advise carrying a vehicle emergency kit year round, it’s important to recognize that unpredictable weather conditions can increase your risk of becoming stranded in your vehicle. Round out your kit with additional blankets, water and high energy snacks to keep you and your passengers safe and warm while waiting for rescue.
Watch Your Windshield Wipers
Each year, unsuspecting car owners start their vehicle after a long, cold night only to realise they’ve accidentally left their wipers on.
Unfortunately, operating wipers over a frozen windshield can lead to damaged glass, broken blades or even a blown fuse. To avoid disaster, get into the habit of switching your wipers off as soon as you park, and make sure your windshield is ice free before turning them back on.
Upgrade your Antifreeze
While antifreeze is important year round for your vehicle (it helps prevent rust and corrosion), it’s especially important to keep fluid levels maintained in winter. Keep your engine running smoothly once temperatures hit freezing by increasing the concentration of antifreeze being used. A 60/40 ratio with water is usually sufficient, but colder climates may need a 70% antifreeze 30% water mix.
Use a Block Heater for Your Diesel Engine
At lower temperatures, diesel has a tendency to wax or gel, preventing fuel from firing when your vehicle is started. To ensure your engine doesn’t stall, it’s important to keep it warm during winter – especially once it’s parked. Auxillary heaters are a popular option for keeping fluids flowing in cold weather, and most diesel vehicles come equipped with an electric block heater that can easily be plugged in to a nearby outlet. (Consider investing in a good quality extension cord.)
Remove the Snow from Your Vehicle
It may look festive, but leaving snow on your vehicle is a big hazard to those around you. Falling snow can obstruct views, and will quickly become an unexpected road obstacle. Give yourself plenty of time after a snow fall to clear your vehicle, and be sure to remove any piles that accumulate from under your wheels.
Give the Gift of Maintenance
We understand that everyone’s busy this time of year, so why not make your winter maintenance a little easier with our Seasonal Service Special. From now until February 28, get an oil, lube and filter change, plus a tire rotation and multi-point visual inspection all for $99.95!
Did you know we also sell gift certificates? Share the maintenance love with your friends and family. Drop by our location at 517 Kelvin Road or give us a call at 250-475-2000 to arrange your gift today!