Plan Ahead for the
Colorado Car Camping this Summer!
Summer will be here soon and many Colorado Campgrounds start
taking reservations now for camping in May and through the season. Campgrounds can fill up quickly, especially
on the weekends, so check your calendar and set your dates. Many campgrounds
have online reservations, so you can plan ahead. Others are first come, first
serve and you will need to arrive early on a Friday to be able to find a
campsite on the weekends.
Don’t forget to make sure your car is ready for summer
travel – have the oil changed and your vehicle inspected to be sure your
vehicle is road ready! A battery/charging
system check and air conditioning system test will you stay cool and keep you
on the road. No one likes to be stranded
when you and your family are excited to get to your destination!
Below are our recommendations for great, close to Colorado
Springs, car camping:
Mueller State Park
has over 5000 acres of land (only 40 miles away, 4 miles south of Divide), with
55 miles of trails for hiking, biking, hunting, hiking, and horseback
riding. Mueller has 132 campsites in the
trees (17 open for winter camping too!).
This is an easy weekend get-away, and reservations are available online,
so plan ahead!
The Crags is just
3 miles south of Mueller State Park, access by turning left on Hwy. 62 (rough
road). The Crags is smaller, with just
17 tent and small trailer campsites.
Campsites are first-come/first-serve, so get there early for weekend
camping. Experienced hikers can hike to
the top of Pikes Peak on the west slope (13.1 miles), or access other hiking
trail loops that are shorter distances.
Eleven Mile State
Park (50 miles from Colorado Springs) is the place to go for lake and
stream fishing, along with camping!
Eleven Mile Reservoir is over 5 miles long, and is known for having
cutthroat, rainbow and brown trout, and northern pike. Kokanee salmon can be found in the river
flow, Dream Stream, on the north side of the reservoir. More than 300 campsites are available for
trailers and tent camping. Numerous
hiking and biking trails are also accessible.
Great Sand Dunes
National Park and Preserve is a little further, but worth the drive! About 170 miles south/southwest of Colorado
Springs, it is a fun destination. Hike
to the top of the tallest dunes in North America…then go sand-sledding down the
dunes! There is camping available (88 sites) at Pinion Flats (National Park
Service campground, just north of the Visitor Center). Reservations (online) are recommended well in
advance for the peak season (May-September), although there may be first-come,
first serve sights available if not filled. There are also several private
campgrounds available within 20-40 miles of the dunes.
La Vista Campground
is just under 90 miles south near Rye, CO and is a relaxing place in the Wet
Mountains to camp, fish and hike. The
campground sits next to 40-acre Lake Isabel reservoir, which is regularly
stocked by CO Parks and Wildlife. Nearby
St. Charles Creek is available for stream fishing also. The campground is open May 18-Sept. 22 and
reservations are available online. While
you are in the area, be sure to check out Bishop Castle just 7 miles to the north. Jim Bishop has been building this castle for
nearly 60 years, and he has put a lot of work and rebar into this amazing
structure (possibly quantity over quality!!
Although there are several campgrounds along the eastern
edge of Turquoise Lake (about 2 ½ hours away, just outside Leadville), be sure
and check out the May Queen campground
on the western side of Turquoise Lake.
It is a little further to get to, but worth the drive. There is easy access to boating, fishing and
hiking. The views of Holy Cross and
Mount Massive Wilderness areas from the campground are wonderful, and you can
enjoy hiking over 30,000 acres of the Mount Massive Wilderness area. More ambitious and in-shape hikers may want
to tackle the 14,421 ft. Mount Massive peak!
There is also the Timberline Lake trailhead (2-mile hike to the lake),
which can be accessed ½ mile up the road.
Campground is open May 24th-Sept. 3rd.
Campground, west of Buena Vista off Cottonwood Pass Rd., is another gem
waiting to be found (according to our Shop Foreman, Roy, who enjoys camping
with his family!). Just 100 miles west
on 24 (and down a few access roads), this campground has 25 sites and is open
May-October. Tents and trailers are
welcome, though no hook ups are available for water or electricity. Hand
powered boats are allowed on the lake, and fishing is available in the lake or
in the South Fork of Cottonwood Creek.
The Colorado Trail is nearby for hiking.
What are your
favorite camping spots in Colorado? We
listed campgrounds that are less than 2 ½ hours from Colorado Springs, but we
know there are many others in Colorado that should not be missed. Share your suggestions!
Safe traveling and camping this summer from your friends at
Honest Accurate Auto Service!
Here are tips for maintaining your vehicle’s air conditioning.
Are you cold in the winter and
hot in the summer? Well, chances are your air conditioning system is not
working properly and if it is it may not be working to its maximum potential.
Your air conditioning has a few important functions. Keeping you warm is one of
them, keeping you cool and comfortable is another and lastly defrosting your
windows so you can see and drive safely. Have you ever wondered how your air
conditioning system works?
To keep you warm in the winter
you will notice that you do not get warm until the car or truck is warm. That’s
because there is a heat transfer from the warm liquid in the engine to the air
that gets to you and keeps you cozy. This is accomplished by the heater core.
Cars typically have one heater core where large SUV’s and mini vans can have
two heater cores. A heater core looks just like your radiator with all the
little aluminum fins only its much smaller and sits in the dash of your car or
truck. Its not visible and it is difficult to get to for repair. As hot coolant
flows through the heater core a fan pulls air across the hot fins and then the
warm air is directed to you through a lot of duct work in your dash and
magically you are warm! Now, it is important to keep up on your coolant flushes
so that old coolant does not corrode your heater core or cause it to clog as
this is a very expensive fix. One way to tell if your heater core is leaking is
your carpet will be wet on the inside on either the driver or passenger side of
the car or truck. Another is your car may overheat if it gets low enough on
coolant causing catastrophic damage to the engine. It’s always a good idea to
regularly flush your coolant not just for the engine’s sake but for all the
rubber hoses and the aluminum heater core. Sometimes air pockets can form in
the heater core causing you to lose heat in the cabin. This is an easier fix
but can be time intensive. The heat in your vehicle is really nice to have
especially here in Colorado Springs.
With our temperatures here in Colorado
Springs going up and down constantly along with snow and rain whenever it
wants, its good to have you’re A/C working even if its not hot but most
importantly when it is hot! An A/C system is comprised of a compressor driven
by the serpentine belt, the condenser, expansion valve and evaporator. The
compressor, compresses the refrigerant in your vehicle so that is can
eventually expand and cool down. The condenser is what sits in front of your
radiator and looks almost identical to your radiator only smaller. The
condensers job is to get rid of heat from the compressed refrigerant. The
expansion valve is where the magic happens. As the compressed gas that is warm
expands, it cools down and gets really cold just like when you spray key board
cleaner on a keyboard. You will notice the can gets cold. As the gas expands
rapidly it cools down and that’s how we are able to stay cold in the Summer.
The evaporator is inside the cabin of the car and is where air is pulled
through to become cold. Again, an evaporator looks like a miniature radiator
and its also where moisture is pulled out of the air so that it is dry air.
Just like moisture on a cold soda can forms it’s the same for the evaporator.
Moisture forms on the cold evaporator and drips down and out of a tube on the
bottom of your car. Sometimes people will think they have a leak because it is
so humid outside and there is a lot of water running out of the car with the
air conditioning running.
Lastly, the A/C system in your
car has a lot of rubber O-rings, aluminum lines, seals and rubber hoses and can
form leaks as the seals harden or damage occurs. It’s always good to have a
leak test performed and find a leak before its too hot and unbearable in your
car and so that we can do our best to keep those harmful gases from escaping
into the atmosphere and keep them contained in our machines designed to handle
refrigerant. Come see the A/C pros at Honest Accurate Auto Service and let us
help you and your family stay nice and cool this summer!
Tips for Cleaning Your Car and Getting it Ready for Summer Fun!
Springtime…everything smells fresh and clean outside! How does your car smell?? Are there a few
lingering odors from food crumbs, spilled drinks, or stale gym clothes? Even a dirty cabin air filter may smell musty
and/or nasty when you turn on your fan or air conditioning. Spring is a good time to give your car a good
interior clean (and exterior wash and wax), especially before you head out on
that summer road trip!
Keeping your car clean inside and out is an important aspect
to your automobile service. Cleaning
your car will not only help maintain the value of your vehicle, it will help prevent
small rodents from being attracted to smells of food in your car. Rodents can wreak havoc in your engine compartment
or interior by building nests or gnawing on colorful wires, often creating an
Here are a few tips on self-cleaning your vehicle:
Interior Car Cleaning
Carpet and Floor Mats:
Remove floor mats – wash rubber mats with a pressure washer and/or scrub
brush. Then, vacuum dirt and crumbs from
the carpets and around the seats. An Air
Blow Gun can help get particles out from small crevices, both alongside the
seats or in the dash or console. If you
have stains in the carpet, Spot Shot is my go-to cleaner (can be purchased at
most any grocery store) for getting out tough spots.
Seats: Depending upon whether you have cloth or
leather seats will determine what type of cleaner you should use. There are many good leather cleaners on the
market – be sure and check your Owner’s Manual for their recommendations, and
use something safe for your vehicle’s interior.
While you are vacuuming, be sure and vacuum the seat crevices too!
Dashboard and plastic
surfaces: There are many products on
the market, beyond what you can find in the local automotive stores. Check Google for ratings from people who
attend car shows – they use what will cleans the best and what will leave the least residue.
Interior Windows: What is that hazy film that accumulates on
the inside of your windshield? It is a
combination of gasses released from the plastic on your dashboard, as well as
smog and exhaust from your car. When
your car is heated up in the summer sun, the plastic emits gasses that adhere
to the inside of your windshield. If you
have smokers in your car, that just makes the whole problem worse. There are several commercial window cleaners,
but a good homemade window cleaner recipe is 1 cup water, 1 cup vinegar, and 1
cup of rubbing alcohol. A drop or two
(only a small amount!) of Dawn detergent also helps cut greasy residue.
Exterior Car Cleaning
First, be sure and rinse
your car well BEFORE you use the sudsy brush at the self-car wash or before
rubbing the surface with soap and water.
If you don’t, you will scratch the paint surface by rubbing the sand and
dust particles into the paint.
Wash, dry, and wax
your car in the shade. Bright sun will
make your car dry too quickly, before you have time to wipe the windows. Water
spots will form quickly and will be difficult to remove. If you try to wax your
car in the sun, the wax will dry too quickly and will be much more difficult to
buff to a bright shine! 2019 Car Bibles Review and Buying Guide recommends
Meguiar’s Ultimate Liquid Wax.
Wash and dry your car, top to bottom, and wash and wax in
sections so the soapy water doesn’t dry on the car. Rinse as you go. After the last rinse, use clean, dry towels
to dry the car. Microfiber towels work
great for reducing streaks on the paint as well as on the windows.
If this all sounds like too much for you, but you LOVE a
clean car, consider using one of our local auto detailing services. We have used Chase at Auto Detailing
Delivered, both personally and professionally.
He comes to our home (or shop) and has everything he needs in his van to
do the job right. I know we got a better
price for a van we were selling because it looked so good!
Happy Spring Cleaning!
We at Honest Accurate Auto Service wish you safe driving on your summer
vacations – be sure your routine auto service is up to date on your car too!
is much more than pointing the tires straight ahead. It is looking at angles
and adjusting them to make the car or truck track the best on the road according
to the manufacturer. Camber, caster, toe and the thrust angle all play a very
important part in how your car drives and how straight it drives on roads with
a crown. An Experienced technician will be able to tell you how your car or
truck drives just by looking at the alignment. Its also crucial to annually
check your alignment because it does not take much for it to fall out of
alignment. Potholes and separation cracks in the road continuously beat away at
the suspension and your alignment.
the angle when looking head on into a tire. Is it straight up and down or
leaning inward or outward? Some camber is good and too much can be bad and
cause excessive tire wear. Some European cars like a lot of camber for the road
handling benefits. BMW for example has a lot of negative camber and contributes
to their racecar like driving experience. When driving behind a BMW next time
you will see the top of the tire leaning in towards the car. Your basic
commuter car on the other hand will have closer to zero degrease of camber.
This is good for fuel economy and overall even tire wear. Excessive camber can
cause extreme inside tire wear and cupping if the tread is an off-road style
only measured on the front of the car where the tires turn back and forth.
Caster does not cause tire wear but does contribute significantly to how your
car handles on a road crown and the highway. Think of a time that you were
turning and then let the steering wheel slide through your hands as it returns
back to center. That is caster at work. Because of caster your steering wheel
likes to sit strait ahead and track strait down the road. Now to picture caster
you need to draw a line from the top ball joint or pivot point through the
bottom ball joint. That is the axis on which the tire turns from side to side.
Positive caster is where the line tilts back towards the driver and this Is
what we want. Negative caster would be like the wheels on a shopping cart and
it would be uncontrollable on a car. A little bit less positive caster on the driver’s
side versus the passenger side is desired for road crown and helps the car
track strait on a road that is slanted to side instead of having to fight it.
Toe is the
angle you think of most when driving a car or truck. Are the wheels pointed straight
ahead? Is your steering wheel strait when driving? I hope so! This angle does
cause tire wear and is usually adjusted when doing an alignment. This angle is
adjusted front and rear and should be checked and adjusted annually and when
you get new tires to make them last as long as humanly possible. Alignments are
the best insurance to make sure you are getting the best bang for your buck on
those new shiny rubbers and make sure it is a four-wheel alignment.
is rarely talked about but is important in understanding why a vehicle may be
“dog tracking” (driving down the road at an angle). This angle is in the rear
of the car or truck and indicates where both of the rear tires are pointed. The
rear of the car is what actually determines the direction of the car. Are they
straight ahead or off to one side or the other? In large trucks it’s a good way
to spot damaged suspension components or that something is bent in a rear
solid-axle truck or car. A seasoned technician will look at this angle before
adjusting the front so they can get the steering wheel as strait as possible.
Now you know
why you need an alignment! Remember potholes here in Colorado Springs are
brutal and constantly taking a toll on your alignment and the suspension parts
that make all of that movement possible. From ball joints, control arm
bushings, tie rods and your shocks all taking the brunt of our rough roads its
good to have a seasoned mechanic “shake-down” the suspension before an
alignment to see If anything needs replacement before an alignment. At Honest
Accurate Auto Service, we do just that and we show you if anything is wrong.
Is your car making an odd noise? It is important to find out where the noise
is coming from, and prevent a more severe, progressive problem that may be
increasingly expensive to fix. If you
are concerned about a noise, a quick solution is to stop by one of our shops
and have one of our technicians ride with you on a Complimentary “Quick Check”. They can let you know if you have a problem
that needs to be addressed right away, or if it is something that can
wait. One of our customers stopped by
with a noise, and all we needed to do
was put the car on a lift and remove the trapped piece of sagebrush that
was rubbing! We all like those easy
Here are some common noises that you might hear that may
need your attention:
braking): As brake pads wear down,
they will require replacement. The pads
have a “wear bar” that is intended to squeal when the pads become too thin to
be effective. When that “wear bar” makes contact with the rotor, you will hear
a squealing sound. This means that you
need to have your brakes checked, the pads replaced, and possibly the rotors
resurfaced (machined so they are smooth) or replaced.
braking): If you ignore the squeal, the
noise will turn into grinding, which is the metal backing rubbing on the brake
rotor. Not only is it unsafe, the longer
it goes the more expensive the repair can become. The metal backing will wear grooves into the
rotor, probably requiring rotor replacement. Any other grinding sounds should be looked at as
soon as possible, as there is some type of metal-upon-metal contact without
lubrication occurring that will generally only get worse and cause damage if not
Clunk or clinking
(going over bumps!): Something in
your suspension is loose or broken, probably due to hitting one of our city’s
many potholes! This could be a CV joint,
axle part, or struts/shocks which will generally become worse over time.
Sudden Chirping Noise
under the hood: If it is not a bird
in your engine, a chirping noise that starts out of the blue could be a pulley
coming apart or a belt about to break.
Have it checked out immediately!
Some pulleys that break can shut down the engine (the serpentine belt
powers all of your cars major systems), so if it breaks you will be left
stranded on the side of the road with major engine damage.
groaning: A wheel bearing going bad is grinding into the “race” or groove in
which the bearing turns. Bearings are
intended to reduce friction in the wheel housing, but if they become worn and
out-of-round, they no longer roll friction-free, requiring replacement. With a wheel bearing problem, the sound changes as you turn right
or left (could get better or could get worse). The groaning also becomes worse
as you accelerate, similar to the sound you hear when you drive on the rumble
strip on the side of the road, although not quite as loud.
Knock Knock! Who’s there?
Your engine may simply be telling you it doesn’t like the type/grade of
gas you have been using. If the octane level is too low, the fuel may
improperly ignite and make a knocking sound. Using cheap gas for long periods
of time can cause deposits to build up, which can increase knocking sounds. Improper
spark plugs (using an inexpensive or incorrect spark plug for your particular
vehicle) can also add to creation of deposits and increase the engine’s
internal temperature, also adding to a knocking noise. Running out of or low on oil can create
friction, noise, and will eventually (quickly) seize and destroy your car’s
engine. As you can tell, there are several reasons your car’s engine may
“knock” and it is important to find out the cause and resolve the issue, sooner
rather than later!
Do not ignore noises that crop up in your vehicle. Many
automotive parts are “wear” items and will require periodic replacement…that
noise is probably just telling you your car needs some attention! Most noises become worse, and more expensive,
to repair over time. Addressing problems
early can save you time and money! Let
Honest Accurate Auto Service help you keep on track and riding safely!
We love our older vehicles and as a shop we take pride in helping our customers get 200,000+ miles out of them while making sure they are still great cars to drive and not just junkers they are trying to squeeze the last mile out of. In most cases the best financial decision is to fix a broken vehicle rather than get into a new one but that’s not always true. A new driver or a new baby can also be a good reason to add a vehicle or replace one that just doesn’t meet your families needs anymore, but one factor that often seems to get overlooked is safety. Auto manufacturers have made huge strides over the last 20 years in overall vehicle safety and depending on what you drive that could be as good a reason as any to check out a newer vehicle.
If you have been paying attention the last five years or so you have probably seen some of the really advanced new technology like, night vision, lane departure, assisted braking, and active cruise control. These are considered “active” safety systems and are designed to help you avoid a collision. All of these are great but there is also a lot going on that you can’t see. “Passive” safety systems are designed to save lives after the impact has already occured. Improved airbags and deployment strategies are helping to reduce the injuries caused by the airbags themselves and improve their effectiveness on deployment, sometimes that means knowing when not to deploy at all. Crumple zones, frame materials, and build techniques have all been improved to keep the passenger cabin intact and absorb the force of the impact so the passengers don’t have to. Active seatbelt tensioners will actually tighten the belt and secure the passengers in their seat and along with door anchors and improved door latch designs we can greatly reduce the chances of an occupant being ejected during an accident. The improved outcomes during crash testing over the last 20 or so years is stunning and should definitely be a factor when deciding on your next vehicle or the fate of your current one.
Protect your most precious cargo with proper car seat installation
Car seats and car seat installation are another topic that we would love to see addressed more. A study published by the Journal of Pediatrics found that in the U.S. 95% of infant seats are installed with at least one major error, 95%!!!!!
Some of the most common errors
The recline angle of the car seat is not correct.
The car seat’s harness is too loose.
Lower anchors are attached too loosely or are used improperly, such as in the middle seat of the vehicle.
The baby is not positioned correctly in the car seat, whether it’s an infant car seat, convertible car seat, or all-in-one car seat.
The seat belt retractor is not locked in car seats that use seat belts.
The wrong seat belt path is used or not used at all.
Installing a car seat correctly is quite a bit more complicated than most of us think and if you’re not sure your best bet is to check with the pros. Call you local police and fire departments and ask if they offer seat installation. Most of the time they will have a certified installed on their crew and are happy to show you how to do it right. If you don’t have access to that service make sure to thoroughly read the instructions that came with your seat and don’t be shy about contacting the manufacturer if you need help. They are just as concerned with safety as you are and want their products to work as advertised.
When it’s time to add a car for that new driver or you are how well a car seat will fit in the backseat of your coupe, make sure you keep safety in mind. There’s nothing wrong with driving older cars and for a lot of us there is a certain amount of pride in getting over that 200k or even 300k mark. Just remember the difference in safety equipment between and 10 year old vehicle and a 20 year old vehicle can be astounding, and when you need it most, it’s priceless.
So, you are considering purchasing that beautiful, luxury
European vehicle, maybe a BMW, Mercedes Benz, Audi, or VW – are you prepared
for the associated costs of ownership, including maintenance and repair? Owning a European vehicle will be more
expensive to own than an American or Asian car or truck. What makes them more expensive (and is it
First, consider these costs of ownership when deciding
whether to purchase a European vs. an American- or Asian-produced vehicle:
Purchase Price (plus interest costs, if
Taxes and Licensing Fees
Depreciation (per CARFAX Nov. 2018, the value of
a new car drops 20% after the first 12 months, and approximately 10% per year
annually for the next 4 years)
First, the cost of engineering, technology, manufacturing,
and shipping will contribute to the initial purchase price of a European
vehicle, which can be substantial.
Although some European cars are built in the United States, most are
still actually produced in Europe. The
exchange rates, labor costs, and tariffs, which can be variable and
unpredictable, are built into the price of the vehicle. Advanced engineering is what makes these
vehicles fun to drive, as well as feeling very sturdy and solid. High-end interior and exterior finishes also
contribute to that luxury feel and add to the price. Even the brand name of the vehicle adds to
the cost – you will pay simply for the name of Jaguar, Mercedes Benz, or Audi
etc. on your vehicle!
Be aware of published “Costs of Maintenance” for individual
makes and models of vehicles. These are an
average of what routine maintenance services will cost over time, and are based
upon individual Manufacturer’s Maintenance Schedules. Be aware that manufacturers may extend the
recommended time between oil changes to decrease these costs of ownership, to
improve sales of their cars. For
example, the “normal” driving conditions maintenance schedule on some European
turbo vehicles calls for oil changes every 15,000 miles (* see notes below on
“severe” driving conditions). Per our
European technician, because of the high heat (over 1300 degrees) that turbo
engines generate, he recommends changing the oil every 5,000 miles (which is
what he would do if maintaining his own car and he wanted it to last many years). Miles and temperature take a toll on engines,
and the best insurance against having problems and expensive repairs is to do
regular oil and fluid changes.
Given that the purchase price on luxury European cars is typically
higher than our American or Asian vehicles, it follows that taxes, licensing,
and insurance will also increase. Check
into these prices before you buy
that car you have been dreaming about.
Nothing takes away from the enjoyment of owning that really nice car
than the surprise of unexpectedly high costs to just get it on the road!
Be aware that most European vehicles have specific high standards
called out on oil and fluids that can be used in the car. These grades of oils come with a higher price
tag, as they cost the automotive shops more to purchase and typically cannot be
purchased in bulk. Belts, hoses, brake
pads and rotors, as well as many other parts that are considered wear items and
require periodic replacement, are more expensive for each specific European
vehicle when compared to a comparable American or Asian vehicle. Even aftermarket parts (not Original
Equipment Manufacturer -OEM- parts) run higher than a comparable part for
Diagnostic software that is specific to each European
manufacturer is more expensive than American/Asian software. This software accesses the “brains”, or
computers in the car that will give a technician information (diagnostic codes
and pin-point testing, which tell him/her where to start looking for the
problem. All of these tools add to the
costs of maintenance and repairs.
According to YourMechanic.com and Consumer Reports, the most
expensive cars to maintain over a 10-year period are BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo,
Jaguar, and Audi. Land Rover comes in at
#15, Volkswagon at #22, and Mini Cooper at #25.
As a comparison, Lexus average costs over 10 years is $7000 vs. $17,800
for BMW. Toyota is lowest at $5,500.
Driving a luxury European model of car can be a great
experience, and the superior performance and handling can make them a pleasure
to drive. However, they are much more fun and enjoyable when you are prepared
for the associated costs that come with that ownership. At Honest Accurate Auto Service, we have the
tools, technicians, and experience to keep your European vehicle driving safely
and reliably for years to come.
*All manufacturers base their cost of ownership and
maintenance on “normal” driving conditions, not on “severe” driving
conditions. Operating your vehicle in
Colorado will place significantly higher demands on all your drivetrain
components when compared to say, California. We live and operate at higher
altitudes, steeper grades (mountains) and significant climactic swings (winter
vs. summer temperatures (which can occur all in one day sometimes!). All of these conditions are hard on your car.
To optimize the life of your vehicle, you should maintain your vehicle under
the “severe” driving conditions schedule.
As vehicle build quality and improves and our fluids and
lubricants become more and more durable, the maintenance schedules for modern
vehicles have increased significantly. The old recommendation of changing your oil
every 3000 miles has gone from 5,000, to 7,000, and in some cases 10,000 miles
or more! If your vehicle is only seeing the repair shop every 10,000 miles for
a scheduled oil change you could be missing some of the early signs of wear in
other parts of the vehicle that could end up costing you down the road. We
recommend getting your vehicle in for an oil change every 5,000 miles so it can
get up in the air for a thorough inspection, but there are also some things you
can do between those long service intervals that just might help prevent a
Pilots walkaround – You can do this any time you
like but it should at least be done every time you fill the gas tank. Look for
anything out of place or hanging off. Make sure none of your lug nuts are
missing and look for flat tires. Check for any body damage that may have
occurred while the vehicle was parked or for some reason went unnoticed. Also
check for broken light assemblies, mirrors, and glass.
At every fill up take a minute to check your
fluids and tires. Oil, coolant, power steering, and washer fluid are usually
pretty easy to check. Brake fluid level will change depending on the wear on
your brake pads so if you see it is a little low it doesn’t mean you need to
add fluid, let your mechanic check it out before you add brake fluid. If you
don’t know how to check your fluids just ask next time you are in for service,
most shops would be happy to take a few minutes to show you. Keep a flash light
and tire pressure gauge in your glovebox along with a small towel or rag. Check
for wet spots and visible fluid leaks in the engine compartment and check the
inflation pressure of your tires. You can’t always tell if a tire is low just
by looking at it, it is important to use a gauge and make sure your pressure is
correct after filling.
When you park, turn your steering wheel all the
way to one side. This will allow you to get a really good look at your tire
wear patterns and tread depth on the front wheels. Your tread wear should be
relatively even across the tire and there should be no flat spots. If you run
your hand along the tire it should be flat and even with no low spots or
ridges. All tires will have wear indicators of some kind that can help you
determine just how low your tread is, but it’s a good idea to keep and tread
depth gauge in your glovebox.
Listen to the car, turn your radio off every now
and then and just listen. Nobody knows better than you what your car should
feel and sound like when everything is normal. Listen for anything unusual
during your normal commute. It could be over bumps, while you are turning, or
at high speed, just do your best to listen during different driving conditions
and make sure the car isn’t trying to tell you something. If something seems
off, make a mental note of how you were able to produce the noise so you can
give your mechanic as much detail as possible and make easy for them to
duplicate on their test drive.
The most important thing is just to pay attention to your
vehicle and do not neglect it. If you can’t remember the last time it was up in
the air it might be a good time to schedule a service appointment. Remember
that a quick lube oil change will not get you a thorough inspection and should
not be your primary form of vehicle maintenance. If you need more information just
call your shop, most of them will be happy to help and can give you some guidance
based on your personal vehicle and situation.
engines have evolved, and vehicle emissions have been monitored heavily,
manufacturers have been employing more and more emissions control devices, to
better protect the environment and reduce the unsightly ‘black clouds’ that are
renowned with older diesel vehicles.
One of these
systems is the Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) which sits in the exhaust system
and filters harmful carbon particulates produced in the combustion cycle,
preventing these particles from being released into the atmosphere.
What is a
diesel particulate filter?
particulate filter (DPF) is a filter that captures and stores exhaust soot
(some refer to them as soot traps) in order to reduce emissions from diesel
cars and trucks. The
filter is designed to deliver an 80% reduction in diesel particulate and soot
emissions, it does this by trapping the particles in the filter itself. But
because they only have a finite capacity, this trapped soot periodically has to
be emptied or ‘burned off’ to regenerate the DPF.
regeneration process cleanly burns off the excess soot deposited in the filter,
reducing the harmful exhaust emission and helps to prevent the tell-tale black
smoke you used to see from diesel vehicles, particularly when accelerating.
to diesel vehicles since 2007, the DPF has been causing confusion and, in many
cases, expensive repair bills for drivers, due to lack of knowledge about the
control unit (ECU) monitors the saturation level inside the filter, and when it
reaches a certain percentage, increases the temperature inside the exhaust to
‘burn off’ the particles.
procedure for your vehicle’s DPF regeneration process, as well as all the
information on the system, will be located in your owner’s manual.
three different types of DPF regeneration methods:
regeneration takes place automatically, with no warning lights coming up on the
dashboard. It mainly occurs on highways, when the vehicle speed and exhaust
temperature is high. Depending on how the vehicle is used however, this may not
be possible. Stop-start driving, or around town trips will not allow the
exhaust to get up to temperature to carry out this regeneration.
Once the ECU
reads the soot loading has reached a certain limit (usually around 45%), it
will instigate what is known as post combustion fuel injection. This procedure
injects a small amount of fuel into the engine after the main combustion cycle,
to increase the temperature in the exhaust and trigger the regeneration
The ECU will
usually give a warning on the dashboard to alert the driver that the
regeneration process is in progress.
on your vehicle, you will need to keep your vehicle over a certain speed and
engine RPM until the warning has been turned off.
procedure should be covered in your owner’s manual, but a rough guide is to
keep the engine speed over 2,000RPM and the vehicle speed over 40mph.
the saturation level, this process may take anywhere from 5 minutes up to 30
notice increased fuel consumption, the cooling fans running constantly and a
slight acrid smell from the vehicle during this period. This is normal, as the
exhaust temperature reaches over 600 degrees to burn off the particles.
process is interrupted and the regeneration cannot be completed, the ECU will
activate ‘Reduced Power Mode’ or ‘Limp Home’ mode. This will limit power to prevent any
damage to the engine or exhaust systems. The DPF and Engine warning lights will
both come on when the vehicle enters this mode.
If the DPF
and Engine warning lights come on, the final regeneration will need to be completed.
This is known as a Forced Regeneration. The vehicle will need to be driven
carefully or towed down to a repair facility to have the DPF manually
is carried out by connecting a diagnostic scan tool to the vehicle and forcing
the vehicle to carry out a regeneration. This can be a costly exercise as the
oil and oil filter will require changing after the service has been completed.
This is due to the extra fuel that is added after the combustion cycle, as some
of it works its way into the sump and dilutes the oil.
how blocked the DPF is, it may be the case that these regeneration procedures
cannot clean the DPF completely. The only way to carry out complete removal of
particles is to remove the filter from the vehicle, and have it professionally
cleaned, and or replace the filter altogether. This is an extremely expensive
exercise, as replacement DPF units can cost many thousands of dollars!!
What can prevent normal regeneration
Frequent short journeys, such as
stop-start city driving, that do not allow the engine to reach correct
Using the wrong oil type – DPF
equipped vehicles require oil of a ‘low Ash, low Sulphur’ grade, to prevent
excess build-up occurring
An issue with another emissions
control device, such as the exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) system, or a
problem with the air inlet or fuel systems
Low fuel level – most vehicles will
not carry out a regeneration cycle if the fuel level is under ¼ of a tank
Overdue service interval – low oil
quality or level will prevent regeneration from occurring
Engine warning light on – a warning
light or a diagnostic trouble code stored in the ECU may prevent regeneration
When purchasing a diesel vehicle, it
is important to check and see if it is fitted with a Diesel Particulate Filter,
and whether your driving style will allow the system to be used to its full
potential, or it will cause you headaches and expensive repairs in the long run.
If you own
Diesel truck or are considering purchasing one, feel free to send us an email
with any questions you may have.
What do you need to know about owning a diesel car truck or SUV before buying one? Well, there is a few things that will help you make an educated decision.
First, do you have a lot of money? I say this because whether you buy a European diesel, or an American diesel truck you will need to be prepared to spend money on repairs. Everything in a diesel engine is more expensive. From injectors to the after treatment systems that clean up the dirty exhaust called particulate filters, everything is pricey. Diesel trucks also require more maintenance and have more filters than gas cars. Don’t let this scare you but think twice when you think you are saving money because you are getting better gas mileage. If you need a diesel truck to haul things or use it for work, then keep up on regular maintenances and you will not have as many big repairs. On the flip side, diesel cars and trucks are a great option for many that tow or have long commutes and owning one can provide lower long-term ownership costs with proper maintenance and care.
When looking to buy a diesel truck
make sure to look at the hours on the engine. Miles are not always a good
indicator of its use or age. The hours on an engine can indicate a much
different story. Most diesels being used for work spend a lot of time idling.
One hour of idle time is equivalent to twenty-five miles of driving so always
inspect the “engine hours” displayed in the instrument cluster and do the math
on how many actual miles it probably has.
Do not rush your diesel car, truck or
SUV purchase. Take your time, inspect the undercarriage for rust or signs of
leaks and most importantly get a pre-purchase inspection by a trained diesel
technician who can tell you the flaws of the vehicle you are trying to
purchase. Mechanics see so many vehicles and know which vehicles are prone to
common engine, transmission and driveline problems. Listen to your mechanic and
let him steer you in the right direction of which diesel to buy and ask him what
to expect so you are not caught off guard by unwanted costly repairs.
Always ask for any maintenance
records. These “paper trails” of oil changes, repairs and regular maintenances
will tell the true story of how well a vehicle has been taken care of. Remember
that once a vehicle has been poorly maintained that doing a large maintenance
service on it will not fix any large problems it may have. Worn bearings in the
engine cannot be mended without engine replacement or a complete rebuild so
beware when a few oil changes are missing in the records or you are seeing ten
to twenty thousand mile or change intervals. Even though diesels tend to hold
more oil does not necessarily mean it can go longer on an oil change.
Owning a diesel can be rewarding as
they tent to get better fuel mileage, have more torque for pulling heavy loads,
and when meticulously maintained can run forever and be extremely reliable.
Have our trained technicians at Honest Accurate Auto service give you the
insight you need about owning a diesel truck or car before you buy one!