Keep Your Asheville Car Breathing Free: Engine Air Filter
Posted May 16, 2013 1:35 PM
This is something really amazing: For every gallon of gas your Asheville car burns, it uses 12,000 gallons of air. All of that air has to be filtered to keep your engine clean.
That’s like a hundred gallons of air every block! The engine air filter is just another example of a very inexpensive part that has to do a tremendous amount of work. And when it works, everything goes well. But, when it doesn’t, well, it can lead to costly problems. Of course, your manufacturer recommends intervals for changing your air filter. But like most service intervals, where and how you drive your car affects when your filter needs to be changed.
Dusty conditions in and around Asheville or polluted city driving means you’ll need to change your filter more often. Your The Organic Mechanic technician can check your filter for you. In fact, it’s often a routine part of an oil change.
When you think about it, a clogged air filter won’t allow as much air through as a clean filter. Your car needs this air to efficiently burn its fuel, giving you better fuel economy and performance.
Dirtier filters don’t work as well as clean ones. A filter can only hold so much, after that, it allows dirt to pass right into your engine. Air filters come in all shapes and sizes. They also come in different grades. There are high performance air filters available for most cars. These high performance filters cost a little more, but they increase horsepower and may improve fuel economy to boot.
So have your air filter checked. If it needs replacing, it doesn’t cost very much and it should easily pay for itself in better fuel economy before your next oil change.
Stop by The Organic Mechanic at 568 Haywood Rd, Asheville, North Carolina 28806, and we'll take a look at your air filter for you. Feel free to give us a call at 828-255-2628 to make an appointment.
Posted in the Maintenance category
Asheville Drivers Severe Service Maintenance Schedules
Posted April 10, 2013 10:56 AM
Since driving requirements and lifestyles differ among Asheville auto owners, car manufacturers publish two auto maintenance schedules: the regular schedule and the severe service schedule. Which schedule should you follow? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Are most of your trips less than four miles? Are most of your trips less than 10 miles in below-zero North Carolina temps? Are most of your trips off-highway? Do you drive often in dusty areas? Do you regularly tow a trailer or carry heavy loads around Asheville? Do you drive in very hot or very cold North Carolina weather?
Think about your typical week. Do you live by your nearest Asheville interstate on-ramp and enjoy a non-stop commute to Hendersonville or Biltmore? Or, do you drive the neighborhood car pool in stop-and-go traffic on surface streets?
Let’s suppose your owner’s manual says the severe service oil change recommendation is 3,000 miles and the standard recommendation is 5,000 miles. You know that you need to change the oil somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 miles. Analyze your driving patterns and Asheville weather and road conditions to determine which end of the spectrum you’re closer to.
Why should Asheville auto owners care about this? Normal condensation causes moisture accumulation in the engine oil. Short trips around Asheville or winter driving means that the engine doesn’t heat up enough for the moisture to evaporate. The water in the oil turns to oil sludge that clogs up your engine and doesn’t let the oil protect it adequately. That’s why North Carolina auto owners need to change their oil more often – to clean the sludge out before it causes problems.
Carrying heavy loads (with or without a trailer) in pleasant North Carolina summer weather causes your engine and transmission to run at higher temperatures and with more stress. The fluids will break down more quickly. Additives that clean and prevent corrosion will be depleted sooner. Air pollution and dust cause fluids to get dirty faster. Ditto for filters. All of these things can lead to premature wear and eventual repairs, not to mention your gas mileage. If you want some expert advice, talk with your honest The Organic Mechanic advisor. We can help you restore your car to good working order and help you know the best schedule to follow.
To learn more, watch our informative AutoNetTV auto video tips at the top of this post.
The Organic Mechanic 828-255-2628 568 Haywood Rd Asheville, North Carolina 28806
Posted in the Maintenance category
10 Services Asheville car owners Often Overlook
Posted March 20, 2013 2:23 PM
We live such busy lives nowadays: work, social events, running the kids all over Asheville. Some days it’s all we can do to keep track of everywhere we need to be. That’s why you’ve gotta be organized. Smartphones, calendar apps - we have to keep track of it all.
So let’s talk about schedules. Specifically, automotive service schedules. And particularly, the scheduled services that are sometimes forgotten.
Here is a list of 10 service items that are often overlooked by Asheville drivers. They’re all very important and need appropriate attention. So here we go, in no particular order.
1. Power Steering Service Be honest; have you ever thought of this on your own? Your power steering fluid gets dirty and builds-up moisture over time. Cleaning out your power steering system means that dirt and gum are removed and your power steering parts are protected from corrosion. Next time you're in for an oil change, ask your Asheville service advisor if it’s time for a power steering check-up.
2. Wheel Alignment When your wheels are out of alignment your car pulls to one side. It’s pretty annoying, but it’s also dangerous. And it causes your tires to wear out really fast; which is an unneccessary expense! Most car makers owners manuals suggest you get your alignment checked once or twice a year.
3. Differential Service Did you even know you had a differential? Well, you do - one, two or three in fact. Differentials are often called gear boxes and they’re part of the drive-train that transfers power from your car engine to your wheels. They don’t need service that often, but you can’t completely forget them. Check with your The Organic Mechanic service advisor.
4. Cabin Air Filter More and more Asheville cars these days have cabin air filters (a great feature, in my opinion) to clean the air in the passenger area where we sit. They filter out dust and pollen. When they’re clogged up, they can get smelly. Change your cabin air filter on schedule to enjoy fresh, clean air, which can also help with allergies.
5. Timing Belt Replacement Most cars and some vans and trucks driven around the Asheville area have timing belts. Without going into a lot of detail, let’s just say that your car won’t run without it – period. And if it breaks while you’re driving it can do thousands of dollars worth of engine damage. Check your owners’ manual or with your Asheville service advisor. If you’re approaching 60,000 miles; definitely look into it right away.
6. Transmission Service Transmission service is very basic, but it’s often forgotten. Your car transmission needs clean fluid from time to time to keep operating efficiently and avoid pricey repairs. And it can also improve your fuel economy.
7. Air Conditioning Service Most of us don’t think about our air conditioning until it fails on a hot day. If you’re lucky, you just need to add refrigerant. If you’re not, some of the components may have been ruined. Of course, these components are not cheap. Regular air conditioning service adds clean refrigerant which cools and lubricates your air conditioner and conditions the seals.
8. Brake Service No we’re not talking about squealing, grinding brakes here. We’re talking brake fluid. Over time the fluid gets a lot of water in it. Because water compresses differently than the brake fluid, your brakes won’t work as well. It may even get dangerous. The water can also rust out brake system components and then your brakes can fail altogether. Check with your The Organic Mechanic technician for recommendations.
9. Coolant System Another thing that’s so easy to forget about: When you don’t change your antifreeze on schedule it becomes corrosive. Fresh coolant contains additives that maintain the pH balance in the coolant. These additives wear out and the fluid in the radiator can actually eat holes in the radiator or hoses. Then you’re stranded - bummer.
10. Fuel System Cleaning In these times of high fuel prices, fuel system cleaning is so important. Fuel gums up a bunch of parts as it moves from the gas tank and through the engine. A thorough fuel system cleaning will keep clean gas flowing into the engine. Your fuel injectors also get gunked up over time and need to be cleaned. Having your fuel system cleaned on schedule at The Organic Mechanic will really help your fuel economy.
There you have it; 10 services that are often overlooked. Did you know that a recent survey showed that 90 percent of vehicles on the road have at least one scheduled maintenance service that hasn’t been performed? Considering our busy lives, we’re not surprised.
We know it takes some thought and effort to actually maintain your vehicle; but it not only saves money in the long run – it saves time too. And we can all use a little more time.
Maintenance for High Mileage Vehicles In Asheville North Carolina
Posted February 22, 2013 11:31 AM
Before the recession hit, the median age for cars in the Asheville North Carolina area (zip code: 28806) was over nine years. And two-thirds had over 75,000 miles. At The Organic Mechanic we hear reports that those numbers continue to rise.
If you have a high-mileage vehicle in the Hendersonville area, bring it in for high-mileage maintenance: The Organic Mechanic 568 Haywood Rd Asheville, North Carolina 28806 828-255-2628
Many people in Asheville are keeping their vehicles longer. The economy has influenced that, but the fact that modern cars are more durable and reliable means that owning a high mileage vehicle doesn't have to be a painful experience.
Local car owners in Asheville with over 100,000 miles on their vehicles often ask which service intervals they should follow. Let's start with the special needs of the older vehicle...
The reality is that time and mileage will take its toll. The engine and transmission will have more sludge. The fuel, steering and brake systems will have gum and varnish built up. There'll be more dirt and contaminants in the fuel tank. Corrosion and deposits in the cooling system. And seals and gaskets will start to dry out.
All of this, plus normal wear and tear, means that the engine might not be as strong as new, so it just has to work harder to get the job done.
So we need to compensate. Consider high-mileage formulations for oil changes, transmission service, etc. These special formulations contain additives that condition the seals and gaskets to prevent leaks. They also have more detergents to clean sludge and other deposits. They cost a bit more, but they're worth it.
In general, if an auto service was recommended every 15,000 miles when the car was new, you should continue to get the service done every 15,000 miles.
Talk with your Asheville service advisor at The Organic Mechanic about the condition of your engine. See if he thinks you should adjust your auto service intervals for oil changes or other auto maintenance to account for the older engine working harder.
Expect the oil filter to get dirty faster. Same goes for the fuel filter. And some leaks are to be expected so you need to keep a closer eye on fluid levels.
If anything, following recommended service intervals for your car is more important in a higher mileage vehicle. Skipping oil changes or other services can lead to problems much more quickly than with a newer vehicle.
So, have your Asheville auto service advisor at The Organic Mechanic help you with an assessment of your older car or truck. If you haven't gotten around to a fuel system cleaning, or replacing power steering or brake fluid, a differential service or transmission service – it's time to start taking care of those things. It'll help keep you on the road for many more happy miles.
Posted in the Maintenance category
Another Couple of Years: Making Your Vehicle Last At The Organic Mechanic
Posted February 1, 2013 10:45 AM
A while back, the Cash for Clunkers program was all over the news. Asheville people could trade in their old vehicle for a new one that got better fuel economy and receive a government rebate.
A lot of Asheville motorists had so-called clunkers that they wanted to keep. They’re good commuters, grocery getters or toy haulers. They enjoy that fact that they’re paid off, or soon will be. They would gladly like to keep their cars for 200,000 miles or more – as long as it’s economical to do so.
There are plenty of Asheville drivers whose vehicles are running after 150,000 or 200,000 miles. We can learn from what they’re doing to keep our own cars on the road in North Carolina.
Asheville drivers of high-mileage cars often report a common denominator of never skipping an oil change.That may sound a bit unsophisticated, but it’s really not. First off, oil is the life blood of your car's engine and it needs to be clean to properly lubricate. Skipping oil changes leads to clogged oil filters and sludge that can damage your engine.
There’s another reason why the scheduled oil change is so important for Asheville car owners. It’s simple – a The Organic Mechanic professional is going to be looking at your car. All of your fluid levels will be inspected and topped off so they won’t get so low that damage can be done. If there is a significant fluid loss, let’s use brake fluid as an example, your The Organic Mechanic technician can look for the cause of the loss and find the problem before it leads to an accident or costly repair.
Your The Organic Mechanic advisor will also visually inspect your car for worn belts and hoses, uneven tire wear, leaking shock absorbers and more. Problems get addressed before they lead to repairs that cost more than the car’s worth.
And your The Organic Mechanic advisor will be able to remind you of other services that the factory recommends you get done. Just think of that oil change the same way as you do about going to your Asheville dentist for your six month cleaning and checkup. Don’t skip it.
Realistically, things are going to wear out as your car gets older. On the way to 200,000 miles you’ll go through several batteries, probably a couple of alternators and water pumps, a set of shocks and likely some brake rotors.
Of course, these things cost money, but they are far cheaper than new car payments. With proper service at The Organic Mechanic and regular inspections, you’ll keep surprise repairs to a minimum and more money in your wallet.
Posted in the Maintenance category
Synthetic Oil For Asheville Autos
Posted January 2, 2013 12:19 PM
If you aren’t currently using synthetic motor oil in your Asheville vehicle, maybe now’s the time to consider it. Need more information? Well, synthetic motor oil is a substitute for petroleum based oil.
Synthetic oil doesn’t gel or gum-up like petroleum based oil and it doesn’t vaporize as easily. It protects better in severe driving conditions like stop and go driving around Asheville, as well as in very hot or very cold conditions. More and more new vehicles are being delivered with full synthetic motor oil; with the recommendation to use synthetic for the life of the vehicle.
Why is this? Synthetic motor oil maximizes engine power and fuel economy. To see why; we’d need a microscope, so we’ll have to settle for using our imaginations.
The molecules of conventional motor oil are long hydrocarbon chains. Synthetic motor oil, on the other hand, has uniform, round molecules. Which is more slippery, a pile of pencils or a pile of marbles?
Synthetic motor oil lubricates better because there’s less friction. That means better wear protection, cooler operating temperatures, more power and better fuel economy. And synthetic oil doesn’t sludge up like conventional oil, so it prevents those small oil passages from clogging up.
Some manufacturers are extending oil change intervals. The added protection of synthetic oil covers you for these longer intervals. Talk with your service advisor about how you drive and see if he thinks you can benefit from synthetic oil. Also ask about the appropriate oil change interval for synthetic, because it may very well be longer than for conventional oil.
Most of us here in Asheville have a busy life and might occasionally miss an oil change; go ahead admit it. Since we’re not perfect, doesn’t it make sense to use a motor oil that’s got your back?
Now synthetic oil costs more. But it lasts longer, protects better and increases fuel economy. You’ll likely save money in the long run. If you’re serious about making your car last longer, start using synthetic motor oil right away.
We're living in a disposable society. Everything from elaborate packaging to our clothing. Even cell phones are disposable. When replacement is cheaper than repair, the term "built to last" goes by the wayside. An exception is our vehicles. They're still a very big investment and we want to make them last as long as possible - and we want to make keeping them as cheap as possible. When talking cars, it's all about preventive maintenance. There is an old saying that says, "a stitch in time saves nine" and that is really true when it comes to taking care of your car. A great example is coolant service.
Your coolant not only protects your engine from overheating and freezing - it must also protect cooling system components from corrosion. Over time, coolant becomes corrosive and actually starts to damage your radiator and other parts. That's why you need to have your cooling system serviced on a regular schedule.
The same is true for your power steering system, brake fluid, air conditioning system, differential and transmission. And of course, don't forget those oil changes right on schedule. Skipping even one change can start the build up of harmful oil sludge.
Our engines are full of gaskets and seals. Fresh fluids condition those gaskets and seals to keep them from drying out and leaking. Automotive fluids contain additives that help clean and lubricate the various systems they protect. Over time, the additives are used up and the fluid just does not provide the protection it did when it was fresh. And don't forget the mechanical systems. Changing brake pads before they are worn to the point that they cause damage to rotors is a great way to keep your operating costs down.
Replacing serpentine belts and timing belts on schedule is much cheaper than repairing the damage that can be caused by failure. Also, air filters, fuel filters, PCV valves and batteries are all important. Regular wheel alignments, tire rotation and balancing will make your tires last longer. And don't forget to replace your shocks and struts when they wear out. Your fuel system needs regular cleaning to keep running well, prevent mechanical damage and reduce fuel consumption.
Now this is a lot to remember - too much really. But it is your Asheville automotive technician's job to keep on top of this stuff. At The Organic Mechanic we can tell you what your manufacturer recommends and help you with a plan to take care of it. We can advise you about which maintenance schedule you should use - the regular schedule or the severe service schedule - depending on the kind of driving you do. We also know the right fluids for your vehicle and may even suggest higher mileage formulations for your older vehicle.
Bottom line - take care of this stuff on schedule and you will reduce operating costs, prevent costly damage and maintain your warranty coverage.
Of course, you want your car to look as good as it runs. Regular washing will prevent rust and protect your finish. Take advantage of cleaners, waxes and protectants for your interior and tires. Your vehicle will look great and you'll be proud to drive it longer.
Most of us can't afford to throw away our car when it breaks down. By budgeting for regular preventive maintenance, we can prevent many inconvenient - and expensive - problems down the road, and can keep driving "old faithful" for years to come.
Posted in the Maintenance category
Keeping Your car Young
Posted November 13, 2012 10:01 AM
Sometimes it seems in Asheville we live in such a disposable society. It's amazing all the stuff we throw away.
New stuff comes out so fast, we just toss the old and move on. It seems like when we were kids in Asheville, our parents were real sticklers about taking care of our stuff. You know, hang up your clothes, polish your shoes, put away your toys. If something got lost or ruined by neglect, tough, we had to do without.
We couldn't afford new cars very often, so we tried to make them last as long as we could. It's a good thing that cars are more reliable these days. They just don't break down as often. And the good news for us Asheville penny pinchers is that a modern car can easily go 200,000 miles with proper care. The engineering's there and so is the manufacturing quality. The missing ingredient is us making sure we follow the manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedules.
Is it really that bad to get off schedule? Well, it all adds up. Every time you go a couple thousand extra miles between oil changes, you've created an opportunity for sludge to form and clog passages. Then some parts don't get oiled and they start to wear out faster.
Skip a cooling system service, and the corrosion inhibitors become depleted, and the radiator starts being damaged – one step closer to a failure. The same thing is true for transmission service, power brakes, fuel system cleaning – really everything on your schedule.
It's also even more important for older vehicles in the Asheville area. Those engines and other systems have had more time to get dirty, so they're a bit more stressed anyway. But it's never too late to get back on track with your maintenance and to hold off further damage.
It's just another example of our parents being right. (Surprising how often that happens.) And it really does start with the oil change, just like Dad said. When you get a full service oil change they top off all your fluids and check for other items that are on your maintenance schedule. That's like your safety net; go in for oil changes on time, and let your service advisor at The Organic Mechanic in Asheville help you keep track of the rest.
Of course, some things are going to wear out along the way, stuff like alternators, water pumps and such. But that stuff is cheaper than a new car payment. And taking care of problems early means they have less time to cause other problems. It's like having high cholesterol; you don't want to wait for a heart attack before you address it.
Which Item is Most Stolen from Vehicles in Asheville?
Posted October 30, 2012 10:34 AM
Which item is most often stolen from vehicles in Asheville?
Well, if you said stereo – you used to be right. But airbags have now surpassed stereos as the biggest target for theft in Asheville – approximately 50,000 a year are stolen across the country. New airbags cost about $1,000, but go for $50 to $200 on the black market in Asheville.
Stolen airbags are making their way back into cars that have been in an accident. Of course, the danger to the consumer of having a stolen airbag installed is that you can never be sure what may have previously affected them and if they will work right when you need them.
Contact The Organic Mechanic for more information about where to get your airbags checked or replaced. Find us at 568 Haywood Rd, Asheville, North Carolina 28806 You can reach us by phone at: 828-255-2628
There are reports that 1 in 25 airbag replacements are stolen or salvaged airbags – or no airbag is installed at all.
That is definitely one car part you don't want to take a chance with, so The Organic Mechanic recommends following these guidelines:
Use a reputable collision repair center that employs ASE certified mechanics (we can offer recommendations at The Organic Mechanic).
Inspect the invoice to ensure that the repair shop purchased the airbag from a manufacturer, dealer, or recycler. If you can inspect the airbag prior to installation, it should be packaged in a sealed container from the manufacturer.
You will see the SRS light (Supplemental Restraint System) when you first start your vehicle up. This tells you that the airbag system is activated. If you do not see the SRS light, there is likely a problem with the airbag system.
For more information, contact Charley at The Organic Mechanic by calling 828-255-2628.
Posted in the Maintenance category
I Can See Clearly Now: Wiper Blade Replacement In Asheville
Posted October 25, 2012 1:39 PM
About 90% of our Asheville North Carolina driving decisions are based solely on what we see. So having a good pair of windshield wipers is extremely important.
Everyone in Asheville North Carolina has experienced the frustration and fear of not being able to see clearly during a storm, or when our windshield is just dirty. In fact, it’s estimated that 46,000,000 motorists from Hendersonville and across the nation are driving with wipers that can’t adequately clear their windshield in a storm.
It seems like your wiper blades are always at their worst when you need them the most. If that sounds like you, you’ve got plenty of company in the Hendersonville area. 78% of drivers only change their wiper blades after the blades function so poorly that they become a safety hazard.
We need to change our thinking. Instead of blades being something to replace when they fail, we need to consider wiper blades as an important safety component. Then we’ll stay ahead of the storm.
You really ought to replace your wiper blades twice a year; in the spring and the fall. If you live in the colder parts of North Carolina, you may even want to get special winter blades in the fall.
Winter blades are designed to resist freezing. Speaking of winter and freezing conditions, if your car has been sitting for a long time and the windshield becomes frozen, don’t use your wipers to clear off snow and ice. That can just shred your blades and may even damage the wiper motor.
Your wiper blades live outside; freezing cold and blistering sun. Over time, they become hard and brittle, and then tear. They also lose their flexibility and just don’t clear the windshield effectively. Worn wiper blades aren’t just a safety hazard; they can also scratch your windshield. That may require replacing the entire windshield – a big cost for such a little part.
AutoNetTV recommends you replace worn blades right away. Your local service center can provide you with a quality replacement blade. They cost about the same as they would at the store – but installation is included at the service center.
Of course you also need washer fluid to help your blades do their work. Even though The Organic Mechanic will top off the washer fluid with a full service oil change, it is a good idea to have some extra fluid at home. It’s a good idea to keep a bottle in the car if you’re on a road trip.
Always use windshield washer fluid. Plain water, even that fancy French bottled water, just doesn’t cut it. It can freeze in the fluid reservoir or on the windshield itself, making things worse. Besides, water won’t do as good job of cleaning your windows.
Busting Automotive Myths In Asheville North Carolina
Posted September 11, 2012 1:41 PM
Myths passed around our Asheville North Carolina community start with a grain of evidence and are then built up with a lot of imagination and very elastic logic. And the internet is a breeding ground for automotive myths. Some bloggers recall the cars of yesteryear and declare their modern decedents to be virtually maintenance free and that anyone who says otherwise is out to rip you off.
To get the truth about auto myths you hear around the Asheville area, come over to The Organic Mechanic. You'll find us at 568 Haywood Rd, Asheville, North Carolina 28806. Give us a call at 828-255-2628 to make an appointment for your next auto service.
Let's examine a couple of the more popular rants and look at the truth behind them.
The first one is that the chassis no longer needs lubrication for suspension, steering and the driveline. They declare that anyone who has charged you for lubrication is a charlatan.
The truth on which this myth is based is that many new cars come from the factory with sealed joints and cannot be greased. However, there are still some grease points on many cars around Asheville. A grease fitting may have been installed in conjunction with a repair. And most trucks and truck-based SUVs driving in Asheville still require chassis lubrication. This is because they are more heavy duty and proper greasing is still required to keep them going.
Another common rant you'll hear around Asheville is that modern cars don't need tune-ups. That depends on your definition of a 'tune-up', which has changed as technology has progressed. Before engine control computers, electronic ignition and fuel injection, a tune up meant replacing mechanical parts that wore out. The Organic Mechanic would manually adjust fuel and air mix and timing. When these adjustments were off, spark plugs would foul and need to be replaced.
This definition just doesn't apply to modern vehicles. Service centers like The Organic Mechanic generally consider a tune-up to be the major service visit, recommended by your manufacturer, every 30,000 miles or so.
Of course you can't lubricate a sealed joint. Of course you can't adjust a carburetor if your car doesn't have one. You probably don't need to change spark plugs every year if your manufacturer says they can go 30,000 miles. What are these bloggers getting so worked up about?
The danger with these modern-day myths, is that they prevent people in our local Asheville community from taking care of the routine preventive auto maintenance that manufactures recommend. Check out this partial list of things you still need to do to take care of your car. How many of them are really any different today than they were 20 or 30 years ago?
You get the picture. Your car is still a machine that needs to be maintained. And, hey, your service advisors at The Organic Mechanic have always adapted to keep pace with automotive technology. Next time you come across an angry voice about your car care, talk to your Asheville service advisor at The Organic Mechanic, or do some research of your own.
Posted in the Maintenance category
Finding Vehicle Recall Information From Asheville
Posted August 9, 2012 10:58 AM
No matter how well they’re made, cars are bound to have problems with their design or manufacturing. When the government thinks a problem is really serious, they require the manufacturer to issue a recall notice to Asheville residents and to fix the car free of charge. The manufacturer then tries to contact everyone who owns that type of car in Asheville and elsewhere until the work is done.
If you have questions about vehicle recalls, give us a call: The Organic Mechanic 568 Haywood Rd Asheville, North Carolina 28806 828-255-2628
These recalls always affect safety, so you need to take them seriously. It’s really easy to find out if a vehicle is being recalled. For links to government sites, look in the AutoNetTV website.
Recalls are pretty serious and don’t happen all that often. But sometimes cars have less serious problems that you still might want to know about. In this case, manufacturers issue what is known as a Technical Service Bulletin – or TSB. These bulletins tell service centers how to repair a problem that occurs frequently or is especially difficult.
The pros receive updated information through subscription plans, which are sometimes available in consumer versions too. You can buy access to these for an annual fee.
Whatever your source, pay attention to vehicle recalls to keep you and your passengers safe.
Posted in the Maintenance category
Keeping Your 'Old Faithful' Auto Running
Posted May 30, 2012 9:18 AM
At The Organic Mechanic we’ve had a lot of people asking how they can make their vehicles last longer. These questions are actually a reflection of a trend that’s been building for several years. The median age of personal vehicles is now over nine years. And 33 percent of all vehicles on the road have over 75,000 miles on them. It looks like it’s going to keep heading in that direction for a while. With high fuel prices a lot of folks are putting off buying a new car. Thanks to AutoNetTV, we can provide you with a video answer to this question.
So let’s say you’re one of the average people in the Hendersonville area; you’ve got a nine year old car with 80,000 miles on the odometer. What can you to do make it last another year or two?
Let’s start with the premise that there’s no reason that a modern car can’t run for 200,000 miles with proper care. The engineering and manufacturing quality is there.
Of course, some parts will wear out along the way, but there’s no reason for a catastrophic meltdown if you stay on top of your recommended maintenance. The maintenance schedule in some owner’s manuals runs out at 60,000 miles or so: how do we know what to do when we’re way past that?
It is a challenge, for example: If a service is recommended every 15,000 miles for the first 60,000 miles you can just keep getting it done at least every 15,000 miles after you hit 60,000 miles. But, it gets more complicated because older engines lose some efficiency, are dirtier inside and are just more stressed. That means it’s very important to not miss any scheduled services. Skipping just one oil change, for example, leaves an opportunity for harmful sludge to build up.
So all the usual things like oil changes, transmission service, coolant service, brakes, power steering, fuel system cleaning – all that stuff need to be maintained. People responsible for fleet vehicles around Hendersonville are positively religious about scheduled maintenance. They know that money spent on maintenance saves them three ways:
it saves fuel;
it prevents costly repairs, an;
they can postpone purchasing new vehicles.
Having the oil changed may be the most important thing. A full service oil change means that all of your other fluids get topped off so they are never low enough to cause damage. It also gives your technician a chance to spot problems in the early stages so that you can fix them before they get expensive. And it gives you a touch point with a professional along the way to remind you of things that aren’t scheduled as often – things like differential service and timing belt replacement.
If you live in the Hendersonville area and have an older vehicle, you may need to follow the severe service maintenance schedule. Check your owner’s manual and talk with your service advisor at The Organic Mechanic. Conditions inside an older engine, transmission and cooling system can arguably be considered severe – so shorter intervals could well be called for.
And, we would strongly encourage you to consider using high mileage formulation fluids. They’re fluids like engine oil, transmission fluid and coolant that are formulated for older engines. They have special additives to clean deposits, and to condition and restore seals and gaskets that dry out with age. Some people start using higher mileage formulations at around 50,000 miles as a preventive measure.
Of course you also want to still look marvelous in your older car. Salt and road grime wreak havoc on your paint job and can lead to body rust – so regular washing is very important. Also, a good quality waxing is recommended at least twice a year.
Serpentine Belt Service At The Organic Mechanic In Asheville
Posted May 22, 2012 9:33 AM
If you’ve ever heard a squealing sound under your hood, chances are it was your serpentine belt. Your serpentine belt is a long belt that’s driven by your engine. It winds around several accessories that power important automotive systems in your car. Let’s go over them.
First, the serpentine belt drives your air conditioning system. It spins the compressor that makes the cool air that takes the edge off the summer heat in Asheville. Next, the belt powers the alternator. The alternator creates electricity that’s used by your car’s electrical systems and also charges your car battery. Without the alternator, the battery will go dead in a few miles.
The serpentine belt may also run the pumps for both the power steering (some are electric) and power brakes (some use vacuum boost).
And, on most cars, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine to keep it within normal operating temperatures. On some Asheville cars, the water pump is powered by the timing belt instead of the serpentine belt.
When they understand what it does, Asheville drivers realize that if it breaks, it affects a lot of systems. That’s why manufacturers have recommended that it be changed every so often so that it doesn’t fail.
At The Organic Mechanic, we can perform a visual inspection of the belt to see if it has any cracks that signal the belt could fail soon. If the belt has more than three or four cracks every inch, has deep cracks that penetrate half the depth of the belt, is frayed, is missing pieces or has a shiny glazed look, it needs to be replaced regardless of age or mileage.
If it has lost a significant thickness, it also needs to be replaced. There’s a special spring-loaded pulley attached to the engine called the tensioner pulley. Its job is to make sure there’s a constant tension on the serpentine belt so that it doesn’t slip. The spring can become worn and no longer provide the necessary pressure to keep the belt tight. At The Organic Mechanic, we recommend that the tensioner be replaced at the same time as the serpentine belt.
As mentioned, a squealing sound could be a sign that the serpentine belt needs to be replaced. It may be loose if you hear a slow, slapping sound when idling your car.
All in all, the serpentine belt’s an important part for the function of your car. And it’s not that expensive to replace at The Organic Mechanic – so it’s good to do so before it fails.
Posted in the Maintenance category
Maintaining Your Older Car In Asheville North Carolina
Posted January 31, 2012 11:27 AM
The government mandates a lot of equipment on cars in Asheville North Carolina: emission devices and control computers, safety equipment like airbags and crash worthiness requirements. All of this is great for the Asheville North Carolina motoring public, but it does add quite a bit to the price of a new car.
Because new cars are more expensive, people in the Hendersonville area are driving their old cars longer. The average car is now over nine years old. Two thirds of vehicles on the road in Hendersonville have more than 75,000 miles. As cars age, their performance drops, they have difficulty idling for long periods and are more sensitive to weather extremes. Fortunately today's cars are up to the challenge – but they need a little help to keep on goin'.
Give The Organic Mechanic a call to schedule your next maintenance. 568 Haywood Rd Asheville, North Carolina 28806 828-255-2628
Some owner's manuals don't specify service requirements at higher mileage. That doesn't mean it doesn't have to be done. In fact, it's more important than ever to stay on top of routine maintenance for cars with more than 75,000 miles.
First, just extend regular service intervals out: for instance a service that's recommended every 15,000 miles should be performed at 15,000, 30,000, 45,000 and 60,000 miles, and so on. Because of the additional stress older engines experience, the severe service maintenance schedule is more appropriate than the regular schedule – ask your service advisor. Watch for leaks – seals and gaskets dry out over time and don't hold the fluids as well as they used to.
It's also time to make sure you have a good Asheville North Carolina technician. There are some services and replacements that are scheduled after you put on some clicks, like timing belts, valve train adjustments, suspension, anti-lock brake service, air bags, etc. And unexpected repairs down the road are just par for the course. Check for unusual sounds, smells or the way your car feels. These could be hints that trouble's brewing. Better to catch it early before it turns into a costly repair.
And a regular wash and wax will help maintain your car's appearance. One of the things you can do to really help your high mileage vehicle is to begin using high mileage formulation fluids. There are special engine oils, coolants, and transmission and power steering fluids that are formulated for cars that have a few clicks on the old odometer.
High mileage oil is designed to condition seals and gaskets, reduce wear and avoid premature burn off. Older engines are dirtier inside – and dirty engines contaminate their oil faster. High mileage oil has special additives that clean the engine, removing sludge deposits over time. The result is less stress on the engine, better fuel economy and excellent wear protection.
Studies have even shown that using high mileage fluids early will actually prevent some of the problems of high mileage vehicles. So once you hit around 50,000 miles, consider stepping up to high mileage formulations. High mileage fluids cost a bit more than standard fluids because of the additional additives, but they can be worth their weight in gold in terms of preventing repair costs down the road. It does cost more to properly maintain a higher mileage vehicle – but it's way cheaper than a new car payment!
Posted in the Maintenance category
Economics of Maintenance For Asheville Auto Owners
Posted December 27, 2011 1:40 PM
Buying a new car in Asheville is always a big financial decision. The allure of that new car smell is powerful, to be sure. But what if your current car is still in good shape? How do you decide?
People in Asheville who've been used to driving a new car every three to five years may be having second thoughts in this economy. For many, the question is, how does the certainty of a new car payment stack up against uncertain repairs for a car that may be out of warranty?
For purposes of our discussion, let's assume you live right here in Asheville and have a five year old vehicle. It's now paid off. If you keep it, you fear that there'll be some repairs over the next five years, but you really don't know what to expect. For help we turned to Edmunds.com.
Edmunds.com has compiled maintenance and repair information for cars and trucks. With this data, they project likely service and repair costs for a particular make and model. They're able to use manufacturer's maintenance schedules and repair histories for the projections.
Of course, these projections can't predict what will happen to your vehicle in Asheville, but they do give you information to use in your decision.
Let's look at the numbers for a five year old Toyota Camry V-6. In this example, the combined maintenance and repairs for the five year period is $5,748. This works out to an average of $96 a month. The year-by-year averages range from a low of $49 a month to $124 a month.
So compare $96 a month with a new car payment. And it's actually better news than that; you would still have maintenance expenses with a new car, so the repair element could be less than half that figure.
Here are numbers for some other five year old vehicles from around Asheville:
Ford Escape - $116 a month
Chevy Silverado - $131 a month
Jeep Grand Cherokee - $138 a month
Hyundai Accent - $85 a month.
Now, if your vehicle is older than five years, have a chat with your Asheville service advisor at The Organic Mechanic. We see hundreds of vehicles through our bays every month and we know your car. See if there's any particular problem common with your vehicle that you might see over the next couple of years.
And of course, the best way to keep future repair costs down is to take care of all your scheduled maintenance. This is especially important in older vehicles that have had time to accumulate some deposits.
There are special motor oil formulations that help clean older engines and protect and recondition their seals and gaskets.
We hope this eliminates some of the unknowns in the decision to keep or trade.
Give us a call if you have any questions: The Organic Mechanic 568 Haywood Rd Asheville, North Carolina 28806 828-255-2628
Posted in the Maintenance category
The Organic Mechanic On Your Serpentine Belt
Posted November 22, 2011 12:35 PM
Today we’re going to be talking about serpentine belts for our Asheville North Carolina customers. Let’s start by talking about the accessories that are driven by the serpentine belt. First is the alternator. That’s the device that makes electricity to power the vehicle and recharge the battery. Then there’s the air conditioning compressor that makes cool air for you while you're driving around Asheville North Carolina in the summer.
The power steering and power brake pumps are driven by the serpentine belt in most vehicles. Those pumps make the pressure that assists your steering and braking.
In many vehicles, the water pump is driven by the serpentine belt. The water pump is what circulates the coolant that protects your engine. In some cars around Asheville North Carolina, the water pump is driven by the timing belt.
The radiator cooling fans on some vehicles are also driven by the serpentine belt. Some have separate electric motors. That’s really a lot of work for one belt.
But modern engine design has a single belt that snakes around the front of the engine and drives most if not all of these accessories. Serpentine belts do a lot of work, but they’re tough and can last for thousands of miles.
Just how long will they last? That’ll vary for each individual car in the Asheville North Carolina area. Your manufacturer will have a recommendation for when it should be changed, but it could need it sooner. The good news is that a visual inspection can reveal a belt that’s getting close to failing.
The Organic Mechanic can look at the belt: if it has more than three or four cracks per inch it needs to be replaced. A deep crack that’s more than half the depth of the belt - replace. Frayed, missing pieces, a shiny glazed look? It’s out of there.
What’s involved in replacing the belt? First the old belt is removed. Then a new one is fitted around all the pulleys for the accessories and the drive. There’s a special pulley called a tensioner.
This pulley is mounted to the engine block with a spring loaded arm. Its job is to apply the correct amount of tension to the belt to keep it from getting loose and maybe slipping off. Because the spring in the tensioner pulley wears out, AutoNetTV recommends replacing them at the same time as the belt. It just makes sense.
What are the warning signs that there’s a problem with the serpentine belt? You may hear a squealing sound from under the hood when accelerating around our Asheville North Carolina streets. A loose belt might give you a slow, slapping sound.
What do you do if your belt breaks? If you’ve actually had that happen on our local Asheville North Carolina freeway, it can be a little scary. Often the first thing you notice is that you have no power steering or power brakes. Don’t panic – you can still steer and brake, but you’ll have to do the work. It’ll be harder to steer and you’ll need more time and effort to stop, so plan accordingly.
Your dashboard will light up will all kinds of warnings. You’ll see a warning about your cooling system if you have a water pump that’s driven by the serpentine belt. This is very critical because without your cooling system working, your engine will overheat. If you don’t stop you’ll have massive engine damage, maybe to the point that you need a new engine. Pull over as quickly as you safely can. Open your windows and turn the heater on full blast to provide a little engine cooling and pulled over as soon as possible.
The battery light will come on because the alternator isn’t working. If your car’s water pump isn’t driven by the serpentine belt, you’re not in danger of overheating so you can drive a little further if necessary. But the battery will run down to the point where the car won’t run and will just shut off. You don’t want that to happen while you’re driving in our local Asheville North Carolina traffic.
Remember, this does not have to happen if you replace your serpentine belt on schedule. Ask your technician at The Organic Mechanic to check your belts and hoses from time to time so you can take care of them if they need to be replaced prematurely.
Sometimes we hear people say, "What's up with all this maintenance stuff? Modern cars just don't break down." While it is true that today's cars and trucks are extremely reliable, they are also becoming increasingly complicated and use more exotic materials than ever before. All that complexity demands higher tolerances for everything. For example, most folks don't realize how high tech automotive fluids have become. Fluids like, engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant and brake fluid.
Did you know that a modern engine would not run for more than a few months using motor oil formulas from 30 years ago? Today's automotive fluids contain a much higher percentage of additives to protect your vehicle's components from premature wear and corrosion. Time and miles march on for all of our cars. Please don't think we're using scare tactics to get you to take care of your maintenance - but here are some personal stories from AutoNetTV staff members to emphasize the importance of getting things done when they are due. Names are withheld to avoid embarrassment to those who should know better. Even though they should know better, it usually comes down to real life: time and budget. But they are tales of a stitch in time saves nine.
The first comes from a staffer who bought a used pick-up truck for his son. The oil was clean and all the fluids were topped off. A short time later, the truck overheated on the highway and shut down. The repair shop diagnosed the problem: the radiator pan was corroded and dumped the coolant. Even though the coolant level was correct, it was clear that the coolant had never been exchanged - just topped off from time to time. While this kept the engine cool, all of the anti-corrosion additives had worn out; the coolant became acidic and ate through the radiator pan. The cost: hundred of dollars and four days in the shop. This demonstrates the need to get your coolant exchanged on schedule.
Another story involves the true cost of skipping an annual inspection. Our staffer took his SUV in for the North Carolina safety inspection to renew his registration. At the inspection station, he learned that the law had changed and that his newer rig only required an inspection every two years. He was very happy to save the $45 bucks. The problem was, his rear brake pads were very worn. Two months later, it was bad enough that he could hear the grind - over the radio, DVD player and the kids. He took it in to get the bad news. Both of the rear brake rotors were damaged. The left one could be resurfaced. The right had to be replaced. So saving a few bucks on his safety inspection turned into an extra $500 over what brake pad replacement would have been. Moral of the story: don't skip your annual inspections. The irony is that many Asheville service centers would have done a brake inspection for free.
Next: a teenage daughter and a curb. Daddy's little princess smacked a curb when she turned into a shopping center and popped the tire. The problem came when Dad didn't get an alignment. The impact was hard enough to ruin the tire - so it was hard enough wreck the alignment. But instead of an alignment after the first tire, Papa ended up buying a second tire a few months later - and then an alignment.
Situation: son and wife with cars from the same manufacturer with essentially the same engine. Our staffer checked the son's maintenance schedule and saw that it needed a timing belt replacement at 90,000 miles/145,000 km. He had it done - it cost several hundred dollars. His wife's car had about 60,000 miles/97,000 km, so it should be ok for a while. Right? Wrong. The problem was that the wife had the turbo charged version. Its belt was scheduled for replacement at 60,000 mi/97,000 km. At 63,000 mi./101,000 km, the belt snapped on the interstate. The valves all crashed down into the cylinders at high speed and the entire head was shredded and had to be replaced. The cost: several thousand dollars. Does he wish he had checked the maintenance schedule? You bet he does - every time he passes a big-screen TV.
We're talking about taking care of little things before they become big things. And when you take care of the little things, your car runs better and is more economical to operate. Remember to save those maintenance records. It'll show potential buyers that you've taken care of your vehicle and it will help you get a better price. Or when you buy a used car, check those records. If there aren't any, assume that the maintenance hasn't been done and take it to your Weaverville or Arden/Fletcher service center for an inspection. Take care of unperformed maintenance sooner rather than later.
Posted in the Maintenance category
Before You Leave Asheville, Get A Trip Inspection
Posted October 12, 2011 10:48 AM
You know, at The Organic Mechanic we get a lot of people asking about how to prepare their car for a trip. That’s a big deal. You could be driving through mountains and deserts in some pretty lonely areas outside of Asheville so you may be anxious to know that the car is up to the task and won’t leave you stranded.
You really do need to plan ahead for a major road trip – there are a lot of things to get ready. Where should you start? You could start with the tires. Look them over for tread wear and check to see that they are properly inflated. Take a quick test drive around Asheville to see if you can feel any vibrations: are the wheels are in balance? Is the car tracking straight? Is the alignment ok?
The next thing is a full service oil change to make sure all of your fluids are topped off and you have fresh oil for the trip. And if your car has over 75,000 miles, you may consider putting in the high-mileage formulation to clean harmful sludge deposits in the engine. You may also need a new PCV valve and an engine air filter.
How about your transmission and brakes? Have you had your transmission and brakes inspected in the last six months?
How are your wiper blades? There’s nothing like not being able to get rid of the bug juice on a long road trip away from Asheville.
Check your owners’ manual for any other recommended service and have The Organic Mechanic do the multi-point inspection before you head out.
Consider also having the coolant system serviced – you want to stay within the manufacturer’s recommendations. If you’re towing a trailer you’ll want to be keep in mind that you’ll be going a long way under severe conditions.
A lot of folks overlook severe conditions like towing, or summer heat, or driving on dirt roads. Plan ahead for your next road trip – we want you to get there and back.
Posted in the Maintenance category
Severe Service Requirements
Posted September 29, 2011 7:07 AM
A lot of our viewers have asked whether or not they should use their severe service maintenance schedule, which is listed in their car owners' manual. It can be confusing. Let's clear the air on this subject. Cricket Killingsworth is from QMI/Heartland, a manufacturer of automotive products and fluids. She's been in the automotive business for 20 years and is a speaker, a trainer, and a writer. Cricket says there's so much confusion on this topic because, "Most owners' manuals actually have two maintenance schedules. Sometimes these are called 'regular service' and 'severe service'. Sometimes they're simply called Schedule 1 and Schedule 2. A severe service schedule recommends that things like an oil change, air filter replacement, and transmission service be done more often: either in fewer miles or in less time.
Manufacturers create these specific schedules for each vehicle they make. So there isn't one generic schedule that applies to all cars. In addition to your owners' manual, Asheville automotive repair centers subscribe to information services that provide the maintenance schedules for every vehicle - so they can help you know when to take care of needed services. Below is a typical definition for severe service.
Most trips are less than four miles
Most trips are less than ten miles and outside temperatures are below freezing
You drive in very hot weather
The engine is at low speed most of the time (not on the highway)
Stop and go driving
You operate your vehicle in dusty or muddy conditions
You tow a trailer, regularly carry heavy loads or carry a car-top carrier
It's common sense: Just a few minutes at freeway speeds allows the moisture in the oil to evaporate. Very short trips, or trips of less than ten miles when it's very cold, don't allow the engine to heat up enough to get rid of the water. And water in the oil leads to damaging sludge. Also, towing and heavy loads raise operating temperatures and cause fluids to breakdown more quickly. Dusty and muddy driving means that more dirt will get past the air filter to contaminate the fuel system and engine oil.
The bottom line is that you need to decide for yourself if the regular or severe service schedule is right for you, based on your driving. Look at your owners' manual, or talk with your The Organic Mechanic service advisor who can help you know which schedule to follow. The Organic Mechanic is located at 568 Haywood Rd, Asheville North Carolina.,
Here is what a fleet manager said recently: "Since city miles are generally tougher on vehicles than highway miles, we use the manufacturer's severe service schedule as the basis for our preventative maintenance program. We massage those schedules over time, increasing or decreasing the service intervals so that they make the most sense. There is a little bit of art to go along with the science.
Make an honest evaluation of your driving habits. Unless you do mostly North Carolina highway driving in moderate weather, you'll likely have a fairly good amount of severe service mixed in. Some people just want to play it safe and follow the severe service recommendations, rather than analyzing how they drive each month.
Located in the Asheville area, we service the following communities: Swannanoa, Black Mountain, Weaverville, Mars Hill, Marshall, Biltmore Forest, Fairview, Bent Creek, Avery Creek, Canton and surrounding areas.