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
Keep it Flowing With A Fuel Filter Replacement At The Organic Mechanic
Posted May 18, 2012 10:19 AM
The function of the fuel filter is pretty self-explanatory. It filters your fuel. The fuel filter is in the fuel line somewhere in between the fuel tank and the engine. Both gas and diesel vehicles around Asheville North Carolina use fuel filters.
For more information about your fuel filter, visit The Organic Mechanic or come by our shop located at 568 Haywood Rd in Asheville, North Carolina 28806. Please call 828-255-2628 to make an appointment.
Generally speaking there's not a lot of dirt in our Asheville North Carolina auto fuel supply, but there is enough that you want to screen it out. The problem actually gets worse the older your vehicle becomes. That's because dirt, rust and other contaminants will settle out of the fuel and onto the bottom of the fuel tank. After your car is five years or older, it can actually have a fair amount of sediment built up.
That just means that the fuel filter has to work harder as your car ages. It'll get clogged sooner and need to be replaced more often.
A symptom of a clogged fuel filter is that the engine sputters at highway speeds or under hard acceleration. That's because enough fuel is getting through around town, but when you need more fuel for speed, enough just can't get through the filter. Obviously, that could be dangerous if your car or truck can't get enough power to get you out of harm's way.
For just that reason, fuel filters have a bypass valve. When the filter is severely clogged, some fuel can bypass the filter all together. Of course that means that dirty, unfiltered fuel is getting through to be burned in the engine.
This dirt can then clog and damage your fuel injectors. Now injectors are not cheap to replace, so you don't want to cause them damage just because you didn't spend a few bucks to replace a fuel filter.
You know, in a way, the fuel filter can be the poster child for preventive maintenance. It's a little part, it's simple and it's cheap to take care of. But if it's neglected, it could lead to thousands of dollars of repair bills.
Those auto service schedules in your owner's manual are there for a reason. If ever you don't understand a recommended service, just ask your Asheville service advisor at The Organic Mechanic. We'll be happy to explain.
Posted in the Fuel System category
Fuel Filter Service in Asheville North Carolina
Posted May 8, 2012 12:28 PM
There are a surprising number of small, inexpensive parts that can lead to expensive engine damage when they fail. It doesn't seem right.
Fortunately a lot of those things can be taken care of in routine maintenance. They may not be easy to remember, because it is a long list, but your service center at The Organic Mechanic can help you know what's scheduled to be taken care of.
Some of us in Asheville North Carolina really don't look forward to going in for an oil change and then getting a list of the other things the manufacturer recommends.
But automotive maintenance is all about prevention, and addressing small problems before they get big. Let's take the fuel filter for example.
You may not know this but the median age for private vehicles on our Asheville North Carolina roads is over nine years. When cars get older, five years or so, they've accumulated a lot of dirt and rust in their gas tanks. If that dirt gets into the engine it can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage. So somewhere between that dirty gas tank and the price of a great vacation – is the lowly fuel filter: a very inexpensive part that doesn't cost too much to replace. And your car'll just run better too.
A clogged fuel filter can't let enough fuel through. You might notice at first that your car is running fine around town, but struggles or sputters on the Asheville North Carolina freeway or when you accelerate. Enough fuel can't get through to meet the demands of higher speed. If it gets bad enough your engine might just shut off or not start at all, which could be dangerous.
Some fuel filters have a bypass. When they get clogged, they allow dirty fuel to move around the filter element so dirt ends up in the engine. We've already talked about how expensive that can be.
The fuel filter is even very important for newer cars. The fuel is still dirty even if there isn't rust in the tank. It's just that the fuel filter will need to be changed more frequently as the vehicle gets older.
How often should you change your fuel filter? Check your owner's manual. Your Asheville North Carolina service advisor at The Organic Mechanic can tell you as well. It's usually around thirty thousand miles or so. Ask if it's time for a full fuel system cleaning as well. They often go hand in hand.
It's good to know that your Asheville North Carolina service center has your back. When you're motivated to maintain your vehicle's performance and to reduce operating costs, you'll think of The Organic Mechanic as your ally - and maybe even your memory.
Posted in the Fuel System category
Posted May 1, 2012 10:47 AM
Like everything automotive, there have been great strides in headlight technology in recent years. We can all drive more safely at night because of it. Good headlights improve visibility down the road, enabling you to see farther. They also improve your peripheral vision, helping you to see the sides more clearly. The more you can see, the quicker you can react to road conditions. This is important because nearly half of traffic fatalities take place at night. And as the country's population ages, everything that helps older eyes is welcome.
Most new cars come with halogen headlamps. A decade ago, halogens were exotic and expensive. Now that they are standard equipment, the price has come way down. Many luxury cars are equipped with high intensity discharge, or HID, headlamps. You have probably seen them on the road, they're very bright and have a bluish tint.
From behind the wheel, there is no doubt that HID headlamps are the best thing going. However, many people complain about HID lights in on coming traffic or when they approach from behind. In fact, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called for public comment, they received a record number of complaints about HIDs. This has lead to several studies - your tax dollars at work. Some expect future regulation of HID lamps.
All halogen headlamps dim over time. Experts recommend that they be changed out once a year. AutoNetTV suggests you replace your headlamps in the fall at the end of Daylight Savings Time. It's easy to remember - when you change your clock, change your headlamps. Remember to replace all headlamps at the same time - then all your lights will be equally bright. You will appreciate it during those long winter nights.
If you have an older car with old style headlamps - they make halogen replacement lamps for most cars. You'll be amazed at the difference this upgrade will make.
In addition to regular halogen lamps, you can upgrade to premium lamps that filter some of the yellow light, making a bright white light that's more like natural sunlight. This light's easier on the eyes and should improve reaction time.
Now, you may be able to step up to HID headlamps, depending on the kind of car you drive. These lamps should last the life of your car, but cost several hundred dollars a pair. If you want other drivers to think you're running HID lamps, you can even buy regular halogens that have a bluish tint. Does she or doesn't she? Only her North Carolina automotive service technician knows for sure.
Over time, plastic headlight covers can get cloudy or yellowed. In fact, AAA reports that nine out of ten headlights are dirty or yellowed, greatly reducing vision. In addition to helping you replace your headlamps, many service centers such as The Organic Mechanic in Asheville, North Carolina can restore your headlight covers. Headlights can be restored at a fraction of the cost of replacing.
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.