If you’ve ever heard a squealing sound under your van 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 van. 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 Chesapeake.
More importantly, the belt powers the alternator. The alternator creates electricity that’s used by your van’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 vans, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine to keep it within optimal operating temperatures. On some Chesapeake cars, the water pump is powered by the timing belt instead of the serpentine belt.
When they understand what it does, Chesapeake drivers realize that if it breaks, it affects a lot of systems. That’s why auto manufacturers outline recommended replacement guidelines in the owners manuals. If this important maintenance component is not included in your owners manual, come see us at West Service Center, Inc..
At West Service Center, Inc. in Chesapeake, your honest technician 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 amount of thickness, it also needs to be replaced. Talk to your honest service advisor at West Service Center, Inc.. 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 West Service Center, Inc., we recommend Chesapeake car owners that the tensioner be replaced at the same time as the serpentine belt.
As mentioned, a squealing sound could alert you that the serpentine belt needs to be replaced. It may be loose if you hear a slow, slapping sound when idling your van.
All in all, the serpentine belt’s is important to the operation of your van. And it’s not that costly to replace at West Service Center, Inc. – so it’s good to do so before it fails.
Chesapeake service centers have a menu board that lists the services they provide. Some Chesapeake drivers may not be familiar with all of the items on the board so here is a quick description of some of the typical services that might be listed.
West Service Center, Inc. fuel system cleaning: Over time, the van fuel system gets gum and varnish built up. A fuel system cleaning gets rid of that and cleans out the fuel injectors. Saves gas, by the way.
West Service Center, Inc. headlamp replacement: Halogen and standard headlamps gradually fade. It’s usually good to change them every year or so.
West Service Center, Inc. inspections: Chesapeake drivers get inspections for many reasons. Maybe they’re going on a trip or just want to make sure their vehicle’s ready for Virginia summer or winter. Maybe they just bought a used van and want to give it the once over. An inspection may reveal some things that are broken or are getting close to having a problem.
West Service Center, Inc. oil change: – there are several options: Some Chesapeake centers offer just an oil change and new filter as an option. Most will also check and top off all of your other fluids and do a quick visual inspection with a full service oil change. In my way of thinking, the full service option is best because it makes sure you have adequate fluids and may uncover an emerging problem. There may also be options for higher mileage fluids or an upgrade to synthetic oil.
West Service Center, Inc. PCV valve replacement in Chesapeake: PCV stands for Positive Crankcase Ventilation valve. It’s a little part that releases pressure from the engine. It can get gummed up and that can lead to engine damage. Just needs to be changed now and then.
West Service Center, Inc. power steering service: Often overlooked. Your honest West Service Center, Inc. technician will evacuate the old fluid, clean out the system and replace it with clean fluid. Keeps the van system running well for a long time.
West Service Center, Inc. serpentine belt service: That’s the belt that powers the van engine’s accessories like the alternator, air conditioner, power steering and brakes. You’ll want to replace the serpentine belt before it breaks, because that’ll shut you down.
West Service Center, Inc. shocks and struts: This starts with an inspection of the suspension components. Shocks last a long time and wear out slowly, so many Chesapeake people don’t notice when it’s time to change them. If they’re worn or leaking, they need to be replaced.
West Service Center, Inc. transmission service: This involves removing the transmission fluid and replacing it with clean fluid. It’s like an oil change for your transmission.
West Service Center, Inc. tire rotation and wheel balancing: The tires are rotated from front to back using the recommended rotation pattern. This helps tires wear more evenly. Wheels need to be balanced from time to time to keep them turning without any wobble or bounce. Helps the ride and saves tire wear.
Since driving requirements and lifestyles differ among Chesapeake auto owners, van auto makers publish two auto maintenance schedules: the regular schedule and the severe service schedule. Which schedule should Chesapeake auto owners follow?
Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Are most of your trips less than four miles around Chesapeake?
Are most of your trips less than 10 miles in below-zero Virginia temps?
Are most of your trips off-highway in Virginia?
Do you drive often in dusty Chesapeake areas?
Do you regularly tow a trailer or carry heavy loads around Chesapeake?
Do you drive in very hot or very cold Virginia weather?
Think about your typical week. Do you live by your nearest Chesapeake expressway on-ramp and enjoy a non-stop commute to Chesapeake or Portsmouth? Or, do you drive the neighborhood car pool in stop-and-go traffic on Chesapeake 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 Chesapeake weather and road conditions to determine which end of the spectrum you’re closer to.
Why should Chesapeake car owners care about this? Normal condensation causes moisture accumulation in the engine oil. Short trips around Chesapeake or winter driving means that the engine doesn’t heat up enough for the moisture to evaporate. The water in the oil turns to detrimental oil sludge that clogs up your engine and doesn’t let the oil protect it adequately. That’s why Virginia motorists 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 clear Virginia 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 harmful 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 West Service Center, Inc. advisor. We can help you restore your van 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.
West Service Center, Inc.
904 Cavalier Blvd
Chesapeake, Virginia 23323
Just as our bodies need clean air to function properly, your van engine needs clean air to operate efficiently. Let’s go egghead for a minute. For every gallon of gas we burn driving on Virginia freeways, twenty pounds of carbon dioxide comes out the tailpipe. Question: how can a gallon of gas that weighs a little over six pounds produce twenty pounds of carbon dioxide?
The answer is that the carbon comes from the gasoline, but the oxygen comes from the air. You see, it takes about twelve thousand gallons of air to burn a gallon of gas in your engine. Clearly, your van needs a lot of air to keep going in Portsmouth. A lot of clean air is best.
You’ve seen the pictures of people in Japan wearing face masks. They want some kind of filter to keep unwanted pollution and germs out of their lungs. Well, your van also works better when its internals are clean. When your van air filter’s dirty, it simply can’t trap any more dirt, so the pollutants just pass through into your air intake system. From there it can clog your fuel injectors and even get into the motor itself. Not surprisingly, burning dust and pollen in your van engine does you no good.
So, we’re talking potential damage for Chesapeake drivers. But another big thing is wasted fuel. Your van engine management computer tries to mix the correct amount of air in with the fuel. If the filter’s clogged, there isn’t enough air for the optimal fuel to air mix and that really messes with fuel efficiency.
In fact, replacing a dirty air filter at West Service Center, Inc. in Chesapeake can improve your fuel economy by up to ten percent. At today’s Portsmouth fuel prices, you should be able to pay for a new air filter before your next oil change.
The verdict: When your van engine air filter needs to be replaced; it needs to be replaced. How often depends entirely on the level of air pollution where you drive in Virginia. A simple visual inspection at West Service Center, Inc. will tell you when you need a new engine air filter.
When you look at the air filter on your furnace at home and see it’s all clogged up with dust and dirt, you don’t hesitate to replace it. When your West Service Center, Inc. service advisor shows you your nasty engine air filter, you now know why you should go ahead and replace it.
No matter how well they’re made, cars are bound to have problems with their design or manufacturing. Think of all the moving parts. When the government thinks a problem is really serious, they require the automobile manufacturer to issue recall notices to Chesapeake residents and to fix the affected cars free of charge. The auto manufacturer then tries to contact all Chesapeake drivers who own that type of car so they can have it taken care of at their Chesapeake service center.
To find out if your car has any recall issues, give us a call:
West Service Center, Inc.
904 Cavalier Blvd Chesapeake, Virginia 23323
These recalls always affect safety, so Chesapeake car owners would be wise 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.
Other website include: carfax.com; autobytel.com; and dmv.org. All of these sites have free recall searches.
Recalls are pretty serious for Chesapeake motorists and don’t happen all that often. But sometimes cars have less serious problems that Chesapeake car owners still might want to know about. For these less serious cases, auto manufacturers issue what is known as a Technical Service Bulletin – or TSB. These bulletins tell Chesapeake service centers (including West Service Center, Inc.) how to repair a problem that occurs frequently or is especially difficult.
Your Chesapeake service specialist receives updated information through subscription plans, which are sometimes available in consumer versions too. Chesapeake drivers can buy access to these for an annual fee.
Whatever your source, pay attention to Chesapeake vehicle recalls to keep you and your passengers safe.
Every Chesapeake car owner who has taken their car in for an oil change has been told that their engine air filter’s dirty.
Here’s what goes into the determination of when to change the filter: First, your van owner’s manual will have a recommendation of when to change the filter. Second, a visual inspection by your Chesapeake technician may determine that your filter it is visibly dirty and needs to be changed.
So between your owner’s manual and your Chesapeake technician’s inspection there’s really no guesswork involved.
Now, most air filters purchased in Portsmouth, Norfolk, or Suffolk don’t cost a lot to replace. It’s just that Virginia people hate getting caught with an unexpected expense. On the plus side, though, changing a dirty air filter at West Service Center, Inc. can often save enough on gas to pay for itself before your next oil change in Chesapeake.
Think about a dirty furnace filter in your Norfolk home. When it’s all clogged up, enough clean air can’t get through. In your van, that means that your engine can’t get as much air as it needs to burn the fuel efficiently. So it makes do with less air and has to use more expensive Virginia gas to move your vehicle around Chesapeake roads.
Your van actually needs about 12,000 gallons of air for every gallon of gas it burns. Engine air filters don’t cost much in Chesapeake at West Service Center, Inc.. When it’s time to change yours, just get it done. You’ll buy less fuel, have better performance and protect your engine.
If you aren’t currently using synthetic motor oil in your Chesapeake 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 Chesapeake, 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 Chesapeake 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.
Give us a call at 757-487-4420 to schedule an oil change, or visit us at our West Service Center, Inc. website.
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 Virginia 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 Chesapeake 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 Norfolk or Suffolk service center for an inspection. Take care of unperformed maintenance sooner rather than later.
If you’ve ever been driving around Chesapeake and had a headlamp go out, you’ve probably just wanted to replace the bad bulb. If your car uses halogen headlamps, they dim over time. So if you just put in one, they won’t have the same brightness which can be distracting and will affect your field of vision.
To have your headlights inspected, visit us at West Service Center, Inc.. We’re at 904 Cavalier Blvd in Chesapeake, Virginia 23323. Or give us a call at 757-487-4420
Experts in Chesapeake recommend replacing your halogen headlamps every year. It’s easy to remember if you do it when daylight savings time changes in the fall. That way you’ll have bright headlamps for those long Chesapeake winter nights.
There are other types of headlamps in addition to halogen. There are the old standard bulbs that have been around for decades. These are OK, but you can usually upgrade to halogen. They cost a little more but you can’t believe the difference. If you do a lot of night driving you might want to use a premium halogen bulb that filters out the yellow hues and give a very white light that’s a lot like daylight.
You may have noticed those bluish headlights on luxury cars. They are high intensity discharge or, HID lamps. They really light up the road. You can upgrade to HID on some vehicles. These cost quite a bit, but they’ll last for the life of your car. If you want your Chesapeake friends to think you have HIDs, you can get halogens with a bluish tint – no one needs to know.
Seriously, though, night driving is all about reaction time – time to stop – time to get out of the way. You can’t react to what you can’t see. You need headlamps that’ll give you a good view down the road and good peripheral vision as well. And your headlights need to be aimed correctly so you can see and also, to keep your lights from shining off into on-coming traffic.
You may have seen older vehicles with headlights that are awfully dim and maybe even yellow. That’s because the plastic headlight lenses have gotten cloudy and yellowed with age. They can be replaced, but many Chesapeake service centers offer a service to restore the lens that’s a lot cheaper.
You can’t drive if you can’t see. AAA reports that nine out of ten vehicles have dirty or yellowed headlamps. So run the window squeegee over your headlights when you gas up to clear the dirt and bugs. Get your lenses restored if they need it and don’t forget to replace your standard or halogen bulbs every fall.
At West Service Center, Inc. we’ve had a lot of Chesapeake, Portsmouth, and Suffolk clients 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 Chesapeake folks are putting off buying a new car. Thanks to AutoNetTV, we can provide you with a video answer to this critical question.
So let’s say you’re one of the average people in the Chesapeake 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 car 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 at West Service Center, Inc., 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 needs to be maintained. People responsible for fleet vehicles around Chesapeake are sticklers for scheduled maintenance. They know that money spent on maintenance saves them three ways:
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 honest West Service Center, Inc. service specialist 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 an automotive 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 Chesapeake 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 West Service Center, Inc.. 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 Chesapeake auto owners 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 as you drive around Chesapeake. 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.
Give us a call for more information:
West Service Center, Inc.
904 Cavalier Blvd
Chesapeake, Virginia 23323