Chesapeake Auto Repair

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I Had No Idea! (Four Things You Didn't Know About Vehicles)

Bet you didn't know:

Some of the earliest rearview mirrors were marketed as "Cop Spotters" so drivers would know when police were following them. Who wants a ticket, anyway? According to eBay Motors, Elmer Berger first patented a rearview mirror that was mounted on the front fenders, on the spare tire secured to the side of the car of at the top of the driver's door frame. 

About 80 percent of your vehicle is recyclable. So says The Balance. That means four-fifths of most vehicles can be recycled.  Much of that recycling is done by automotive aftermarket recyclers.  Between the U.S and Canada, they reclaim enough steel to produce 13 million new vehicles.

The man who invented the first modern cruise control couldn't even drive a car because he was blind! His name, says Smithsonian.com, was Ralph Teetor.  Blinded at a young age by a knife accident, Teetor was inspired to create a speed control by a couple of things.  One, the U.S. imposed a mandatory 35 mph/55 kph during World War II to conserve fuel and tire rubber, and Teetor wanted drivers to go a safe and steady speed.  Plus, a chauffeur who drove him around used to randomly slow down and speed up which irritated Teetor.  So he invented a speed control to encourage drivers to drive at a more constant and safer speed.

The first grooved tires were invented in 1904 by Continental.  But that was a big improvement over the very first "tires" which were actually metal hoops that made riding in the first cars a pretty rough experience.  The first rubber tires were solid rubber, not inflatable like today's tires.  Things have come a long way.  Modern tires are made with sophisticated rubber compounds that can deal with heat and cold.  Plus their tread patterns help drivers get better traction on wet roads when it storms.  Still, it's important to make sure yours have enough tread and are properly inflated for maximum safety and performance.

Quite frankly, there's a lot we don't understand about the vehicles we drive.  They're much more complicated than the old horse and buggy that preceded  them.  Leave your vehicle's maintenance and service to highly trained technicians who DO understand how to maintain, diagnose and repair today's modern, sophisticated vehicles. 

West Service Center
904 Cavalier Blvd
Chesapeake, Virginia 23323
757-487-4420
http://westservicecenter.com

Mercury Rising (Hot Weather Vehicle Concerns)

The heat is on, and your vehicle takes a beating when it is.  Several of your vehicle's systems are under extra stress in hot weather, so here are a few to make sure are getting the care and maintenance they need.

It makes sense that the cooling system is one to make sure is in top shape.  Vehicle breakdowns in summer are often due to a problem with one of the cooling system's components.  Coolant levels have to be up to specs, the ratio of coolant to water must be correct and the hoses, pumps, belts and radiator must all be working properly in order to prevent vehicle overheating.

Summer is also hard on your air conditioning system.  You might find that no air is blowing out of the vents or maybe only hot air is coming out.  Air conditioning equipment is best diagnosed and repaired by a trained and experienced technician.  The problem could be in any number of components, including the condenser, compressor or blower motor.

You may think the battery gets a break in the summer, but heat will shorten the life of your battery more quickly than cold.  Your service facility can analyze the condition of your battery and tell you whether it's healthy or needs replacing.

Tires take a beating in heat, too.  Pavement can be scorching hot, and the sun's rays break down the rubber.  Watch inflation pressure in hot weather, too, since air expands the hotter it gets.  Your technician can check air pressure, tread depth, cupping and other uneven wear and diagnose the source of any problems. 

And don't forget brakes.  One video online says brakes on a car that were driven hard on a track reached temperatures as high as 500°C/932°F.  Heat can reduce stopping power.  A technician should periodically inspect pads, rotors, drums, lines and other components to find a problem before you lose the ability to stop.

Finally, engine oil is really put to the test when it gets hot.  Your vehicle service facility will make sure you have enough oil and the proper kind to keep your engine's components properly lubricated.  Help your vehicle beat the heat.

West Service Center
904 Cavalier Blvd
Chesapeake, Virginia 23323
757-487-4420
http://westservicecenter.com

Categories:

Cooling System

That Vexing Vapor Venting (Vapor Coming out of Vents)

You may have noticed sometimes on a hot and humid day, vapor will come out of your vehicle's vents when you have the air conditioning on.  Is that something to be concerned about? Well, it depends.

Sometimes that steam or vapor can be caused by water accumulating in the vent system after it has condensed.  And sometimes water can pool at the bottom of a vent.  When you turn on the blower mower, the air hits the water and may create steam or vapor that you can see in the cabin.

One thing to check is if that vapor smells like anything.  If it doesn't, that's a good sign. You may be able to run the fan for a while and the issue may just go away when things dry out.  But moisture collecting in the ventilation hoses in a hot vehicle may be a breeding ground for mold, and that can have health consequences.

There's another possibility. Ventilation systems often have drains to get rid of any accumulated water, and debris can sometimes clog them.  A technician can clean out those drains and you'll be back in business.

One thing to nose around for is a sweet smell coming out of your vents.  Sometimes the heater core (a component of your vehicle's heater system) can develop very tiny holes.  That sweet smell may be coolant that's been vaporized by those tiny holes entering your cabin. 

It's always a good thing to mention to your service advisor any abnormality you're seeing—or smelling—in your vehicle.  By venting a little about your vents, a technician can get to the bottom of the problem before it starts "clouding" the issue.

West Service Center
904 Cavalier Blvd
Chesapeake, Virginia 23323
757-487-4420
http://westservicecenter.com

Before You Buy that Used Vehicle (Having a Used Car Inspected Before Buying)

Let's face it.  New vehicles are expensive, so finding a good used one can save drivers a lot of money.  It's tempting to look through ads, find a private seller who has what you're looking for and pay a price you think is a great deal.  But when you go over to look at a used car, do you really know what to look for to uncover potential problems with it?

The answer is probably no.  Used cars can look great on the outside, maybe even have lustrous paint and a super clean interior. But is it possible that vehicle's been in an accident? Does it have electrical problems you can't detect easily? Is any fluid leaking that you don't know about?

Think about it.  You are about to spend thousands of dollars for a complex machine and you're considering judging its condition without much expertise.  That's why it makes sense to have a qualified technician inspect any used vehicle you're considering buying.

Many vehicle repair facilities will do it for around $100-$200.  They'll check to see what's working right and what's not working.  They'll check for leaks and how strong the battery is; they'll look for signs it's been in an accident or has been painted. They'll look in places you'd find inaccessible, and they'll take it for a test drive to see what noises, vibrations and smells might give clues to any major problems.  An inspection usually takes about an hour.

You should have an inspection done by a technician you know and trust.  They'll have your best interests in mind.  And the inspection should be done before you start negotiating a price with the seller.  It's money well spent to either give you peace of mind that you're getting a good vehicle or steer you away from a lemon. 

One sign a used vehicle isn't a good deal? If the buyer refuses to let you have it inspected.  That says just about everything that needs to be said.    

West Service Center
904 Cavalier Blvd
Chesapeake, Virginia 23323
757-487-4420
http://westservicecenter.com

If You Drive Like a Maniac (Aggressive Driving is Bad for a Vehicle)

When someone mentions driving like a maniac, they're not talking about you, surely? Besides the safety issues of aggressive driving, you should know that your vehicle will last a lot longer if you'll just mellow out a little.  Here are four traits good drivers follow if they want their vehicles to go the extra distance.

Cool—The driver who can't wait to get to the next stoplight is just shortening the life of his or her vehicle.  Jackrabbit starts and uneven acceleration hurts your engine because the valves and cylinder heads are stressed more.  All of those moving parts will wear out faster as well as other components that are connected.  That means things like the air conditioner, power steering pump… just about anything that attaches by a belt or a pulley.  Oh, and you'll be generating more heat.  Heat is one of a vehicle's worst enemies.

Warm—If you get in your cold vehicle which has been sitting overnight, start it up and rev the engine high, you've just put a lot of stress on your engine.  That's because you didn't let the oil (that's been sitting down in the oil pan at the bottom of the engine) get to the moving parts in order to lubricate them. Some manufacturers advise that you run your vehicle for about 30 seconds before you take off.  And if it's really cold out, you may be wise to let the engine run for a minute or two before putting a load on the engine.  Also, for the first 5-15 minutes, keep your RPMs on the low side and don't jam on the accelerator.

Smooth—You're trying to get somewhere in a hurry and have to jam on the brakes while traveling pretty fast.  Just that one time can do more damage to the brakes than you would think.  Lots of hard braking can overheat your brakes and damage your rotors, wearing them out way faster than someone who drives with a smoother touch.  Hard braking also strains suspension parts, tires and engine mounts.

Smart—You know what PRNDL stand for.  Those are the letters in your automatic transmission (Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, Low).  Here are another couple of letters: IQ.  A smart shifter never goes into R to D without completely stopping the vehicle, unless, of course, you're anxious to spend some big dollars on your automatic transmission. 

These days, it's common to get 200,000 miles/320,000 kilometers out of a vehicle, no problem.  It just takes regular maintenance (oil changes and regular service) and one other thing.  Showing off: showing off a little moderation in driving habits with a big payoff in the end. 


West Service Center
904 Cavalier Blvd
Chesapeake, Virginia 23323
757-487-4420
http://westservicecenter.com

Keeping Your Cool (Coolant leak repair)

If there’s one thing you should pay attention to with your vehicle, it’s the temperature gauge. It’s the one that may say C---H (that means “cold---hot”).  Or maybe yours has a picture of a thermometer on it and a blue and red zone.  If you see the needle heading farther to the “H” or red area, that means your vehicle’s engine is running hotter than it normally does.

One of the most common causes of an engine running hot is a leak in your cooling system.  Maybe you’ve seen puddles of coolant under your vehicle, or you’ve smelled the coolant, either inside or outside your vehicle (it has a sort of “sweet” or fruity smell). That’s your engine giving you a warning signal that it’s time to head over to your repair facility to find out what’s going on.

Your vehicle’s coolant can leak for several reasons.  You may have hoses that are deteriorating (heat and age take their toll). It’s possible the pump that circulates coolant has developed a problem (seals and bearings can fail from heat and wear).  You may have something as simple as a bad radiator cap.  Or your radiator or heater core may have holes in it. 

If your coolant is leaking out, this can cause serious damage to your engine if you just let it go.  Your engine could get so hot that some of the metal parts start to warp.  Sometimes, your coolant can start mixing in with your engine oil.  That can result in a very expensive repair if it gets to that stage, so have it checked out before that happens.

A technician will visually inspect your coolant system, including the reservoir tank, check hoses and fittings, test the water pump, and also may pressure test the radiator.  When the problem or problems are found, they will replace the necessary parts and get you back on the road. 

When it comes to a coolant leak, finding the cause can be tricky.  But it’s important to catch a cooling system issue in time—before your engine sustains more serious damage.  Now, that’s pretty cool.

West Service Center
904 Cavalier Blvd
Chesapeake, Virginia 23323
757-487-4420
http://westservicecenter.com

Categories:

Cooling System

Tire or Re-Tire? (Getting Tires Ready for Hot Weather)

Heat isn't easy on vehicle tires, and as the seasons change, make sure yours are ready to take the heat. 

Let's talk first about inflation.  Heat causes air to expand, so heat alone can raise the pressure in your tires.  If you are driving on overinflated tires, they won't have as much contact with the road surface.  In that case, it will take you a longer distance to stop.

On the other hand, you don't want your tires to be underinflated during hot weather, either.  That can cause your sidewalls to flex.  Friction will then hike up the temperature and your tire can be in danger of blowing from the added heat.

Other things can cause problems, such as uneven wearing.  Your service advisor knows the signs to look for and can diagnose where the wear is and what is likely causing it.  Another thing a technician will look for on tires is tread depth and the condition of the sidewalls.  Any cuts, cracks or bulges could be indications that your tire is not healthy. 

Oh, and one other thing.  Your tires could have plenty of tread left on them but still be dangerous.  And that is because rubber ages, gets brittle and cracks after time.  (Ever run across an old rubber band in a drawer that has never been used but breaks the second you try to stretch it? 'Nuff said.) Some tire manufacturers recommend replacing tires after 6 years of their manufacturing date.  Your service advisor can read a manufacturing code and tell you how old your tires are. 

Tire manufacturer Michelin used to have an ad slogan that said, "Because so much is riding on your tires." That includes you and your passengers.  Always keep healthy tires on your vehicle and make sure they're ready for whatever season it is.

West Service Center
904 Cavalier Blvd
Chesapeake, Virginia 23323
757-487-4420
http://westservicecenter.com

Categories:

Tires

Breathe New Life into Your Engine (MAF sensor replacement)

If you’ve noticed your vehicle is hard to start, stalling, or has lost power, the culprit may be a part with an odd name: the MAF sensor.  You may have never even heard of a MAF sensor, but it’s important that it be working correctly, or you may be experiencing some fairly significant engine issues.

All vehicles bring in air and direct it through an air filter before it goes into your engine, where it mixes with fuel to provide power to get you going. There’s a tube-like device with a sensor inside it that measures how much of that mass of air is passing through. That’s why it’s called a mass air flow sensor, or MAF sensor.  If the MAF sensor isn’t working right, the engine’s computer can’t figure out the right amount of fuel to mix with it, and your engine may hesitate or stall.  Sometimes this will cause your Check Engine Light to come on, and any time it does that, make sure you have your vehicle checked by a professional, so you’ll know what’s going on.

When you take your vehicle into your service facility, a technician will thoroughly check the system to see just where the problems are.  If your air filter is dirty, your MAF sensor may get dirty too, which might be causing the problems.  You may find your fuel economy isn’t what it used to be either.

There are other things that can cause the same symptoms, too, such as a leak in a vacuum hose. It’s also possible that the electrical connector between the MAF sensor and the engine has broken. 

The technician can use electronic diagnostic equipment to help pinpoint the exact problem or problems, replace worn parts, and test drive your vehicle to make sure it’s working correctly.

It’s also a good idea to make sure your air filter is changed regularly. A dirty air filter can contribute to a MAF sensor failure. One of the big benefits of having your vehicle regularly maintained at one facility, is they know your vehicle. So, they keep track of which of your vehicle’s parts should be periodically replaced before problems develop. 

If you keep clean air heading into your engine, it can help your engine work efficiently, and with the power it was engineered to deliver. Isn’t that a breath of fresh air?

West Service Center
904 Cavalier Blvd
Chesapeake, Virginia 23323
757-487-4420
http://westservicecenter.com

Categories:

Fuel Economy

The Light Nobody Wants to See (Check Engine Light)

You've probably had your Check Engine Light go on.  Then it goes off and you figure, hey, whatever the problem was, it's gone now and I don't have to worry about it.  Well, the problem may have gone away and it may not have.

Your vehicle likely has one of these warning lights on the instrument panel: an amber light that looks like an engine or reads "Check Engine" or "Service Vehicle Soon."  If that light comes on and stays on, it usually means there's something amiss but not urgently in need of service.  (Now if it's blinking, that's another story that we'll deal with in a minute.)

Sometimes when it comes on and stays steadily lit, the problem will go away and the light will go out.  Sometimes it will stay on until you get the problem fixed.  Either way, the engine's computer will store a code that can provide clues to what's not working—or wasn't working—the way it's supposed to.

If you are just dying to know what that code is, you can buy a little code reader or take your vehicle to an auto parts store and they'll read it.  Problem is, the code offers so many options that unless you are a trained technician, you probably won't have a clue what those codes mean. 

So if you want to be sure, take it to your vehicle repair facility and have them check it.  Technicians are trained to decipher the codes and, using their experience and other diagnostic equipment, can get to the root of the problem and fix it. 

As we mentioned before, if that Check Engine light comes on and is blinking, it means a more serious engine malfunction that can damage expensive components such as the catalytic converter and even the engine itself.  It's important to have that checked by a professional as soon as possible. 

West Service Center
904 Cavalier Blvd
Chesapeake, Virginia 23323
757-487-4420
http://westservicecenter.com

Weather Station on Wheels (Vehicle Sensor Maintenance)

You probably never thought about it, but your vehicle is like a rolling weather station.  It can check the outside temperature, let you know when the roads are slippery and help you deal with rain. And how it does all those things is pretty cool.

First, just like any weather station, a vehicle has sensors that measure the driving and weather conditions you find yourself in.  Some of those sensors can control computerized systems in your vehicle to react to the weather.  It depends on whether you have a 2-wheel, 4-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle how those sensors will respond.

Let's start with temperature.  Most vehicles now have a thermometer that measures the temperature outside.  It's usually in the front, and likely will tell you on the instrument panel what the outside temperature measures.  But a temperature sensor will also tell your vehicle's computers to turn on or off certain systems like the heating or air conditioning.  If your ambient temperature sensor isn't working right, some symptoms are a malfunctioning automatic A/C or a temperature display that is way different than the app on your phone says it should be.

Your vehicle will also have sensors that measure your speed at each wheel.  They work with an onboard computer to measure slippage in any of the wheels so traction control and antilock brakes work correctly in case of slick roads.

Your vehicle can measure something called longitudinal and latitudinal acceleration, and it uses a yaw sensor to do it.  That helps it determine if you might be in an oversteering or understeering situation.  It's important because it works with your vehicle's brakes to apply stopping power to keep you in control.

A steering wheel sensor tells the vehicle's computers what the driver is doing with the wheel.  It also can work with those wheel sensors to measure how slippery the roads are, whether it be due to a wet (rain) or granular (gravel or sand) surface.  By sending different torque or braking to each wheel, it helps the driver maintain control.

More and more vehicles now have a rain sensor that can turn on the wipers automatically when they measure precipitation on the windshield.

So, you're driving your own weather station, and making sure all this data is coming in properly depends on how each component is working.  Regular service and maintenance on these systems is important to make sure they can do their job. Your rolling weather station can't predict the weather, but it can sure help you deal with it, so help it do its job right.


West Service Center
904 Cavalier Blvd
Chesapeake, Virginia 23323
757-487-4420
http://westservicecenter.com

904 Cavalier Blvd Chesapeake, VA, 23323 (757) 487-4420
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