Chesapeake Auto Repair

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Sat: 8:00 AM - 4:00 PM

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Don't Blow a Gasket! (Valve Cover Gasket Replacement)

When you head out to your vehicle after it's been parked and notice oil leaking underneath it, that's something to have looked at right away.  Oil leaks mean your oil level is probably low and running a vehicle in that condition can lead to expensive repairs.

While there are many reasons oil leaks develop, one possibility is a bad valve cover gasket.  Vehicle engines have a cover bolted over the spot where the engine valves are, and that cover keeps the oil inside the engine. In between the cover and the engine is a gasket that keeps that seal tight.  But after many years of high engine temperatures and vibrations, that gasket or the bolts that hold on the valve cover can fail or loosen, and oil can leak.

You may see dirty oil on the valve cover in the engine compartment, near the spark plugs, or around the bolts that hold the valve cover on.  All those are signs of leakage and time to bring your vehicle in for our technicians to check out.

In some vehicles, taking off the valve cover and replacing the gasket is a relatively easy job. In some models, though, other engine parts are located near that part of the engine and must be removed to get at the gasket, so repair costs can vary widely.

The technician will measure to make sure the valve cover isn't warped so it can be reused. If it is warped, they'll recommend replacing it with the gasket.  

While the technician has that area of your engine accessible, they will also check to see if other components need replacing at the same time, which could save you money.  And because valve cover gaskets usually fail in older vehicles, the technician will check for other oil leaks then, too. 

One of the best ways to be sure your valve cover is doing its job is to have your vehicle regularly maintained.  The technician will periodically look over your engine compartment and make sure you know when things are showing signs of age and wear BEFORE they fail and leave you stranded.

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

Rotation Explanation (Tire Rotation Patterns)

You may notice that when you get your vehicle's oil changed, your service adviser may recommend that you have your tires rotated at the same time.  The reasons are simple.  That will allow your tires to wear more evenly and reduce the noise your tires make as you drive down the road.

There are different ways of rotating tires. If your vehicle has non-directional tires and the same size wheels at each corner, here are the different rotation patterns.

For all-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive vehicles, one is called the rearward cross pattern.  The rear tires are moved to the front and stay on the same side of the vehicle, and the front tires are moved to the rear on the side opposite of where they were on the front. 

For all-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles, use the X pattern.  The rear tires are moved to the front on the opposite side of the vehicle, and the fronts are moved to the rear on the opposite side of where they were on the front.

For front-wheel drive, there's the forward cross.  The front tires are moved to the rear wheels on the same side of the vehicle as they were on the front and the rear tires are moved to the opposite side of the vehicle than they were on the rear. 

If you have directional tires (they only can be mounted in one direction) and the same size directional wheels, the rear tires are moved to the front on the same side of the vehicle where they were, and the front tires are moved to the rear on the same side they were on the front.   And if you have tires with different sizes of non-directional tires and wheels on the front and rear, rotation will be from one side of the vehicle to the other. 

If you have a spare, it's put into the rotation using a forward cross or rearward cross. 

Yep, that's a lot to keep straight.  So, we suggest letting your service advisor recommend the right rotation pattern for you at the interval your vehicle's manufacturer specifies.

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

Breathe Easier (Cabin Air Filter)

When you get in your vehicle, how does it smell? If it's not so nice, it may be time to have your cabin air filter changed.

It's not the same one that filters out the air used in the engine.  The cabin air filter screens out dust and other particulates from the outside air so when it enters the cabin, you don't have to breathe them in when you're driving.  Maybe your commute finds you traveling along dusty rural roads, or maybe you pass by some city factories that have smokestacks spewing out smoky exhausts.  Or in spring, maybe you notice your allergies acting up because of the pollen in the air.  The cabin air filter will remove a lot of those things.

The more it filters out, the more those small particles add up.  That reduces how much airflow the heating/air conditioning system can handle, and you may notice not as much air is coming through your vehicle's vents.  That can also be a sign you need your air filter replaced.

Our technicians will remove and inspect the air filter; it's usually located around the glove compartment, under the dash or sometimes in the engine compartment. If you wish, your service advisor can show you what condition yours is in; if it needs replacing, you'll be able to see the dirt, bugs, leaves and other crud that accumulates after several months of driving. 

Each vehicle's manufacturer recommends an interval after which your cabin air filter should be replaced. Depending on how much and where you drive, you might find yourself needing a replacement more or less often than the manual suggests.

Just like you clean your furnace filters periodically, it's wise to do the same with your vehicle.  After you do, you'll find you might just breathe easier!

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

Categories:

Cabin Air Filter

Them's the Brakes (Brake Rotor Resurfacing)

Your vehicle's brakes wear out.  It's inevitable. You'll notice it when you step on the brake pedal and feel it harder to stop, or there's vibration when you are braking. 

Most modern vehicles have disc brakes that each use a brake pad that press on a disc (disc brakes!) called a rotor.  The friction between them enables you to stop, and each time you do a little bit of the pad and the rotor wears down.

The original brakes on vehicles used a rotor that was thick enough to last through at least two replacements of the pads.  But vehicle manufacturers who want to save costs and weight now make them thinner, and sometimes the rotors have to be replaced after the first pad replacement.  But not always.

Vehicle manufacturers specify a minimum thickness to provide safe braking.  Sometimes rather than having to have your rotors replaced, they can be put on a lathe and resurfaced.  In other words, the surfaces of the disc can be slightly shaved off so the surface is flat and doesn't wobble. 

Whenever you bring your vehicle in to have the brakes checked, the technician will measure the thickness of the rotors to see if they can be resurfaced without leaving them too thin for safe braking. If they can, with the right tools and skill, the rotors can be resurfaced.  If not, the rotors should be replaced. 

Discuss the options with your service advisor.  Our service center can recommend replacements that are designed to help stop your vehicle as well as or better than the vehicle's original rotors.

Either way, keep in mind that keeping your brakes in top condition can supply the margin of safety that may one day save your life or the lives of those around you.

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

Categories:

Brakes

Give it the Boot (Ball Joint Boot Replacement)

Your vehicle may be wearing boots right now and you might not even know it.  They're called ball joint boots.  They're actually protective, flexible things that protect parts of your suspension (called ball joints) from all the hazards the road can fling at them.  If one of those ball joint boots fails and you don't get it replaced, the ball joints themselves could wind up failing, a repair that can be even more expensive. 

Ball joint boots not only keep things like rocks, salt, water and dirt out of your ball joints, they also help the ball joints keep their lubrication inside and working properly.  To do that, the boots have to be made of a flexible material, sometimes rubber, sometimes a synthetic.  They do take a beating, exposed to temperature extremes and debris, and eventually they can tear or crack just because of their age.  Unless someone is keeping an eye on your ball joint boots, you may never know there's a problem.  That's why when you regularly take your vehicle in to a repair facility for other things like oil changes and routine maintenance, a technician will inspect the ball joint boots to make sure they're still in top shape.

If they're not, your service advisor will let you know. Take care of that soon and you may avoid having to replace the ball joints themselves or other suspension parts which may be much more expensive.  Often it's best to replace boots on both sides of the vehicle since they frequently wear at about the same rate. 

If you want to make a fashion statement, some ball joint boots come in various colors other than run-of-the-mill black.  And some aftermarket boots are made of a more durable material than the original equipment that came on your vehicle.  Some drivers get a real "kick" out of flashy ball joint boots!

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

Do you have a Clue (Get the Most Out of a Service Visit)

When you head to the doctor, you probably have it in your mind what you're going to say about why you don't feel good.  That way your doctor can use that information to diagnose your problem. You might want to think of that same approach when you take your vehicle in for a repair.

Experts say what will help the service advisor most is for you to bring in some well-organized descriptions about your vehicle's issues.  You might even want to write them down so you don't forget.  Is there an unusual smell?  What does it smell like?  Does the problem happen first thing after starting out? If there's an odd sound you hear, is it dependent on speed?  Does it change when you turn a corner?  

Keep your expectations realistic.  Some conditions may take a long time to diagnose and repair.  If you go thinking you'll be in and out in no time, you might be disappointed when you're told there are other customers ahead of you and you may have to come back tomorrow.  If you can make alternate plans to have someone pick you up and take you back when the vehicle is finished, that way you won't feel like you've wasted your time. 

Most importantly, be available for any communication from the service advisor.  If they have your cell phone and they have a question or need an approval for a repair, the sooner they reach you, the sooner things can move forward. 

The service facility wants your experience with them to be good just as you do.  With a little help from you, they'll get your vehicle back on the road and you'll have a smile on your face.

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

Your Vehicle is Talking to YOU (Service Warning Signs)

Your vehicle may be like that famous battery bunny, the one that just keeps going and going.  But while it may seem sometimes like you never need to take your vehicle in to be worked on, there are some things you should keep your eyes, ears and nose out for. They are warning you about something that needs attention at your vehicle service facility.

  • If a warning light is on, don't ignore it; do something about it.  There are warning lights for battery, oil, engine heat, tire pressure… you name it.  And the manufacturer put them there for a reason.  They're telling you something isn't normal. So when one goes on, have it checked out soon, especially the blinking Check Engine light.  The earlier you have any warning light issue diagnosed, the more likely you are to avoid a more serious problem.
  • If your vehicle is vibrating or shaking, it's not only annoying, it could signal trouble.  You can bet your vehicle didn't do that when it came out of the factory! If you can feel a vibration in the seat of your pants or shaking in the steering wheel, head on over to your service facility and have them diagnose what is causing it.
  • Smoke coming out of anywhere in your vehicle is a signal (smoke signal, get it?) that there may be a troubling issue.  Likewise if you can smell something burning (like oil), the nose knows there's something amiss.  Time to find out what.
  • If you aren't getting the distance you used to out of a tank of gas, it may not simply be your lead foot. A lot of vehicles will give you a digital readout of your latest mileage.  If your fuel economy takes a dip, take a trip over to your service facility.  You might have a sticky brake caliper… or it might be something as simple as your tires need more air.
  • Yes, you know the dreaded puddle of something under your vehicle can be a bad sign.  It could smell sweet, it could feel oily.  But it means something is leaking.  Go get it checked.  Sooner is better when it comes to locating the source of a leak.
  • If your brake pedal travels further than it used to while stopping, that could be compromising your ability to stop safely.  Also, if the brakes are making odd sounds, pulsating, grinding or squealing, they're screaming at you for attention.  Proper braking is a must for your safety and those drivers around you.

An old 80s TV show called "Knight Rider" featured a talking car.  You already have a vehicle that's telling you things all the time.  Give it a listen and it will keep you going safely down the road for many years to come.

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

The New Blade in Town

If your windshield wipers are streaking and chattering when you turn them on in the rain or snow, it's time for a little "blade renewal." And when it comes to new wiper blades, there are some new designs that are worth a look.

One of the latest is called the beam blade.  It's different than conventional blades you might be used to.  Instead of a metal frame and a rubber blade that slides in the frame on a track, the beam blades have an enclosed spring-steel band that allows the rubber wiper to conform to the windshield glass shape much more tightly. 

There are some key advantages to beam blades, which is why many vehicle manufacturers are making them standard on their latest models.  For one thing, they work well in all weather conditions, including the heat of summer and the icy, snowy cold of winter.  Since there is no separate frame, snow and ice can't form in gaps like conventional wipers and prevent the blade from clearing your windshield. 

Many beam blades also have a mini "wing" on them. It uses the air moving over your windshield to create a little extra downward pressure that presses the blade even more tightly against the glass.  The faster you go, the more firmly the blade can sweep off moisture. That means a clearer view. 

Beam blades are an upgrade that can add to your vehicle's overall safety with that increased visibility.  The best thing is to discuss wiper blades with your service advisor to see if it's a good choice for you and your vehicle, keeping in mind the type of driving you do and the climate you live in.  Remember that when it comes to wipers, it's important that you are using blades that are designed to fit your vehicle and that they are installed correctly. 

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

Don't Start with That (Bad Starter Motor)

We've all heard that expression, "That's a non starter." When it comes to your vehicle, that's not music to a driver's ears. That sickening sound when you start the ignition and instead of hearing the engine crank, you hear it slowly turn over and your dash lights go dim. 

There can be many reasons a vehicle won't start, so here's a little history of how the starter came to be an important component of modern vehicles.

You have to move the engine's components to start it. The first cars had a crank that the driver would insert into the front, then start turning things over by hand.  When the engine started, you had to release that crank immediately or risk a broken arm.  Yes, it happened many times.  So, they came up with a better idea: an electric starter, which was a big advance in automotive technology.

With this system, an electric motor rotated a series of gears that turned the gasoline engine's crankshaft so its pistons and parts moved and the engine drew in air.  While this happened, electricity went to the spark plugs and fuel headed to the cylinders.  When the gasoline engine caught, the starter quickly disengaged. Hey, no more broken arms!

Modern systems use the same principle, so when your vehicle won't start, here are a few things to look out for that might point to the starter. 

If the engine turns over s-l-o-w-l-y, it may mean the electric starter motor may just be wearing out and doesn't have enough cranking power.  Bushings, brushes, wire windings and a special switch called a commutator may be going bad.

If when you engage the ignition you hear a faint click, that could be a symptom one or more of the starter's components have failed. If you hear a loud click, it could mean that an electrical switch called a solenoid may not be switching the motor on.

If you hear your engine start to turn over but then it stops and is followed by a grinding sound, some gears may not be meshing the way they should.

There may be many more causes (bad alternator, relay, battery, engine, key fob), so this is when it's time to turn it over to your service facility.  Sometimes they can send out their own tow truck or recommend a reputable towing company.

But it's best not to let it get to this point.  Starter problems often give you advance warning that there is a problem with "almost" not starting or "almost" not turning over.  So when you see that very first sign, "start" on over to talk this one over with your service advisor.  The opposite of a "non-starter" is a starter, and that is music to anyone's ears.

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

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

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