Articles:

I Can See Clearly (Wiper Blade Replacement)

Warm weather can bring severe storms, and when the rain is coming down hard, that's one time you really need to be able to see as clearly as possible out your windshield.  Having wiper blades that are fit for the job are important to maintain that safe view.

Maybe you live in a climate where you use blades made for winter weather and you have haven't changed them since the weather changed.  Those blades are made of heavier materials and don't work as well in warmer temperatures. Blades made for warm temperatures are lighter and clear water better in the warmer months.

The general rule of thumb is you should change your blades every six months, but if you use them a lot, you might have to change them more often.  A couple of signs that your blades need changing? If you are seeing streaks on the glass or hearing a chattering sound when your wipers are working, time for a new pair.

Wiper blades have cleaning windshields on vehicles for more than 100 years.  The original designs have a multi-part frame that are better for flatter windshields.  But newer vehicle designs now have curvier windshields, so a more recent design is called a blade wiper.  It's designed to conform better to the glass so cleans it better. 

Conventional wipers also aren’t as aerodynamic as blade wipers. Wind buffeting can reduce the pressure they apply on the rubber to the glass.  With a spoiler as part of their design, blade wipers are pressed more tightly to the glass, an advantage in clearing water from it.

Another option is hybrid blades, essentially a conventional blade with a plastic shell around the wiper's frame that makes it more aerodynamic and, some say, gives it a more aesthetic look. 

There are lots of choices, so consult our service professionals for a recommendation on which blade fits your needs—and budget—best.  Keep your eyes on the road and keep your windshield sparkling clean, rain or shine.

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

The Last Gas (Fuel Pump Replacement).

You're heading down the road and you notice your vehicle is sputtering, like it's running out of gas.  But the gauge show's it's still got a quarter of a tank.  So what gives?

It could be that your fuel pump is failing, meaning your engine is not getting enough gas to run properly.  While fuel pumps are built to last a long time, sometimes they fail.  Other symptoms you may have a bad fuel pump include your vehicle stalling and then refusing to start again, the engine overheating or a hum or whirr coming from around the gas tank.  Or, your Check Engine light may come on.

Most fuel pumps are in the gas tank. They have a small electric motor in them.   When you bring your vehicle to our service center, a technician will run tests to confirm the fuel pump is getting power to it but has failed.  Some vehicles have an access panel so the fuel pump can be removed and replaced. 

But in some vehicles that don't have that access panel, the technician has to drain the fuel and take the tank out of the vehicle to be able to replace the fuel pump inside.  Some parts such as brackets that attach the pump can be reused when the new fuel pump is installed.  Most technicians will recommend replacing the fuel filter at the same time the fuel pump is changed out.

If the technician has to remove the fuel tank, they'll also check for rust and corrosion and replace any affected parts.

Keep one thing in mind - your vehicle's fuel pump is in the fuel tank because it's kept cool and lubricated by the gasoline in the tank.  Try not to let your fuel level go below a half or quarter of a tank to maximize the life of your fuel pump.  Also, try to use Top Tier gasoline that has higher standards than some other fuels.  Your engine—and fuel pump—will thank you.

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

Categories:

Fuel Pump

Light Up your Life (Headlamp Replacement)

Did you know that having a burned out headlight can result in your rearview mirror reflecting some flashing lights? In other words, you might get pulled over by the police for only having one working headlight, because in most places it's against the law. 

Not only is it illegal to drive with one headlight burned out, but it's also dangerous. You can't see down the road nearly as well at night with only one headlight, and other drivers can't see you as easily either.

The good news is many newer vehicles warn you when one of your headlamps burns out. When that happens, have it taken care of as soon as you can.  While there was a time when all headlamps were pretty much the same, the same isn't true these days. There are halogen, Xenon, LED and other technologies used in modern vehicles.  Plus there are sealed beams (like those on older vehicles) and capsules.

If you have a burned out headlamp, ask your service advisor for recommendations.  Usually when one side goes, the other isn’t far behind. Many suggest replacing both headlamps at the same time.  Your vehicle's owner's manual can tell you what the manufacturer recommends.  You also can ask your service advisor about upgrading to a headlight that might give you better visibility. 

In order to make sure you're able to see down the road the way your vehicle was designed and not blind oncoming drivers, it's vital that new headlights be aimed properly.  That's another good reason to have this service performed by a technician. Now, that's a really bright idea.

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

Categories:

Headlamps

Road Ready (Trip Inspection)

Maybe you've been cooped up for a while and are yearning for a change of scenery.  Or maybe you need to visit a relative who lives far away.  You choose not to fork out the big bucks for airline tickets, so it's time for a road trip.  Make sure you're road ready by having your vehicle professionally inspected before the big drive.

One of our technicians can check out several of your vehicle's most important systems so you can be more confident that you'll be able to go the distance without a breakdown.  Here are a few things a trip inspection may include:

Your vehicle stops with brakes that, in turn, stop the tires.  They must both be in sound condition. The technician can look at your tire tread, the condition of the sidewalls, and note the tires' age.  Brakes have pads and rotors that should meet certain specs, so an expert inspection of their condition is important, too.

A technician can check other vital fluids such as engine coolant, power steering, transmission, and windshield washer fluid. Your wipers must be in good condition so you can see, and they're often one of the most neglected parts of a vehicle. 

Your headlights must work correctly and be aimed properly so you can see and so that you're not blinding oncoming drivers. They're powered by your battery, and a technician will check how old yours is and how well it holds a charge, all important for reliable starting. 

For cabin comfort, your climate control system needs to work correctly, which means both heat and air conditioning.  If things need to be repaired - before the trip will be a lot more convenient than trying to do it while you're traveling.

The technician can inspect hoses and belts, two things that frequently fail on a long trip.  And the big advantage of having a pro look over your vehicle is that they not only know what to look for but also can make the repairs the right way.  Now that'sthe ticket to being road ready.

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

Categories:

Trip Inspection

Keeping Your Cool (Coolant System)

No matter what the weather is like outside, your internal combustion engine expects to keep its cool all the time, even when it's really cold.  That's because engines create the power that moves you to your destination by a series of tiny explosions of a fuel and air mixture. In turn, that generates a lot of heat in a small space.

Your vehicle has a complete cooling system with a lot of different parts that work together to keep the temperature at a point where the metal engine parts won't heat up enough to warp.  Its lifeblood is coolant, a liquid that circulates through the engine (and, in most vehicles, the transmission, too) through a series of hoses and tubes. 

In order to get rid of the coolant's heat, your vehicle has a part you probably recognize: the radiator.  It does what its name proclaims: radiates heat.  The radiator has a series of thin metal fins that coolant goes through, and when outside air passes over them, the heat is dissipated from the radiator into the air.

The water pump (which is technically a coolant pump) is what propels the coolant where it needs to go. 

When there's a problem in the coolant system, it may because it's leaking somewhere.  A few things to look out for are the temperature gauge heading into the hot, or red, zone, fluid leaks under your vehicle, or the sweet smell of coolant under your vehicle after it's been parked.

If your vehicle has any of those signs, bring it in so we can check things out.  A technician will inspect the water pump and hoses for any signs of leaks.  They'll also look for leaks or holes in the radiator core or cores. 

One other potential trouble spot is the radiator cap that can sometimes fail to keep the required pressure in the radiator.  Once the problems are fixed, they'll add the correct coolant and you'll be on your way.  We want you to always keep your cool. 

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

 

Categories:

Cooling System

Bad Vibrations (Brake Rotor Replacement)

If you’ve ever stepped on your brake pedal and felt your vehicle vibrate, that’s a signal that you shouldn’t ignore.  A pulsating brake pedal is a sign that something is wrong.  Braking action should be smooth, sure, and quiet, not shaky and noisy.

Most newer vehicles have disc brakes, called that because they have a round, flat disc connected to each wheel.  Those discs are the rotors. Other parts called brake pads are squeezed against those discs when you press on the brake pedal.

Remember that vibration we mentioned? That can be caused by the rotor not having a straight, true surface. Rotors can heat up from friction and warp.  They can become thinner from constant wear.  Rotors can rust from the elements they’re exposed to, such as rain, snow ice, and salt.  They can get grooves in them from so many contacts with the pads. 

The signs of worn rotors are vibrations, grooves on the rotor (which you can see sometimes through open spots in the wheel) noise such as squealing or scraping when you brake, and increased stopping distance.   

While it used to be common for rotors to be machined (shaved down to restore their flat surface), newer vehicles have thinner rotors, so your service adviser may suggest you replace rotors when they start showing signs of significant wear.

Brakes are important safety equipment for every vehicle.  They enhance your control while driving, so it’s important that they be regularly inspected and maintained.  A good time is when you have your tires rotated. A technician can then look at all components of your brakes and recommend any service you may need to keep your brakes in top shape.

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

Categories:

Brakes

Oil's Well That Ends Well (Oil Change Grades and Weight)

Changing your oil regularly is one of the most important things you can do to keep your vehicle running well.  And knowing the right type of oil to use is also very important. 

Engine oil is classified by weight, but it doesn't refer to how much the oil would weigh if you put it on a scale.  It refers to viscosity, or how easily the oil flows through the engine.  Most engines operate normally at around 210°F/99°C.  The viscosity, or weight, is assigned a number by how well it flows at that temperature.  The lower the number, the more freely it flows. 

Most vehicle engines use what's called a multigrade oil which behaves differently in different temperatures. Multigrade oils have a "W" in their viscosity number that you may have seen on a bottle of oil, something like 5W30.  The W stands for winter and shows how freely it flows in colder temperatures.

That means a 5W30 oil will behave like a 5 weight oil in lower temperatures (less viscous or thinner) and a 30 weight oil in warmer temperatures (more viscous or thicker).  That's important on a cold day because the oil needs to behave like a thinner oil when you start your engine since it need to lubricate engine components immediately to protect the metal components. Then as the engine warms up, it behaves like a thicker oil to prevent friction among those parts.  Pretty neat trick, right?

The type of oil you use can differ depending on what type of climate you operate your vehicle in and how your vehicle is used (carrying big loads, towing, etc.). Your owner's manual contains several different recommendations based on these factors.  Your service advisor can recommend the right oil for your needs.  Like Shakespeare said, "Oil's well that ends well."

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

Categories:

Oil Change

Read a Good Tire Lately? (Tire Wear)

There's lots of good information to read in books and online.  You might not know that you can also "read" your tires and learn a lot about what shape they're in and if they are in need of attention. It's important to know how your tires are doing because a tire failure can be very dangerous to you, your passengers and others on the road near you.

You read your tire by looking at the surface that rides on the road, where the tread is.  Check out the outer and inner edges.  If you notice there's more wear on the inner or outer edge than on the rest of the tread, your vehicle could be out of alignment.  Wear on an inner or outer edge could mean your wheels are leaning too much to one side.  When you see this, visit our service center soon to have the alignment checked.

What about if both edges are worn? That could be a sign that you don't have enough air in that tire.  In an underinflated tire, the middle is not contacting the road surface as much as the edges, so the edges wear down first.  It could also mean that you're taking corners too aggressively or your tires haven't been rotated on a regular schedule.

Another thing you might see on your tires' tread area is wear in the center of the tire.  That means you likely have too much air in that tire.  Too much air makes your tire contact the road in the middle more than on the edges so the middle wears down prematurely. 

You might also see some smooth spots on the tread in irregular spots. This is called cupping. This is sometimes caused by suspension problems. A technician can examine your suspension to see if it is up to the manufacturer's specifications.

Finally, you may spot tires that are worn unevenly in a pattern that goes diagonal to the tread pattern.  This could mean your tires are out of balance, something our service center can check. They might also check alignment at the same time.

Your tires are the only part of your vehicle that contacts the road surface.  That means your acceleration, traction, steering and braking are all dependent on your tires being healthy. Maintain your tires by having one of our trained technicians read the clues and making sure they're always in roadworthy shape. 

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

Categories:

Tires

To Fix or Not To Fix (Tire Repair)

You know that sinking feeling when you realize one of your tires has a problem.  It may be making an odd noise or behaving oddly when you're driving.  You may hit a pothole or curb and one suddenly goes flat.  Or you may head back to your vehicle and discover it has one tire deflated without a clue of what must have happened to it.

With a lot of different tires hitting the streets these days, the issue of whether to have a tire repaired or replaced can be tricky, and we strongly recommend you have a trained technician help you make that decision. 

One of the most common causes of flat tires is picking up a screw or nail in the tread area.  Many of those can be patched and plugged if the puncture isn't more than ¼ inch/6 mm in diameter. Most tires can handle two of this type of repair, but any more and you should buy a new tire. 

If there's a puncture or bulge in the sidewall or shoulder, the rule of thumb is it's not repairable.  The sidewall doesn't have the reinforcements that the tread area does.  In fact, any puncture that's more than a ½ inch/12 mm away from the edge of the tread should not be fixed. 

Many newer vehicles have no spare tires (to save weight and fuel) and instead have a type of tire called "run-flat."  Sometimes, the only way you know they're deflated is when the tire pressure monitor alerts the driver.  Driving on them more than 50 miles/80km can render them un-repairable.  They may be fixable if you pulled off to the side of the road before driving on them too long. Our technicians can evaluate whether they can be driven further or should be replaced.

Other vehicles with no spare include a can of tire sealant and a compressor.  If you use it, tire experts say to have the tire professionally repaired as soon as possible.

If you have had a flat tire, try not to drive on it unless it's necessary to get your vehicle away from a dangerous situation.  Our technicians can evaluate any tire you may be having problems with and recommend whether repair or replacement is the best option. Your safety is riding on your tires.  

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

Categories:

Tires

Staying In Charge (Alternator Repair)

Seems like these days, we're hearing about more and more electric or hybrid vehicles.  Keep in mind that conventional gasoline internal combustion vehicles have important electrical components, too, and it's important to make sure they're operating at their peak.

In a vehicle with a gasoline engine, the part that keeps the battery charged is the alternator.  It converts the mechanical energy created by the engine into electrical power.  To do that, a shaft in the alternator has a pulley on one end that's driven by a belt that is turned by the engine.  A series of magnets then spins around coiled wires and it creates alternating current, or electricity. Your vehicle uses that to charge the battery that, in turn, keeps other electrical components in your vehicle working.

Here are a few signs that the alternator isn't doing its job right.  The battery keeps going dead, your instrument panel's battery light is on (it looks like a rectangle with a - and + inside and a couple of "terminals" on top), or your lights are dimmer than they usually are. You may also have a voltage gauge that shows  lower than usual power. If bearings in your alternator are seizing up, you may hear a grinding noise coming from your engine compartment. If you have any of those signs, bring your vehicle to us so we can check your electrical system.

A technician will run diagnostics on your alternator, the cables and the battery. Because the alternator is driven by a belt, the technician will check what shape all the drive belts are in.  Plus, we'll see how much electricity the alternator is putting out. 

If your alternator has failed, it can be replaced with a new or a remanufactured one. Speak with your service advisor about which will best suit your needs. Oh, and keep in mind that sometimes other parts may have to be replaced at the same time. For example, if your alternator's bearings froze up, that may have damaged the drive belt, and it may have to be replaced at the same time. 

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

Categories:

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