Yearly Archives: 2024

I Want a New Vehicle. Or Do I? (Vehicle Maintenance Payoffs)

Spring is a peak season for vehicle sales; companies aggressively market new models and offer all sorts of incentives.  So you may be tempted to buy a shiny new beauty.  But should you?

If you've regularly maintained the vehicle you're driving now, you probably don't NEED a new one.  Even if your current one needs some repairs, how do those costs compare to what you'd spend on a new vehicle?

A brand new vehicle starts to depreciate the second you drive it off the lot. How much? Experts say you'll lose half of its value during the first 5 years of owning a new vehicle. So if you pay $30,000 for a new one, you'll lose $15,000 in 5 years.  That's a lot.

If you have paid off your current vehicle, think of having to start making car payments again.  Let's say your new payment would be $350 a month.  Bet you can think of a lot of things you can buy with an extra $350 a month.

Many considering a new vehicle don't factor how much their insurance and license tag fees will increase.  You may save yourself hundreds of dollars in insurance and license tag fees every year if you keep your old vehicle.

That gets us back to the original question.  Do you need a new vehicle? Reliability and durability of most models have made dramatic improvements in the last couple of decades.  It's not unusual for a vehicle to reliably reach the 200,000 mile/325,000 km mark these days.  That's due to new engineering in powertrains, corrosion protection and lubricants. 

The best bet to keeping a vehicle on the road longer is scheduled, regular maintenance and inspection.  Replacing parts before they fail is often cheaper than waiting till they do fail; frequently that prevents a damaging domino effect that affects other systems in the vehicle. Finding a service facility you can trust and developing a relationship with that facility ensures your scheduled service and maintenance will be done correctly, minimizing breakdowns. 

Sure, at some point you may find you need a big repair that will cost more than your vehicle is worth, or rust will destroy vital components. But it's wise to use reason rather than emotion when you're making any decision about your vehicle, and sticking with your current one could be the most sensible choice.


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

Categories:

Inspection

The Vivacious Vernal Vehicle (Preparing Vehicle for Spring)

Most of us look forward to spring because the days are longer, the weather's warmer and we can finally get our vehicles into warm weather mode.  Here are a few things that will breathe fresh energy into anyone's car, SUV, truck or van.

First thing is a good cleaning, especially underneath. If you live where salt and brine are used on the roads, it's important to get that off.  One thing to note… if you hose off your undercarriage, be careful not to get your spark plugs/wires wet.  You could notice your vehicle running rough plus the Check Engine light may come on. It usually dries out quickly, but if the engine light stays on for more than a couple of days, have your service facility check it out.

Next, replace your windshield wipers.  They've taken a beating through the winter. New ones will have fresh rubber and you'll see clearly (and safely) out your windshield again.

Have your brakes inspected.  That salt doesn't do your brake's metal components any good.  Have a technician make sure your pads and rotors are clean and properly lubricated so they can stop you when you ask them to.

Speaking of wheels, it's a good time to have your tires checked, too.  Road debris and potholes can take a toll on tread and sidewalls. It may also be a good idea to have a technician check your alignment since you likely have hit something pretty hard on a patch of rough road at some time during the winter.

Make sure your tire pressure is appropriate for the rising temperatures. As the outside air warms up, your tire pressure climbs without you adding any air.  Make sure it's what the manufacturer recommends.

Finally, treat your vehicle's interior to a thorough refresh.  Those floor mats and carpets may be white with salt; clean 'em up.  Get rid of wrappers, drink lids, empty water bottles and anything else that's fallen down.  And if you need to, have your upholstery cleaned so it looks and smells new. A clean exterior is nice, but since you spend your time inside your vehicle, it'll feel even better when your cabin is sparkling fresh.


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

Categories:

Inspection

Catalytic Converter Replacement

Many of us have become aware of how important it is to keep our planet’s air clean, and your vehicle has a key component that helps do just that: the catalytic converter.  It’s in the exhaust system, and its job is to superheat unburned, harmful byproducts in the exhaust, so they don’t get spewed out into the atmosphere.

There’s another important purpose the catalytic converter has: it improves your vehicle’s efficiency. 

Most of us don’t give the catalytic converter much thought until it breaks or someone steals yours, something that’s been happening much more frequently in recent years.  The reason people steal them is that catalytic converters use precious metals such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium to do their job. So, they contain valuable materials thieves can sell.

The most likely reason you will have to replace your catalytic converter is age.  The more distance your vehicle travels and the more hours your engine runs, it’s putting wear and tear on the converter.  T

You can tell if your catalytic converter is failing by looking out for these signs:

  • Smell of rotten eggs inside your cabin or outside near the exhaust
  • Check Engine light is on
  • Vehicle power isn’t what it used to be, or fuel economy has plunged
  • Vehicle backfires

If you need a new catalytic converter, it can be replaced with an original equipment part if it’s available, or an aftermarket converter can be welded into the exhaust pipe.  It’s not uncommon for oxygen sensors to need replacing as well.  The technician will also check for other problems in your powertrain that may have contributed to your converter failing.

Check to see if an emissions test is required where you live.  If it is, you will have to have a properly functioning catalytic converter to pass it.

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

Categories:

Exhaust

Beware Dangers of Spring Driving (Seasonal Driving Tips)

Sure, winter is quickly fading in the rearview mirror, but the peril of icy roads is replaced with a whole new set of driving challenges in spring.

Deer and other wildlife. You are not the only one who gets spring fever.  Animals do, too, and spring is the time they start looking for mates and food.  Be extra careful at dawn and dusk when deer are especially active.  Hitting a deer (or having them jump into your path suddenly) is a frightening experience, and even a deer/vehicle collision at slow speeds can cause injury and/or loss of life for both animal and humans, let alone expensive damage to the vehicle.  Be extra vigilant during spring.

The angle of the light.  As the seasons progress, you'll notice sun angles change.  The sun is rising earlier every morning and setting later at light.  When the sun is low in the sky, that glare can render you almost completely blind.  Make sure your windows and windshield are clean; don't forget the inside glass, too, which can build up a haze over the winter. 

Potholes. The freezing and thawing of pavement is shockingly effective at busting up asphalt and concrete. The holes left behind can seem like moon craters, and if you hit one or more hard, they can cause you to lose control of your vehicle, increasing your chances of an accident.  They also can cause some significant damage to your vehicle. If you feel your vehicle pulling to one side, notice it has a rough ride or hear noises you haven’t heard before, have your suspension's integrity inspected at your vehicle service facility.    

Children playing.  Kids are excited to get back outside, running wild, playing with balls and toys… just being kids.  These newly-rediscovered outside thrills can also steal away their attention from what's going on around them and they may dart out onto the street before you know it. Spring is a time to be vigilant and devote extra concentration to roads and neighborhoods. 

Spring is such a breath of fresh air. Remember to be super careful of a whole new set of hazards winter made you forget about for a while.


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

Categories:

Inspection

A Bumpy Ride (Strut Assembly Replacement)

If you’ve noticed your vehicle’s ride has lately been bumpy or you’re hearing strange noises when you drive over bumps, you may need new struts.   The strut assembly is part of your vehicle’s suspension system that’s used to absorb the irregularities on the surfaces you drive on.

You have probably heard of shocks or shock absorbers.  A shock is a piston with gas or liquid inside.  When you hit a bump, that shock absorbs the blow. Struts are similar to shocks but they also have a coil spring for extra strength.  They’re often used in the front of the vehicle because of the engine’s extra weight. 

As you might imagine, your struts take a beating every day.  Eventually, they will wear out, and your wheels and tires won’t stay connected to the road as well as they used to. In addition to a bumpier ride, you may notice your tires starting to wear with failing struts because those tires aren’t in contact with the road surface as evenly as they used to be. 

When you bring your vehicle in to us, we’ll run some tests to determine what’s going on and what condition your suspension components are in.  Your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends struts to be replaced at certain intervals, and it’s important to change them out with the same type of equipment.  They should always be replaced in pairs on the same axle. 

After your struts are replaced, your suspension should be aligned so everything is headed down the road in the right direction. After that, driving should be smooth sailing.

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

Losing Your Cool (Why is My Air Conditioning System Not Working?)

When you turn on the air conditioning in your vehicle, you expect cool air to come out of the vents.  You depend on it, especially in hot weather, but it can also be important in humid weather when you need it to help defrost your windows and windshield.

The air conditioning system has a lot of parts to it.  It has fans and blowers to move the air through the vents into the cabin.  It has parts that take hot air and cool it off. An electrical problem can be as simple as a broken switch or a broken blower motor. The air may not be getting cool because a hose in the system is broken or the refrigerant has leaked out. 

Two major components are the compressor and the condenser.  The compressor pressurizes the refrigerant, one step in the air conditioning process.  The condenser takes that hot refrigerant and cools it down. It also reduces the pressure.

Because the climate control system in your vehicle is so complex, it’s best to leave the diagnosis to a trained, experienced technician.  You can help the technician zero in on the problem by noting what is happening and being able to show them where you notice the issues. Note what’s going on and write it down. 

When you bring your vehicle in to us to look at, a technician will inspect the system, conduct tests to make sure there’s enough refrigerant, and check to make sure there are no leaks anywhere.

Air conditioning is now included in most vehicles.  We all have grown used to being able to keep the cabin comfortable no matter what it’s like outside.  Let us make sure your system is working the way it was designed to.  That’s definitely the cool thing to do.

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

Categories:

Air Conditioning

Feeling Powerless (Why Is My Battery Light On?)

When one of your vehicle’s warning lights comes on, the first thing that comes to mind is, “Oh, no, what’s wrong now?” When it’s the battery light, it means there’s something wrong with your vehicle’s battery or charging system.  And because both are important for your vehicle to work properly, it’s a good idea to get it checked out.  Here are some things that may cause a battery light to illuminate.

It could be that your battery has failed.  It could be on its last legs or completely dead.  When it isn’t showing it has the voltage it should, your vehicle lets you know.

If it’s not the battery itself, it could be the system that charges it.  The alternator is part of that system and could have a problem.  It could be putting out no power, too little power, or too much.  The alternator may not be working because the belt that drives it (using the engine’s mechanical power) could be broken or slipping.  Or the alternator pulley may be broken.

The alternator needs to have a solid connection to the battery, and sometimes the posts that connect to the battery cables get so corroded, they can’t conduct enough electricity. Or it could be that a battery cable isn’t conducting power properly. 

Because the alternator supplies power to other parts of your vehicle, if it gets overloaded, it will also cause your battery light to come on.  Other possibilities are an electrical short in the charging system or a failed voltage regulator.

Your vehicle may be hard to start or it may not start at all if you have any of these problems. It’s important to bring it in to us so we can diagnose and repair the problem before you wind up stranded… and feeling really powerless.  

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

Categories:

Battery

Let?s Shift Gears (Transmission Fluid Replacement)

If you have a vehicle with an automatic transmission, you probably never think about gear shifting.  When motor vehicles were invented, all of them had to be shifted manually.  But that wonderful self-shifting transmission, referred to these days as simply an “automatic,” changed everything.

Automatic transmissions have a lot of moving parts, and they are bathed in a fluid that keeps them lubricated and cool. That fluid also is vital to the whole gear shifting process. 

As you might imagine, the longer that fluid does its job, the more chance it has to pick up some contaminants.  Sometimes a leak will spring up in an automatic transmission.  Dirty transmission fluid or not enough of it will both create problems. It may cause your Check Engine light to come on, or your transmission may run rough and make strange noises.

The best strategy is not to let it get to this point.  That means you should have your transmission fluid replaced at regular intervals. Your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends how often you should have your transmission fluid changed. You should also have the fluid checked at regular intervals to detect if any problems crop up before that recommended interval. They’ll check not only the level but also inspect its condition.

Keep in mind that most automatic transmission problems are caused by overheating. You can reduce your chances of transmission failure by making sure your transmission—and its fluid—is regularly inspected and the fluid is replaced when it needs to be.

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

Categories:

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