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Blind spots may be a good thing when it comes to a spouse’s annoying habits, but when driving an automobile in Centralia, they are definitely to be avoided. So, while it’s not good marital advice, it’s good auto advice to minimize your own blind spots and stay out of other Tacoma motorists' blind spots, especially when it comes to large, heavy vehicles like trucks and buses.
First, minimize your own blind spots. Do this before you pull out of the driveway or parking space. Adjust your rearview mirror so that you see as much of the area behind you as possible. And, no, this doesn’t include the passengers in the back seat. The rearview mirror isn’t designed to be a baby monitor.
Next, lean to the side until your head almost touches the driver’s side window. Now adjust the driver’s side mirror so that it just catches the side of the sedan. Then, lean to the middle of the car and adjust the passenger’s side mirror in the same way. These adjustments will ensure you the widest possible view behind your vehicle.
Of course, you can’t eliminate blind spots entirely. There is always an area behind any vehicle where the driver just can’t see what’s there. The bigger the vehicle, the bigger the blind spot. Toddlers are just the right size to hide in a pickup’s or SUV’s blind spot. The blind spot on an RV or tractor-trailer can actually hide your crossover! You should always check behind any vehicle before getting in and backing up. And if you sit in the sedan for a few minutes before backing up, it is essential to get out and check again, especially if you are pulling out of a neighborhood driveway in Centralia. No precaution is too extreme if it saves the life of a child.
Once you have taken care of your own blind spots, be aware that other Centralia auto owners have them, too. And avoid them. Trucks and buses have large blind spots, and they have blind spots on all four sides, so they should always be given extra room on Winlock roads. They are also heavy, which means they need more room to stop, and their length means they need a wider area for turns, and their large size makes them less maneuverable than a car.
Trucks may cause about 60% of the accidents involving a truck and a car, but 78% of fatalities in such accidents are with the smaller vehicle. The number of fatalities in Washington, as well as the number of crashes, could be cut significantly if Centralia auto owners learned to properly share Washington roads with trucks.
Never follow a truck too closely. If you can’t see the driver’s face in his side mirror, then he can’t see you. If you need to pass a truck, it is vital to make sure you give yourself enough time to pass the rig. Wait for the right opportunity rather than “cutting it close.” On a two-lane Washington highway, it’s always a good idea to wait for a passing zone if they are available. A little patience could save your life or the lives of others. Turn on your turn signal so the truck knows what you’re planning, and pass on the left whenever possible. Remember those blind spots? They are much larger on the right side of a truck.
Once you’ve committed to passing the truck, don’t muck about. Pass it quickly and give yourself plenty of room to move back over. It is essential to wait until you can see both headlights in your rearview mirror before pulling back in front of the truck. Once again, use your sedan turn signals. After you pull in front of the truck, decelerate to the regulated driving speed slowly. Remember that the truck has a long stopping distance, which translates into a long slowing distance. And, since trucks are so big, we often perceive them as traveling more slowly than they really are. Trucks are a lot of weight moving at a high speed, and we need to treat them accordingly.
Never pull to the right of a truck at an intersection unless you are absolutely certain it is not going to turn. Check if its turn signals are on or if it has angled to the left or right. (Trucks often begin a right turn by angling to the left to widen their turning area.) Trucks need a lot of room on city streets, and they probably can’t see you if you pull along their right side. Too many cars have ended up in Centralia body shops because the drivers thought they could beat that truck to the right turn, or they only noticed the seemingly open lane, and not the truck angling into a turn.
While learning to share Tacoma area roads and highways with trucks and other large vehicles may not seem like preventive auto maintenance, it does, in fact, go hand-in-hand with good Centralia car care. Keeping your sedan out of the body shop can save you big bucks and prevent the stress of a major accident, along with the injuries that could come with it.
The team at LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia urges you to stay safe, and stay on the road!
Posted in the Safety category
Centralia motorists' current vehicles have over a century of engineering behind them. They have evolved into complex and powerful machines. Developments in their engines, however, have coincided with advances in many other vehicle components, including the fluids.
It’s critical for Centralia car owners to always use the right type of fluid for their sedan. Your service advisor and your owner’s manual are resources for auto advice on exactly what types of fluid your vehicle needs. Improper fluids can damage your vehicle and void your warranty.
Some of the fluids that have changed significantly in recent years are cooling system fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid and motor oil. Each of these comes in many varieties now, and it’s vital to know exactly which one your sedan needs.
Cooling systems were once made of iron, steel and rubber. One coolant could be used to protect all of these materials. But new cooling systems have components made from a variety of metal alloys and several kinds of plastic, and coolants now contain additives that protect these various materials from corrosion. Since the materials vary among car makers, they require different additives, which means there are now a number of coolants on the market. The type of coolant your sedan needs depends on the materials used in its cooling system.
Most vehicles used to require Dot 3 brake fluid. But now many vehicles need Dot 4 or Dot 5. Some Centralia car owners mistakenly think the higher numbers reflect an increase in grade—that Dot 4 is somehow better than Dot 3. But the truth is, the numbers represent variations in formulation. The different formulas have evolved to meet the demands of newer and better brake systems. For a long time, transmission fluid came in two varieties: regular and friction-modified. But transmissions have come a long way recently, and so have the fluids that protect and lubricate them. There are several new types of fluid on the market, but your sedan is designed for just one of them.
Of all the automotive fluids, motor oils have experienced perhaps the greatest advances in engineering and technology. A number of new weights and formulations have recently been developed to meet the needs of modern engines, which have more parts and tighter tolerances than ever before. Engines have become more sophisticated and complicated, but they have also increased in power and fuel efficiency. Despite these changes, Centralia drivers still need them to be highly durable.
That’s the job of motor oil. Motor oil still has to perform its original, important function—lubricating and protecting the engine. It is formulated to help clean the engine as well. Modern motor oil also has to be thin enough to penetrate small engine passages yet still be resistant to vaporization.
Specialized motor oils have also been developed for high-mileage vehicles. If your sedan has 75,000 miles or more on it, you might consider switching to one of these motor oils. They contain extra detergents that help clean older engines and important additives that condition seals and gaskets that can become brittle with age. High-mileage motor oils come in weights and types just like regular motor oils, and Centralia car owners should match the proper weight and type of high-mileage oil to their vehicle in the same way you would regular motor oil.
Over time, vehicles have developed in complexity and variety, and their fluids have developed as well. Each vehicle is matched to a set of fluids that meet its specific requirements. Washington vehicle owners should take care to learn their sedan’s fluid requirements before topping off at home. A large part of preventive maintenance for Centralia auto owners is making sure your vehicle’s fluids are clean and adequate, but they must be the proper type as well. As our sedans become more sophisticated, car care becomes more sophisticated as well.
Learning about proper fluids for your vehicle will help you maintain its performance and prolong its life. Talk to us at LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia.
Posted in the Fluids category
Most cars and trucks have automatic transmissions, yet a lot of Chehalis auto owners only have a fuzzy understanding about what a transmission does. Think back to the last time you rode a bike in Chehalis. You started out in a lower gear and shifted to higher gears as you went faster. Down shift for hills, stuff like that. Think of your legs as the engine – there’s an ideal speed you can pedal and you change gears to leverage the work you’re doing.
Lower gears for power on hills or for starting out. Higher gears for more speed. That’s what the automatic transmission does – it automatically starts in lower gears and shifts up to higher gears to go faster on Washington expressways. And automatically shifts back down to climb Chehalis hills, pass or start up again.
sedan automatic transmissions have certainly gotten more sophisticated in recent years. They have more speeds than before: the base is four speeds, five is very common.
At LeDuc's Service Center, we routinely service transmissions with six speeds and several have seven or even eight speeds. As you can imagine, this means more parts. Any they all have to fit into roughly the same space.
Transmissions are computer controlled these days, with some high end transmissions having two or three computers. Transmissions are engineered to last. But they are also engineered to tighter tolerances. If a portion of the transmission is starved for lubrication, it can lead to failure.
Not enough fluid can starve the transmission or dirty transmission fluid can clog small passages in the transmission, then the lubricant is blocked and can’t get to all the parts to protect them, so they wear out prematurely. The technicians at LeDuc's Service Center see far too many transmissions that needlessly failed due to neglect.
And, as you can imagine, repairing one of these new transmissions at any Centralia service center can be quite costly. That’s why car makers have a schedule for how often you should change the fluid and what type of fluid to use.
It’s really important for Chehalis auto owners to carefully follow the manufacturer’s transmission service schedule.
At LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia, we hope you never become shiftless in Chehalis because you didn’t take care of your transmission.
Posted in the Transmission category
Today's LeDuc's Service Center auto maintenance article focuses on 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. Let’s go over them.
First, the serpentine belt drives your sedan air conditioning system. It spins the compressor that makes the cool air that takes the edge off the summer heat in Tacoma.
Next, the belt powers the alternator. The alternator creates electricity that’s used by your sedan’s electrical systems and also charges your car battery. All Tacoma motorists know that 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 and power brakes. And, on many sedans, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine to keep it within normal operating temperatures for Tacoma auto owners. (On some sedans, the water pump is powered by the timing belt instead of the serpentine belt.)
So you can see the serpentine belt does a lot of work. And it if breaks, it affects a lot of systems. That’s why auto makers and your service advisor at LeDuc's Service Center have recommended that it be changed every so often so that it doesn’t fail.
Your professional, friendly & honest LeDuc's Service Center technician can perform a visual inspection of the belt to see if it has any cracks that signal the belt could fail soon and will measure the amount of belt material to make sure there is enough.
Your serpentine belt works in tandem with a spring loaded pulley attached to the engine called the tensioner pulley. Its essential 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 LeDuc's Service Center, we recommend that the tensioner be replaced at the same time as the serpentine belt.
All in all, the serpentine belt’s a vital art for the function of your sedan. And it’s not that costly to replace at LeDuc's Service Center – so bring in your vehicle if it hasn't been checked in a while.
Posted in the Maintenance category
Most Centralia car owners don't even think about their car air conditioning system unless it fails. That’s because many Centralia and Littlerock motorists don't really understand that auto A/Cs need periodic service. Let me share some of the reasons why they fail.
First, like every machine, the sedan air conditioner parts need - you guessed it - lubrication. The lubricant is actually mixed in with the refrigerant (that’s the stuff that makes the air cool). Remember that even if the air conditioner is still blowing out cool air, the oil that lubricates the parts may be used up: and unlubricated parts can fail in all Washington cars.
Now here’s a tip for Centralia drivers: Run your air conditioner every so often during Washington winters. This circulates the lubricant to help keep the seals from drying out.
The air conditioner actually removes some of the moisture in the air. So if you have trouble with fogging on your sedan windshield during Washington winters or during a rain storm, running the A/C on the defrost setting should help. Now on some Centralia cars you can’t run the A/C at the same time as the defroster. Don’t ask me why, but I suspect lawyers were involved.
Also, air and water can get into the A/C system. That can reduce the efficiency of the system and also lead to corrosion that causes damage. Tacoma drivers should periodically purge the system and replace the refrigerant to remove the air and water.
Centralia drivers would be wise to learn the essential early warning signs of A/C trouble: 1) The air’s not as cold as it used to be. 2) Unusual noises when the A/C cycles on. Those are signs to get your vehicle into LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia before the damage gets worse.
By following the recommended service intervals in your sedan owner’s manual, you can help prevent mechanical failure of your air conditioning system. Your A/C system contains some costly components like the compressor, condenser, dryer, etc. Anything Chehalis and Littlerock car owners can do to lengthen the life of their A/C is well worth it.
Posted in the Air Conditioning category
Sometimes we hear Centralia car owners 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 Centralia auto owners 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 and show how important it is to get 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 income. 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 a highway in Washington 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 completely replaced - 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 Washington safety inspection to renew his registration. At the Centralia 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 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 little income on his safety inspection turned into an extra $500 over what brake pad replacement would have been. Moral of the story for Centralia drivers: don't skip your critical annual inspections. The irony is that many Centralia 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 powerful 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 auto 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 automobile manufacturer's maintenance schedule? You bet he does - every time he passes a big-screen TV.
The team at LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia recommends taking care of little things before they become big things. And when you take care of the little things, you can make your car run better and is more economical to operate in Washington. 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 Littlerock or Winlock service center or LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia for an inspection. Take care of unperformed vital routine maintenance sooner rather than later.
LeDuc's Service Center
1417 Kresky Ave
Centralia, Washington 98531
Posted in the Maintenance category
All of us Centralia auto owners know we have to get the oil changed in our sedans periodically. That’s just part of good car care. But when Tacoma technicians change your oil, they also usually inspect your air filter. That’s why they sometimes let you know that your air filter needs to be changed before releasing your sedan.
Don’t just chock this up to trying to sell you something else. Winlock motorists really do need to change their air filter when it gets dirty. You can check your owner’s manual to see how often your air filter should need to be changed, but remember, if you live in an area in Washington with poor air quality, or if you drive a lot or drive under harsh conditions in the Tacoma area, you may need to change that filter more often than is recommended.
Changing an air filter isn’t guesswork. If a filter’s dirty, it needs to be replaced. Air filters aren’t very expensive at LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia. But the problems they cause if Centralia auto owners don’t change them can get to be expensive.
For every gallon of gas your sedan burns, it needs 12,000 gallons of air. Clean filters allow better airflow into your engine, which means that your engine will get more air more quickly. That means your sedan engine runs more efficiently.
Dirty air filters cut airflow to your engine. All the debris in the filter clogs up the spaces the air needs to pass through to get to the engine. This dirty air can damage expensive electronic components.
If you are in tune with your sedan, you’ll notice a difference when you change a really dirty air filter for a clean one. Your sedan may actually purr for you again. Its performance improves when it has a new, clean filter. So remember, changing your air filter is one of the most vital elements of preventive maintenance. At LeDuc's Service Center, it’s inexpensive, it’s effective, and it’s essential.
Posted in the Engine Air Filter category
Safety should always be a key element of your car care. So even if you don’t care about how your car looks, you should practice preventive maintenance to protect yourself — and other Centralia drivers — on the road. And good safety starts with good brakes.
Brakes need a regular inspection. There are important parts that wear out or wear down, and it’s best to replace them before you have troubles.
Of course, if you are having trouble with your brakes, NOW is the time to fix them. If your brake warning light is on, that’s a good sign that you need your brakes checked. Centralia car owners can also tell something is wrong with their brakes by the feel of the pedal or unusual sounds while braking. If the brake pedal is low, feels spongy when you press it or is hard to push, that indicates a problem with your brakes. If you hear squealing, grinding or clunking noises when you brake, that can also indicate troubles. If vibrations accompany braking, then it is essential to get your brakes checked.
Brakes come in two basic types. With disk brakes, a rotor is attached to the axle of the vehicle. Padded calipers straddle the rotor, which close when the brakes are applied. The resulting friction causes the rotor — and the axle — to stop turning. With drum brakes, brake pads (also called shoes) press against the inside of a drum to create friction and stop the drum, and hence the sedan’s wheels, from turning.
When LeDuc's Service Center services your brake system, your professional, friendly & honest technician checks all of the brake pads for wear. If they are too thin, they need to be replaced. This is an inexpensive repair at LeDuc's Service Center compared to what procrastination will cost you. If pads wear away completely, then the rotors and drums can be damaged. They will have to be either resurfaced or replaced, and that can be expensive. But if your sedan brake pads are worn out, then your brakes are compromised and your stopping power is greatly reduced. You could easily wind up in an accident.
Brake pads come in several different grades such as regular, metallic and ceramic. The higher grades are more costly in Centralia, but they also work better. Washington motorists who want better and smoother braking, should consider upgrading. However, Tacoma drivers should NEVER use a brake pad that is lower than your car maker’s recommendation.
After you your brake pads are checked at LeDuc's Service Center, it's important to have your brake fluid checked. This is a critical element in your brake system. When you press your brake pedal, you are compressing the brake fluid, creating pressure that activates the brake pads. If your fluid pressure is low, it will curtail your braking power. The pads just won’t be able to press hard enough against the rotor or drum to stop your sedan. Just as with worn pads, insufficient brake fluid can lead to a detrimental and expensive accident in Centralia.
Water can build up in your brake fluid, which can cause harmful corrosion in your braking system. Eventually this can cause your brake fluid to leak. So Centralia auto owners should also change their brake fluid periodically. Your sedan owner's manual will have guidelines on how often it should be replaced or ask a professional, friendly & honest service professional at LeDuc's Service Center. We have been servicing brake systems in Centralia for 54 years.
Remember, Tacoma folks, safety first. It’s critical auto advice for all Centralia motorists on the road. You’re not just protecting others; you’re protecting yourself.
Posted in the Brakes category
When your experienced LeDuc's Service Center service advisor technician changes your oil, he will also inspect your air filter. You shouldn’t need a new filter at every oil change, but you will need to change it regularly. Heed your tech’s auto advice if they tell you to change your filter. It’s not costly, and it makes a big difference to your sedan.
An air filter does what its name implies: it filters stuff out of the air. Air is drawn into your engine through the filter because your engine needs air to burn fuel. If the filter weren’t there, a lot of dust and debris would come into the sedan engine with the air. That dust and debris would get hot, burn, and produce all kinds of ash and gumminess that would eventually clog up your engine.
Drop in an air filter and voilá! Problem solved.
But air filters themselves get clogged up with all the junk they clean out of the Tacoma air. This doesn’t allow the junk into the sedan engine, but it does block up the airflow. A blocked airflow will reduce engine efficiency.
An engine needs about 12,000 gallons of air to burn just one gallon of gasoline. Think of a runner. If he is breathing well, he can run well. But if he has a lung condition, he won’t be able to generate the oxygen necessary to keep his cells powered up. He won’t be able to run at peak efficiency.
Or consider a vacuum cleaner. Even without the light, you can tell when the vacuum bag is full because the machine just doesn’t clean anymore. Change the bag and its efficiency immediately improves.
So keep your sedan breathing well by keeping its air filter clean. That’s good car care.
Centralia auto owners who get a charge out of the feeling of power in their engine might consider upgrading their air filter. Talk to your professional, friendly & honest LeDuc's Service Center service specialist. Premium air filters have been proven to increase horsepower and torque. So with the cost of a premium air filter, you can increase the horsepower in your engine — there’s no cheaper way to do that!
It’s also one of the least pricey and simplest elements of important routine preventive maintenance – and protects against damage to expensive sedan electronic systems. No Centralia resident should have an excuse to drive around Tacoma roads and freeways with a dirty air filter.
Posted in the Engine Air Filter category
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 auto maker to issue recall notices to Centralia residents and to fix the affected cars free of charge. The car maker then tries to contact all Centralia car owners who own that type of car so they can have it taken care of at their Centralia service center.
To find out if your car has any recall issues, give us a call:
LeDuc's Service Center
1417 Kresky Ave Centralia, Washington 98531
These recalls always affect safety, so Centralia drivers 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 Centralia auto owners and don’t happen all that often. But sometimes cars have less serious problems that Centralia 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 Centralia service centers (including LeDuc's Service Center) how to repair a problem that occurs frequently or is especially difficult.
Your Centralia service professional receives updated information through subscription plans, which are sometimes available in consumer versions too. Centralia auto owners can buy access to these for an annual fee.
Whatever your source, pay attention to Centralia vehicle recalls to keep you and your passengers safe.
Posted in the Maintenance category