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Your sedan’s exhaust system is more than just a tailpipe and a muffler. In fact, it is one of the most complex systems on your sedan. Maintaining it is good LeDuc's Service Center auto advice for Centralia car owners, but it’s also good health advice and good environmental advice.
The exhaust system includes your emissions system. Because this system may affect your health and the health of our Tacoma area environment, it is subject to strict government regulations. Satisfying these regulations demands some high-tech, computer-controlled equipment, which means that the emissions system is a lot more sophisticated than it was thirty years ago. Most auto makers recommend that you have your sedan exhaust and emissions systems checked by a qualified service professional at regular intervals.
The exhaust system starts with the exhaust manifold. The manifold is attached to the sedan engine. It collects exhaust from the cylinders and directs it into the exhaust pipe. Gaskets seal the connection of the manifold to the engine and to other joints. A cracked or loose manifold or a leaking or damaged gasket can allow dangerous gases to enter the passenger compartment of a vehicle. One of these gases is carbon monoxide, which is colorless, odorless and deadly. For this reason, it is essential that Tacoma auto owners keep their exhaust system in good repair.
The pipes that connect the various parts of the exhaust system can rust or be damaged by rocks or other road debris. Such damage can cause dangerous gases to leak into the air. So it is important that exhaust pipes get a diagnostic examination regularly.
The catalytic converter is the next vital component of your sedan exhaust system. It sort of looks like a muffler. Its job is to change dangerous gases into harmless carbon dioxide and water. The catalytic converter doesn’t require any regular maintenance, but it can wear out. If it fails, you will need a new catalytic converter to pass an emissions test in Washington. Call LeDuc's Service Center at 360-736-0123 if you suspect a problem with your catalytic converter.
Oxygen sensors in the exhaust pipe monitor the oxygen content of the exhaust. This helps the sedan engine’s computer keep the fuel-to-air mixture at optimal levels.
The muffler is also part of your sedan exhaust system, but it deals with a different kind of emission. It keeps your sedan from emitting bad sounds. Mufflers act like finely tuned musical instruments. They create a feedback of sound waves to absorb or decrease the noises made by your engine. Different mufflers can create different sound waves, so you can actually “tune” your car to produce a particular sound, anything from whisper to rumble.
It is important for damaged mufflers be replaced immediately at your Centralia automotive service center, especially if they are leaking. Not only will the extra noise annoy your Centralia neighbors, a leaky muffler could be serious.
The entire exhaust system is attached to your sedan by hangers and clamps. These fasteners can rust, come loose or break. The important components of the exhaust system can get very hot, so when the hangers or clamps fail, these hot components can come into contact with other parts such as wires and hoses. These can melt, causing serious and pricey damage to your vehicle. Good car care requires that you have your exhaust system inspected regularly.
Let’s not forget the tailpipe. It’s the last critical piece in the exhaust system — and of your sedan, for that matter. Exhaust fumes exit your sedan through the tailpipe.
If your sedan has any of the following symptoms, it may have a problem with the exhaust system: it’s hard to start, it runs rough, it’s noisy, it’s smoking. Also, if your “check engine” light comes on, especially if it’s flashing, it is important to get your sedan to LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia right away. Often, the “check engine” light indicates a problem with the emissions system.
Caring for your sedan exhaust system yields cosmetic benefits like quieting your engine sounds, but also may impact your health and safety. Your life, or the life of a loved one, may actually be on the line.
Posted in the Exhaust category
Let's talk about deciphering the auto service menu board. Centralia, Washington service centers like LeDuc's Service Center have a board that lists the routine services they provide. But some people don't know what these services really are unless they ask. Let's go down a typical list, in alphabetical order, starting with air conditioning service.
Feel free at any time to give LeDuc's Service Center a call at 360-736-0123 to learn of the many services we offer, or stop by our Centralia, Washington auto center at 1417 Kresky Ave 98531.
First remember that all of these services are recommended by vehicle manufacturers. They set how often or at how many miles the service should be done.
Air conditioning service involves purging the old refrigerant and capturing it for proper disposal. Then fresh refrigerant is installed. The fresh refrigerant will lubricate the system and will also help it cool better.
Alignment. Service centers like LeDuc's Service Center make sure all four wheels are lined up and track with each other. This reduces tire and suspension wear and improves safety and handling.
Battery service. Service centers like LeDuc's Service Center inspect the battery for corrosion, leaks or damage. Test the battery's ability to hold a charge. If the battery's still strong, clean it up. If not, replace it.
Brake service. This could be two things. A brake inspection to see if the brakes are working well mechanically and to see if the pads are still safe. If not, replace the pads and make any repairs that might be in order.
The other thing is to evacuate the brake fluid, clean out the system and replace it with fresh fluid. This is important, but often over looked.
Cabin air filter. The cabin air filter is the filter that cleans the air that comes into the passenger compartment. It works like the filter on your furnace at home. It gets dirty and needs to be changed often.
Cooling system. This is the cooling system for your engine. Replace the old coolant with fresh to protect your radiator and other cooling system components from corrosion.
Differential service. Every vehicle has at least one differential. They don't require service very often, so people don't think of them much. The differential transfers power from the drive train to your wheels. Drain the old fluid and add fresh lubricant.
Engine air filter. This filters the air that's burned in the engine. It also gets dirty and needs to be replaced often.
Fuel filter. This filter cleans the fuel before it gets to the engine. Like the other filters, it too gets clogged and needs to be replaced in order to maintain good flow.
Contact LeDuc's Service Center, your Centralia, Washington auto repair center, by calling us at 360-736-0123.
Posted in the Service Intervals category
Every Centralia vehicle owner has to purchase tires at some time or another, so it’s a good idea to understand what the choices are. The best seasonal performance is achieved by purchasing tires to match the season you are driving in. Summer tires are designed for hot temperatures. The tread is engineered for good traction on dry or rainy Washington roads. But the rubber compound in summer tires gets stiff when temperatures drop below 45°F, and snow and mud can pack into the tread, reducing the traction of the tire.
Winter tires are designed for good traction on snowy surfaces. The tread actually throws snow off of the tire as the wheel turns. The rubber compound in a winter tire is soft so that it will remain flexible at Tacoma temperatures below 45°F. At higher temperatures, however, the softer rubber wears down rapidly.
All-season tires sacrifice some of the extreme performance of summer or winter tires, but they maintain adequate traction in either type of Centralia weather.
So your first consideration when buying a tire is where you live in Washington and where you usually drive. If you require maximum summer and winter performance you can go with dedicated summer and winter tires; you would just need to change out your tires each spring and fall.
For serious winter driving in Washington, look for tires with a severe snow rating. These tires are labeled with a mountain-and-snowflake logo.
Your second essential consideration is the quality of tire to purchase. Summer, winter and all-season tires come in a variety of grades and styles at Washington tire stores. Centralia auto owners will want to purchase a tire that will give them good wear and that will handle their driving style and road conditions. Your LeDuc's Service Center tire professional can give you auto advice as to which type of tire will best fit your needs.
Centralia drivers who drive off-road around Washington may want to look at a high-grade tire that is designed for off-road use. These tires are designed to handle the extra wear of off-roading while still giving good performance on Centralia streets and highways. There are a number of options to choose from so that you can find the right tire whether you are only an occasional off-road explorer or a serious rock climber.
New wheels can be purchased in Centralia as a statement of style or to add personality to your sedan. There are almost unlimited options. If you change the size of the wheels on your sedan, however, you will need to get some professional help to make your vehicle compatible with its new wheels. Talk to your LeDuc's Service Center service specialist for more information about tires.
Posted in the Tires and Wheels category
Sometimes busy Centralia residents dream about going back to the “simpler” days of our grandparents. But if you could travel back in time and take a road trip around Tacoma in a Model T, you might change your mind. The improved designs and quality of today’s automobiles have significantly reduced the amount of time Centralia car owners spend at the side of the road during breakdowns. With proper maintenance, today’s vehicles can stay on the road longer than ever before.
Some of those improvements, however, have led to higher repair costs. For example, older cars often broke down from vapor lock. Gas vaporized while traveling from the gas tank to the fuel pump. No gas, no power. The car quits going. The solution was simple — you just sat by the road until the car would start up again. Today’s Centralia auto owners would hardly tolerate that kind of inconvenience; and it’s likely that yesterday’s Centralia car owners didn’t care much for it, either. So on today’s vehicles, the fuel pump is actually located inside the gas tank. Problem solved. No more vapor lock. The downside is that now it costs a lot more to repair or replace a fuel pump at Centralia area auto service centers.
Centralia motorists should certainly should be grateful for the improvements in auto design that keep us off the side of the road, but it comes at a price. Car care in Centralia is simply more costly than it used to be. So if you think about it, Washington motorists can avoid many expensive sedan repairs by preventive maintenance. If we plan for maintenance, we can avoid a lot of costly repairs.
Edmunds.com has a great calculator to help you estimate car repair costs. Tacoma drivers can enter the year, make and model for your vehicle, and the calculator will give you an estimate of what it will cost to service and repair your vehicle for the next five years. It also estimates the costs for depreciation, financing, insurance, taxes and fuel.
These estimates can be used to set up a reasonable budget to manage your car repair and maintenance expenses. Of course, they are just estimates. All Chehalis car owners know that life hands out a lot of surprises — some good, some bad, so there’s no way to know exactly what your sedan will need. But a good estimate helps you make a good budget, and a good budget is always helpful when it comes to car repairs.
Let’s look at one example. For a 2003 Toyota Camry, here is Edmunds’ estimate for the cost of repairs and maintenance for the next three years (as of the time of this writing):
|Yr. 1||Yr. 2
According to this estimate, the owner needs to set aside about $83 a month to defray the costs of car care. That sounds like a lot until you compare it to the payment on a new automobile. And even if car repairs are more pricey than expected, that $83 is going to make the bills a lot less painful.
Just a bit of auto advice from LeDuc's Service Center: If you like new cars and can afford them, then buy them. But if you are buying a new car every few years because you’re afraid of the higher repair costs for older vehicles, then you ought to take a second look at the numbers. You can save a lot of money on car payments and Washington auto insurance with an older Centralia vehicle, and preventive auto maintenance can help you avoid most car repair bills. And if you budget for essential preventive maintenance in Washington, it can become as routine as a car payment — only a whole lot less pricey!
Posted in the Maintenance category
Centralia drivers rely on their car's coolant system to keep their engine cool. Coolant (also called antifreeze) mixed with water flows through your sedan engine and absorbs heat. The mixture then flows out to the radiator where it’s cooled by air flowing over the radiator. From there the coolant/water mix circulates back through the engine to absorb more heat.
There’s a reason we mix coolant and water. Water alone actually does a good job transferring heat from the engine. The problem is that water boils at a temperature that’s easily reached inside your sedan's engine, so it can turn to steam which does not conduct heat as well and is harder to contain.
Also, if it’s freezing outside in Centralia, the water in your engine could freeze while your vehicle is sitting out in the Washington cold.
So, if you remember your Centralia high school chemistry, you’ll know that a mixture has both a higher boiling point and a lower freezing point than either component alone.
Coolant, or antifreeze, is specially formulated to keep your engine safe in a wide range of environmental and operating temperatures in and around Centralia.
Whenever your sedan is running, the coolant in the cooling system is working to keep your engine from overheating. When it’s cold outside, the coolant acts as antifreeze to keep the fluid from freezing in your engine.
All that exploding fuel in your engine creates a lot of heat. Without coolant, the metal sedan engine parts would expand so much that the engine would seize up and stop running. The costly parts could be broken or warp so badly they would have to be replaced. It could even be so bad that the whole sedan's engine is ruined and has to be junked.
This is why it is critical that Centralia drivers check coolant levels frequently and have their sedan cooling system inspected for leaks. Also your sedan auto maker has a maintenance requirement for draining and replacing your coolant. These recommendations can vary widely, so check your owner’s manual or ask us at LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia.
The reason Centralia motorists need to change the coolant is that it has additives in it to protect the cooling system. As you can imagine, with all the heat, the cooling system’s a pretty harsh environment. The additives keep the fluid from becoming corrosive and damaging the radiator and other sedan cooling system components. Over time, the additives are depleted and the coolant just has to be replaced.
Many Centralia auto owners ask LeDuc's Service Center why there are different colors of antifreeze. It is very important that you use the correct type of antifreeze. The different types of antifreeze – or coolant – are different colors so you don’t mix them up.
The car makers use different materials to make the cooling system, and they require different types of antifreeze to protect them.
So check with us at LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia or your owner’s manual for the right kind because using the wrong coolant can void the warranty for your sedan cooling system.
Posted in the Cooling System category
Most Washington motorists know that their vehicles need regular preventive maintenance like changing the oil and filters, rotating the tires and refilling the washer fluid. But did you know that your air conditioning system needs routine maintenance as well? Taking care of your air conditioning system can extend its life and prevent costly repair bills.
Why is it critical for Tacoma motorists to get routine maintenance on their air conditioning system? First, the refrigerant contains an added lubricant. As the refrigerant circulates through the air conditioning system, its parts are lubricated. This constant lubrication keeps the parts functioning well. But over time, this lubricant is used up, and without it, the parts will eventually seize up and fail.
Centralia folks should understand, however, that the air conditioner will continue to pump out cool air even without the lubricant, so you won’t know the system is sick until it actually dies. So good car care includes regularly checking the refrigerant and lubricant in your sedan air conditioning system and replacing it if needed.
The second reason your air conditioning system needs preventive maintenance is that air and water can get into the system. Air, water and the contaminants they contain will reduce the efficiency of the air conditioning system and can cause corrosion of the system’s parts. Keeping the air conditioning system clean is a vital practice and will extend its life and keep you from losing your cool on hot Tacoma days.
How often should you get a routine car air conditioner inspection? It varies from vehicle to vehicle. Check your owner’s manual for the car maker’s recommendation.
Here’s a good piece of auto advice for Washington drivers that will extend the life of their air conditioning systems: You should run your air conditioner in the winter every once in a while. This circulates the refrigerant, which lubricates the seals. That way, they won’t dry out during cold Centralia weather.
Your air conditioning system doesn’t just cool the air in your sedan; it dries it out as well. So if you have trouble with a foggy windshield, flip on your air conditioning on the defrost setting. You may be surprised at how quickly it takes care of the problem. Of course, some vehicles can’t run the air conditioner and defroster at the same time; you should check your owner’s manual or with the car maker if you are uncertain whether this feature works in your car or not.
So, after learning about preventive maintenance for your A/C, you might now be wondering if your air conditioner is in trouble. Two early warning signs of a failing air conditioner are (1) the air just isn’t getting as cold as it used to and (2) there’s a strange noise when the air conditioner turns on. If you notice either of these symptoms in your sedan, you should bring it to LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia as soon as possible.
Just some good auto advice to keep you cool in Tacoma and keep you on the road!
Posted in the Air Conditioning category
If you aren’t currently using synthetic motor oil in your Centralia vehicle, maybe now’s the time to consider it. Need more information? Well, synthetic motor oil is a substitute for petroleum based oil.
Synthetic oil doesn’t gel or gum-up like petroleum based oil and it doesn’t vaporize as easily. It protects better in severe driving conditions like stop and go driving around Centralia, as well as in very hot or very cold conditions. More and more new vehicles are being delivered with full synthetic motor oil; with the recommendation to use synthetic for the life of the vehicle.
Why is this? Synthetic motor oil maximizes engine power and fuel economy. To see why; we’d need a microscope, so we’ll have to settle for using our imaginations.
The molecules of conventional motor oil are long hydrocarbon chains. Synthetic motor oil, on the other hand, has uniform, round molecules. Which is more slippery, a pile of pencils or a pile of marbles?
Synthetic motor oil lubricates better because there’s less friction. That means better wear protection, cooler operating temperatures, more power and better fuel economy. And synthetic oil doesn’t sludge up like conventional oil, so it prevents those small oil passages from clogging up.
Some manufacturers are extending oil change intervals. The added protection of synthetic oil covers you for these longer intervals. Talk with your service advisor about how you drive and see if he thinks you can benefit from synthetic oil. Also ask about the appropriate oil change interval for synthetic, because it may very well be longer than for conventional oil.
Most of us here in Centralia have a busy life and might occasionally miss an oil change; go ahead admit it. Since we’re not perfect, doesn’t it make sense to use a motor oil that’s got your back?
Now synthetic oil costs more. But it lasts longer, protects better and increases fuel economy. You’ll likely save money in the long run. If you’re serious about making your car last longer, start using synthetic motor oil right away.
Give us a call at 360-736-0123 to schedule an oil change, or visit us at our LeDuc's Service Center website.
Posted in the Maintenance category
Hello Centralia car owners! Let's talk about alignment. One of the most important parts of preventive maintenance for your vehicle is keeping the wheels in alignment. Poor alignment causes your tires to wear unevenly, which can significantly reduce their lifespan. This means you will have to replace them more often, which can be costly in Centralia.
It can even damage your suspension system, which is a steep repair. But even more importantly, uneven tread wear can lead to blowouts on the road, a dangerous and potentially deadly safety risk for Centralia auto owners and their passengers.
It may not take an accident or bad driving habits to “knock” your tires out of alignment. Tires can go out of alignment with just everyday Washington driving. Centralia road hazards, pot holes, uneven or gravel roads, even the bumps and bounces of normal Tacoma interstates and surface streets can gradually put your sedan tires out of alignment.
So it’s good auto advice to have your sedan's alignment inspected periodically. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual will have recommendations on how often you should get an alignment check: usually every year or two. But if you think your sedan tires might be out of alignment, you should take your sedan into LeDuc's Service Center now.
When you take your sedan in for an alignment in Centralia, your professional, friendly & honest LeDuc's Service Center service professional will start by inspecting the steering and suspension systems. If something is broken or damaged there, it will need to be repaired in order to get good alignment of the wheels.
If all looks good in the steering and suspension departments, the sedan will then be put on an alignment rack where an initial alignment reading is taken. The wheels can then be aligned to the vehicle manufacturer’s specifications. The ideal alignment for any vehicle is set by its engineers and may vary from vehicle to vehicle.
There are three types of important adjustments that may have to be made to correctly align a vehicle’s tires. The first is called “toe.” This refers to tires that are out of alignment because they point inward or outward at the front of the tire. Think of a person who is pigeon-toed or splay-footed, and you get the idea.
The second adjustment is the camber. This adjustment affects the angle at which the tires meet the road. Think of a solid building in contrast to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.
The last adjustment is the castor. This adjustment measures the angle of the tire in relation to the front axles. So, a piece of auto advice that just might be good for life as well: keep everything in alignment, and you’ll be able to steer where you want to go in Tacoma. Drive safely.
Posted in the Alignment category
A good suspension system gives a vehicle a smooth, even ride while providing Centralia motorists with good handling and control. But like any system on your sedan, essential parts of the suspension system can wear out, leading to a lower ride quality and safety concerns. So it’s a good idea for Centralia auto owners to remember an inspection of their suspension system in their schedule of a critical preventive maintenance. Springs do most of the work of the suspension system. The most common types of springs are coil and leaf, but air springs and torsion bars are becoming more common. The body of the vehicle is “suspended” by the springs.
If springs were the only working component in your suspension system, however, you’d spend your travel time bouncing up and down like a bobblehead. That’s where your shocks come in. They keep the rebound, or bounciness, of the springs under control. Shocks also keep your tires on the road, which keeps the driver in control of the sedan. Some vehicles have struts in their suspension system. Struts are a compact combination of springs and shocks. They do the same important job but in a single package.
Shocks wear out gradually, so it can be difficult for Centralia car owners to notice when they need to be replaced. There’s no definitive point when a vehicle’s ride goes from smooth and controlled to a bit imprecise. To check if your shocks or struts are worn, you should first do a visual inspection on them. If they are leaking fluid, they need to be replaced.
There are other less obvious signs that your suspension system needs important attention. For example, an uneven, cupping wear on your tires may indicate that your shocks are worn. If your vehicle feels “floaty” when you turn, or, in other words, you don’t feel that you have full control of the vehicle, you should check your shocks. Also, if the front end of your vehicle dips noticeably when you stop, it’s time for new shocks.
Your owner’s manual gives recommendations on how often the shocks should be checked, usually between 15,000 and 30,000 miles (24,000-50,000 km). If one of your shocks does need to be replaced, you should replace all four. This will keep your suspension even and ensure good handling of your vehicle. If you carry heavy loads, tow a trailer or drive on uneven Tacoma area terrain, you might also consider upgrading to a heavy-duty shock.
Regular shocks contain hydraulic fluid. The essential fluid helps them absorb the bumps or “shocks” of the road so the impact doesn’t transfer to the sedan’s body. Premium shocks are filled with compressed nitrogen gas, which costs more but does a better job of controlling body motions. Regular shocks can develop air bubbles that reduce their effectiveness; the premium shocks don’t have this problem. So if you want higher handling performance, if you drive off-road around Washington or if you just want added comfort, you should look at upgrading to premium shocks or struts.
Replacing struts can put your sedan out of alignment, so an alignment check should always follow this type of repair. Talk to your professional, friendly & honest service advisor at LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia.
Posted in the Shocks & Struts category
Anyone that drives a car in Centralia knows that engines get hot when they run. But did you know that engines need to be cooled to keep running? Heat inside an engine can cause the metal parts to expand, which can seize up an engine and make it stop running. It can even ruin the entire engine! Good car care requires keeping your sedan cooling system in good condition.
A vehicle’s cooling system circulates water and antifreeze (coolant) through the engine where it absorbs heat. It then flows to the radiator where the water and antifreeze are cooled by the air that flows over the radiator. Then it circulates back into the sedan’s engine to absorb more heat.
Why shouldn't Littlerock auto owners just use water? Because water boils at temperatures that are often reached inside of an engine. Steam won't cool your sedan engine and is hard to contain within the cooling system. The antifreeze keeps the water from boiling.
So why do we call it antifreeze? Shouldn't it be antiboil? Truth is, the antifreeze performs another critical task. Water freezes in cold Washington weather. That would spell disaster for your sedan's engine. So antifreeze also keeps the water in your cooling system from freezing in all but the most extreme cold. Pretty neat stuff!
Taking care of your cooling system is part of good preventive maintenance for your sedan. Tacoma drivers should check coolant level often and regularly inspect your cooling system for leaks.
That is just good auto advice. Your sedan’s manufacturer has maintenance requirements for draining and replacing engine coolant. Consult your owner's manual or ask your professional, friendly & honest LeDuc's Service Center service specialist for these recommendations, as they vary widely from among car makers.
Changing your coolant is also part of good preventive maintenance. Water is great at collecting all kinds of dissolved substances, especially when it's hot. Water circulating through an engine picks up dirt, debris, pollutants, and other stuff. It actually becomes corrosive over time. This can damage engine parts and your radiator.
Replacing your coolant regularly keeps the sedan cooling system functioning well and doesn't allow it to sneakily become the cancer that wipes out your engine.
But don't just slop any antifreeze into your vehicle. Check your owner's manual or ask your LeDuc's Service Center service specialist if you don't know what is the right type of antifreeze for your vehicle. Using the wrong kind can void the warranty on your sedan cooling system.
You may have noticed that different types of antifreeze are different colors. Manufacturers tint them different colors to make them harder to mix up. It's easy to notice that you have purple fluid when you normally use green! That way, you have less chance of damaging your sedan engine by using the wrong antifreeze.
One last word of warning — a little outside the area of car care. Never, ever let anyone or pets drink coolant/antifreeze – it is deathly poisonous.
Take care of your car, and take care of yourself! Just some good car care tips from LeDuc's Service Center to keep you on the road and help your life in Centralia run more pleasantly.
Posted in the Cooling System category