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How Much is Enough for Tacoma Auto Owners? Tire Tread Depth

Posted July 30, 2014 5:26 PM

Most Tacoma auto owners know that tires wear out and that the wear has to do with tread depth. Most of us have heard that “bald” tires are dangerous, but most of us picture a tire with no tread at all when we think of a bald tire. And when we take our vehicles in for preventive maintenance, the technician tells us they’re need to be replaced long before all the tread is worn off. Just how much tire tread wear is too much? And how can you tell? Tires are expensive and their condition is important to the safe handling of a vehicle, so it’s critical for Tacoma motorists to know the answers to these questions.

First of all, it’s critical to understand that there may be a legal limit to tread wear. If your tires are worn past this limit, you have to replace them to be in compliance with Washington auto safety laws. That’s why measuring your tread wear is part of a vehicle safety inspection.

In some jurisdictions, tread must be at least 1.6 millimeters or 2/32 of an inch thick. This standard has been in effect since 1968. But this standard has recently been called into question, and some Centralia auto owners are arguing that it be changed.

The safety issue that has brought this standard under scrutiny is the ability of a vehicle to stop on a wet surface. When a vehicle has trouble stopping, most Centralia drivers immediately look at the brakes as the source of the problem. But tires are crucial to safe stopping distances because they provide the traction required in a stop.

A tire’s contact with the road surface creates traction, which allows for effective braking. On a wet surface, a tire only has traction if it can get to the road’s surface. So tire tread is designed to channel water out from under the tire to allow it to stay in contact with the road. If the tire can’t shift the water, then it starts to “float.” This condition is called hydroplaning. It is very dangerous for Centralia auto owners since the vehicle won’t stop no matter how hard the driver presses the brakes. Steering control is also lost.

A recent study tested the stopping ability of a passenger car and a full-sized pick-up on a road surface covered with only a dime’s depth of water (less than a millimeter). The vehicles were traveling at 70 mph (112 kph) when they stopped on the wet surface. At 2/32 tread depth, the stopping distance was double that of a new tire. The passenger car was still traveling at 55 mph when it reached the stopping distance it experienced with new tires.

Let’s suppose that you’re on a busy Tacoma interstate in a light drizzle and a vehicle stops suddenly in front of you. You just bought new tires and you brake hard, missing the vehicle with only inches to spare. If you hadn’t bought those new tires, you would have crashed into that vehicle at 55 mph. That is a major difference.

What if your tires had a tread depth of 4/32? You would have crashed into that vehicle at 45 mph. Still not a good situation. But it’s better.

Now what if you were driving that pick-up truck? You wouldn’t have missed that vehicle in the first place, and you would have crashed at higher rates of speed in both of the other scenarios. The heavier your vehicle, the longer its stopping distance. It’s a matter of physics.

The results of this test has led Consumer Reports and others to ask that the standard for tread wear from 2/32 to 4/32. The increased standard will improve safety on the road and save lives here in Washington and nationally.

Of course, until the standard changes, you’ll have to decide whether you’ll be willing to replace your tires a little sooner.

You can use a quarter to tell if your tread wear is down to 4/32. Place the quarter into the tread with George’s head toward the tire and his neck toward you. If the tread doesn’t cover George’s hairline, you’re under 4/32. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the digits of the year.

You can measure the 2/32 tread wear with a penny. If the tread touches the top of Abe’s head, it’s at 2/32. Tires are a costly item for Centralia car owners when it comes to car care. But their condition has a major impact on safety. We need to decide whether to sacrifice safety for economy. Keeping our tread wear above 4/32 is good auto advice.


Posted in the Tires and Wheels category

Straight And True In Centralia: Wheel Alignment

Posted July 24, 2014 3:11 PM

Most Tacoma folks worry about running out of gas or having a breakdown on the side of the road. That is why we practice preventive maintenance on our vehicles — that and to keep our repair bills down. But one important part of preventive maintenance that may get overlooked by Centralia motorists is a periodic alignment inspection.

Poor alignment causes tires to wear rapidly, unevenly or both. This means they will have to be replaced early, and new tires are more costly than an alignment check in Centralia. Bad alignment can also cause damage to suspension and steering systems, which can be expensive to repair in Tacoma.

Tire wear on misaligned wheels can also lead to blowouts, which are dangerous, can lead to serious accidents, and can seriously damage your sedan. Also, poor alignment itself can be the cause of an accident, since the sedan may not steer properly.

One or more wheels on your sedan can be knocked out of alignment by running over a curb or a pothole on a bumpy Centralia street. An accident, even a minor one, that involves a wheel on your car can lead to misalignment. The small bumps and bangs of everyday Winlock driving can also gradually put your wheels out of alignment.

If you have had wheel damage to your sedan, or if you suspect that your wheels are out of alignment, you should get your alignment checked NOW. Any LeDuc's Service Center service professional will give you that piece of auto advice. But good car care suggests that you also get your alignment inspected on a regular basis. At LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia, we can take care of that for you.

Your owner’s manual or LeDuc's Service Center service professional can give you a suggestion on how often your alignment should be checked. If it doesn’t, then once a year is a good rule of thumb. However, if you drive a lot and especially if you drive on rough surfaces a lot, then you may want to consider an inspection more often. Ask your professional, friendly & honest service specialist for a recommendation.

If your sedan is out of alignment, one or more of the wheels is not tracking correctly and will “pull” against the others. Thus, one sign of poor alignment is that your sedan pulls to one side when you drive around Tacoma. Also, if you are driving a straight path and your steering wheel is off-center, that usually indicates an alignment problem.

Centralia drivers should also check the wear on their tires. If they seem to be wearing out too quickly, or if you notice that a tire is wearing on one side more than the other, you should get your alignment checked.

When you get an automotive analysis, your vehicle will be put on a rack and all the parts of the steering and suspension systems will be inspected for wear or damage. The alignment of the tires will be charted and compared to the original factory settings. If no repairs are needed on the steering or suspension systems, the wheels will then be adjusted to bring them back into alignment.

This may seem like a lot of bother for Littlerock car owners, but it’s a lot less trouble than a blowout or an accident. The old adage is good auto advice for all Centralia residents: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

So keep on driving, and keep all four tires on the road.


Posted in the Alignment category

Fuel Filter Service in Centralia Washington

Posted July 15, 2014 11:35 AM



There are a surprising number of small, inexpensive parts that can lead to expensive engine damage when they fail. It doesn't seem right.

Fortunately a lot of those things can be taken care of in routine maintenance. They may not be easy to remember, because it is a long list, but your service center at LeDuc's Service Center can help you know what's scheduled to be taken care of.

Some of us in Centralia Washington really don't look forward to going in for an oil change and then getting a list of the other things the manufacturer recommends.

But automotive maintenance is all about prevention, and addressing small problems before they get big. Let's take the fuel filter for example.

You may not know this but the median age for private vehicles on our Centralia Washington roads is over nine years. When cars get older, five years or so, they've accumulated a lot of dirt and rust in their gas tanks. If that dirt gets into the engine it can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage. So somewhere between that dirty gas tank and the price of a great vacation – is the lowly fuel filter: a very inexpensive part that doesn't cost too much to replace. And your car'll just run better too.

A clogged fuel filter can't let enough fuel through. You might notice at first that your car is running fine around town, but struggles or sputters on the Centralia Washington freeway or when you accelerate. Enough fuel can't get through to meet the demands of higher speed. If it gets bad enough your engine might just shut off or not start at all, which could be dangerous.

Some fuel filters have a bypass. When they get clogged, they allow dirty fuel to move around the filter element so dirt ends up in the engine. We've already talked about how expensive that can be.

The fuel filter is even very important for newer cars. The fuel is still dirty even if there isn't rust in the tank. It's just that the fuel filter will need to be changed more frequently as the vehicle gets older.

How often should you change your fuel filter? Check your owner's manual. Your Centralia Washington service advisor at LeDuc's Service Center can tell you as well. It's usually around thirty thousand miles or so. Ask if it's time for a full fuel system cleaning as well. They often go hand in hand.

It's good to know that your Centralia Washington service center has your back. When you're motivated to maintain your vehicle's performance and to reduce operating costs, you'll think of LeDuc's Service Center as your ally - and maybe even your memory.


Posted in the Fuel System category

LeDuc's Service Center Advice On Buying New Tires

Posted July 9, 2014 11:20 AM

Today’s tires and wheels offer a lot of options for every Centralia driver’s style, habits and driving conditions.

Tires are designed for high-performance in winter or summer and even come in a long-wearing variety for all Washington seasons.

Centralia off-roaders should be excited about the options available to them as well. The tread on off-road tires is designed to handle the wear from bumps and rocks. The tires’ high profile protects rims from damage.

But what if you own an SUV but aren’t interested in off-roading around Centralia? You can change out those high-profile beasts for a lower, wider look if it suits your style.

LeDuc's Service Center tire professionals can offer great auto advice on how to choose tires that match your needs and style.

The same goes for wheels. When Centralia auto owners shop for new wheels, they can be hard-pressed to make a selection from the thousands of styles available at Washington tire stores. If they choose a wheel that is the same size as the ones that came with their vehicle, they can get them changed out and get back on the road, no worries. But if they change the wheel size, then they may need to make some critical adjustments to their vehicle.

Upsizing a wheel may mean changing the suspension on the sedan. The wheel and tire need to fit inside the wheel well without any rubbing during turns or when driving over bumps. Rubbing can cause uneven tire wear and even damage the tires or cause safety issues.

Upsizing wheels also increases the unsprung weight of the vehicle which has a major impact on braking performance. The larger wheels increase rotational inertia, as well, which translates to longer stopping distance and lower brake performance. Upsized wheels may require upgraded brakes. Further, wheel size is used to calculate the speed and mileage of a vehicle. Changing wheel size will cause the speedometer and odometer to give inaccurate readings unless the vehicle’s computer is re-programmed to compensate for the difference.

So if you want to customize your sedan with new wheels, you should consult with a wheel and tire professional at LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia to ensure you get the style you want without sacrificing safety or performance — and without damaging your vehicle.

If you just need to purchase new tires, a tire professional can also help you select the tires that are best for your driving needs and habits. The right tires will protect you and your sedan on the road.

So personalize your vehicle, but don’t forget that good car care will keep that sassy ride on the road in Centralia a lot longer.


Posted in the Tires and Wheels category

Smooth Shifting in Centralia Washington: Transmission Service

Posted July 3, 2014 3:18 PM



So you have some exciting plans for the Washington weekend. You’re going to take some of your Centralia, Washington friends out on the boat for some water skiing. Of course, you’ve gotten the boat all ready. And you haven’t forgotten about your tow vehicle. You’ve gassed it up and even vacuumed it out. However, there is something even more critical than the cleanliness of the interior: you want to make sure that your sedan maintenance is up to date.

Think about it – heavy interstate traffic on the way out of Centralia. There’s hilly terrain as you get to the lake. Some dirt roads – and it's going to be pretty hot in Centralia this weekend. And all the time you’ll be towing around several thousand extra pounds. That all adds up a lot of severe strain on your engine, brakes and transmission.

Let’s just consider the transmission. It’s going to be working overtime, spending more time in lower gears. The internal transmission temperature is going to be much higher than normal. A fun little blast to the local Washington lake for you is really severe duty for your transmission.

It’s critical to have enough transmission fluid. If it runs low, the transmission will run hotter and won’t have the protection it needs to cope with the added stress of towing. Transmission fluid breaks down and gets dirty over time. Whether you have an automatic or manual transmission, it's key for Centralia auto owners to have it serviced by automotive professionals like the team at LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia to make sure it runs efficiently.

An automatic transmission contains a maze of passages through which the fluid must pass to keep it shifting smoothly. Centralia motorists who neglect regularly scheduled transmission service risk the passages clogging up and starting to have problems.

Centralia drivers who neglect their transmission for too long will eventually experience expensive transmission failure. You really don’t want to pay for a major transmission repair.

This reminds us of how much of our driving around Centralia, Washington is under severe conditions. Towing or hauling a big load is obvious, but there are lots of other things that constitute severe driving conditions. Things like short trips, driving in very hot or very cold Washington weather. Dusty roads and city driving around Centralia, Washington add to the strain. Basically, any driving that’s not at highway speeds or under ideal conditions.

While you have your vehicle in, ask for a trip inspection. Your service specialist at LeDuc's Service Center will check your belts and hoses and let you know if your brakes are in good shape.

Now, don’t forget the sunscreen.


Posted in the Transmission category

Fall and Spring Checkup In Centralia

Posted June 25, 2014 4:10 PM



When I was a kid in Centralia, my dad always made sure he took the cars in for Spring and Fall checkups. I was telling a friend that it's about time to get into LeDuc's Service Center for my checkup and he said that he read on the internet that modern cars don't need seasonal service.

My friend is (technically) right about some things, but from a practical standpoint, a seasonal check up still makes sense.

Back when my dad was teaching me about how to take care of the family sedan, most cars used a different weight of oil in the winter and in the summer. But most of today's modern engines run the same oil year round. High-tech engines and high-tech motor oils are better able to handle the seasonal changes.

Your owner's manual or Centralia service advisor at LeDuc's Service Center can tell you the right oil to use.

Of course, you're concerned about the coolant or antifreeze. You don't want to overheat in the Washington summer or freeze up in the winter. Your engine cooling system protects against both of these things. And modern coolant, or as it's sometimes called; 'antifreeze', is up to doing both very well. It's designed to last for more miles than most people drive in a year or two.

So how does a Spring and Fall check-up fit in? Let's start with Spring. Summer is coming. That means heat, more miles driven and road trips. It just makes sense to check your fluid levels and do a visual inspection to see that everything is up to snuff.

You may not be scheduled to drain and replace the coolant for some time, but you need to make sure you have enough coolant, and that you don't have any leaks or hoses that are about to fail.

That's pretty practical; a check-up to see if there are any problems or emerging conditions that could later become a problem, like a cracked belt.

And the same principle applies for getting ready for winter. Cold weather means lots of failed batteries. It takes more power to crank up a cold engine, and cold also decreases the available cranking power the battery has available.

So a battery test in the Fall could tell you if you've got a battery that is running on its last legs. And of course, if you live where winter temperatures get below 45 degrees or you have ice and snow, you'll want to consider changing to winter tires.

So Spring and Fall auto checkups at LeDuc's Service Center are practical reminders to get ready for the demands of the hot and cold seasons to come.

And odds are that you have one or more routine services that are due anyway. Like a transmission service, brake or power steering fluid, differential service – stuff like that. Are your wiper blades still good? Are your headlamps starting to dim?

So Spring and Fall: change your clocks, replace the batteries in your smoke detectors – and get a check-up for your cars.

See, dad was right again.

Come and see us at LeDuc's Service Center for your Spring and Fall automotive checkup.
LeDuc's Service Center
1417 Kresky Ave
Centralia, Washington 98531
360-736-0123

Posted in the Maintenance category

Fuel Saving Tip: Tire Pressure Saves Fuel In Chehalis

Posted June 18, 2014 11:32 AM



Under-inflated tires waste gas for lots of folks in the Chehalis area. Think how hard it is to walk in sand – you just have to work harder because of the resistance. When your tires don't have enough air in them, their rolling resistance is dramatically increased and it simply takes more gas to get from Centralia to Chehalis.

Centralia Tire Pressure Always check your tire pressure when you gas up at one of our local Chehalis service stations. If they're low – even just a little bit – bring them up to proper pressure. There's a sticker on the inside of your driver's door that gives the manufacturer's recommended tire pressure.

And don't rely on your tire pressure monitoring system to alert you to when you need more air. The TPMS system is set to warn you when pressure drops twenty percent below recommendations. That's severely under inflated and you needed more air a long time ago. And if you have a slow leak – get it fixed right away at LeDuc's Service Center.

Get some air and save some gas.


Posted in the Tires and Wheels category

Have You Checked Your Headlights?

Posted June 12, 2014 12:29 PM



Like everything on the Tacoma automotive market, there have been great strides in headlight technology in recent years. Washington drivers can be safer at night because of it. Good headlights improve visibility on Tacoma interstates, enabling you to see farther. They also improve your peripheral vision, helping you to see the sides more clearly. The more you can see, the quicker you can react to road conditions. This is important because nearly half of traffic fatalities take place at night. And as Centralia's population ages, everything that helps older eyes is welcome.

Most new sedans sold in Tacoma come with halogen headlamps. A decade ago, halogens were exotic and expensive. Now that they are standard equipment, the price has come way down. Many luxury cars are equipped with high intensity discharge, or HID, headlamps. You have probably seen them on Centralia expressways, they're very bright and have a bluish tint.

From behind the wheel, there is no doubt that HID headlamps are the best thing going. However, many Centralia auto owners complain about HID lights in oncoming traffic or when they approach from behind. In fact, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called for public comment, they received a record number of complaints about HIDs. This has lead to several studies - your tax dollars at work. Some expect future regulation of HID lamps.

All halogen headlamps dim over time. Your professional, friendly & honest LeDuc's Service Center tech recommends that they be changed out once a year. AutoNetTV suggests you replace your headlamps in the fall at the end of Daylight Savings Time. It's easy to remember - when you change your clock, change your headlamps. Remember to replace all headlamps at the same time - then all your lights will be equally bright. You will appreciate it during those long Washington winter nights.

If you have an older sedan with old-school headlamps, you might be able to get a halogen replacement. You'll be amazed at the difference this upgrade will make.

In addition to regular halogen lamps, Centralia car owners can upgrade to premium lamps that filter some of the yellow light, making a bright white light that's more like natural sunlight. This light's easier on the eyes and should improve reaction time.

Now, you may be able to step up to HID headlamps, depending on the kind of car you drive around the Tacoma area. These lamps should last the life of your car, but cost several hundred dollars a pair. If you want other Centralia drivers to think you're running HID lamps, you can even buy regular halogens that have a bluish tint. Does she or doesn't she? Only her LeDuc's Service Center technician knows for sure.

Over time, plastic headlight covers can get cloudy or yellowed. In fact, AAA reports that nine out of ten headlights are dirty or yellowed, greatly reducing vision. In addition to helping you replace your headlamps, many service centers such as LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia, Washington can restore headlight covers. Headlights can be restored at a fraction of the cost of replacing.


Posted in the Parts category

Emergency Items For Your sedan

Posted June 4, 2014 8:35 AM



Local Tacoma roadside emergencies can range from a flat tire downtown to being stranded in a snowy ravine for three days. So you may want to consider a basic emergency kit to keep in the car at all times and a travel kit tailored to a specific trip.

Your close-to-home kit for around Centralia would have some basic items to work on your car: everything you need to change a tire, gloves, a couple quarts of oil, some antifreeze and water. A can of tire inflator is a great temporary fix for minor flats. You'll also want jumper cables or a booster box, flares, a flashlight and some basic hand tools.

Now for your comfort and safety: a first aid kit, drinkable water, high calorie food (like energy bars), blankets, toilet paper, cell phone, towel, hat and boots. Keep some change for a pay phone, emergency cash and a credit card.

People who live in areas with frequent severe weather or earthquakes may want to carry provisions for longer emergencies.

For trips away from home, consider the weather and geography as you assemble your emergency supplies. You'll need to have a source of light and heat and will want to provide protection against the elements as well as adequate food and water for everyone in the car.

Always tell people where you are going and have a plan for checking in at waypoints. Then if you run into trouble, you can be reported missing as soon as possible and rescuers will be able to narrow the search area.

The key to safe travel is to keep your vehicle properly maintained, plan ahead, and let others know your itinerary.


Posted in the Parts category

LeDuc's Service Center Fuel Saving Tip for Centralia: Check Engine Light

Posted May 29, 2014 1:40 PM



Here's a question for Centralia, Washington auto owners: How long have you been enjoying the romantic glow of your check engine light?

Hey, it's not there to create ambiance; it's a warning that something's wrong. (And, by the way, Homer Simpson's fix of covering it with tape is not a good idea.)

If your check engine light comes on, check your gas cap. A loose gas cap can cause a false sensor reading that'll make the check engine light turn on.

Check Engine Light Many conditions that trigger the check engine light can hurt your gas mileage. A lot.

If your date's eyes are smoldering in the soft glow of the check engine light, try to think of all the gas money you'll save by getting it fixed. Give LeDuc's Service Center a call when you are ready: 360-736-0123


Posted in the Fuel System category

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