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Today in our LeDuc's Service Center blog, we’re going to talk about following recommended service intervals. Your sedan isn’t the only aspect of your life in Centralia with recommended intervals: Let’s start with twice yearly dental check-ups and regular physical exams. How about laundry, watering the lawn and paying the bills?
Now, what would happen if you didn’t follow these intervals? Well, you’d get more cavities. You’d may not discover health conditions that could be more effectively treated with early detection. And you’d have to wear dirty clothes, be embarrassed by your brown lawn and have your utilities shut off.
Clearly, there are some things in life that we have to take care of regularly. If we don’t, there are negative consequences. Our quality of life in Centralia takes a hit and it inevitably costs more money.
So why is it so hard to remember to follow regular preventive maintenance on our sedans? Probably a couple of reasons. One is that automotive maintenance items just don’t seem that urgent. All our Centralia neighbors can see our dead lawn, but no one knows how dirty our transmission fluid is. It’s easy to put off. The other reason is that we’re just not as familiar with automotive maintenance, so it’s a bit intimidating.
From a practical standpoint, Centralia people don’t need to memorize their sedan owner’s manuals. You can let your LeDuc's Service Center advisor remind you of the guidelines established by auto makers: he has checklists of what the manufacturer recommends and can find potential problems when he inspects your sedan. You really can rely on LeDuc's Service Center professionals to help you make good automotive decisions.
For Centralia drivers who want to be more proactive with their sedan care, here are some simple ways for Centralia auto owners to remember what has a maintenance interval.
First: Fluids. If it’s liquid, it’s got a replacement schedule. Oil, transmission fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, differential fluid, etc.
Then think tires. They need air, rotation, balancing, and alignment. And while you’re thinking tires, don't forget brakes and shock absorbers.
And what makes your sedan go? Air and fuel. Air filter replacement, fuel filters and fuel system cleaning. Of course there are more items, but if Centralia car owners remember to take their car or truck in to LeDuc's Service Center for these things, their service advisor will help them with the rest.
And if you don’t follow recommended service intervals? You get lousy fuel efficiency, your sedan doesn’t run as well, your safety is compromised and you’ll spend more money in the long run. So it’s the same as everything else: The quality of your motoring life takes a hit and it ends up costing you more.
Reason enough for me to follow recommended service intervals.
Posted in the Maintenance category
Virtually all vehicles come with power steering so many Centralia motorists have never driven a car or truck without it. Power steering assists you when you turn your sedan steering wheel. Without it, it would be very hard to steer.
Now this power assist comes in a couple of forms. In recent years, a lot of Tacoma vehicles have an electric motor that reduces steering effort and helps improve gas mileage.
The other kind of power steering is hydraulic. This is the kind most older Washington vehicles, and a lot of newer ones, have. Power steering fluid is pressurized by a pump and is used to assist steering. Of course, Tacoma motorists need the right amount of fluid in the system. If it’s too low your steering is affected and you could damage your sedan pump.
Also, power steering fluid can become corrosive over time and damage the pump, hoses and connectors; leading to leaks and repairs. Power steering service at LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia includes removing the contaminated fluid and replacing it with fresh fluid.
A word about power steering pumps: Some are powered by an electric motor. Others are driven by the serpentine belt. A worn serpentine belt stresses all of the sedan components it drives, including the power steering pump, so replace the belt at LeDuc's Service Center as advised to avoid undue repairs.
Losing your power steering while driving in Centralia can be unsettling – just remember that you can still steer, it’ll just be harder. Check with your professional, friendly & honest LeDuc's Service Center service specialist to see if it’s time to service your sedan power steering system.
In addition to power steering service, at LeDuc's Service Center we offer comprehensive automotive services including oil change, brake repair and routine maintenance.
Give us a call
LeDuc's Service Center
1417 Kresky Ave
Centralia, Washington 98531
Posted in the Steering category
Most people in the Tacoma area are aware that automotive manufacturers have recommended service intervals. Following recommended service intervals is very important. The engineers that design our vehicles have tested the various systems and components to meet durability and safety standards. Some of these standards are self-imposed and others, like those for emissions components, are government mandated for the areas around Chehalis, Littlerock and Winlock in Washington.
The maintenance schedules are designed to achieve the standards. Think of the benefits of following recommended intervals as falling into three general categories: Protection, Efficiency and Safety.
Protection. Let's start with motor oil. First of all, the engineers recommend a particular weight and type of motor oil for your sedan. All of their oil change recommendations assume using the proper motor oil. Motor oil contains detergents and other additives that clean the engine and provide corrosion resistance. Over time, the additives are depleted. The oil also becomes contaminated by water, dirt and combustion gases.
Extending your interval beyond the recommendation means that your sedan engine will be operating without the full protection of fresh motor oil. It also means that sludge can form in contaminated oil and clog up passages in the engine, starving parts from needed lubrication.
Efficiency. Some services are designed to keep automotive systems operating efficiently. For example, the fuel system gets clogged up with gum and varnish from the fuel. Fuel doesn't flow efficiently which reduces fuel economy. A fuel system cleaning restores the fuel system's efficiency and increases your gas mileage.
Safety. Your brakes are obviously one of the most important safety systems on your sedan. The manufacturer has scheduled brake pad replacement as well as power brake fluid drain and replacement intervals. Because brakes are so important, a brake inspection is also on the schedule to head off problems before they result in an accident.
Check your owner's manual for recommended service schedules or talk with your Centralia service advisor at LeDuc's Service Center by calling 360-736-0123. You'll find our shop located at 1417 Kresky Ave in Centralia, Washington 98531.
You may be surprised to learn that various inspections may be on your list of factory recommendations for your sedan. These inspections are usually at major intervals like fifteen or thirty thousand miles. They're designed to uncover important parts that may be close to failing.
Your sedan owner's manual can tell you when to change your oil, but it can't tell you that you have a radiator hose that's bulging and about to burst. For that you need a trained auto technician. These scheduled inspections are in addition to the multi-point inspections done with a full-service oil change.
Posted in the Service Intervals category
When all of your vehicle’s wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Hitting a road hazard or even just the normal bumps and bounces of everyday driving in Centralia can cause your sedan's wheels to be out of alignment.
Driving for an extended time in Centralia when your wheels are out of alignment results in uneven tire wear. This is dangerous … and expensive. Worst case scenario, you have a blowout on a crowded Washington freeway. It can also cause premature wear to your suspension system, which can be really expensive to repair. At the very least, you may have to replace your tires years too early.
Here are some alignment basics from LeDuc's Service Center:
The first adjustment is called toe or do the wheels point in towards each other or away from each other at the front of the tire.
The next adjustment is called camber or do the wheels tip in or out at the top.
And finally, there is castor. Castor measures the angle where the front axles attach to the vehicle.
The ideal alignment for your sedan was designed by its engineers. Alignment service at LeDuc's Service Center starts with an inspection of the steering and suspension – to see if anything’s bent or broken. Then your professional, friendly & honest LeDuc's Service Center technician will look at tire condition.
From there, the sedan is put on an alignment rack and an initial alignment reading is taken. The wheels are then aligned to sedan manufacturers’s specifications.
Your sedan owner’s manual probably has a recommendation for how often your alignment should be checked – usually every couple of years. If you suspect an alignment problem, get it checked at LeDuc's Service Center before you suffer expensive tire or suspension damage.
Posted in the Alignment category
Let's talk about alternative fuel vehicles. In their quest to reduce the use of fossil fuels and harmful exhaust emissions to our Centralia environment, automakers will have a number of alternatives for us very soon.
For instance, Flex Fuel vehicles are already available in the Tacoma area. Flex Fuel vehicles can run on gasoline or on E85 fuel. E85 is a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The ethanol is made from corn.
The benefits are in using less petroleum and reduced pollution. The drawbacks are that E85 gets lower fuel economy and that when gas prices are low, E85 can be more expensive than straight gasoline.
You should only use E85 if you have a Flex Fuel compatible engine. Flex Fuel vehicles have special seals and gaskets that can stand up to the high alcohol content of E85. Using E85 in a regular engine can lead to gas leaks and fires.
Diesel engines have been around the Tacoma area for a long, long time. Modern diesels are very refined and fuel efficient. Diesel fuel can be made from renewable sources like vegetable oil, too. Diesel fuel from algae and sunlight is reported to be pretty close to being commercially viable.
There are also a number of natural gas vehicles on our Tacoma roads. Gasoline engines are adapted to run on compressed natural gas. It's less expensive than gasoline and burns very cleanly. You can even refill it with a special pump from your gas line at home.
Natural gas engines don't make as much power and don't get as good of mileage, but they cost less per mile to run. The big inconvenience is that the tank that holds the compressed natural gas takes up a lot of room; even your whole trunk! And there may not be places to refuel on a road trip from Tacoma.
Plug-in electric vehicles are now available in our Tacoma area. Battery technology is the limiting factor right now. Electric cars have a limited range and are really best for use close to home. As battery technology advances, electric cars will perform closer and closer to conventional power plants.
That brings us to hybrids. There are a bunch of hybrids on our Tacoma roads, with more to come. Hybrid technology combines internal combustion engines with electric motors.
A mild hybrid has a regular gas or diesel engine that's assisted by the electric motor. The electric motor can propel the vehicle by itself up to a certain speed under gentle acceleration. There are mild hybrids in full-sized pickups and SUVs. They deliver city fuel economy similar to their highway ratings.
A full hybrid will rely primarily on the electric motor for power. It'll have a small gas or diesel engine that generates electricity for the batteries.
Another breakthrough technology is hydrogen fuel cells. Fuel cell vehicles use hydrogen to generate electricity. Several global car makers have prototypes on the road. The appeal is that the only thing that comes out of the tail pipe is water vapor. It'll take some time to build a national infrastructure of hydrogen fueling stations before there's widespread use.
A quick word about safety around hybrid and electric vehicles. Unlike the battery in your current family car, these carry enough voltage to kill you. Never mess around under the hood or with the batteries or electrical wiring. Your Tacoma service technician at LeDuc's Service Center is trained to safely disable the flow of electricity before performing maintenance or repairs on the vehicle.
Hybrids are really not do-it-yourself vehicles unless you're specifically trained on hybrid systems.
Posted in the Fuel System category
We're living in a disposable society. Everything from elaborate packaging to our clothing. Even cell phones are disposable. When replacement is cheaper than repair, the term "built to last" goes by the wayside. An exception is our vehicles. They're still a very big investment and we want to make them last as long as possible - and we want to make keeping them as cheap as possible. When talking cars, it's all about preventive maintenance. There is an old saying that says, "a stitch in time saves nine" and that is really true when it comes to taking care of your car. A great example is coolant service.
Your coolant not only protects your engine from overheating and freezing - it must also protect cooling system components from corrosion. Over time, coolant becomes corrosive and actually starts to damage your radiator and other parts. That's why you need to have your cooling system serviced on a regular schedule.
The same is true for your power steering system, brake fluid, air conditioning system, differential and transmission. And of course, don't forget those oil changes right on schedule. Skipping even one change can start the build up of harmful oil sludge.
Our engines are full of gaskets and seals. Fresh fluids condition those gaskets and seals to keep them from drying out and leaking. Automotive fluids contain additives that help clean and lubricate the various systems they protect. Over time, the additives are used up and the fluid just does not provide the protection it did when it was fresh. And don't forget the mechanical systems. Changing brake pads before they are worn to the point that they cause damage to rotors is a great way to keep your operating costs down.
Replacing serpentine belts and timing belts on schedule is much cheaper than repairing the damage that can be caused by failure. Also, air filters, fuel filters, PCV valves and batteries are all important. Regular wheel alignments, tire rotation and balancing will make your tires last longer. And don't forget to replace your shocks and struts when they wear out. Your fuel system needs regular cleaning to keep running well, prevent mechanical damage and reduce fuel consumption.
Now this is a lot to remember - too much really. But it is your Centralia automotive technician's job to keep on top of this stuff. At LeDuc's Service Center we can tell you what your manufacturer recommends and help you with a plan to take care of it. We can advise you about which maintenance schedule you should use - the regular schedule or the severe service schedule - depending on the kind of driving you do. We also know the right fluids for your vehicle and may even suggest higher mileage formulations for your older vehicle.
Bottom line - take care of this stuff on schedule and you will reduce operating costs, prevent costly damage and maintain your warranty coverage.
Of course, you want your car to look as good as it runs. Regular washing will prevent rust and protect your finish. Take advantage of cleaners, waxes and protectants for your interior and tires. Your vehicle will look great and you'll be proud to drive it longer.
Most of us can't afford to throw away our car when it breaks down. By budgeting for regular preventive maintenance, we can prevent many inconvenient - and expensive - problems down the road, and can keep driving "old faithful" for years to come.
Posted in the Maintenance category
This is something really amazing: For every gallon of gas your Centralia car burns, it uses 12,000 gallons of air. All of that air has to be filtered to keep your engine clean.
That’s like a hundred gallons of air every block! The engine air filter is just another example of a very inexpensive part that has to do a tremendous amount of work. And when it works, everything goes well. But, when it doesn’t, well, it can lead to costly problems. Of course, your manufacturer recommends intervals for changing your air filter. But like most service intervals, where and how you drive your car affects when your filter needs to be changed.
Dusty conditions in and around Centralia or polluted city driving means you’ll need to change your filter more often. Your LeDuc's Service Center technician can check your filter for you. In fact, it’s often a routine part of an oil change.
When you think about it, a clogged air filter won’t allow as much air through as a clean filter. Your car needs this air to efficiently burn its fuel, giving you better fuel economy and performance.
Dirtier filters don’t work as well as clean ones. A filter can only hold so much, after that, it allows dirt to pass right into your engine. Air filters come in all shapes and sizes. They also come in different grades. There are high performance air filters available for most cars. These high performance filters cost a little more, but they increase horsepower and may improve fuel economy to boot.
So have your air filter checked. If it needs replacing, it doesn’t cost very much and it should easily pay for itself in better fuel economy before your next oil change.
Stop by LeDuc's Service Center at 1417 Kresky Ave, Centralia, Washington 98531, and we'll take a look at your air filter for you. Feel free to give us a call at 360-736-0123 to make an appointment.
Posted in the Maintenance category
If you've ever been in a car accident around Centralia Washington, even a minor one, you know how upsetting it can be. It's hard to think straight and know what to do.
Let's review what you should do in case of an accident in Centralia, Washington:
When an accident occurs, you should always stop. Leaving the scene of an accident is considered a crime in Washington - even if it's not your fault. And hit-and-run penalties are fairly severe, possibly resulting in steep fines, loss of your driver's license or even jail time in our local Centralia lockup.
Most states, including Washington require that you try to help someone who is injured by calling for help or performing first aid if you are able.
Warn other Centralia motorists by putting out flares, using your flashers or lifting your hood.
Call 911 as soon as possible. Tell the operator if medical or fire help is needed.
Always file a police report. It's tempting to skip this if everything seems to be ok. But without a police report, the other guy can say whatever he wants about the accident later, and you won't have an objective report to help defend yourself.
Discuss the accident only with the police. Emotions are strong after an accident and we naturally want to talk about it – don't. Never admit fault or guilt to anyone including the police officer. Sometimes we may feel at fault, but in the eyes of Washington law, the other guy may be responsible.
Truthfully give the officer the facts: such as "I was going 35 miles per hour" not "I wasn't speeding". Remember, anything you say to the officer or anyone else can be used against you.
Also get the officer's name and badge number and ask where you can get a copy of the accident report.
Get the facts on the driver and owner of the other vehicle:
- Phone number
- Date of birth
- Driver's license number and expiration
- Insurance information
Also take down a description of the other vehicle, license plate and vehicle identification number. Most insurance companies don't record license plate numbers, so the VIN number is the best way to track the vehicle.
Ask witnesses, including passengers, to wait for the police. If they can't wait, ask for contact information and request that they write a brief description of what they saw. If someone refuses to leave their name, write down their license plate number so the police can track them down later if necessary.
Always call your insurance agent or your Washington auto insurance company's 800 number.
Call or see your local Centralia physician if you think you may have been injured.
We here at LeDuc's Service Center hope that you never have to use this information and wish you happy travels.
Posted in the Windshield Wipers category
The government mandates a lot of equipment on cars for the Centralia Washington area: emission devices and control computers; safety equipment like airbags; and crash worthiness requirements. All of this is great for the motoring public in Centralia Washington, but it does add quite a bit to the price of a new car.
Because new cars are more expensive, people are driving their old cars longer. The average car is now over nine years old. 68% of vehicles on the road have more than 75,000 miles/120,000 kilometers. As cars age, their performance drops, they have difficulty idling for long periods and are more sensitive to weather extremes. Fortunately today's cars are up to the challenge - but they need a little help to keep on going.
Some owner's manuals don't specify service requirements at higher mileage. That doesn't mean it doesn't have to be done. In fact, it's more important than ever to stay on top of routine maintenance for cars with more than 120,000 miles/190,000 kilometers. Just extend regular service intervals out: for instance a service that's recommended every 24,000 miles/38,000 kilometers should be performed at 24,000 mi/38,000 km; 48,000 mi/77,000 km; 72,000mi/116,000 km, 96,000 mi/154,000 km; and on and on.
Because of the additional stress older engines experience, the severe service maintenance schedule may be more appropriate than the regular schedule. Watch for leaks - seals and gaskets dry out over time and do not hold the fluids as well as they used to. It is also time to make sure you have a good technician. There are some services and replacements that are scheduled after you put some clicks on the odometer, like timing belts, valve train adjustments, suspension, anti-lock brake service, air bags, etc. And unexpected repairs down the road are just par for the course.
Check for unusual sounds, smells or the way your car feels. These could be hints that trouble is brewing. Better to catch it early before it turns into a costly repair. Regular wash and wax will help maintain your car's appearance. One of the things you can do to really help your high mileage vehicle is to begin using high mileage formulation fluids. There are special engine oils, coolants, and transmission and power steering fluids that are formulated for cars that have a higher mileage.
High mileage oil is designed to condition seals and gaskets, reduce wear and avoid premature burn off. Older engines are dirtier inside - and dirty engines contaminate their oil faster. High mileage oil has special additives that clean the engine, removing sludge deposits over time. The result is less stress on the engine, better fuel economy and excellent wear protection. Come into LeDuc's Service Center for a checkup.
Studies have even shown that using high mileage fluids early will actually prevent some of the problems of high kilometer vehicles. So once you hit around 50,000 mi/80,000 km, consider stepping up to high mileage formulations. The fluids cost a bit more than standard fluids because of the additional additives, but they can be worth their weight in gold in terms of preventing repair costs down the road.
It does cost more to properly maintain a higher mileage vehicle - but it's much cheaper than a new car payment!
Posted in the Fuel System category
Nowadays, everyone in Centralia, Washington is paying more at the gas pump. For some families in the greater Tacoma area, it adds up to several hundred dollars every month. That’s got to come out of the budget somewhere. Throughout North America, people are putting off buying a new car. They plan on keeping their old vehicle for a year or two longer than before.
Even now, 2/3 of the personal vehicles on our local Centralia, Washington roads have over 75,000 miles on them. The average age of vehicles is over nine years. And most people in Tacoma can’t afford to be stranded or inconvenienced by a break down. So following a regular maintenance schedule, like our personal diet and exercise plans, is actually critical to preserving your investment.
Knowing what to do for a higher-mileage vehicle can be challenging because many owners’ manuals don’t publish service intervals after 60,000 miles. It just means that you need to be better at keeping records and planning your preventive maintenance.
You can start by figuring that services with a recommended interval should still be performed on that interval, even after you’re past the tables in your service manual. For example, a service might be recommended every 15,000 miles. Well, just keep doing it every 15,000 miles for as long as you have your car.
Now higher mileage engines operate under more stress. Some experts suggest that the severe service schedule is more appropriate and that routine service should be performed at shorter intervals. Check with your owners’ manual or service advisor at LeDuc's Service Center to see if the severe service schedule is right for your vehicle.
And keeping up with your full-service oil change schedule is important for a couple of reasons. First, older engines have had more time to build up oil sludge. Skipping an oil change here and there can really compound the problem for your sedan.
The second benefit is that your other fluids are routinely checked and topped off. Power steering fluid, brake fluid, coolant and transmission fluid can be kept at optimal levels even though the older seals and gaskets are leaking more than when they were new.
And speaking of older seals and gaskets: they start to dry-out and become more brittle with age. You may want to consider using high mileage formulation oil and fluids. These products contain special additives to condition seals and gaskets to keep them from leaking. The high mileage formulations cost more than standard products, but they are well worth it in terms of preventing serious repair bills down the road.
Older vehicles in the Centralia, Washington area need repairs and replacements that newer ones don’t. Things like timing belts, radiator hoses, suspension work, anti-lock brakes, air bags, water pumps, alternators and batteries. That may seem like a lot of stuff to have done, but it works out to be cheaper than new car payments.
With a high-mileage vehicle, a couple of relationships will become pretty important. The first is with your service advisor at LeDuc's Service Center. You need someone you trust to take care of your car and be mindful of your needs. Ask for help to develop a plan to keep your vehicle road-worthy that works within your budget, and for the Centralia, Washington area driving conditions.
The next relationship is with your vehicle itself. We’re not talking about naming your car or tucking it in at night. We just mean - pay attention and get to know your vehicle. Notice unusual sounds, smells, vibrations, etc. Then you can describe the changes to your service advisor at LeDuc's Service Center and head off problems. We can’t do anything about the price of gas, but we can properly maintain Old Faithful to keep it safely and economically on the local Centralia, Washington roads.
Take a look at the attached automotive tips video from AutoNetTV
Posted in the Service Intervals category