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When it comes to preventive maintenance and car care, most Centralia drivers know how important it is to check their brakes. But brakes are more than just brake pads and shoes. There are a lot of components in the brake system, and they all need to be in good working order.
The pads and shoes are known as the friction materials in the brake system. They push together, providing friction, which stops the vehicle. It’s no wonder they have to be checked regularly for wear, and that brake pads and shoes need to be replaced periodically.
Brake pads/shoes gradually wear out, but that doesn’t mean your braking gradually becomes less effective. The pads are engineered so that they maintain good braking until they wear too thin to provide adequate friction. At this point, they need to be replaced.
But your braking system also has mechanical parts. These pistons and springs can also gradually wear out or get gummed up by oil, dirt and other road spatter. A brake inspection in Centralia at LeDuc's Service Center includes a check of these parts as well as the pads and shoes. Your professional, friendly & honest LeDuc's Service Center service specialist can then advise you of any parts that need cleaning or replacement.
The fluid component to the brake system needs a regular check-up at LeDuc's Service Center as well. The brake fluid cools and protects your brake system. Protective additives are gradually depleted by the operation of the brake system, and moisture build-up inside the fluid can diminish its effectiveness. When you have your brakes serviced at LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia, the fluid should be checked and, if needed, replaced, which will clean out water, debris and dirt.
It is important to remember that your brake system also includes your tires. No matter how well your brake system is performing, if your sedan tires are worn, you won't get good stopping power. Traction is the gripping power of your tires to the roadway. Traction is always better on tires with a good tread. Good traction translates to good braking.
This is particularly important on wet Chehalis roads. A good tire will give you good braking on either wet Washington roads or dry. But stopping distance increases dramatically when worn tires meet wet roads. Tread on a tire acts to channel away water as the sedan passes over the wet road, thus maintaining contact between the tire’s surface and the road, which maintains traction. But the thinner the tread, the less effective the water channels become, and water can get between the tire and the roadway, reducing friction. A loss of friction means a longer stopping distance and possibly the loss of control.
Braking depends on two things: the weight of your sedan and the speed of the vehicle. The heavier the vehicle or the faster the vehicle, the more braking power it requires. Thus, brake systems vary from vehicle to vehicle. For example, a pickup that is designed for heavy loads has a more powerful braking system than a compact car. Sports cars also have higher-grade braking systems than minivans.
Regardless of what kind of car you drive in Centralia, it is always good auto advice to keep your brake system in good repair, and that means ALL of your brake system. Just one more way to keep your travels accident and worry-free.
Posted in the Brakes category
The transmission system in your vehicle allows you to change gears. Lower gears are power gears. They get your vehicle moving and get it up hills. Higher gears get the vehicle up to speed and get it rolling faster. If you have a standard transmission, then you have to do the work of shifting gears yourself. But with an automatic transmission, the vehicle shifts gears on its own. It automatically starts out in low gear and automatically shifts to high gears as it gets rolling. Again, it will automatically shift to a lower gear to climb hills or when you need a burst of speed.
How does it know when to change gears? Today’s automatic transmissions are computer-controlled. The computer gathers information about what the vehicle is doing, and changes the gears as needed.
Automatic transmissions are becoming more sophisticated all the time. More gears, or “speeds” are being added. Almost all vehicles have four at least speeds. Five or six is common. Some car makers are even increasing to seven or eight – up to ten. Adding gears has a lot of advantages for Centralia auto owners: it improves gas mileage and increases performance.
But there is a drawback for Centralia auto owners: more gears equals more parts and a more complex transmission system. Plus, all those parts need to fit into the same space as older, less complex transmissions. This means that today’s transmissions are engineered to much tighter tolerances. In other words, they demand meticulous care from Centralia auto owners. Transmissions are designed for durability. But that durability can be compromised if they aren’t given proper care.
That’s why changing transmission fluid is such a key part of preventive maintenance for Centralia motorists. Transmission fluid lubricates the transmission and keeps it in good working order. But if the fluid runs low, transmission parts will wear out quickly or suffer costly damage due to increased friction. The transmission can even fail.
Dirty transmission fluid can clog the small passageways in the transmission, blocking lubricant from reaching all of its parts. Again, this can lead to increased wear, damage or failure.
New transmissions aren’t cheap. Repairing them isn’t cheap either. But changing transmission fluid is fairly inexpensive for Centralia motorists at LeDuc's Service Center. That’s why responsible car care includes maintenance on the transmission system at LeDuc's Service Center. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out that periodic fluid changes aren’t just good auto advice, they actually pay for themselves by preventing expensive transmission repairs.
Posted in the Transmission category
Have you noticed an increase in price when you get a flat fixed in Centralia or your tires rotated? It might be the result of your TPMS, or Tire Pressure Monitoring System.
The federal government began requiring a TPMS system on 2008 model year passenger vehicles and light trucks. Some 2006 and 2007 models may have them as well. The system has a warning light that is mounted on the dashboard that will go on if one of the tires becomes severely under inflated.
Why the new requirement? Because underinflated tires are the number one cause of tire failure. Tire blowouts cause detrimental and sometimes fatal accidents. Underinflated tires also need longer stopping distance and can skid, both of which also present dangers on Washington roads. Many flat tires can also be prevented by proper tire inflation, and though this may seem an economic consideration, Centralia motorists who have changed a flat on the side of the road recognize that this has serious safety concerns as well.
Advances in tire technology, specifically the development of radial tires has made it harder for Centralia auto owners to recognize when a tire is underinflated. At a recommended pressure of 35 psi, a tire is seriously underinflated at 26 psi. But the tire doesn’t look low on air until it reaches 20 psi. This raises concerns about vehicle owners being able to tell when their sedans are a safety hazard on the road. Hence, the TPMS.
So, like seatbelts, the essential TPMS system is expected to save a lot of lives. The technology has been in use in race cars for years, and now it’s being mandated for all passenger cars, SUV’s, mini-vans and pick-ups. Besides warning Centralia drivers when their tires need air, the system is required to indicate when it is malfunctioning.
This increased safety won’t come without increased costs to Centralia drivers. Estimates regarding the cost of maintaining the TPMS on your vehicle run from $27 to $100. Also, there will be an added cost for tire repair. Centralia service centers have had to purchase new scanning equipment to work with TPMS sensors and other essential equipment to repair tires and wheels equipped with TPMS. LeDuc's Service Center techs have to be trained to use the new equipment. These costs will have to be passed on to Centralia auto owners.
Further, whenever a tire is changed, the LeDuc's Service Center service advisor will have to deal with the TPMS. Sensors will have to removed, then re-installed and re-activated. Sometimes the act of changing a tire will damage a sensor, and it will need to be replaced. These extra services will come at an added charge to Centralia car owners.
Tire rotations will require that the TPMS be re-programmed. And whenever a vehicle’s battery is disconnected, the TPMS will require re-programming as well.
The TPMS itself will require attention – it contains batteries and sensors that will wear out and need to be replaced.
So, if you’ve noticed an increase in the cost for car care at your Centralia tire center, it may not be the economy. It could be the cost of the TPMS in newer vehicles. Before you dash off an angry letter to Congress, however, stop and consider what you’re paying for. If predictions are correct, the TPMS will save lives, and that will be a benefit to all of us.
Of course, no warning system will save lives in Centralia if auto owners don’t pay attention to it. And remember that the warning doesn’t come on until the tire is severely under inflated – you still should check your tire pressure at least once a month. Centralia drivers can prevent accidents and potentially save lives without a warning system by keeping their tires properly inflated.
Posted in the Tires and Wheels category
Diesel engines have been used extensively in Europe and Asia for many years. They haven’t been as common in Tacoma because of the high sulfur content in our diesel fuel. But the government is now mandating lower sulfur content and, as a result, we are going to see more Centralia auto owners driving diesel-fueled vehicles on the road, especially in passenger cars and SUV’s.
Diesels are popular in Centralia because they get better fuel economy than gas-powered engines. They also last longer. Modern diesel engines are quiet and powerful. And if you associate diesel engines with black smoke, then you’re not up with the times. That smoke is a thing of the past.
Diesels don’t produce any more pollutants than gasoline engines. The pollution standards for diesel-powered vehicles are as strict in Washington as for other vehicles.
Also, diesel engines can run on bio-diesel fuels as well as fossil fuels. Diesel fuel can be produced from vegetable oil or from cellulosic waste like wood chips and sawdust. In Tacoma, we may soon see bio-diesel produced from algae. These fuel sources will lessen Centralia car owners' dependence on fossil fuels and may even become truly renewable and sustainable.
Diesel-powered vehicles perform as well as other passenger vehicles, also. Most Winlock people don’t notice a difference in driving one or the other. If you haul heavy loads or tow a trailer in Littlerock, however, the diesel is a definite improvement.
So, you may be asking, if diesels are so great, why don’t all Tacoma drivers drive them? Surely there are disadvantages you haven’t told me about. That’s true. Diesel engines are heavier than gas engines, and they cost more in Washington. The better fuel economy of the diesel engine is partially offset by the higher purchase price.
Because of higher fuel prices, diesel engines used to be more expensive to drive in Tacoma. But now, with higher volatility in the prices of both gasoline and diesel fuel in Washington, that cost difference is less definitive. Whether a diesel or gas engine is more expensive for Centralia motorists depends now on the current price of fuel in Washington and how many miles you drive.
Consider also that diesel-powered vehicles have a high resale value in the Tacoma area, and the costs of owning and operating a diesel vs. a gas-powered vehicle in Washington becomes a real toss-up.
Preventive auto maintenance for diesel vehicles has also become similar to that of gas-fueled vehicles in recent years. The major difference is that diesels require cleaner fuel, air and oil, so their filters are more expensive in Centralia than those for gasoline engines. The engine air filter must be changed more frequently as well.
The costs for car care and repairs in Centralia are similar. Wait, you may be thinking, but you just told me that filters are more pricey and have to be changed more regularly. True, but that is offset by the fact that diesel engines have a much longer lifetime than gasoline engines. So if you are the type of owner who prefers to hang on to a vehicle for a long time, you will be more than rewarded with a diesel engine.
So if you have been looking for LeDuc's Service Center auto advice on whether to switch to a diesel vehicle or stay with a gas-powered one, then we hope this helps. The answer as to which type of vehicle is better is that it depends on the Centralia driver and their driving habits. Now that you know the facts, you can make an informed choice based on your own priorities and needs.
Posted in the Fuel System category
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
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
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
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
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
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
Posted in the Maintenance category