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Centralia Alignment Service

Posted September 17, 2014 2:52 PM



Your car might have an alignment problem if: it drifts or pulls to one side, your steering wheel is off center, you have uneven tire wear or your car doesn’t feel like it handles right. When all of a vehicle’s wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Running into potholes, smacking a curb or other object are great ways to knock your car out of alignment. Then one or more of your wheels starts pulling in a slightly different direction and the problems begin.

Driving for an extended time when you're out of alignment causes your tires to wear unevenly and excessively. This can be dangerous and expensive. You'll have to replace your tires sooner, but even worse - you may cause premature wear to your suspension system, which can be really expensive.

The front wheel alignment is adjustable on all vehicles, and the back wheels are also adjustable on some cars. The adjustment can go three different ways. The first adjustment is called toe. The next adjustment is called camber. And finally, there is castor. The engineers who designed your vehicle determined the alignment settings that will give you the best handling and safety.

There are several things involved in an alignment check. First, there's an inspection of the steering and suspension - it should be checked to see if anything's bent or broken. Then the tire condition needs to be inspected. From there, the vehicle is put on an alignment rack and an initial alignment reading is taken. If all four wheels are adjustable, they are lined up perfectly parallel with the vehicle's center line. If the back wheels aren't adjustable, a technician at LeDuc's Service Center can determine the direction they push and then aligns the front wheels to match.

LeDuc's Service Center
1417 Kresky Ave
Centralia, Washington 98531
360-736-0123

Like most things, your manufacturer has suggested a mileage interval for having your alignment checked. But if you run into a curb, pothole or something else that's given you a big jolt, pay attention to whether your vehicle is pulling to one side when you drive. It's better to have your alignment checked before waiting to see if there is uneven tire tread wear - by then, the damage is done.

Getting your alignment checked when needed is a great way to extend the life of your tires and suspension parts. It also makes sure that your tire meets the road properly for maximum performance and safety.


Posted in the Alignment category

Wheel Balancing at LeDuc's Service Center

Posted September 10, 2014 2:18 PM



So you love your job, and your family life is great. Congratulations! You have achieved balance. But can you say the same for your wheels? Centralia car owners can tell if their tires are out of balance by vibrations at higher speeds on Washington interstates. If one of the front tires is out, you feel the vibration in the steering wheel. If it's a back tire, you'll feel the vibration in your seat.

Tires and wheels are pretty heavy. When a tire is mounted on a wheel at LeDuc's Service Center, it is usually not perfectly balanced. So the service specialist will spin the tire on a machine to determine where it's too heavy. He will then place weights on the wheels in strategic locations to balance it out. When a tire is out of balance, it actually bounces down the road instead of rolling smoothly. Since the average size tire rotates at about 850 revolutions per minute at 60 MPH, it is actually slamming into the pavement 14 times a second. That's where you get your vibration.

Most Centralia auto owners are surprised at how smoothly their car rides after balancing all four wheels.

Most high-quality tires sold in Centralia hold their balance pretty well for drivers. They just get out of balance gradually with normal wear and tear. If you suddenly feel a vibration, it is probably because you lost a wheel balancing weight along the way. Definitely get a balance at LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia if you feel a vibration, change your rims or have a flat repaired. Putting off a needed balance job leads to excessive and dangerous tire wear, wear to your shocks, struts, steering and suspension parts. Wheel balancing not only improves your ride and handling, but also can save you some expensive repair bills and possibly an accident. Additionally, you will get better gas mileage.

Some Tacoma auto owners have their tires balanced at every rotation. Others do it every other time. Check your owners' manual for your requirements, or ask your professional, friendly & honest LeDuc's Service Center service specialist. Doing this will put you on the path to mechanical wheel balance.


Posted in the Tires and Wheels category

Watching Your Check Engine Light

Posted September 4, 2014 5:33 PM



Did you know that most of the cars driving around Centralia, Washington carry more computer power than the Apollo 121 Lunar Module that landed on the moon in 1969?

New cars sold in the Tacoma area have as many as twelve networked computers and over five miles (eight kilometers) of wiring. In fact, for the last decade or so, auto computers have been controlling about 85 percent of your vehicle's functions.

Cars have sensors for manifold air temperature, coolant temperature, manifold air pressure, airflow, throttle position, vehicle speed and oxygen content. All of this electronic wizardry is pretty complicated. So how do Centralia motorists know when there is a problem?

It's simple; the Check Engine light comes on. The computer monitors all the sensors and uses that information to decide what to adjust such as the fuel mix, spark timing and idle speed. In addition, the computer monitors its own circuits. When it finds a fault, it turns on the Check Engine light and stores a trouble code in the computer.

It can be pretty disturbing for Centralia drivers when the Check Engine light comes on. We wonder just how urgent it is. Generally speaking, it is not critical like a temperature or oil pressure light. When you get one of those it means STOP NOW! When the Check Engine light shows up, you should come in to LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia to find out what the matter is as soon as possible.

Since 1996, there has been a strong emissions control component to the Check Engine diagnostic. But if your Check Engine light flashes on and off, you know that it is more urgent and you need to get it checked immediately to prevent damage. You should slow down and avoid towing or heavy loads until you can get it checked out.

Your professional, friendly & honest LeDuc's Service Center service advisor has special diagnostic equipment that will retrieve the trouble code from the computer and help him determine what is wrong. From there, we can fix it and get you back on the road.

Stop by if you're check engine light is on.

LeDuc's Service Center
1417 Kresky Ave
Centralia, Washington 98531
360-736-0123

Posted in the Dashboard category

Put On The Brakes: Brake Service At LeDuc's Service Center

Posted August 27, 2014 9:53 AM

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

Gear Up: Transmission Service at LeDuc's Service Center in Centralia

Posted August 19, 2014 5:48 PM

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

Under Pressure in Centralia: TPMS

Posted August 14, 2014 11:36 AM

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

Maintaining Your Diesel in Tacoma

Posted August 6, 2014 7:52 AM

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

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

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