Timing and Serpentine Belts

In the fast paced Washington D.C. Metro area everyone is always either working or driving to work. It’s always hectic. Its always about focus on the job and as long as the car is running everything is fine. But some things should not be taken for granted. A Serpentine belt or Timing belt will work fine up until the time they break. If the Serpentine belt breaks and you lose the Alternator charging function, you lose the Power Steering and now your A/C doesn’t work. If the Timing Belt breaks, the car just cuts off immediately and depending on the type of engine you have it could cause serious internal valve damage.

The serpentine belt gets its name because of its circuitous path around the engine. The serpentine belt is driven by the engine and powers a number of systems, as follows:

1. The serpentine belt spins the compressor that generates the cool air for the air conditioning system.

2. The serpentine belt powers the alternator. The alternator generates electricity for use in the vehicle’s electrical systems and to charge the battery. Without the alternator, the battery wouldn’t last more than a few miles.

3. The serpentine belt runs the pumps for both the power steering and the power brakes. In other vehicles, the power steering pump may be electric and the power brakes may use a vacuum boost.

4. On many vehicles, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump keeps coolant circulating through to maintain appropriate operating temperatures. In some Florida vehicles, a timing belt runs the water pump.

When a serpentine belt fails, all of these systems fail as well, which can lead to engine impact.

Replacing the belts before they break saves money and time for the hectic workers in the D.C. area by preventing more repairs and costs and the frustration of having your vehicle Towed which is never cheap, to the shop for an extended period of time.

Take Control of Rising Gas Prices

Fight skyrocketing gas prices by taking control of your vehicle’s unnecessary fuel consumption. You can add miles to every gallon you pump by following a few easy and inexpensive maintenance steps with your car, SUV, minivan or pickup truck.

Try these gas saving maintenance and driving tips that really work:

Vehicle gas caps – About 17 percent of the vehicles on the roads have gas caps that are either damaged, loose or are missing altogether, causing 147 million gallons of gas to vaporize every year.
Underinflated tires – When tires aren’t inflated properly it’s like driving with the parking brake on and can cost a mile or two per gallon.
Worn spark plugs – A vehicle can have either four, six or eight spark plugs, which fire as many as 3 million times every 1,000 miles, resulting in a lot of heat and electrical and chemical erosion. A dirty spark plus causes misfiring, which wastes fuel. Spark plugs need to be replaced regularly.
Dirty air filters – An air filter that is clogged with dirt, dust and bugs chokes off the air and creates a “rich” mixture – too much gas being burned for the amount of air, which wastes gas and causes the engine to lose power. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent, saving about 15 cents a gallon.
Fuel-saving driving tips include:

Don’t be an aggressive driver – Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by as much as 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent on city streets, which results in 7 to 49 cents per gallon.
Avoid excessive idling – Sitting idle gets zero miles per gallon. Letting the vehicle warm up for one to two minutes is sufficient.
Observe the speed limit – Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each mpg driven over 60 will result in an additional 10 cents per gallon. To maintain a constant speed on the highway, cruise control is recommended.
Combining errands into one trip saves gas and time. Several short trips taken from a cold start can use twice as much fuel as a longer multi-purpose trip covering the same distance.
Avoid carrying unneeded heavy items in the truck. An extra 100 pounds can cut fuel efficiency by a percent or two.
As part of the “Be Car Care Aware” education campaign, the Car Care Council is also offering a free service interval schedule to help take the guesswork out of what vehicle systems need to be routinely inspected and when service or repair should be performed. The schedule can be printed for free from the Car Care Council’s Website at carcare.org.

To setup an appointment or request an estimate, please fill out the contact form below or call us now at 703-817-0650.

About Oil & Filter Change Intervals

When to change my oil? Car manufacturers have varying oil change intervals but according to your car’s service manual if you meet any one of the following criteria then this is considered ‘Severe use’

Cold weather, less than 10 degrees
Extreme heat, more than 90 degrees
Extreme humidity
Towing a trailer or hauling heavy materials
Repeated short-distance trips of less than five miles
Extensive idling or in stop-and-go traffic

Most of us meet at least one of these criteria, if not several. So why would you want to go 7500, or 10,000 miles on an oil change? Even if your oil were able to last 10,000 miles it is going to be carrying contaminants and over time will build up sludge in your engine. Synthetic oils are better in this respect but will not stop the formation of sludge over time. Synthetics won’t break down under normal temperatures where a conventional oil would but under hard use they will still break down. Moisture or condensation which doesn’t get cooked off by only driving short trips will also cause the build up of sludge to occur faster. Turbos also are harder on oil and will cause oils to break down faster than conventional aspirated engines.

To setup an appointment or request an estimate, please fill out the contact form below or call us now at 703-817-0650.

Spark Plugs and Ignition Coils

Newer cars use spark plugs that are meant to last longer than used in previous models. It may interest you to know that as your spark plugs wear the voltage requirement for efficient ignition increases and in return causes the ignition coils to work harder and harder. This increases the likelihood of ignition coil failure. For example, In 1999 Volvo went to Direct ignition coils, while spark plugs were still changed out every 30K to 60K. Those Ignition coils rarely, if ever, failed. Same Ignition system as used today, the cars are going 75K and higher without changing spark plugs and guess what, Ignition coils are failing more than ever. A typical Spark plug can retail $15 to $25 depending on manufacturer, and ignition coils can range from $60 to $90 each. So you have to ask yourself, is it worth it to not replace your spark plugs more often?

To setup an appointment or request an estimate, please fill out the contact form below or call us now at 703-817-0650.

Why use OEM Brake Pads and Brake Rotors

European cars such as Volvo, BMW, & Mercedes to name a few, pride themselves on having better features which include braking systems. These cars are designed and spec’d with Brake pads and brake rotors that are softer than those found on domestic cars. This is in part why European cars tend to need brake rotors more often than the average domestic or Asian car. Most aftermarket companies manufacture their brake pads and rotors from harder materials. While they may last longer, they are more prone to brake noise and most do not stop as well as the OEM supplied brakes your European car came with. Although the brake rotors on your Volvo or BMW may need replaced more often the plus side is a much higher level of stopping power.

To setup an appointment or request an estimate, please fill out the contact form below or call us now at 703-817-0650.