VIDEO TIPS & BLOG
April 30, 2013
Bad air quality while you’re driving around Fort Carson is nothing to sneeze at. But seriously, more and more vehicles these days come equipped with a cabin air filter. Since they’re fairly new on the scene, a lot of folks don’t know about them yet.
These filters clean the air in the passenger compartment, or cabin, of your car or truck. They do the same job as the furnace filter you have at home. They can filter out particles as small as thee microns. By contrast, a grain of sand is about 200 microns.
So your cabin air filer can clean out dust, pollution, pollen and spores, to keep the air in your car nice and clean. And just like your furnace filter, they need to be replaced when they get dirty. Check your owner’s manual, but they typically need to be replaced at around twelve to fifteen thousand miles.
The filter is usually either under the hood or under the dashboard. Some are a little tricky to get to, so you’ll want to have your Colorado Springs Colorado service center, LightHouse Automotive, LLC, take care of replacing them.
As we said, many people don’t realize they have a cabin air filter and go to their shop complaining about a funky smell in the ventilation system. It turned out to be a cabin air filter that was long overdue for replacement – really dirty and starting to smell. A quick replacement and they were on their way and smelling fine.
People who are allergy sensitive can really benefit from a cabin air filter, as it keeps allergens to a minimum. If you’re one of them, you’ll want to stay on top of your filter replacement schedule.
Of course if you do a lot of driving in dusty or polluted conditions, you’ll need to change your cabin air filter more often.
April 4, 2013
Sometimes when we talk about exhaust service in Colorado Springs, we think about exhaust pipes and mufflers. And if you can see smoke, or if it’s too loud. But, exhaust service at a place like LightHouse Automotive, LLC is really a lot more comprehensive these days.
For example, in the U.S., the federal government mandated catalytic converters for all cars in Colorado Springs in 1976 and on-board emission control computers in 1990. Colorado and federal emissions requirements have forced manufacturers to come up with much more sophisticated ways to comply with environmental regulations. Cars sold in Canada follow the same guidelines.
So, exhaust service has really become exhaust and emissions service. High-tech computer-controlled emissions devices are now a big part of that. And because it’s so sophisticated, your vehicle manufacturer recommends having your emission system checked out by a qualified technician, like the ones we have at LightHouse Automotive, LLC, regularly to make sure everything’s working right – which is usually every six months or 6,000 miles.
If your ‘check engine light’ comes on while you are driving around the Colorado Springs area, especially if it’s flashing, then you need to get your car looked at right away. Chances are it’s an emission related problem. You might have exhaust or emissions trouble if your car is hard to start, runs rough, or if it’s noisy or smoking.
So let’s review the exhaust system. Everything starts with the exhaust manifold. That’s the part that attaches to the engine and collects the exhaust from the cylinders and directs it into the exhaust pipe.
The exhaust gaskets help seal the connection with the manifold and other joints along the way. Now, if the manifold is cracked or loose, or a gasket is leaking, then dangerous gases could escape into the passenger compartment, where you ride. Carbon monoxide can be deadly, so it’s important that your exhaust system doesn’t leak.
The exhaust pipes connect the various components. They can rust or be damaged by a rock, so they need to be inspected periodically.
Next comes the catalytic converter. This part actually looks like a muffler. It changes chemicals that are dangerous to your health, and to the local Colorado environment, into harmless carbon dioxide and water. Now it doesn’t require any maintenance itself. But eventually they wear out. If it has, you’ll probably find out when your car fails an emissions inspection.
Now the muffler. Its main job is to quiet engine noises. Mufflers work by either absorbing or baffling sound. And you can actually customize your car’s sound with different mufflers – which is pretty cool because you can change the look of your car, and the way it sounds.
Rusted or road-damaged mufflers can actually leak and they need to be replaced right away. The exhaust system is attached to the car by a series of hangers and clamps that hold the system in place. And when these hangers come loose or break then hot exhaust components can touch and melt wires, hoses and lines. Just think of the damage a hot curling iron can do – but worse. It’s not good to have that waving around.
And finally, we end at the tailpipe. Appropriate name. This is the final outlet for the exhaust. And one other component is the oxygen sensor. It monitors the oxygen content of the exhaust so the engine-control computer can adjust the fuel-to-air mix to keep the car running right.
We hope this hasn’t been too ‘exhausting’ of a discussion, but these things impact everything from life and death safety due to exhaust leaks, to just fine-tuning the sound of your ride. And talk with your service advisor at LightHouse Automotive, LLC if you feel you need any of these items inspected on your vehicle, because a quick look can sure save a lot of pain down the road.
May 10, 2013
When I was a kid in Colorado Springs, 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 LightHouse Automotive, LLC 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 Colorado Springs service advisor at LightHouse Automotive, LLC 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 Colorado 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 LightHouse Automotive, LLC 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 LightHouse Automotive, LLC for your Spring and Fall automotive checkup.
LightHouse Automotive, LLC
2499 East Platte Avenue
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80909
May 16, 2013
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 Colorado Springs automotive technician’s job to keep on top of this stuff. At LightHouse Automotive, LLC 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.
April 19, 2013
Virtually all vehicles come with power steering so many Colorado Springs drivers 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 Colorado Springs vehicles have an electric motor that reduces steering effort and helps improve fuel efficiency.
The other kind of power steering is hydraulic. This is the kind most older Colorado vehicles, and a lot of newer ones, have. Power steering fluid is pressurized by a pump and is used to assist steering. Of course, Colorado Springs drivers 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 LightHouse Automotive, LLC in Colorado Springs 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 LightHouse Automotive, LLC as advised to avoid undue repairs.
Losing your power steering while driving in Colorado Springs can be unsettling – just remember that you can still steer, it’ll just be harder. Check with your honest LightHouse Automotive, LLC technician to see if it’s time to service your sedan power steering system.
In addition to power steering service, at LightHouse Automotive, LLC we offer comprehensive automotive services including auto repair, brake service and preventative maintenance.
Give us a call
LightHouse Automotive, LLC
2499 East Platte Avenue
Colorado Springs, Colorado 80909
April 9, 2013
People in Colorado Springs have been hearing a lot about higher oil change intervals these days. Maybe you’re wondering: What are the key issues?
Some new vehicle manufacturers in Colorado Springs are now recommending much higher oil change intervals than they have in the past. As much as 5,000 to 8,000 miles or more. This practice came under scrutiny when four of the largest new car manufacturers announced that owners like those in Colorado Springs were experiencing engine damage resulting from these higher oil change intervals.
The manufacturers’ standard oil drain service for particular vehicles was scheduled at around 7,500 miles. People following these recommendations were experiencing engine damage. It turns out that oil sludge was building up. This caused small oil passages to clog and engine parts to fail.
What causes oil sludge? It’s a factor of time and mileage. There are hot spots in every engine that cause oil burn off that leads to sludge. Also, water from normal condensation can build up in the oil. This water also creates sludge. Severe driving conditions lead to more rapid sludge formation.
Visit LightHouse Automotive, LLC in Colorado Springs, Colorado 80909
Severe driving around Colorado Springs includes short trips under four miles or trips under ten miles in freezing conditions. The engine just doesn’t get warm enough for the water in the oil to evaporate.
Severe conditions are at the heart of the problem. Stop-and-go driving, towing, dusty conditions, heavy loads, very hot or very cold temperatures, a car top carrier – these are all conditions that would suggest that the severe service schedule should be considered.
The severe service schedule has much shorter oil change intervals. People in Colorado Springs just need to honestly evaluate how they drive to determine if they should change their oil closer to the severe service schedule, or to the standard schedule.
Some types of sedan will give oil change reminders. But it’s important to know how that reminder is determined. For some, the reminder simply comes when the standard mileage interval has rolled around. Others use a computer algorithm that takes into consideration the number of cold starts, trip length, engine temperature and so on. It’s programmed to approximate where on the standard/severe service spectrum you fall. Some more expensive vehicles actually have sensors that test the cleanliness and effectiveness of the oil.
For the rest of us, better safe than sorry should be the guiding principle. Talk with your Colorado Springs service advisor at LightHouse Automotive, LLC and work it out together. Find out what kind of oil the factory sends out in your vehicle. Sometimes it’s a premium grade that costs more than standard oil – but it may be what’s needed to meet a higher factory recommended interval.
If you’re realistically conservative, standard grades of oil will take care of you year after year. If you want to push the limits, ask for a premium grade oil to give you extra protection.
So, what happened with those manufacturers with the problems from higher oil change intervals? They ended up extending the engine warranty for parts that were affected by oil sludge. But they had a stipulation – they lowered the oil change interval and the vehicle owner had to provide proof of oil changes at the new lower interval to keep the extended warranty.
April 25, 2013
If you’ve ever been in a car accident around Colorado Springs Colorado, 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 Colorado Springs, Colorado:
When an accident occurs, you should always stop. Leaving the scene of an accident is considered a crime in Colorado – 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 Colorado Springs lockup.
Most states, including Colorado require that you try to help someone who is injured by calling for help or performing first aid if you are able.
Warn other Colorado Springs 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 Colorado 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 Colorado auto insurance company’s 800 number.
Call or see your local Colorado Springs physician if you think you may have been injured.
We here at LightHouse Automotive, LLC hope that you never have to use this information and wish you happy travels.