Which item is most often stolen from vehicles in Truckee?
Well, if you said stereo – you used to be right. But airbags have now surpassed stereos as the biggest target for theft in Truckee – approximately 50,000 a year are stolen across the country. New airbags cost about $1,000, but go for $50 to $200 on the black market in Truckee.
Stolen airbags are making their way back into cars that have been in an accident. Of course, the danger to the consumer of having a stolen airbag installed is that you can never be sure what may have previously affected them and if they will work right when you need them.
Contact The Auto and Tire Doctor for more information about where to get your airbags checked or replaced. Find us at 12000 Pioneer Trail, Truckee, California 96161 You can reach us by phone at: 530 587-2178
There are reports that 1 in 25 airbag replacements are stolen or salvaged airbags – or no airbag is installed at all.
That is definitely one car part you don’t want to take a chance with, so The Auto and Tire Doctor recommends following these guidelines:
Use a reputable collision repair center that employs ASE certified mechanics (we can offer recommendations at The Auto and Tire Doctor).
Inspect the invoice to ensure that the repair shop purchased the airbag from a manufacturer, dealer, or recycler. If you can inspect the airbag prior to installation, it should be packaged in a sealed container from the manufacturer.
You will see the SRS light (Supplemental Restraint System) when you first start your vehicle up. This tells you that the airbag system is activated. If you do not see the SRS light, there is likely a problem with the airbag system.
For more information, contact John at The Auto and Tire Doctor by calling 530 587-2178.
With the recent focus in Squaw Valley on improving fuel economy, we’ve been told how important it is to maintain our tire pressure.
Everyone in Squaw Valley knows that tires wear out, but we all want to make them last as long as possible because they’re fairly expensive to replace. In addition to saving gas, properly inflated tires last longer. Under-inflated tires will wear out more quickly.
Some people in Squaw Valley wonder if there is benefit to adding a few extra pounds of pressure when they fill up their tires. But actually, there isn’t. In fact, there are very good reasons not to over-inflate your tires. For one, the middle of the tread will wear unevenly because the full tread is not contacting the road properly. That also adversely affects your handling.
Come in and see us about tire maintenance for your Truckee, California vehicle. The Auto and Tire Doctor 12000 Pioneer Trail Truckee, California 96161 530 587-2178
Every vehicle in the Squaw Valley area has a sticker on the driver’s side door jamb that tells you the manufacturer’s recommended tire pressure. This recommendation is an integral part of the vehicle’s suspension tuning. A lot of engineering actually goes into the recommended tire pressure, so it’s important to follow it.
What else do we need to know about tire maintenance? Tire rotation and balancing are very important. Let’s start with rotation. Because the front tires handle the brunt of turning forces, the shoulders of the front tires wear more quickly than the rear tires. We rotate the tires so that they all get to do some duty on the front and they’ll all wear evenly over their life.
For most vehicles, front tires are rotated to the rear and vice versa. Others recommend a cross rotational pattern. Some vehicles use an asymmetrical tire so those tires need to stay on either the right or left side – it’ll say which on the tire. Some high performance cars have asymmetrical tires and different sizes on the front and rear. These can’t be rotated at all. Your owner’s manual will have details for your car.
How often should you rotate your tires? Your owner’s manual will have a recommendation. Your service advisor at The Auto and Tire Doctor can do a visual inspection to let you know if it looks like it should be done. The interval is typically around 5,000 miles.
You know, some people don’t think new tires need to be balanced. What they aren’t taking into account is the wheel. Between the wheel and the tire – even a new tire – there’s enough variation to require balancing.
When you add the valve stem and tire pressure monitoring sensors required on new cars, balancing is definitely in order. When a tire’s out of balance, it’s actually hopping down the road. You’ll feel the vibration through the steering wheel if a front tire’s out of balance and through your seat if it’s a rear tire.
Proper wheel balance promotes tire life and increases safety. Historically, lead weights have been attached to the wheel to bring it into balance. Lead gives some environmental concern, so steel weights are starting to be substituted.
Also, always use the same size tire on an axle. Different size tires on the front or on the back can lead to some real handling problems. And tire manufacturers recommend that when you get two new tires, they be installed on the rear because that’s where you need the most traction to avoid spinning-out.
Have you ever had an experience like this in Truckee California? You drive through the one of those automatic car washes. When you get to the end, where the dryer is blowing, your check engine light started flashing!
You fear the worst, but within a block or two, the light stopped flashing, but stayed on. By the next day, the light was off.
You wonder; “What was going on?” Well, it’s actually a good lesson in how the Check Engine light works.
Your air intake system has a sensor that measures how much air is coming through it. When you went under the high-speed dryer, all that air was blasting past the sensor. Your engine computer was saying, there shouldn’t be that much air when the engine is just idling. Something’s wrong. Whatever’s wrong could cause some serious engine damage.
Warning, warning! It flashes the check engine light, to alert you to take immediate action.
It stopped flashing because once you were out from under the dryer, the airflow returned to normal. Now the engine control computer says the danger is past, but I’m still concerned, I’ll keep this light on for now.
Then the Check Engine Light goes off in a day or two.
The condition never did recur, so the computer says whatever it was, it’s gone now. The danger is past, I’ll turn that light off.
Now a flashing check engine light is serious. You need to get it into our Truckee California shop as soon as possible. But if it stops flashing, so you have time to see if the problem will clear itself or if you need to get it checked. How does the computer know when to clear itself?
Think of it this way. The engine control computer is the brain that can make adjustments to manage the engine. Things like alter the air to fuel mix, spark advance, and so on. The computer relies on a series of sensors to get the information it needs to make decisions on what to do.
The computer knows what readings are in a normal range for various conditions. Get out of range, and it logs a trouble code and lights up the check engine warning.
The computer will then try to make adjustments if it can. If the computer can’t compensate for the problem, the check engine light stays on.
The computer logs a trouble code. Some people think the code will tell the technician exactly what’s wrong?
Actually, the code will tell the technician what sensor reading is out of parameters. It can’t really tell you why, because there could be any number of causes.
Let’s say you’re feeling hot. You get your heat sensor out – a thermometer – put it under our tongue and in a minute or two you learn that you have a fever of 104 degrees.
You know your symptom – a fever – but you don’t know what’s causing it. Is it the flu, a sinus infection or appendicitis?
You need more information than just that one sensor reading. But it does give you a place to start and narrows down the possible problems.
There are reports on the internet telling you that you can just go down to an auto parts store and get them to read your trouble code or buy a cheap scan tool to do it yourself.
There are two problems with that. First, the computer stores some trouble codes in short term memory, and some in permanent memory. Each manufacturer’s computer stores generic trouble codes, but they also store codes that are specific to their brand.
A cheap, generic scan tool, like you can buy or that the auto parts store uses, doesn’t have the ability to retrieve long-term storage or manufacturer specific codes. Your Truckee California service center has spent a lot of money on high-end scan tools and software to do a deep retrieval of information from your engine control computer.
The second problem is that once you’ve got the information, do you know what to do with it? For example, a very common trouble code comes up when the reading on the oxygen sensor is out of whack.
So the common solution is for the auto parts store to sell you a new oxygen sensor, which are not cheap, and send you off on your way. Now your oxygen sensor may indeed have been bad and needed replacing. But the error code could have come from any of a dozen of other problems.
How do you know the right solution? Back to the fever analogy, do you need surgery or an aspirin? Leave it to the pros at The Auto and Tire Doctor. Give us a call at 530 587-2178 and let us help you resolve your check engine light issue.
People in Truckee 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 Truckee 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 Truckee 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.
Severe driving around Truckee 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 Truckee 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 Subaru or 4 wheel drive 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 Truckee service advisor at The Auto and Tire Doctor 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.
Call The Auto and Tire Doctor to make an appointment to check your transmission in Truckee. 12000 Pioneer Trail Truckee, California 96161 530 587-2178
Do you have any plans around Truckee California for the weekend? Maybe you and some friends and are taking the boat up to the lake. Maybe you’ll be having a lot of fun water skiing and doing a little fishing.
You got the boat all ready. It’s all gassed up. You packed lots of snacks and the cooler’s stocked – ready to go.
How about your tow vehicle? It has plenty of gas and you’ve even vacuumed it out, but is your auto maintenance up to date?
Stop and think. You’ll have some heavy traffic on your way out of town. Hilly terrain as you get to the lake. Some dirt roads – and it may be hot weather. And all the time you’re going to be towing around several thousand extra pounds.
That all adds up a lot of severe strain on your engine, brakes and transmission. Your transmission’s going to be working overtime, spending more time in lower gears. The internal transmission temperature is going to be much higher than normal. What’s a fun little blast to the lake for you is really severe duty for your transmission.
It’s important that you have enough transmission fluid. If you’re running low, the transmission will run to hot and won’t have the protection it needs to cope with the added stress of towing.
And if it’s time for a transmission service, you really should have it done at The Auto and Tire Doctor before your trip. Transmission fluid breaks down and gets dirty over time. Whether you have an automatic or manual transmission, you need to have it serviced on schedule to make sure it runs efficiently.
Automatic transmissions contain a maze of passages that the fluid has to pass through to keep it shifting smoothly. If you neglect transmission service, the passages can get clogged up and you start to have problems. Neglect your transmission for too long, and it can fail. Believe us – you don’t want to pay for a major transmission repair.
You know, most of us in Truckee California do a lot of our driving 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 or driving in very hot or very cold weather. Also, dusty roads, city driving around Truckee, and basically any driving that’s not at highway speeds or under ideal conditions is severe driving. We all need to think about whether or not we need to follow the severe service schedule.
So, consider going in for a full service oil change before you leave for the lake to make sure everything has been looked at. Ask for a trip inspection while you’re at it. Your Truckee California service technician at The Auto and Tire Doctor can check your belts and hoses and let you know if your brakes are in good shape.
Don’t forget the sunscreen. And to thank your Truckee service technician, how about bringing him back a nice trout?