Automotion Reno

Servicing Northern Nevada Car Owners since 1975

Diesel Maintenance For Nevada

At Automotion we hear from a lot of people who are excited about the new diesel engines that will soon be available in passenger cars and SUV’s. But our Nevada friends are often curious about the preventive maintenance requirements. People may not know that diesel engines have long been used extensively in Europe and Asia. In fact, in some markets, there’re nearly as many diesel powered passenger cars as there are gasoline.

Here’s who’s announced or is expected to announce new diesels for North America: BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Volkswagen, Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai and Subaru. Of course, the US auto makers will be expanding their diesel offerings as well. Diesels will become a very big deal here in Nevada.

You may ask, why has it taken so long getting to Nevada and North America? There are a bunch of reasons like fuel tax policies and such, but the biggest hurtle was that Nevada diesel fuel had a high sulfur content – too high for the latest generation of highly refined diesel engines. Recent government mandates to remove sulfur now opens up Nevada to the engines the rest of the world’s been enjoying for a long time.

Why are diesels so popular worldwide? Well, for starters, diesels get up to 30% better fuel economy than gas engines. And they last a lot longer. And modern diesel engines are refined, quiet and powerful – and there’s none of that black smoke we used to see.

Some people may think that diesels create more pollution. But, you need to rethink diesels. Environmental pollution standards for diesel cars and light trucks are scheduled to be as strict as they are for gasoline vehicles. A modern diesel engine is as clean as a gas engine.

You may also have heard a lot in the news about bio-diesel. The exciting thing about diesels is that they’re not limited to fossil fuels. They can run on fuel made from vegetable oil. There are refineries that make diesel fuel from cellulosic waste like woodchips from lumber mills. There’s even this cool new process where a special strain of algae is used to convert carbon dioxide, water and sunshine into bio-diesel. That’s still a ways off, but you can see that diesel can become a sustainable source of fuel.

And, there are not a lot of trade off’s with diesel in terms of performance. A modern passenger car diesel is very smooth, quiet and quick. Most folks wouldn’t notice any difference. For those who tow trailers and haul heavy loads, diesels will be an improvement.

Now diesel engines are heavy duty, so they cost more than gas engines. But they get better fuel economy – so the break-even point is largely dependent on the difference between Nevada gas and diesel prices at the pump and how many miles you drive. And diesels have a higher resale value.

Now, let’s get back to diesel maintenance. You have to keep in mind that most of the new diesels are just coming in, or will be over the next couple of years, so we don’t have the maintenance schedules to make direct comparisons yet.

But going off what we already have in Nevada, we can expect fluid drain intervals to be similar to gasoline engines. Diesels do require very clean fuel, air and oil, so their filters are much higher capacity than gasoline filters and cost more. The engine air filter needs to be changed more frequently as well.

Repair costs are similar. As with gasoline engines, proper maintenance is the key to long engine life and to avoiding repairs. So pretty much what we have come to expect with gas vehicles; coolant system service, transmission service, power brakes, power steering, differential, filters, fuel system, and so on. And the payoff for you, if you’re the kind that likes to keep your vehicles for a long time, is that a properly maintained diesel engine can last for hundreds of thousands of miles.

Keeping Your Engine Cool In Reno Nevada

The cooling system keeps our engine from overheating while you are driving around Reno Nevada. Its job is to move heat away from the engine. Let’s talk about the various components of the system and how they work to accomplish this.

The radiator is the part most everyone associates with the cooling system. Coolant flows through the radiator which has fine cooling fins that draw the heat out of the coolant and dissipate it into the air. To make sure there’s enough airflow over the radiator, a fan pulls air over the cooling fins even when the car is idling.

In some vehicles, the fan is powered by the serpentine belt. On others, an electric motor runs the fan. Electric fans turn on and off as needed. You may have heard the fan kick on shortly after you turn your car off. The sensor has determined that the engine needs a little help cooling down to a safe temperature.

Reno Nevada Radiator A hose connects the radiator to the water pump. The water pump pushes the water into the engine block. Now the engine block and cylinder heads have passages for the coolant to pass through without getting into the oil or the combustion chamber. These passages are referred to as the “water jacket”.

While the coolant is passing through the water jacket, it absorbs heat from the engine on its way to the radiator for cooling. Between the engine and the radiator is a gatekeeper called the thermostat. The thermostat’s job is to regulate the temperature of the engine just like your home thermostat regulates the temperature of your house. It gets your engine up to the correct operating temperature and then keeps it from overheating.

When your first start the engine, it’s very cold and needs to warm up. So the thermostat blocks the flow of coolant to the radiator. As the engine warms up, the thermostat starts to let coolant flow through the system.

The final component I want to talk about is the overflow reservoir. This bottle is designed to hold some of the coolant. It’ll have a mark that indicates whether or not you have enough coolant. This is where you should add coolant if you just need to top it off.

Caution: never open the reservoir or the radiator cap when the car’s hot. The cooling system is pressurized and opening them while it’s hot can cause hot coolant and steam to escape resulting in serious burns.

Cooling system failure is the most common mechanical failure in vehicles around Reno Nevada. Your Reno Nevada service center can do a periodic inspection of the components for leaks, loose connections and weakening hoses.

 

Automotion
225 Telegraph Street
Reno, Nevada 89502
(775) 624-5152

Your manufacturer has also specified a cooling system service interval. With a cooling system service, the old coolant is replaced with correct clean fluid that contains the additives required to prevent corrosion. The additives are depleted over time and you need fresh fluid for adequate protection. Your radiator pressure cap should be replaced at this service as well.

Protecting Your sedan From Theft In Reno Nevada

Every car in Reno Nevada is at risk for theft. So it’s up to us to make our cars a less appealing target and more of a challenge – hopefully sending potential thieves to look elsewhere.

The National Insurance Crime Bureau recommends a layered approach to protecting vehicles:

  1. Common sense
  2. Visible and audible devices
  3. Immobilizing devices
  4. Tracking devices

Let’s review each of these. First, common sense: you would be surprised how many vehicles are stolen from Reno Nevada where the keys were left in the ignition with the doors unlocked. Always take your keys, and lock the doors. In fact, in some places it’s against the law to leave a vehicle unattended with the keys in the ignition.

And don’t leave spare keys in the car or hide them outside – because a thief will find them. Try to park in well-lit areas that have a lot of foot traffic. If possible, park near the end of a row and near a light. Back your car into a parking space or your driveway to make your car more visible to passersby and harder for a thief to work under the hood without being seen.

Remember to roll up your windows completely and avoid leaving your car in public lots for a long time. If you park in a lot that has an attendant, only give them the ignition key.

Keep valuables out of sight: purses, wallets, cell phones, clothes and even change are attractive “smash-and-grab” targets. And pay to have your Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN, etched into your windows – it makes your car less attractive to a thief who wants to send your car to a chop shop.

There are lots of visible and audible devices available. A steering wheel lock is highly visible and will deter some thieves. Loud alarms can alert you and others that your vehicle is being tampered with. But if your alarm does go off, be careful. Observe what’s going on; get descriptions of suspicious people and vehicles, including license plate numbers.

Now, if you catch a thief in the act, call 911 but don’t approach the person. Your safety is more important than the car.

And here’s a great one – immobilizing devices. They actually shut off your car’s electrical or fuel supply. So without a key, or knowing where the hidden switch is located, a thief can’t drive your car away.

Finally, you can also get a tracking device that allows police to track your car down and recover it quickly.

Remember, where you live, work and drive around Reno Nevada has a great impact on your decisions. If you’re in an area with high theft rates, you may want to spend more money on security systems. And check with your Reno Nevada auto insurance company to see if they offer discounts for adding any of these items.

Of course, the common sense suggestions from Automotion don’t cost anything and go a long way toward keeping your car safe from thieves. Take a look at the attached video auto tip from AutoNetTV.

Come see us for practical advice on keeping your sedan safe.
Automotion
225 Telegraph Street, Reno, Nevada 89502
Call us at (775) 624-5152

Keys to a Long Lasting Vehicle

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 Reno automotive technician’s job to keep on top of this stuff. At Automotion 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.