Automotion Reno

Servicing Northern Nevada Car Owners since 1975

Cooling System Components


Today we want to talk about a key system in our cars – the cooling system. It’s one of those things that Reno drivers don’t give much thought to until it fails and then they’re stranded by the side of a road in Reno.

Cooling systems fail more often than any other mechanical system – usually because of neglect. Don’t you hate it when something breaks, and you could have done something to prevent it?

The good news is that if Reno drivers take care of their cooling systems they can keep working for the life of their car.

Here at AutoNetTV and Automotion in Reno, we emphasize important preventive maintenance services like replacing your coolant according to the factory schedule. But the various parts that make up the cooling system need attention too. The major components of the cooling system are the water pump, freeze plugs, the thermostat, the radiator, cooling fans, the heater core, the pressure cap, the overflow tank and the hoses.

It sounds complicated, but we Reno motorists don’t have to be experts – we can leave that to our friendly tech at Automotion. But, having an overview will help us remember how to take care of your car’s cooling system.

Most Reno folks would be surprised to know that burning fuel in your engine produces up to 4,500 degrees of heat. And all that heat has to be dealt with. If the heat can’t be drawn off the engine, the pistons will literally weld themselves to the inside of the cylinders – then you just have to throw the engine away and get a new one. That would cost thousands of dollars.

Now the water pump is what forces the coolant through passages in the sedan engine to absorb heat. The pump is driven by a belt that needs replacement from time to time. And the water pump will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. Spending some cash on replacing the belts and water pump is much less than the cost of repairing the extremely costly damage that can be done when an engine seizes.

There’s another little but essential part of the coolant system that protects the engine. It’s called a freeze plug. If you remember from high school chemistry, water expands when it freezes. In very cold areas, the coolant can actually freeze when the sedan is left sitting.

It is hard to believe, but the expanding frozen coolant is powerful enough to actually crack the engine block. The freeze plugs fit into the engine block. They fit tight enough to withstand the pressure of a running engine, but can expand or pop out if the coolant freezes. These little things save a lot of engine blocks.

That brings up a good point. An engine has to work in all kinds of Nevada temperatures – extremely hot as well as very cold. How does the sedan cooling system adapt to external temperatures as well as varying operating conditions?

Well, it’s much like the way you keep your Reno house at a comfortable temperature all year round – with a thermostat. The thermostat in your sedan controls how much coolant flows through your engine. When the engine is cold, it restricts coolant flow until the engine comes up to an efficient operating temperature. Then it starts opening up to move more coolant to keep the temperature within a specified range.

The thermostat needs to be replaced from time to time as well. It’s easy for your Automotion technician to diagnose a failed thermostat and is fairly inexpensive to replace. We can do this for you at Automotion in Reno, just give us a call: (775) 624-5152. Now we’ve been talking about all this heat we’ve got to get rid of, but haven’t really talked about where it goes. That’s where the radiator comes in. The hot coolant passes through the radiator. Air flows past the cooling fins and cools the coolant.

The radiator has two tanks that hold coolant: sometimes one at the top and bottom or one on either side. If you have an automatic transmission in your sedan, one of the tanks will also contain a second tank that cools the transmission fluid. Large SUV’s and trucks often have a separate transmission cooler. So when Reno motorists drive around Reno, the air is forced past the radiator. But driving doesn’t produce enough air flow. So the radiator has cooling fans that force fresh air over the radiator. These fans may be powered by a belt or by electric motors.

Reno car owners also have something called a heater core. The heater core is like a mini radiator. A small fan blows air over the heater core and into the passenger compartment of your sedan. That’s how Reno motorists warm their cars when it’s cold out in Nevada.

Next is the radiator cap. With most newer cars around Reno, you never remove the radiator cap, except to replace it. You add coolant through the overflow tank. The radiator cap is also called a pressure cap, because its vital job is to maintain pressure in the cooling system.

High pressure raises the boiling point of the coolant, so it cools more effectively even in very demanding Sparks conditions. That is why Reno drivers need to replace the cap from time to time. The team at Automotion recommends changing it out every time you replace your coolant.

Coming back to the overflow tank, it is critical because when the coolant gets hot it expands and the overflow holds the extra volume. The tank helps maintain the proper level of coolant and keeps air out of the system. Reno drivers should never open the radiator cap or over flow tank when the engine is hot. This could lead to serious burns.

What else do we Reno motorists need to do to keep our cooling systems working well? Well, there are the hoses that hook all of these pieces together. They’re obviously very tough to deal with the pressure and high temperatures. But they do get worn. Sometimes they get spongy from the heat. Sometimes they lose their connection to the radiator, water pump, etc. It’s a great idea to have your Reno service center or friendly Automotion technician inspect your hoses at least once a year and replace them, if needed, before they break.

The team at Automotion can check your cooling system and make any necessary adjustments or repairs. Give us a call at (775) 624-5152.

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

Viva la Differential At Automotion In Reno

There are a lot of Reno people who are due for a differential service, but had never heard of a differential before. With front-wheel drive being so common in Nevada these days, the differential is just taken care of during a transmission service, so most Reno folks don’t even have to think about it. And rear-wheel drive differentials don’t need to be serviced for years, so it’s understandable that it’s not something on the top of mind. So it’s not uncommon for Reno people to not know they have a differential let alone know that it needs service.

To better understand what a differential does, think about a track at any Nevada high school. There are lanes marked off on the track. For the longer distance races, the starting lines are staggered. The starting lines for the outside lanes are ahead of the starting lines for the inside lanes. That’s to compensate for the longer length of the outside lanes. Staggering the starting lines means that each runner has the same distance to run.

The differential compensates for the difference in speeds between the inside sedan wheel and the outside wheel in a turn, because they have to travel together through slightly different distances.

It’s a very important function. When you think of it, all the power to get a sedan moving goes through the differential. Most cars weigh between three and six thousand pounds – trucks even more. The power from the engine goes through the transmission and then through the differential to the drive wheels.

That’s a lot of work and requires very heavy duty parts. And those parts need protection. The differential fluid lubricates the gears in the differential and keeps them cool. The fluid eventually gets dirty and worn down. Some kinds of differentials require special additives that break down over time. So manufacturers recommend intervals for when to replace your differential fluid.

Your friendly Automotion service technician will drain the used fluid and check it out for metal bits, which could be a sign of excessive wear on the gears. He’ll then replace the fluid and install the additives if necessary.

Your Automotion service advisor can look up the sedan manufacturer’s recommended service interval or you can check your owner’s manual.

At Automotion, we’ve been providing quality automotive service for our valued Reno customers for 37 years. If you need to schedule differential maintenance, or any other automotive service, give us a call at (775) 624-5152.

Another Couple of Years: Making Your Vehicle Last At Automotion

A while back, the Cash for Clunkers program was all over the Nevada news. Reno people could trade in their old vehicle for a new one that got better fuel efficiency and receive a government rebate.

A lot of Reno motorists had so-called clunkers that they wanted to keep. They’re good commuters, Reno grocery getters or toy haulers. They enjoy that fact that they’re paid off, or soon will be. They would gladly like to keep their sedans for 200,000 miles or more – as long as it’s economical to do so.

There are plenty of Reno drivers whose vehicles are running after 150,000 or 200,000 miles. We can learn from what they’re doing to keep our own sedans on the road in Nevada.

The brilliant Reno auto owners of high-mileage cars often report a common denominator of never skipping an oil change.

Another Couple of Years: Making Your Vehicle Last At AutomotionThat may sound a bit unsophisticated, but it’s really not. First off, oil is the life blood of your sedan’s engine and it needs to be clean to properly lubricate. Skipping oil changes leads to clogged oil filters and sludge that is harmful for your engine.

There’s another critical reason why the scheduled oil change is so important for Reno car owners. It’s simple – a Automotion professional is going to be looking at your car. All of your fluid levels will be inspected and topped off so they won’t get so low that damage can be done. If there is a significant fluid loss, let’s use brake fluid as an example, your Automotion technician can look for the cause of the loss and find the problem before it leads to an accident or costly repair.

Your friendly Automotion service specialist will also visually inspect your sedan for worn belts and hoses, uneven tire wear, leaking shock absorbers and more. Problems get addressed before they lead to repairs that cost more than the car’s worth.

And your Automotion advisor will be able to remind you of other important services that the factory recommends you get done. Just think of that oil change the same way as you do about going to your Reno dentist for your six month cleaning and checkup. Don’t skip it.

Realistically, things are going to wear out as your sedan gets older. On the way to 200,000 miles you’ll go through several batteries, probably a couple of alternators and water pumps, a set of shocks and likely some brake rotors.

Of course, these things cost some bucks, but they are less expensive than new sedan payments in Reno. With proper service at Automotion in Reno and regular inspections, you’ll keep surprise repairs to a minimum and more money in your wallet.

Reno Tire Repair

Most Reno motorists have experienced a flat tire. You know it’s inconvenient and a pain. Our tires are important. Keeping them in good working order isn’t just a big safety issue for Nevada drivers – it also has a financial impact. With high Reno gas prices, we’ve all heard about the importance of keeping proper tire pressure to get the best possible fuel efficiency. In addition, proper inflation promotes even tread wear so your tires last longer. 

There’s another danger to under-inflated tires for Reno car owners. Low tire pressure puts added stress on the structure of the tire itself, causing it to break down prematurely. Also, under-inflated tires generate more heat which also reduces tire life. So get those slow leaks fixed quickly – don’t just keep airing them up every few days. You want to avoid costly tire damage.

Tires can also be damaged by road hazards in and around Reno. Punctures, cuts and unfortunate encounters with curbs or potholes can also cause damage that could lead to tire failure. Sometimes, it’s something that a diagnostic examination would reveal. Try to remember to check your tires when you’re pumping fuel. Look for slashes, missing chunks, nails or screws in the tread or just uneven wear. Of course check the air pressure too.

Now tire damage can be on the inside where Reno drivers can’t see it until it’s removed from the wheel. Such damage could come from a severe impact, driving on a flat around Sparks or even just low pressure. Some punctures can cause internal damage that is too extreme to be repaired. You may see our Automotion tire professionals take the time to remove your flat from the rim and inspect the inside before repairing it, which means we’re just following best practices.

Of course, some tires just can’t be repaired at your Reno service center or Automotion. A puncture may be too large to plug. Also, the puncture could be in a location that’s not safe to repair like in the sidewall or outer portion of the tread. So called run-flat tires should not be repaired because their design is such that internal damage can’t be detected by a visual inspection by your friendly Automotion service advisor.

Reno motorists should only hire qualified tire professionals to perform repairs – we have a whole team of them at Automotion. Sparks folks can buy self repair kits, but we advise you to save those for emergencies, like when you’re off-roading and need a quick fix so you can hobble back to Reno civilization and get professional help. If you need to use a repair-in-a-can product, remember it’s a temporary measure only and your tire needs to be properly repaired as soon as possible.

Here are some other considerations: A DIY flat repair may void your tire manufacturer’s warranty – just something to keep in mind. Also, if you repair a speed rated tire, you should not use it in any motorsports or operate it above legal speed limits. Your friendly Automotion tire specialist will repair your tire whenever it’s safe to do so and he’ll advise you when it’s better to replace it. So watch those curbs and keep the air – on the inside.

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

At Automotion we install quality NAPA replacement parts.