Automotion Reno

Servicing Northern Nevada Car Owners since 1975

Following Recommended Intervals For Your sedan

If you’re reading this article in Reno, Nevada, then you probably care about your car and how it runs. Even though you care, there is still that moment of dread when your friendly Automotion technician tells you the manufacturer recommends some additional service. Your heart beats a little faster, your blood pressure rises. You worry about spending more money than you had planned. And you worry that if you say “no”, you might be harming your sedan or risking your family’s safety.

At the risk of sounding like your dad, you really should have done your homework. Service recommendations are in your owner’s manual. But it is not like you want to keep your sedan auto maintenance schedule on your nightstand for bedtime reading.

Cars are complicated machines and it takes some effort for Reno auto owners to keep them running well. That is why vehicle manufacturers have maintenance schedules that explain how to keep your sedan performing efficiently and prevent pricey breakdowns. In a typical owners manual you’ll find: oil change, brake fluid and pad change, coolant system service, transmission service, battery electrolyte levels, cables and terminals, tire pressure and wear, CV boots, cabin air filter, air conditioning, heater, fuel filter, air filter, belts and hoses, power steering fluid, differential service, fuel system cleaning, and wheel alignment. And then there are mechanical service requirements like timing belt changes, valve adjustment, steering function, engine and exhaust leaks – yeah, it is a really long list!

Fortunately, this isn’t a test: Reno car owners don’t need to have it memorized. Your friendly Automotion technician has access to your auto maker’s recommendations. Don’t be surprised when your tech at Automotion reminds you something critical is due. Your automobile manufacturer has taken great care in putting together your maintenance schedule. Let Automotion help you stay on top of vital maintenance. You can expect them to suggest recommended services and tell you what problems they find under the hood. We’ll also explain how urgent these services are so you can work them into your budget.

The Automotion Guide To Servicing Your Differential

Differential? What’s that? And what’s it for? I’ve been told by my tech that I need to get it serviced, but is that on the level?

Do these questions sound familiar? They’re not uncommon for Reno car owners. A lot of us in Reno don’t know what a differential is or what it’s for. Every vehicle has a differential, and, yes, it does need to be serviced. In fact, it’s more critical to the operation of your sedan than the air conditioner or windshield wipers.

A differential allows your sedan tires to move at different speeds. This happens more than you think. The best example is when a vehicle is turning. The inside wheel travels a much shorter distance than the outside wheel during a turn. This means the outside wheel has to move faster than the inside wheel. Without a differential, your tires would hop and skip while turning. They would also lose traction in sand or snow.

The location of your differential depends on what kind of vehicle you drive. On a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the differential is located in the back. For a front-wheel drive vehicle, it is located on the front, but it is usually called a transaxle. Four-wheel drive vehicles have three differentials: one on the front, one in the back, and one in the middle. This center differential compensates for differences in speed between the front and rear wheels.

Your differential contains strong gears that need to be protected from dirt, debris, water and other contaminants. A differential is sometimes referred to as a “gear box.” The work of these gears is to transfer power from the sedan drive train to the wheels.

Your differential needs fluid to lubricate and cool the gears. This fluid, even though enclosed in the “gear box,” can get dirty because the gears grind down over time, releasing tiny bits of themselves into the fluid. Also, the additives in the differential fluid break down and need to be replaced. That’s why important preventive maintenance for your sedan needs to include servicing the differential.

Your owner’s manual can give you recommendations on how often to service your differential. But you should also consult with your friendly Automotion service specialist. Automotion can give you some good auto advice on whether your vehicle needs to be serviced more frequently. For example, if you drive in hot or cold Reno weather conditions, your differential will need to have its fluid changed more often.

Severe conditions will also affect your car care routine, and your differential. Check your owner’s manual for a definition of “severe service” conditions that affect your vehicle. Examples may include driving with frequent stops and starts, a lot of short trips around Sparks, hot or cold Nevada weather conditions, and towing.

Off-roading is particularly hard on a vehicle’s differential. If you are an off-roader, especially if you cross Nevada streams or waterways, it is essential that you service your differential more frequently than the recommendations suggest.

Properly servicing your differential will extend its life and keep you out of Reno auto repair shops. A smooth ride for Sparks auto owners is the result of proper preparation and smart choices.

Super Slick at Automotion in Reno: Synthetic Oil

When you get an oil change, it’s always a safe bet to just use the type of oil the vehicle manufacturer recommends. But sometimes we’re asked if we’d like conventional or synthetic motor oil. We glance at the price tags on the two options and choose the cheaper one. But in this case, the more expensive oil might be the better bargain for Reno motorists.

Conventional oil is made from petroleum. Its molecules form long hydrocarbon chains. Synthetic motor oil is either more highly refined petroleum or completely man-made. Its molecules are more uniform. This provides vital advantages over conventional motor oil.

First of all, the molecular structure of synthetic motor oil makes it more slippery than conventional oil so it lubricates better. This translates to better wear protection for Reno auto owners, cooler operating temperatures, more engine power and increased MPG.

Further, synthetic oil is more heat-resistant than conventional oil, and it doesn’t vaporize as easily. It provides better protection for severe conditions like stop-and-go driving around Reno and very hot or freezing Nevada temperatures.

Also, synthetic oil doesn’t generate dangerous oil sludge like conventional oil. This prevents small engine passageways from becoming clogged, which can significantly extend the working life of your sedan engine.

Manufacturers are aware of the advantages of synthetic oil, and many of them are using it to fill their sedans before delivering them to be sold. Many auto maker’s owner’s manuals now come with the recommendation to use only synthetic oil. Because synthetic oil wears better and protects better than conventional motor oil, it can be changed less often. If your sedan came with a recommendation for synthetic oil, you may have noticed that the recommended period between oil changes is longer than what you’re used to. However, if you switch to conventional oil, you need to be aware that you can’t follow this longer service interval. You’ll have to change your oil more often.

On the other hand, if you are using conventional oil and you switch to synthetic oil, you may be able to lengthen the time between oil changes. You can talk to your friendly Automotion service advisor. He can offer you good auto advice about oils and service intervals based on your driving habits and requirements.

Oil changes are the hallmark of important preventive maintenance at Automotion. All Reno motorists need them. So we should get excited about a product that reduces how often we need them. Synthetic oil is more pricey, yes, but it can pay for itself by lasting longer than conventional oil. And when you add in the hidden savings of an extended engine life and improved fuel economy, not to mention increased engine power, there’s a good chance that synthetic oil actually saves in the long run. All Reno motorists pay for car care. But understanding what we’re paying for can make us more savvy shoppers.

When Do My Shocks Need to be Replaced?

A good suspension system gives a vehicle a smooth, even ride while providing Reno motorists with good handling and control. But like any system on your sedan, critical parts of the suspension system can wear out, leading to a lower ride quality and safety concerns. So it’s a good idea for Reno car owners to remember an inspection of their suspension system in their schedule of a vital preventive maintenance. Springs do most of the work of the suspension system. The most common types of springs are coil and leaf, but air springs and torsion bars are becoming more common. The body of the vehicle is “suspended” by the springs.

If springs were the only working component in your suspension system, however, you’d spend your travel time bouncing up and down like a bobblehead. That’s where your shocks come in. They keep the rebound, or bounciness, of the springs under control. Shocks also keep your tires on the road, which keeps the driver in control of the sedan. Some vehicles have struts in their suspension system. Struts are a compact combination of springs and shocks. They do the same vital job but in a single package.

Shocks wear out gradually, so it can be difficult for Reno motorists to notice when they need to be replaced. There’s no definitive point when a vehicle’s ride goes from smooth and controlled to a bit imprecise. To check if your shocks or struts are worn, you should first do a visual inspection on them. If they are leaking fluid, they need to be replaced.

There are other less obvious signs that your suspension system needs vital attention. For example, an uneven, cupping wear on your tires may indicate that your shocks are worn. If your vehicle feels “floaty” when you turn, or, in other words, you don’t feel that you have full control of the vehicle, you should check your shocks. Also, if the front end of your vehicle dips noticeably when you stop, it’s time for new shocks.

Your owner’s manual gives recommendations on how often the shocks should be checked, usually between 15,000 and 30,000 miles (24,000-50,000 km). If one of your shocks does need to be replaced, you should replace all four. This will keep your suspension even and ensure good handling of your vehicle. If you carry heavy loads, tow a trailer or drive on uneven Sparks area terrain, you might also consider upgrading to a heavy-duty shock.

Regular shocks contain hydraulic fluid. The vital fluid helps them absorb the bumps or “shocks” of the road so the impact doesn’t transfer to the sedan’s body. Premium shocks are filled with compressed nitrogen gas, which costs more but does a better job of controlling body motions. Regular shocks can develop air bubbles that reduce their effectiveness; the premium shocks don’t have this problem. So if you want higher handling performance, if you drive off-road around Nevada or if you just want added comfort, you should look at upgrading to premium shocks or struts.

Replacing struts can put your sedan out of alignment, so an alignment check should always follow this type of repair. Talk to your friendly service advisor at Automotion in Reno.