In the last decade, more Americans are keeping their cars longer instead of trading in for a newer model vehicle. We also are buying older, used cars for teen drivers to save money as well. Keeping cars longer usually equates to operating them at higher mileage points. One "must do" service operation that all car, truck, and vehicle owners need to know about is timing belt replacement. Knowing about timing belt replacements will, at a minimum, save you from uexpected breakdowns and in the extreme can help you avoid thousands of dollars in repair costs.
Without getting too technical, one of the crucial things to be aware of is whether the engine in your car is considered an interference engine or not. The synchronization between two internal engine parts (the crank shaft and the cam shafts) is accomplished with the help of the timing belt. In the process of these two parts moving, the valves open and close in proximity to the pistons. This constitutes an interference engine, because if the timing belt jumps a tooth on the sproket it rides on or the belt fails altogether, the valves and pistons will "interfere" with each other.
This "interference" will cause major damage to your engine. The repair costs for this on older vehicles will often exceed the value of the car. On the other hand, a car with an engine that is not configured this way will simply lose power or will not start. While this is more desirable than huge repair costs, it is best to be avoided.
Obviously, preemptive replacement of the timing belt is the best policy altogether. So how do you know when to replace your timing belt? Your owner's manual is a good resource and will indicate the mileage interval necessary for your specific vehicle make and model. Depending on the manufacturer of the vehicle, mileage ranges for recommended timing belt replacement is anywhere from 50,000 miles to 90,000 miles. Your trusted ASE Certified Technician and/or Service Advisor at Aspen Auto Clinic in Colorado Springs, Littleton, or Centennial are also great resources on when your car should have the timing belt replacement done. They will also be able to tell you if your engine is or is not an interference engine.
Many automotive repair centers will just replace the timing belt. Timing belt replacements are very labor intensive. During a timing belt replacement the water pump is usually accessed in the same operation. Remember that the water pump has also been operating for the same mileage time as the timing belt, 50,000 to 90,000 miles. At Aspen Auto Clinic we don't replace timing belts, instead we do a complete timing belt service that saves the customer in the long term. A timing belt service includes replacing the water pump at the same time as a timing belt replacement even if the water pump has no leaks. Often when only a timing belt is replaced and the water pump is not replaced the vehicle needs a water pump soon afterward and is back in the shop for another round of intensive labor to replace the water pump. Saving the labor costs and preventing a pump replacement later on that will necessitate another belt replacement is the best option. Aspen also includes changing the tensioners and pulleys with our timing belt replacement service. All these components are considered wear items and are usually very worn by the time a timing belt replacement is needed. These additional items help avoid subsequent failure and is less expensive than doing these services individually.
A few other things to consider regarding timing belt replacements are:
1. Is the vehicle leaking any type of fluid that could damage the belt? If so, disregard the suggested replacemet interval and replace the belt and repair the leak immediately.
2. Do you know the repair history of the vehicle? If it is not verifiable you should err on the side of safety and replace the belt.
Protect the investment in your vehicle and take care to follow your recommeded service intervals and maintain the integrity of your manufacturers warranty by caring for your car. It will not only saves dollars and cents, but it makes sense!
Have you ever considered how much time you actually spend in your car? Many Americans spend more time in their cars than in most of the rooms in their homes, yet our rides get neglected when it comes to "housekeeping". Cars, trucks, and minivans, our main source of transportation, become a "junk closet" or "trashcan on wheels" but still remains the second largest purchase after our homes that consumers make in this country!
Do you need to clear off a seat or a floorboard to have a passenger in your car - or both? If someone looked in your windows can they tell where you picked up breakfast, lunch, or grabbed a coffee this week? Or month? Are you spending excessive time in the driveway or parking lots looking for something you KNOW you put in there "somewhere"? Does your trunk or cargo space look like something from a junk yard? Are you a truck owner with a truck bed of moving items rolling around or maybe even flying out while you are cruising down the road? These are some indicators that it's time for a wake-up call to take action and clean-up.
At Aspen Auto Clinic our ASE Certified Technicians have seen every combination imaginable in our Colorado drivers vehicles! If you answered yes to any of the above questions, let's get you going with some spring cleaning strategy for your car.
Here's five action steps to take that will get you more organized, cleaned up, and save you time once completed.
Step one: Get your supplies ready
You will need:
1. 3 - 5 boxes or containers (or space to make piles)
2. small box about the size of a shoe box
3. Trash Bags
4. Vacuum cleaner
5.Disposable cleaning/disinfecting wipes or rags and cleaner, (Armor-All has a cleaner and protectant all-in-one that works well)
Step two: Empty, Sort, and Clean
Take everything out the vehicle! This includes car seats, seat covers, items stored in the glovebox, seat pockets, door pockets, floor mats, etc. Don't forget the trunk and cargo areas!
While you are emptying out your car, throw the trash away!
All other items sort into one of these categories in the boxes or containers you have ready:
*things you use all the time
*things you need occasionally
*things you need in case of emergency
*floor mats, cup holders, trays, - pieces from car that can be removed and cleaned
*use the shoe box for things that come out of the glove box
*things that belong somewhere else (like house, garage, or need to be returned somewhere)
Once the car is emptied out completely, it's time to clean!
Let's start with the pile of items with the floor mats, cup holder parts, trays, etc that you removed.
Place in sink with soapy hot water to soak while you clean the inside of the car. The floor mats, if they are rubber can actually go into the washing machine! Be sure to shake off all the excess dirt first. Add an old towel or rags to the load with your rubber mats, laudry soap and have the washer clean the mats while you vacuum and wipe down the inside of the car and vacuum.
Wipe down and disinfect the cabin of the car. Clean the inside of the windows. Don't forget the air vents and inside the glove box. Wipe down the doors and handles, even to pedals for gas and brakes! Vacuum out the car very well. Now is a great time to spot clean the seats and carpets too. Seat covers in most cases can also be washed in the washing machine. Check the care labels first.
Now go to the "belongs somewhere else" box and put all of those items where they belong. We all get busy and accumulate many things in the car and just haven't taken the time to return items where they belong. Take that time now.
Step Three: Analyze and Prioritize
Next, once the car is all cleaned out, it's time analyze and get real with yourself. Think about how you use your car. What's your life like? Are you a salesperson with lots of samples and literature you need to keep at the ready? Are you a full-time mom with toddlers and car seats? Are you the one carting all the teens to and from practices and sporting events? Are you a realtor taking clients around town? Do you make a lot of short trips or are long road trips the norm for you? What things do you struggle to find while in the car? The answers to these types of questions will determine your priorities and how you get organized.
Depending upon your needs, go through your remaining boxes (or piles) and prioritize the most important items in each group. What do you need to have close by and what can be relegated out of the front seat/driver area to the second row or back of the car? Pay attention to multiple items. Everyone should have drinking water in the car but that doesn't mean several half-empty bottles. Check for seasonal items too. Just like your clothing items in a closet that get switched out for seasons, the same can be done for your car to save space and stay organized. Items like tire chains and ice scrappers can be put in a container in the garage and stored during the summer months. Label the stored items for the car and it will be easy to bring them out in time for winter weather.
Step Four: Containing your items
Loose objects in your car can be dangerous. In the event of a sudden stop or a crash, they can cause damage to the car or worse, injure yourself or your passengers. Loose objects in the car also lead to disorganization and mess. There's a large variety of cargo containers and organizers on the market for every part of the car, from leakproof pop-up litter bins, storage and trunk organizers, to drink coolers, kids' entertainment centers, and on-the-go office organizers. Talus has a great line of car organizing products, including the CarGanizer. They also have a line for your pets-on-the-go too! Other stores like The Container Store, and Target also have great items that can make a world of difference to your "in the car" experience! You can even color coordinate and add some decorating flare to your organizing if you'd like, try CarDecor.com for some great products that are fun and fuctional!
Sort through the items in the shoe box that were in your glove box. Your glove compartment should have your important documents, such as insurance and registration for the vehcile. Consider your owners manual, and other documents like AAA membership, roadside assistance information, and vehicle warranty information. A small flashlight in case of emergency is also a good idea.
Step Five: Organize and Set Up
As a driver, the front seat area is your "primary real estate" space. This space should only contain items that you as the driver need to access at a moments notice or that you need most frequently. Do you have a rag within reach like under the driver seat to access for those inevitable spills? Do you have tissues within reach? A large box of tissues can be replaced with a tissue cup that dispenses them one at a time and fits in a cup holder. Or how about a travel size soft pack that fits in your door storage area? Do you have a place for your car chargers for your mobile devices? USB ports? Or were they just floating around in the car and hard to find and access?
Be creative about storing the items that don't need to be in your primary real estate space. These are items that you need occasionally and should be in your "secondary space" like the backseat or cargo area. Most cars have nooks and storage areas around the spare tires or in the rear walls of the vehicle that can hold an emergency roadside kit, roadside flares, or jumper cables. Why not get a kit that has those items packed together for you like this one available at all Aspen Auto Clinic locations?
Your ride should also have a first-aid kit inside somewhere too. Check to be sure you have a jack in the car and you know where it is located. Keep a tire gauge and extra batteries for flashlights in the car too. Most of these items are already in Aspen's choice kit for you. Pick one up at our counters for only $59.95 and take all the stress from this part of your organizing knowing we have done this part for you! This has been Aspen ASE Certified Technician approved!
Other items for the "secondary space" would include dvds for the kids, toys, and other items passengers use in the car. Some other storage items you might find useful include pocket organizers that hang from the seatbacks to store these items neatly. Find a container to hold jackets and umbrella especially for those notrious weather changes in Colorado. Keep a storage bin in your cargo area for groceries and other items you pick up at the store and keep things from spilling our of those plastic store bags while you are driving. Keep reusable bags to carry your purchases in the bin too. Designate a place for a small pad of paper and a pen, hand sanitzer, and other things you and your family use on a regular basis when on the road. Here are some photos to help inspire ideas for you.
Once your have it all your items repacked and organized in their assisgned areas, here are some more tips to complete the spring cleaning project for this "room" that is used almost everday.
Now is a good time to schedule an annual inspection for your car, truck or minivan if you haven't already. All cars need a physical just like you do.
Show your car some love with this spring cleaning project and you will be much happier in your well used room and so will your passengers. Your vehicle takes care of you, spread some love your vehicles way. You'll be glad you did!
Colorado is warming up and spring is finally moving our way! Packing up the winter sweaters, coats and boots to make room for shorts, sandals and outdoor items and making plans for summer fun to come is on everyone's list. Have you remembered to add your vehicle to your spring cleaning list? Your car needs the same benefits and attention that your closets and homes get this spring season. The warmer weather means long weekend getaways, longer road trip vacations, more driving and time spent in your vehicle. Taking time now to perform seasonal maintenance today will help avoid costly trouble with your car later.
Aspen Auto Clinic has these tips for Spring Cleaning and Maintenance for your car. Some of these tips can be done yourself, others are best left to expert mechanics, some will help your car look better. Most of these tips will help your car perform better and can increase your gas mileage. We have even added some tips that will save you time!
14. Clean the cabin
The way your car looks on the inside is important for many reasons. For one, if it's clean you feel better mentally as well as physically, no matter what season of the year. Most importantly, keeping clutter and trash out of the car keeps you safer. If you have to brake quickly items that are unsecure can fly around or if in an accident can cause serious injury to you and your passengers. For some great organizing ideas see our previous blog post Aspen's Tips for Spring Cleaning and Organizing Your Car.
A few other things to do to prepare your car for spring and summer are to check your spare tire and see if it needs air. Vacuum out the entire car including under the seat and the cargo areas. Use a vinyl cleaner and soft cloth on the dashboard, steering wheel, door panels and vinyl seats. This helps protect against cracking, sun damage and fading. Use a quality household upholstery cleaner for fabric seats. If you have leather seats follow the manufacturers recommendations for cleaning. Next use an aerosol silicone spray to treat the weather stripping around the outside of doors, windows and the trunk. Make sure you wipe away the excess spray. Now you're ready to wash and wax the body of the car. Use two different sponges for the body and the wheels. Buff dry with a soft cloth and apply a protective coat of wax if needed. Once done you should treat yourself to a leisurely ride - you'll have earned it by this point!
There you have it, 14 tips for preparing you car for spring and summer. If you would like to take the shortcut version of all of the above try these simplified steps instead:
Aspen Auto Clinic in Centennial, Colorado is currently making a transition to focus its specialty on European and Asian Import Vehicles. They will continue to serve the Centennial, Englewood, and the surrounding areas near Denver with the excellent customer service that so many have come to know and love.
In addition to focusing on Import vehicles, we have more technicians on the Aspen Team with specialties in handling European and Import cars and trucks. You may notice our signage has changed and our logo is a bit different now too.
We promise to keep the most luxurious customer lounge, all the snacks and beverages, and most importantly the promise of our mission statement: Redefining excellence in automotive repair, maintenance and customer service. No changes will EVER be made there!
Stop by and meet our fantastic Team at Aspen Import Auto Clinic in Centennial. We will be happy to give you a tour and show you around, even in the shop area. We have the experts that your European vehicle deserves to have care for them. We take great care and pride in the work we perform on all makes and models of vehicles especially, Mercedes, Porsche, Audi, Jaguar, MiNi Cooper, Land Rover and other European cars, trucks, and mini-vans. We would love to meet you and answer any questions you may have about your car.
We are open Monday - Friday 7am to 6pm to serve you.
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