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Knowledge Center / Automotive

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A/C maintenance for your car


The Monsoon has officially arrived. The temperatures will be heading toward the blazing heat that we all expect while living in the Arizona desert. Maintenance on your automobile can be a time consuming experience when it is your only source of transportation. However, how much more of an inconvenience is it when your only source of transportation decides to break down at the worst possible time? Following the service intervals recommended by the factory are always a great way to keep your vehicle reliable all year round. With that being said, there are always unforeseen circumstances that can happen, even if you maintain your vehicle on a regular basis. Don’t be caught off guard when you are on a wonderful summer road trip with your family and your a/c stops working. Learn how to prevent premature a/c failure by having it serviced prior to the arrival of summer, not when it becomes an issue. Here are some facts about your car’s a/c.

The a/c in your automobile has one main function: to move heat from the interior of your vehicle to the outside.

• Your vehicle’s cooling ability is based on the air conditioning's condenser, which receives air flow from wind. This is created by driving and causes the radiator fan to pull air through the condenser. If the air flow through the condenser is restricted, it will cause the condenser to overheat and over pressurize the vehicle’s air conditioning system. Without the proper air flow, leaks are often the result. Hoses and O-rings often allow leaks because they simply can’t handle the amount of pressure while trying to cool down the air inside of your car. This can be a costly repair because it is difficult to detect how much internal damage has occurred in the compressor.

• A leak in the auto air conditioning system is not a laughing matter. Don’t forget the average temperature for the month of April is 85 degrees. Of course, it is always a good idea to have any type of leak found in your car repaired by a professionally trained mechanic. The automotive professionals suggest that you should avoid using the low cost, leak repair products in the a/c system because it may circulate back into your car through the car’s a/c system.

• If a compressor has to be replaced you will have to purchase an a/c kit. The average cost of an a/c kit is about $1,600.00 with installation. The experts recommend that this be installed professionally. Otherwise, you void any warranty from the manufacturer, regardless of the time frame after the initial installation date.

To help avoid all of these issues, the professionals offer the following tips for your vehicle’s air conditioning system.
• Regular maintenance
Automobiles, typically around 4 years old, should have an air conditioning maintenance performed. Vehicles more than 4 years old should have a yearly maintenance to help avoid costly repairs later down the road, especially in the heat of the summer.
• Did you know that mold or mildew can build up in a vehicle's a/c system and can be in the air ducts or on the cooling coils of your car?

If your car has a bad odor, this could indicate you have mold and can cause health concerns. Your family may be breathing these spores as they enter the cabin of your car. The experts recommend that you turn off the air and drive it to a professional for repairs.

Call today and schedule your appointment at (602) 863-4948 or visit the website at: http://www.tofixit.com/phoenix/index.php/autoprogram/



How is your car’s health?

Automotive safety is all too often taken for granted; a few minutes of caution can often save lots of time on the road while avoiding a vehicle failure. Did you know that the average American spends 2.5 to 3 hours per day in their car? Always perform a vehicle walk around to look for abnormalities. Here are a few tips from the experts that you should check on a regular basis to help insure the safety of your family.
1. Your first line of defense on the road is your tires. Be sure to always inflate, rotate and evaluate.

• Proper tire pressure will not only provide you with better gas mileage, but will also allow the tire to run cooler-helping while protecting the tire from damage.
• Rotation will provide better tire wear, resulting in longer tire life. You should always take the time to evaluate tread depth, condition, and side wall damage because it can save you time on the road, resulting from a tire failure.
• Don’t forget to check the spare for inflation.

2. Check your windshield for any cracks or breaks, and check wiper blades for cleaning ability. In Arizona, wiper blades will tend to rot before they wear out. It is never fun to find out the wipers will not serve you when you need them in a rain or dust storm.

3. Check your vitals under the hood such as:
• oil level
• a cooling system full of anti freeze and clear of obstructions
• windshield cleaner solution full
• belts in proper order and free of cracks
• radiator hoses feel solid and pass a visual inspection
• Be sure that the battery is clean and cables are not corroded.

4. Listen to your vehicle-in many cases you will have warnings of upcoming problems. For example, when starting in the morning the cranking of your starter may sound a bit different as your battery is in a declining condition. Brakes will often give you warning signs as the pads are approaching replacement, prompt attention can save you many repair dollars.

5. Daylight is getting shorter, so check your headlights. Often times, over the summer, we don’t use our head lamps for months, because it is light when we leave in the morning and when we return home at night. Be sure you are prepared for the shorter days so you will have light when you need it.

6. Follow your vehicle manufacturer’s maintenance program; a few dollars in maintenance today may save you many dollars in repair tomorrow. Open that book in your glove box it will tell you much more than you expect about your vehicle maintenance and safety requirements.

Find a repair center that you trust and make sure to have regular scheduled maintenances especially if you are going to take a road trip.  ToFixIt to locate your local automotive specialist at (602) 863-4948 or visit the website at: http://www.tofixit.com/phoenix/index.php/repair/


Prep your car for the summer

Most people have to prepare their automobiles for the long, cold winter months. Here in the beautiful Southwest, Phoenix area has the opposite issues. We have our automobiles prepped for the Arizona hot summer days. Now may be the perfect time, and more importantly, do it before you go on any summer travels. Viewing Arizona from the side of the road waiting for a tow truck is not the way to truly enjoy our great state. Learn more tips, from the ToFixIt car repair expert’s regarding your tires, belts, hoses, fluid levels, oil changes, and even your passenger’s safety prior to the start of our hot summer season.


• Did you know your vehicles belts and hoses are worn out after 3 to 4 years of working hard for you in extreme conditions? Knowing the age of your cars coolant hoses and belts is important. Even if they look good, it does not mean they are. http://www.tofixit.com/phoenix/index.php/repair/

• Your cars cooling system should be tested and flushed each year before the start of summer because your automotives coolant gets old and is picking up many contaminants that will damage your system. http://www.tofixit.com/phoenix/index.php/auto-ac-repair/

• Don't forget those windshield wipers that are now cooked onto your windshield, it's time to replace them; the monsoons are coming to Arizona soon. http://www.tofixit.com/phoenix/index.php/auto-glass-windshields/


The Phoenix, ToFixIt car repair experts are always harping about checking your vehicles tires and air pressure, the cars fluid levels and changing the oil, but they are so important we just feel we have to mention it one more time. These warm Phoenix, days beckon us to outdoor excursions and road trips, but anyone who has been broken down on a hot desert highway knows that taking a few precautions and being prepared is never something that you will regret. http://www.tofixit.com/phoenix/index.php/auto-tires/

And don't forget about you and your passengers.

1. Carry extra water for yourself, passengers and your vehicle.
2. Take along some snacks, non melting types.
3. Know your road service coverage and how to use it. If you are not familiar with the program call your location you frequent before you hit the road.
4. If you have a cell phone, keep it charged, ready, and with you while driving in case of an emergency.
5. Keep something reflective, like a windshield screen (for example) in your vehicle. If your car breaks down or get lost in the desert, it can be used to flag down other motorists. If large enough, it will also help to keep the sun off you.
6. Keep an umbrella in your vehicle. You may not ever need it for rain, but it is a great source of shade in the desert.
7. Purchase an emergency roadside kit and first aid kit. They are usually inexpensive, but can be very valuable if needed. http://www.tofixit.com/phoenix/index.php/safety-products-home-auto/
8. Carry a set of auto jumper cables with you.
9. Most importantly, let someone know where you are going and approximately what time you should arrive. If you are traveling in a remote area, also let someone know the route you plan to take.






Learn how to check your tires

Check your tire treads by sticking a quarter between the treads of your tires in several places. If part of Washington’s head is always covered, you have enough tread. Keep in mind that bald tires create less traction between your car and the road and, in wet conditions, could cause your car to slide off the road, into another car or worse. It takes less than 1/4 inch of water to cause a car to slide if you don’t have proper treads.

Tire Safety Tips

Whether your vehicle has 1,000 or 100,000 miles on it, we want you to get the most out of it while maintaining the safest conditions possible. Everyone tells you that you need to keep up with maintenance and check your fluids, but most people don’t bother with it until it is too late.

Don’t overlook simple checks that could end up costing you big dollars down the road, so we put together the top 5 tips to maintain your car and get the most out of it. Did you know that a $6 air filter, if un-replaced when needed, could end up costing you as much as a thousand dollars? You’d be surprised how simple maintenance, can save you time, money and hassle down the road.

1. Maintain and check your tires for safety:

Tread
Check your tire treads by sticking a quarter between the treads of your tires in several places. If part of Washington’s head is always covered, you have enough tread. Keep in mind that bald tires create less traction between your car and the road and, in wet conditions, could cause your car to slide off the road, into another car or worse. It takes less than 1/4 inch of water to cause a car to slide if you don’t have proper treads.

Pressure
Newer cars have an automatic tire pressure gauge, but older cars aren’t equipped, so you need to know how to determine, and check, your tire pressure. The proper pressure is important; you can find your car’s manufacturer recommended tire pressure on the door post on the driver’s side instead of the tire itself. Remember, anything that severely diminishes the air pressure and prevents the tire from supporting the weight of the automobile will likely cause a blowout that could lead to a car accident.

Rotate your tires
Rotating your tires not only helps to distribute tire wear evenly but also it ensures that you’ll get the maximum road life out of them, if your car is properly aligned you can see up to 25% more life from your tires. Refer to your owner’s manual and it should give you a guideline on the rotation period and pattern. If not, a good rule of thumb is to rotate your tires every 6,000 to 7,500 miles.

Have wheel alignment checked
Don’t forget to have your car’s alignment checked every 30,000 miles, or as recommended in your owner’s manual. If you just bought new tires, or had a rack-and-pinion steering unit or other steering parts installed, it is a good idea to have the alignment checked. You may be able to tell if your car is not aligned properly if your steering is stiffer than normal or the vehicle pulls to one side, in that case take it to your mechanic and have them align your car properly.

2. Check and change your fluids:

Check brake fluid monthly
Use the type recommended by your car’s maker. Never substitute other fluids; this can be a costly mistake. The fluid reservoir is clearly marked under your hood for most vehicles. If you can’t find it, look on Google for “brake fluid” and the year and make of your car. Chances are you’ll find it. Otherwise give your mechanic a call or better yet, stop by their store front.

Dilute your coolant
Your cooling system needs both coolant-antifreeze and water. The commonly recommended ratio is 50-50. Check the coolant-antifreeze level weekly; some coolant manufacturers sell a premixed ratio for a quick and easy way to top off. Avoid mixing coolants that are different in color; use the coolant specified in your owner’s manual.

Check the power-steering fluid once a month
Make sure your car has warmed up. If the level is low, have the hoses and pump inspected for leaks. You may be low on power steering fluid if your car is difficult to steer and low power-steering fluid will damage the power-steering pump. Again, only use fluid recommended for your car.

Change automatic transmission fluid and filter
Check your car’s fluids after the first 5,000 miles and after every 25,000 miles or two years thereafter.

Flush it
Do forget that the coolant-antifreeze eventually degrades and becomes contaminated. Flush it according to your owner’s manual. Failing to do so can damage your radiator, clog your heater core, and cause the thermostat and water pump to fail, which can cost you big dollars.

3. Don’t forget your filters
There are several filters that are important to preserving your car engine, and they should be changed according to the schedule in your owner’s manual or as follows:

Change the oil filter at every other oil change
Check the air filter every two months and replace it when dirty or as part of a tune-up.
Change your fuel filters once a year
Change your transmission fluid filter after the first 5,000 miles (8,000 km) of driving and every 25,000 miles (40,000 km) or two year thereafter.

4. Don’t leave your spark plugs out
Many manufacturers recommend changing plugs every 30,000 or 40,000 miles to ensure good fuel mileage and engine performance.

5. Clean your engine
Can you see what’s under your hood? Wash your engine at least once every year or two. A clean engine will run cooler than a dirty one and make it much easier to spot leaks. Remember to protect sensitive engine components, including the air intake, distributor, and electrical parts — with plastic bags before getting started.

So, whether you have a brand new car or a hand me down, it is important to maintain what you have to avoid costly repairs. If you hear, feel, smell or see something that is out of place, don’t wait to take it in to your mechanic to see what’s wrong. See fluid on the garage floor; don’t waste a moment to find out what it means.

Keeping on top of your maintenance and catching problems early can save you thousands down the road.


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