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  • Is your car ready for a road trip?

    Posted on 10, May, 2016

    The weather is slowly warming into spring… and April’s showers don’t just bring May flowers, they also stir up our plans for our spring and summer road trips!

     

    Is your car ready for a road trip?

     

    There are a few things that we recommend you get checked before you take that cross country haul. After all, we don’t want you towed into a mechanic shop- especially one where you don’t have a relationship with them or don’t know their ethics. We don’t want you and your family broken down on the side of the road, waiting for salvation in an area that may be unsafe or remote.

     

    That’s why we suggest an inspection at Airport Automotive to get your car ready for a road trip. This quick inspection includes:

     

    Checking your timing belt. If it is within the recommended service time, we will check it. A snapped timing belt is a surefire way to ruin your vacation. An engine that doesn’t work isn’t going to get you very far.

     

    Check your fluids. Do you need more coolant or a coolant flush? Don’t overlook a simple item that could lead to a cooling system failure. Make sure your oil and windshield washer fluid levels are correct in order to have your car ready for a road trip.

     

    Check your tires. Your tires are your connection to the road. Make sure the tread is good, the air pressure is correct and the wear is even. Want more tire tips?

     

    Check your suspension. Good shocks and struts will help you have a more comfortable ride. This will be even more important in the longer hours of the drive, and in the return trip. You want the comfort of your car ready for a road trip that has long stretches.

     

    Check your brakes. Make sure your brake pads are in good condition and perform a brake flush if it is time for one.

     

    Check your power steering. Is the fluid level where is should be? Is it working properly?

     

    Check your battery. Make sure it doesn’t have corrosion and the level is tested. While you are at it, make sure you have jumper cables and other items in an emergency kit.

     

    Check your sight. Make sure your lights, headlamps, mirrors and windshield wipers are all in working condition. Being able to see is critical for driving, especially driving long distances.

     

    Check air and cabin filters. This will help make the car more comfortable as well as reduce engine problems.

     

    If you have questions about auto repairs, recommended services or general automotive safety, give us a call, we are happy to help you understand your vehicle and make better informed decisions.

  • Is it important to replace my timing belt?

    Posted on 03, May, 2016

    Do I really need to replace my timing belt?

    Yes, timing belts really do need to be replaced. In fact, they are critical for your engine’s function.

    How often do I need to replace my timing belt?

    It depends on your manufacturer’s recommendation, which can be found online by model or in your owner’s manual. Overall, we see the need about every 60-110,000 miles.

    How much does it cost to replace my timing belt?

    It will again depend on the make and model. A good tool to discover the answer for your model and location is RepairPal.com. It is important to know they only provide a general estimate and Airport Automotive will give you a true cost once we see the vehicle. Additionally, other parts may have been effected, or could benefit from repair or replacement that are near the timing belt, such as the water pump, pistons and/or valves.

    Because it isn’t recommended to reinstall an old timing belt, it is recommended to have your timing belt replaced when your water pump is repaired or replaced. The water pump requires the timing belt to be removed and it isn’t good practice to put the old timing belt back on.

    The same is true when you are replacing the timing belt: it is recommended to have the water pump replaced if it is at the end of its life. If not, you will replace the timing belt again, and incur the cost of labor again, when it is replaced in the future.
     

    What are the warning signs of timing belt failure?

    Not all cars have a timing belt- some have a timing chain. Check your owner’s manual to determine which one your specific vehicle has.

    Warning signs, if you have any, include loss of power, misfires, slow pick-up, engine vibration, loss of fuel economy, and/or a mild chatter or rattling when idling.

    If you inspect the timing belt and notice it is coated in oil or see any cracks, worn out teeth, or stretching, it should be replaced. If you purchase a used car, ask about the condition of the timing belt or have the car inspected for a timing belt issue prior to purchase or immediately after.
     

    What are the consequences if I don’t replace my timing belt?

    The timing belt is an often overlooked part of the car but it plays an important role. If it fails, your car will shut down from engine failure. If the timing belt does break, you could suffer damage to valves and pistons. In bad cases, we have seen rods, valves and pistons push through oil pans and engine covers, destroying the engine. If the crankshaft breaks or warps, the engine will need to be replaced.

    How do I check my timing belt?

    It isn’t easy to check, so it is best left for a professional mechanic. It is located under a cover that is difficult to remove and other parts are nearby that can be damaged if you aren’t sure what you are doing. When the recommended service time is coming due, ask for it to be checked. It is also a good idea to check it if you are taking a long road trip and are between the recommended service mileage and your trip will take you over it.

    What does the timing belt do?

    Basically the timing belt is a rubber belt that controls camshaft and crankshaft rotation as well as the opening and closing of engine valves. The valves push the pistons down when the fuel is ignited. Without the timing belt, the valves don’t open and close to allow the fuel to ignite and the car doesn’t run.

    “The valves have to be in the correct position as well as the pistons. The valves open at different times for each cylinder. When the timing belt breaks, the valves, which are very light, will open at the wrong time and hit the larger pistons and cause damage.” SOURCE: ANGIE’S LIST

    In some vehicle models, the timing belt will also affect the water pump, injection pump and oil pump.

    If you have questions about auto repairs, recommended services or general automotive safety, give us a call, we are happy to help you understand your vehicle and make better informed decisions.

  • 3 Tire Safety Care Tips

    Posted on 26, April, 2016

    Tires are what keep up connected safely to the road, and are not something to be neglected. A regular inspection of your tires will help keep you safe by catching potential problems before they become big ones that leave you stranded. This checklist will help you learn how to know if your tires are unhealthy, and what to look for to resolve the problem quickly.
     

    Air Pressure Check

    About once a month, use a tire air pressure gauge to check your tires, before they have been driven or at least three hours after. Your own pressure gauge, as opposed to a public, gas station gauge, will be more accurate.

    Low tire pressure can lessen your gas mileage. The maximum operating pressure is imprinted on the sidewall of the tire, and is determined by the tire manufacturer. Use the proper inflation as recommended by your vehicle per your owner’s manual. If you don’t have the manual, you can order one online, or check the doorjamb, fuel hatch or glove box for a sticker with the inflation information.

    If you are planning a long trip, check your tire pressure and tread before you hit the road. Check your spare tire as well, just to be sure, in case it is needed.

    Tire Tread Check

    Tread wear indicators are in every tire at the 2/32” tread level. If you are able to see the color of the indicator, in any place on the tire, it means it is time for it to be replaced. You can also use a tread depth gauge to determine the height of the tread and if it is 4/32 or less it is considered ready for tire replacement. Don’t have a tread gauge? Find a quarter, and use this trick: Place the quarter in a tread line, if the tread doesn’t hit Washington’s head, the tire needs to be replaced.

    Tires should be rotated about every 6-8,000 miles, or as suggested by your owner’s manual, to extend the life of the tires and save you money. Changing the tires’ position helps them all wear more evenly.

    Avoid taking curves at high speeds and starting or stopping quickly as this can reduce tread.

    Uneven Wear Pattern Check

    Look for uneven wear patterns as well as this can indicate something more is wrong with the vehicle and it requires maintenance. The most common are:

    Alignment Issues

    If the vehicle’s front and/or rear suspension are not aligned, the tires will show uneven tread. An adjustment, known as a wheel alignment, will help improve the vehicle handling and improve your tire performance. Simply hitting a curb or potholes, going over railroad crossings or uneven terrain can cause the need for an alignment.

    Try to avoid potholes, curbs and other obstructions that can damage your vehicle and/or cause alignment issues.

    Balance Issues

    A wheel can become out of balance when one area of the tire is heavier than the rest. Not only can balance effect the tread of the tire, but it can cause a vibration when driving. This vibration causes stress on the front end of the vehicle and can cause part failure. Balancing creates compensation for weight issues on the tire or due to mounting. When a tire is replaced or rotated, balancing should be done.

    Vibration

    Vehicle vibrations are to be taken seriously and should be checked right away. The vibration can be a result of problems with suspension, steering, even tires or brakes.

    By taking time each month to check your tires and getting regular preventative maintenance by an auto mechanic, you can keep your vehicle lasting longer and keep yourself safe behind the wheel. If you have questions about auto repairs, recommended services or general automotive safety, give Airport Automotive a call. We are happy to help you understand your vehicle and make better informed decisions.

  • Fleet Preventative Maintenance Checklist

    Posted on 19, April, 2016

    Understanding Fleet Preventative Maintenance

    Owning and operating a vehicle fleet can be a difficult task, and an expensive one if not properly managed. Fleet preventative maintenance is critical to maximize vehicle availability for the highest profitability for the business.

    Companies with fleet vehicles quickly learn how much money can be wasted on reactive maintenance- that is, maintenance that addresses only breakdowns- rather than preventative maintenance which helps prevent big problems.

    Fleet Preventative Maintenance is simply scheduled services based on fleet mileage, periodic time tables or other criteria. Benefits of regular repairs, inspections and services performed in a fleet preventative maintenance plan include:

    • Longer fleet life
    • Better fleet performance
    • Lower likelihood of large mechanical failure
    • Lower chance of fleet vehicle down time
    • Reduced income loss from vehicle down time
    • Reduced employee frustration over vehicle down time
    • Increased accountability to safety and other employee policies
    • Ability to make systematic fleet changes/ upgrades
    • Ability to track and monitor expenses
    • Reduced claims of negligence from employees

     

    Fleet Preventative Maintenance Checklist

    A Fleet Preventative Maintenance Checklist allows you to create a system to manage your fleet and should include information about the vehicle including inspections, testing, cleaning, service and repairs.

     

    First, decide the interval for performance of the checklist items.

    Will the intervals be based on gallons of fuel used, mileage, time or another factor?

     

    Second, set up a recording system for the fleet preventative maintenance program.

    Records should be kept on each fleet vehicle separately. This can be folders or documents or an online system. It should include:

    • Truck Number
    • VIN
    • Mileage
    • Make/Model
    • Driver
    • Dates of each service
    • Dates of each checklist performed
    • Specific repairs made
    • Cost of repairs (labor and parts separate)
    • Emergency Services Performed (such as lock outs, towing, jumpstarts, collisions, etc.)

     

    Be sure to track parts and labor on repairs separately, since those are variable and can help in determining a budget for labor expenses. Track vendors for this purpose as well in order to see trends in vendor pricing to help with negotiating pricing.

     

    The Fleet Preventative Maintenance checklist should include:

    • Filter change dates
    • Fluid Level inspections
    • Belts and hose inspections
    • Tune-up services performed
    • Brake, pads and caliper checks
    • Tire safety
    • Glass and Mirror damage
    • Body damage
    • Fuel System Check
    • Cooling and Heating System
    • Electrical System
    • Steering and Suspension Check
    • Exhaust System
    • Drive shaft or CV Joint Inspection
    • Frame and undercarriage inspection
    • Transmission and engine mount concerns

     

    A safety checklist can also be completed separately or at the same time, usually with the driver’s input, such as:

    • Seatbelts in working order
    • Horn function
    • Headlamp and tail lights
    • Wiper function

    And any concerns about the items in the maintenance checklist.

     

    Third, set up time to review the data and discuss or review it with relevant parties.

    Watching trends on a fleet vehicles’ behavior will help with decisions regarding efficient vehicle replacement.

     

    Airport Automotive would love to support you in your Fleet Preventative Maintenance program. We can keep track of your vehicles as well as both the recommended and completed services, repairs and more. Give us a call today to discuss how we currently serve our Fleet clients and how it can help you extend the life of your fleet and improve your budget.

  • The Benefits of Fleet Preventative Maintenance

    Posted on 01, March, 2016

    Fleet Preventative Maintenance

     

    If you own a vehicle fleet, one of the best things you can do to maximize vehicle availability is to perform Preventative Maintenance. Unfortunately, some companies have the misunderstanding of the value of preventive maintenance and think that it costs more that reactive maintenance. The truth is reactive maintenance (maintenance performed after a breakdown) tends to be more costly. Fleet Preventative Maintenance can reduce these costly repairs by catching problems while they are small and able to be repaired, rather than completely broken.

     

    Benefits of Fleet Preventative Maintenance

    Consisting of scheduled services, inspections and repairs, Fleet Preventative Maintenance will help extend the life of your fleet. However, management of the process, procedures and schedule is critical. By creating a plan based on time, mileage, engine hours or gallons of fuel used, consistent repairs can be made and keep the fleet in peak condition.

     

    Reduce costs associated with large mechanical failure

    Replacing an engine is significantly more expensive than replacing oil on a regular basis. Not only that, but in the oil change process, other items can be inspected for wear and tear, leaks or other damage.

     

    Reduce lost income from a fleet vehicle being out of service

    When a vehicle responsible for service work is not on the road, income is lost. This revenue is not able to be captured to the same level as it would if the vehicle was able to perform at its full time capacity.

     

    Reduce employee expense from unwanted down time

    Not only is the service vehicle experiencing down time, but the service employee may be as well. Lost wages, lowered morale (frustration) and even safety concerns can come up as a result of an employee losing work time.

     

    Build accountability through regular inspections

    Inspections are one way many fleet managers build in expectations and accountability for cleanliness, inventory and safety. By inspecting vehicles during Fleet Preventative Maintenance, other personnel issues can be caught and resolved early.

     

    Improve fleet appearance systematically

    As part of a regular inspection, fleet appearance can be addressed before it becomes a problem. These can be related to lettering and decals to dents and damage.

     

    Tracking Expenses

    By watching individual behaviors on a fleet, certain patterns can arise that may offer cost savings. For example, knowing how much oil is being used can potentially allow you to save money by buying at a discounted bulk rate. These patterns can help you better budget for maintenance stock.

     

    Proactively reduce claims of negligence

    If a driver becomes unsafe because lack of fleet preventative maintenance, the company can become liable for damages. By ensuring the fleet vehicle is safe to operate, with a schedule and documentation, the business owner reduces their chance for a lawsuit. If there were to be an investigation, any vehicle problems that contributed to an accident could come back to haunt you.

     

    Fleet Preventative Maintenance Objectives

    The main objective of Fleet Preventative Maintenance is to create a system by which the majority of vehicle maintenance and repairs are scheduled proactively rather than handled reactively. It should include inspections, repairs, service, adjustments, cleaning, and testing. Therefore, a quality Fleet Preventative Maintenance could consist of:

     

    A clear timeline of each service, inspection and testing to be done

    What will trigger a fleet preventative maintenance appointment?

    Decide if it will be based on time, mileage, engine hours or gallons of fuel used. Use technology to monitor these triggers most effectively. Decide who is responsible for these records and how they will be keep.

     

    Keep records on each fleet vehicle with data about the triggers, habits, repairs and more. These reports should also include emergency services such as lock out, towing, jumpstarts and collisions.

     

    A checklist for each service, inspection and test to be done

    A simple checklist will keep each fleet vehicle service consistent. Include items such as:

     

    • Filter changes
    • Fluid Levels
    • Belts and hoses
    • Tune-up service
    • Brakes
    • Tires
    • Glass and Mirrors
    • Body (rust, damages, etc.)
    • Systems checks: Fuel, Cooling, Electrical, Steering, Suspension, Exhaust
    • Drive shafts or CV Joints
    • Frame and undercarriage
    • Transmission and engine mounts
    • Safety items: seatbelts, horn, lights, and wipers, heating and cooling

     

    A Driver Inspection Report

    The fleet driver is the first line of defense and is very helpful in providing information about vehicle safety concerns such as steering, misfires, wipers, tires, horn, brakes and more. They should be expected to communicate problems as they come up as well as report any potential dangers. In this way a fleet safety program and fleet preventative maintenance plan run side by side.

     

    Airport Automotive would love to support you in your Fleet Preventative Maintenance program. We can keep track of your vehicles as well as both the recommended and completed services, repairs and more. Give us a call today to discuss how we currently serve our Fleet clients and how it can help you extend the life of your fleet and improve your budget.