Corvallis consumers are demanding. We want a safe, reliable vehicle that handles well and is comfortable to ride in. Oh, and we want good fuel economy, too. We also want vehicle repairs that are cheap, fast and easy. Unfortunately, one usually comes at the cost of the other.
Today's vehicles have made significant improvements in reliability and performance over the last few decades. They also deliver more power to Corvallis drivers more efficiently than ever before. For example, some of today's 4-cylinder engines are equal to yesterday's V-8's. Our vehicles also offer an amazing range of features that make them more comfortable and convenient than ever before.
But all of that improvement has come at a price for Corvallis vehicle owners. Our vehicles are more complicated and difficult to repair than ever before. They have numerous mechanical and electrical systems. Fuel systems are so complex they have to be run by a computer. Our vehicles are covered with sensors and high-tech electronic equipment. Our dashboards rival the control panel of the first manned space flight.
With all that complicated equipment, it's no wonder we call mechanics service technicians these days. You can't learn to repair vehicles in the backyard with your dad anymore. Today's Clayton's Auto Service technicians have to go to school. School may come in the form of classroom instruction, online courses or both. Technicians are also trained on-site at the Corvallis service centers where they work (including Clayton's Auto Service) to keep them abreast of constant improvements in vehicle engineering, diagnostic equipment and repair techniques.
Today's technicians need to be certified to work on our vehicles. They can earn a variety of certifications in Oregon, but the highest of these is Master Technician. It's like a graduate degree in auto repair.
Vehicle repair at Clayton's Auto Service in Corvallis requires more than just training and certification, though. It also takes information and creative thought. Corvallis area auto service centers subscribe to data services, technical libraries and online repair communities in order to get the information they need to: work on various makes and models of vehicles, get recommended maintenance schedules, learn about non-standard features and locate hard-to-find parts in an unusual engine. They also use this information to help diagnose rare or difficult vehicle problems. Many auto repair problems also require a bit of creative thinking for the team at Clayton's Auto Service to solve. Corvallis service technicians at Clayton's Auto Service act much like doctors in these situations. They're given a set of symptoms, and they have to come up with a diagnosis and treatment that will fix the problem. This process becomes as much of an art as it is a science.
A proper diagnosis, even by a highly qualified technician, can take time. And a technician's time is going to cost us. It's just the price of progress.
Of course, the best vehicle care for Corvallis vehicle owners is planned preventive auto maintenance. This is also the least costly way to keep your vehicle in good repair. Regular inspections and replacement of worn parts will prevent most repairs from ever being needed in the first place.
And with the amazing complexity of today's automobiles, isn't it good to know there's someone out there with the knowledge, training and skill to give us good auto advice? Whether we need preventive maintenance or repairs, the team of automotive professionals at Clayton's Auto Service can help us keep our vehicles on the road. We just can't do it on our own anymore.
Driving on bald tires is like playing roulette. Though you may be fine today, eventually your luck is going to run out.
The Feds don't have any laws for tread depth, but 42 of the states, and all of Canada, do have regulations. They consider 2/32 of an inch to be the minimum legal tread depth. Two other states, including California, consider 1/32 to be the minimum and six states have no standards at all. Call us at Clayton's Auto Service; (just call 541-752-2263) to find out what your requirements are in the Corvallis, Oregon, area.
Since 1968, U.S. law has required that a raised bar be molded across all tires. When tires are worn enough that this bar becomes visible, there's just 2/32 inch/1.6 mm of tread left. But does that older standard give Corvallis vehicles enough safety?
Consider this: Consumer Reports recommends tire replacement when tread reaches 4/32 inch/3.2 mm. And the recommendation is backed by some very compelling studies. Now before we go into the studies, you need to know that the issue is braking on wet surfaces.
We tend to think of the brakes doing all the stopping, but Corvallis vehicles also need to have effective tires to actually stop the car. When it's wet or snowy in Corvallis, Oregon, the tread of the tire is critical to stopping power.
Picture this: you're driving in Corvallis over a water-covered stretch of road. Your tires need to be in contact with the road in order to stop. That means the tire has to channel the water away so the tire is contacting the road and not floating on a thin film of water – a condition known as hydroplaning. When there's not enough tread depth on a tire, it can't move the water out of the way and you start to hydroplane.
This is where the studies come in. We think Corvallis drivers will be surprised. A section of a test track was flooded with a thin layer of water. If you laid a dime flat on the track, the water would be deep enough to surround the coin, but not enough to submerge it.
A car and a full-sized pick-up truck were brought up to 70 mph/112 kph and then made a hard stop in the wet test area. Stopping distance and time were measured for three different tire depths. First, they tested new tires. Then tires worn to legal limits. And finally, tires with 4/32 inch/3.2 mm of tread were tested (the depth suggested by Consumer Reports.)
When the car with the legally worn tires had braked for the distance required to stop the car with new tires, it was still going 55 mph/89 kph. The stopping distance was nearly doubled. That means if you barely have room to stop with new tires, then you would hit the car in front of you at 55 mph/89 kph with the worn tires.
Now with the partially worn tires – at the depth recommended by Consumer Reports – the car was still going at 45 mph/72 kph at the point where new tires brought the car to a halt. That's a big improvement – you can see why Consumer Reports and others are calling for a new standard.
Now without going into all the details, let us tell you that stopping the truck with worn tires needed almost 1/10 of a mile (.16 km) of clear road ahead to come to a safe stop. How many Corvallis drivers follow that far behind the vehicle ahead? Obviously, this is a big safety issue.
The tests were conducted with the same vehicles but with different sets of tires. The brakes were the same, so the only variable was the tires.
How do people in Corvallis know when their tires are at 4/32 inch/3.2 mm? Well, it's pretty easy. Just insert an American quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn't cover George Washington's hairline, it's time to replace your tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.
Now you may remember doing that with pennies. But an American penny gives you 2/32 inch/1.6 mm to Abraham Lincoln's head. The quarter is the new standard – 4/32 inch/3.2 mm.
Tires are a big ticket item, and most people in Corvallis, Oregon, want to get thousands of miles/kilometers out of them. Just remember: driving on bald tires is like playing roulette.
Have Mr. Washington look at your tires today. If he recommends a new set, come see us at Clayton's Auto Service in Corvallis.
Your auto air conditioning system cools and conditions the air in your passenger compartment when you are driving around Corvallis. It also removes moisture from the air to keep your windows from fogging up.
A common A/C problem for Corvallis drivers that visit Clayton's Auto Service is contaminated refrigerant (the gas that cools the air). The inside of the A/C hoses deteriorates over time and tiny fragments of rubber clog passages. This makes the system less efficient and overworks various components.
Leaks can develop at seals and gaskets and may reduce the amount of refrigerant, causing the system to work too hard to compensate. Dirty components can have the same consequences.
Ask your Clayton's Auto Service service advisor for an air conditioning system inspection to make sure everything is up to spec.
Night driving in Corvallis is not as safe as daylight driving as evidenced by the increased accident rate at night. Much of that is simply because it's dark outside.
Visibility is important to safe driving. Ninety percent of our driving decisions are based on what we see. And at night, we just can't see as much as we can during the day. In fact, if you have 20/20 vision during the day, your night vision is only 20/50. To translate, that means that an object you can clearly see 50 feet away during daylight, only becomes visible to you at 20 feet at night.
Reaction time is also related to visibility. Corvallis motorists don't react to a situation until they see it. So at night, we're reacting to situations later just because it takes longer to see them. But we don't have to stop driving at night to stay safe. We just need to practice some preventive maintenance and vehicle care that will maximize our night vision.
The most crucial item that helps us see while driving at night is, of course, our headlamps. Corvallis drivers should ensure that their headlamps are as bright as they can be. Headlamps dim over time, but they do it so gradually that it's difficult to notice. Because of this, experts recommend replacing headlamps once a year.
That's good auto advice for Corvallis drivers, but it doesn't apply to all headlamps. Some vehicles use HID, or high-intensity discharge, headlamps. These are bright headlamps that are designed to last for the entire life of a vehicle. Depending on your vehicle, you may be able to upgrade to HID headlamps. Consult with your friendly service advisor at Clayton's Auto Service to learn your options.
Most vehicles use standard or halogen headlamps. If you use standard headlamps, you might want to upgrade to halogen, which offers a brighter headlight. Halogen headlamps come in a variety of grades, so evaluate your options the next time you replace your headlamps and upgrade if you want a better light.
It won't do much good to upgrade or replace your headlamps, however, if your headlight lens is dirty or yellowed. Studies have shown that about 90% of the vehicles on the road have impaired headlights due to dirty or yellowed headlight covers. You should get into the habit of washing your headlights every time you gas up. Simply grab the window washer squeegee, run it over your windows, then swish it across your covers. No cost involved at all.
Plastic headlamp lenses yellow or become hazy over time. If your lenses have this problem, they can be restored with a special polishing process. You may be able to get this done at your Corvallis service center. If not, they should be able to tell you where you can.
Now, what good is a quality headlamp if you can't see through your windshield? Your windshield needs to be clean and streak-free if you plan on driving at night in Corvallis. You should also keep your windshield washer fluid replenished and your wipers in good condition.
Wiper blades should actually be replaced twice a year. The changing of the seasons at spring and fall, or Daylight Saving Time, can be a good reminder to do this. And while you're at it, fall is the perfect time to replace your headlamps. Those long winter nights add up to a lot more night driving for people in Corvallis.
Stay alert. Stay awake. And keep those headlamps burning bright.
Repair or Replace? That’s a question Corvallis drivers ask when they have tire damage. Some punctures cannot be repaired because of their size or location. Punctures larger than a quarter of an inch (6.4 mm) are considered too large to be safely repaired. Punctures in the sidewall or near the shoulders may not be able to be repaired. And sometimes there is internal damage revealed on inspection that indicates the tire should not be repaired.
Run flat tires should not be repaired. Repairing high performance tires may make them unsuitable for motorsports. Your friendly and professional Clayton's Auto Service service advisor can inspect your damaged tire and tell you if it can be safely repaired or if it should be replaced - and then help you get back on the roads around Corvallis.