When autumn comes around in Corvallis, leaves fall, nights get longer, and there's a definite nip in the air. Time to unpack the boots and gloves and fold some extra blankets onto the beds. It's also time for Corvallis drivers to winterize their vehicles.
Here is some expert auto advice for Corvallis drivers on what vehicles need to keep everyone safe and rolling throughout the Oregon winter months.
1. Check your antifreeze. Top it off or change it if necessary. You don't want your radiator, engine or hoses freezing up. If your vehicle isn't generating enough heat to keep you warm, your antifreeze might be low, or you might have a thermostat problem. Either way, you should get it checked out before the full force of Oregon winter sets in. If you are due for a cooling system service at Clayton's Auto Service in Corvallis, get that done as well.
2. Check your brakes. The slushy wet conditions of winter increase stopping distances. Ice exacerbates the problem. Your first concern, of course, is to make sure you adapt your driving habits to winter weather: slow down, and give yourself plenty of room to stop. Get your brakes checked at Clayton's Auto Service and replace any worn pads or other parts. Check your brake fluid. It can accumulate moisture and decrease your stopping power.
3. Test your battery. A battery's cranking power drops in the cold, so if your battery is already weak, the onset of winter will do it in. The last thing you want is to be on a snowy Oregon road in the dark and cold with a dead battery.
4. Pack emergency supplies. Toss a blanket into the trunk. If you do find yourself stranded, your first concern will be to stay warm. If you're traveling away from Oregon population centers, then pack some emergency food and water as well. Also, it's a good idea to top off your tank in winter. That way, if you get stuck, you'll have some fuel to burn to stay warm, and it'll keep your gas lines from freezing up.
5. Check your wiper blades. They may be able to handle a light Corvallis summer rain shower, but they might not be up to the ice and snow that collect on a windshield in winter. If you experience particularly harsh winters or really wet ones, you can purchase special blades that resist freezing. And don't forget to top off your wiper fluid.
6. Check your tires. Tires lose pressure over time, but they lose pressure fast when it's cold outside in Corvallis. Tires lose about one pound of pressure every six to eight weeks; they also lose one pound of pressure for every 10°F drop in temperature. If the last time you checked your tires it was 80°F outside and it's 40°F now, your tires could be down five pounds in pressure — and that's serious. It's a safety issue and cuts down on your fuel economy.
7. Driving conditions in the Corvallis area may warrant special winter tires. Check with your friendly and knowledgeable Clayton's Auto Service tire professional to get the right tires for your area and for your driving habits. If you are getting winter tires, it's always best to get them for all four wheels. But if you're only going to get two, put them on the rear wheels, even if you drive a front-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle. Traction is more important on the rear of a vehicle if you want to prevent sliding or fish-tailing on slick surfaces.
So there you have it: a quick checklist to winterize your car in Oregon. When it comes to car care, preventive maintenance is always the best practice for Corvallis drivers, especially when it comes to winter weather. None of us want to be caught out in the winter cold.
Today's Clayton's Auto Service article focuses on severe service maintenance. Many Corvallis drivers are not aware of them and yet there are also very vocal advocates in Oregon who think that severe service schedules apply to everyone. Somewhere between a complete lack of awareness and the dire blanket statements lies a reasonable approach to severe service maintenance at Clayton's Auto Service.
To back up a little, vehicle owner's manuals have schedules for preventive maintenance. Things like oil changes, transmission service and so on. They say you should change your oil every so many miles or after so many months. Corvallis drivers understand this very well. What they may not know is that there are actually two service schedules: the regular schedule and the severe service schedule. The mileage and time intervals are lower on the severe service schedule.
Now when you hear 'severe service', you may think it doesn't apply to you because you don't feel your driving conditions are severe or extreme – it's just normal everyday driving in the Corvallis area. So let's list some of the conditions that classify as severe so that you can make the judgment on your own driving.
Before we start the list, here's a point of contrast that definitely is not severe driving. Driving down your nearest Oregon interstate at 65 miles per hour on a 75 degree day loaded only with your passengers. These are very easy miles for your vehicle: your engine is loafing along at low RPMs, no heavy loads to pull and moderate Corvallis temperatures. Now let's look at some severe service driving conditions.
Most trips around Corvallis are less than four miles. When your vehicle engine cools down, moisture condenses in the engine. This water in the oil doesn't get a chance to evaporate on short trips because the oil doesn't get hot enough. A lot of short trips in your vehicle means a lot of water build up. And water in the oil leads to the creation of sludge which can damage the engine. Changing the oil more frequently keeps sludge from building up. By contrast, highway driving warms the engine up and gets the water burned off.
Here's another example. Most trips around Corvallis are less than ten miles and outside temperatures are below freezing. This is the same reasoning, but in very cold Oregon weather it takes even longer for the oil to get hot enough to evaporate the water, hence ten miles as opposed to four.
Next, you drive in very hot Oregon weather. The hotter it is outside, the more cooling the engine, transmission, brake fluid and so on becomes. The environment in which the fluids reside is more hostile and the fluids simply breakdown faster. Therefore, the lower change interval.
Another: driving at low speed most of the time. Every vehicle engine has what's called its power band. This is a range of RPMs in which it's most efficient. Low speed driving doesn't keep the engine in its power band so it's working harder. This is one of the reasons that ratings are worse in downtown than on the highway.
Stop and go driving in Corvallis is another severe service condition. You're always accelerating, which works the vehicle engine and transmission harder, and then stopping, which works the brake fluid harder, causing it to get very hot. Highway driving, on the other hand, requires far less horsepower to maintain its speed than getting a stationary vehicle from a stop light up to 25 miles per hour. A lot of this and you'll need to follow the severe service schedule.
Also on the list is operating your vehicle in dusty, polluted or muddy conditions. Obviously, your engine air filter and cabin air will get dirty faster and need to be changed more frequently as will your breather element. Some of this dust and dirt will make its way into your fluids. They will simple get dirty faster and won't protect the components as well as fresh fluids.
Finally, you're driving under severe conditions in Corvallis when you tow a trailer, regularly carry heavy loads or carry a car-top carrier. This is pretty obvious. You'll spend more time in lower gears so the engine and transmission work much harder and create more heat. Brakes will be more stressed stopping the heavier loads.
Sounds like most of us in Corvallis operate under severe driving conditions at least some of the time. How can Corvallis drivers know which schedule to follow?
Think of it as a spectrum with always driving under severe conditions on one end and never driving under severe conditions on the other end. Some will be at one extreme or the other, but most of us will fall somewhere in between.
Carefully think about your driving conditions and decide if you should do your preventive maintenance closer to the severe service recommendation or the regular recommendation. Of course, your Clayton's Auto Service service advisor can help you with your decision.
Many Corvallis car owners have probably wondered: "What's the harm in putting off replacing an engine air filter. This expensive sensor is situated between your engine air filter and your engine. Dirty air filters are a leading cause of massair flow sensorfailure – and these babies can cost several hundred dollars to replace in Corvallis.
Change your vehicle air filter at Clayton's Auto Service when it's dirty. Your vehicle engine will thank you.
Corvallis area residents may remember when the U.S. government's “Cash for Clunkers” program made a splash on the news scene. People were offered incentives to trade in old vehicles for new, in the interest of better and improved air quality from reduced emissions.
But a lot of Corvallis drivers want to hang onto their old clunkers. They're dependable and they're paid for. Owners would love to see the odometers on those vehicles turn past 200,000 miles, as long as the repair bills don't get too expensive.
There are a lot of vehicles on Oregon roads that have run past the 150,000 or 200,000 mile odometer. Is there something that their owners are doing that keeps these vehicles on the road? Or did they just win the “lemon lottery,” and luck out by getting a particularly good vehicle? Not surprisingly, most of these owners have something in common. They never skip an oil change. Can keeping a vehicle on the road for 200,000 miles really be that easy for Corvallis drivers?
Actually, it makes sense. Oil is the lifeblood of a vehicle. Clean oil ensures that the engine will run efficiently and staves off the build-up of sludge that can eventually damage engine parts. Oil changes remove dirty oil and replace dirty oil filters, keeping an engine clean and running smoothly, just like eating right keeps our hearts healthy by preventing build-up in our arteries.
But there's another reason why not skipping an oil change can result in a longer life for your car. When you bring your car in to Clayton's Auto Service for an oil change, all of the fluid levels are checked and topped off. If these fluids are depleted, dirty or low, they can damage the engine.
If a fluid is significantly low, it usually indicates a leak somewhere, leading to an inspection of relevant parts. This inspection and the replacement of the worn part can prevent repair bills and maintain the health of the engine.
At an oil change, your technician at Clayton's Auto Service will also do a quick check for worn belts or hoses, uneven tread wear, leaking shock absorbers and other signs of wear and tear. This advance notice allows the owner to replace parts before they break down and possibly damage your vehicle.
The oil change is also a good time to review any other service that the vehicle might need. Many car owners rely on their pros at Clayton's Auto Service for good auto advice on check-ups and follow-up car care that will keep older cars running well.
Parts wear out on older vehicles. There's no avoiding it. As the odometer chugs upward toward 200,000 miles, the vehicle will need several batteries, a couple of alternators and water pumps, a new set of shocks and possibly some brake rotors. But these items—all together—add up to far less than the cost of a new car.
Good car care and preventive maintenance are the hallmark of Corvallis drivers that have kept their vehicles on the road and running past the age when most of us have given up and headed back to a car lot. We can learn from their wisdom.
So treat your car right: Take good care of it and don't skip the check-ups at Clayton's Auto Service in Corvallis.
We live such busy lives nowadays: work, social events, running the kids all over Corvallis. Some days it's all we can do to keep track of everywhere we need to be. That's why you've gotta be organized. Smartphones, calendar apps - we have to keep track of it all.
So let's talk about schedules. Specifically, automotive service schedules. And particularly, the scheduled services that are sometimes forgotten.
Here is a list of 10 service items that are often overlooked by Corvallis residents. They're all very important and need appropriate attention. So here we go, in no particular order.
1. Power Steering Service Be honest; have you ever thought of this on your own? Your power steering fluid gets dirty and builds-up moisture over time. Cleaning out your power steering system means that dirt and gum are removed and your power steering parts are protected from corrosion. Next time you're in for an oil change, ask your Clayton's Auto Service service advisor if it's time for a power steering check-up.
2. Wheel Alignment When your wheels are out of alignment your vehicle pulls to one side. It's pretty annoying, but it's also dangerous. And it causes your tires to wear out really fast; which is an unnecessary expense! Most owner’s manuals suggest you get your alignment checked once or twice a year.
3. Differential Service Did you even know you had a differential? Well, you do - one, two or three in fact. Differentials are often called gear boxes and they're part of the drive-train that transfers power from your vehicle engine to your wheels. They don't need service that often, but you can't completely forget them. Check with your friendly and knowledgeable Clayton's Auto Service service advisor.
4. Cabin Air Filter More and more cars these days have cabin air filters (a great feature, in my opinion) to clean the air in the passenger area where we sit. They filter out dust and pollen. When they're clogged up, they can get smelly. Change your cabin air filter on schedule to enjoy fresh, clean air, which can also help with allergies.
5. Timing Belt Replacement Most cars and some vans and trucks driven around the Corvallis area have timing belts. Without going into a lot of detail, let's just say that your car won't run without it – period. And if it breaks while you're driving it can do thousands of dollars’ worth of engine damage. Check your owners' manual or with your Clayton's Auto Service service advisor. If you're approaching 60,000 miles; definitely look into it right away.
6. Transmission Service Transmission service is very basic, but it's often forgotten by Corvallis drivers. Your vehicle transmission needs clean fluid from time to time to keep operating efficiently and avoid pricey repairs.
7. Air Conditioning Service Most of us don't think about our air conditioning until it fails on a hot day in Corvallis. If you're lucky, you just need to add refrigerant. If you're not, some of the components may have been ruined. Of course, these components are not cheap. Regular air conditioning service at Clayton's Auto Service in Corvallis adds clean refrigerant which cools and lubricates your air conditioner and conditions the seals.
8. Brake Service No we're not talking about squealing, grinding brakes here. We're talking brake fluid. Over time the fluid gets a lot of water in it. Because water compresses differently than the brake fluid, your brakes won't work as well. It may even get dangerous. The water can also rust out brake system components and then your brakes can fail altogether. Check with your Clayton's Auto Service technician for recommendations.
9. Coolant System Another thing that's so easy for Corvallis drivers to forget about: When you don't change your antifreeze on schedule it becomes corrosive. Fresh coolant contains additives that maintain the pH balance in the coolant. These additives wear out and the fluid in the radiator can actually eat holes in the radiator or hoses. Then you're stranded - bummer.
10. Fuel System Cleaning In these times of high fuel prices, fuel system cleaning is vital. Fuel gums up a bunch of parts as it moves from the gas tank and through the engine. A thorough fuel system cleaning at Clayton's Auto Service in Corvallis will keep clean gas flowing into the engine. Your fuel injectors also get gunked up over time and need to be cleaned. Having your fuel system cleaned on schedule at Clayton's Auto Service will really help your fuel economy.
There you have it; 10 services that are often overlooked by Corvallis residents. Did you know that a recent survey showed that 90 percent of vehicles on the road have at least one scheduled maintenance service that hasn't been performed? Considering our busy lives, we're not surprised. Clayton's Auto Service can help with any of these services. Give us a call or come see us.