There are a surprising number of small, inexpensive parts that can lead to expensive engine damage when they fail. It doesn't seem right.
Fortunately a lot of those things can be taken care of in routine maintenance. They may not be easy to remember, because it is a long list, but your service center at Cambridge Auto can help you know what's scheduled to be taken care of.
Some of us in San Antonio Texas really don't look forward to going in for an oil change and then getting a list of the other things the manufacturer recommends.
But automotive maintenance is all about prevention, and addressing small problems before they get big. Let's take the fuel filter for example.
You may not know this but the median age for private vehicles on our San Antonio Texas roads is over nine years. When cars get older, five years or so, they've accumulated a lot of dirt and rust in their gas tanks. If that dirt gets into the engine it can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage. So somewhere between that dirty gas tank and the price of a great vacation – is the lowly fuel filter: a very inexpensive part that doesn't cost too much to replace. And your car'll just run better too.
A clogged fuel filter can't let enough fuel through. You might notice at first that your car is running fine around town, but struggles or sputters on the San Antonio Texas freeway or when you accelerate. Enough fuel can't get through to meet the demands of higher speed. If it gets bad enough your engine might just shut off or not start at all, which could be dangerous.
Some fuel filters have a bypass. When they get clogged, they allow dirty fuel to move around the filter element so dirt ends up in the engine. We've already talked about how expensive that can be.
The fuel filter is even very important for newer cars. The fuel is still dirty even if there isn't rust in the tank. It's just that the fuel filter will need to be changed more frequently as the vehicle gets older.
How often should you change your fuel filter? Check your owner's manual. Your San Antonio Texas service advisor at Cambridge Auto can tell you as well. It's usually around thirty thousand miles or so. Ask if it's time for a full fuel system cleaning as well. They often go hand in hand.
It's good to know that your San Antonio Texas service center has your back. When you're motivated to maintain your vehicle's performance and to reduce operating costs, you'll think of Cambridge Auto as your ally - and maybe even your memory.
Posted in the Fuel System category
Most San Antonio car owners don't even think about their car air conditioning system unless it fails. That’s because many San Antonio and Kirby motorists don't really understand that auto A/Cs need periodic service. Let me share some of the reasons why they fail.
First, like every machine, the sedan air conditioner parts need - you guessed it - lubrication. The lubricant is actually mixed in with the refrigerant (that’s the stuff that makes the air cool). Remember that even if the air conditioner is still blowing out cool air, the oil that lubricates the parts may be used up: and unlubricated parts can fail in all Texas cars.
Now here’s a tip for San Antonio auto owners: Run your air conditioner every so often during Texas winters. This circulates the lubricant to help keep the seals from drying out.
The air conditioner actually removes some of the moisture in the air. So if you have trouble with fogging on your sedan windshield during Texas winters or during a rain storm, running the A/C on the defrost setting should help. Now on some San Antonio cars you can’t run the A/C at the same time as the defroster. Don’t ask me why, but I suspect lawyers were involved.
Also, air and water can get into the A/C system. That can reduce the efficiency of the system and also lead to corrosion that causes damage. San Antonio car owners should periodically purge the system and replace the refrigerant to remove the air and water.
San Antonio drivers would be wise to learn the important early warning signs of A/C trouble: 1) The air’s not as cold as it used to be. 2) Unusual noises when the A/C cycles on. Those are signs to get your vehicle into Cambridge Auto in San Antonio before the damage gets worse.
By following the recommended service intervals in your sedan owner’s manual, you can help prevent mechanical failure of your air conditioning system. Your A/C system contains some expensive components like the compressor, condenser, dryer, etc. Anything Boerne and Kirby car owners can do to lengthen the life of their A/C is well worth it.
Posted in the Air Conditioning category
It's important for San Antonio car owners to know battery basics. First, let’s talk about which is harder on a battery – hot or cold Texas weather. Most San Antonio motorists think it’s cold weather because that’s when we call on our batteries to have enough power to start a cold sedan engine.
However, heat does more damage to a battery than cold. Truth is, our batteries start to die a little from day one. Keeping a full charge slows the process, which is hard with short San Antonio trips because the alternator doesn’t have time to fully recharge the battery from starting the engine. San Antonio car owners can top off the charge with a computer controlled battery charger – say, once a month in the summer and every three months during the winter.
As far as how long a battery will last, statistics show that 70% have given up the ghost within four years. By that time, they aren’t capable of taking a full charge like they used to, and your sedan alternator has to work overtime to keep up. This causes your alternator to wear out early.
If you’re pushing 4 to 5 years on your battery, see your friendly Cambridge Auto service professional for a battery test to see if it’s recommended to replace it. Not only can you avoid getting stranded with a dead battery, but you’ll save unnecessary wear and tear on your sedan alternator.
Give us a call
9823 Fredericksburg Road
San Antonio, Texas 78240
Posted in the Battery category
Hello San Antonio, let's talk about brakes. Braking, as all Texas car owners know, is slowing or stopping your vehicle. As you can imagine, brakes are engineered to work well on a particular vehicle application. For example, you would expect more powerful brakes on a heavy-duty pickup that routinely hauls big loads and pulls trailers, than you would on a compact car. And a Corvette that can go over 180 miles per hour would have much different braking needs than the family mini-van you drive around between San Antonio, San Antonio and all of South Texas.
But the mechanical aspects of the brakes themselves are just one issue. There’s also the power brake pump and brake fluid. And then there are the tires, which are critical to the effectiveness of the brakes.
Let’s step back. A new sedan or truck rolls off a local San Antonio showroom floor. It has brand new brakes with brand new brake pads. The brake lines and pump are filled with fresh fluid and are completely clean inside. And the tires are brand new, with full tread. It is ready to go.
Naturally, braking power is at its peak performance. Now the miles start to add up on the sedan. San Antonio car owners tend to focus on the brake pads. In the automotive business, the pads, and shoes on drum brakes, are called the friction material. That’s because they provide the friction used to stop the vehicle. The pads are designed to be effective throughout their useful life – it’s not until they are worn so thin as to be out of auto manufacturers' specs that they lose their ability to stop.
The mechanical parts of the brakes have pistons and springs that get quite a workout while breaking. Over many miles around Texas, these wear and get gummed up. They start to lose effectiveness gradually and could even fail - a scary possibility That’s why a regular brake inspection at Cambridge Auto is important for your sedan and your family's safety. At Cambridge Auto we can test the operation of the brakes and see if any parts need cleaning or replacing.
That leads us to brake fluid service at Cambridge Auto. Some of the critical additives in the fluid that lubricate and clean the sedan fluid system are depleted over time. That and moisture building up in the system reduce the performance of the brake fluid. A brake service at Cambridge Auto cleans out deposits, water and dirt. Then the system is filled up with fresh fluid.
The tires are what connect the sedan to the road. Stopping force all comes down to traction. The better the tires grip the road, the quicker you’ll stop.
This is especially important on wet San Antonio area expressways and surface streets. Studies have shown that wet stopping distance increases significantly as tires wear down. Texas drivers need to understand that they can have brakes that are operating at peak efficiency and yet still be in danger because their tires are worn out.
Posted in the Brakes category
San Antonio motorists know that engines need to burn fuel to operate. Fuel is pumped from your fuel tank to your sedan engine where it is squirted—or injected—into your engine’s cylinders. This is the function of the fuel injectors.
There are two ways to inject fuel into an engine. Fuel needs air to burn, so in the first method, fuel is injected into a port and allowed to mix with air and before it is drawn into the cylinders. In the second method, fuel is injected directly into the cylinders and mixes with air after it enters the sedan engine.
Direct injection engines burn fuel more efficiently than conventional sedan engines. Some models can deliver the power of a V8 with the economy of a V6.
For example, in one family of engines, the conventional version (a V6) delivers about 250 horsepower. The direct injection version delivers over 300 horsepower and gets about the same gas mileage. The turbocharged version delivers 350 horsepower.
Why the big difference in power? Direct injection systems allow fuel to be squirted into the sedan engine at hundreds of times the pressure of a conventional engine. This atomizes the fuel better (breaks it down into tinier droplets), which means more of it gets burned, which translates to more power for your engine. It also results in cleaner emissions.
Fuel injectors are precision instruments. They have to deliver the right amount of fuel at exactly the time the sedan engine needs it. They are also engineered to inject fuel with a specific spray pattern. This spray pattern allows for maximum fuel efficiency and proper atomization. Direct injection engines require a much higher degree of precision than conventional engines. For this reason, they are equipped with more sophisticated computers.
When fuel injectors get dirty, their precision drops off. The spray pattern won’t be precise, and the timing of fuel delivery may be off. This decreases fuel efficiency and gas mileage as well as delivering less power to the engine.
San Antonio drivers should understand that fuel injectors are not cheap to replace. Direct injection fuel injectors are even more pricey. And we’re talking a mortgage payment to buy a set of new fuel injectors for a diesel engine.
So keeping your fuel injectors clean is just good auto advice. The best way to do this is to change your air and fuel filters regularly and practice other habits of good car care and preventive maintenance. Cleaning additives in your fuel can also help.
If you do end up with gum or varnish in your fuel system, you’ll need a professional fuel system cleaning. This will clean out your whole system, including the injectors. The good news is that with proper maintenance, San Antonio drivers will enjoy better fuel efficiency and their fuel injectors will last for a long time.
Posted in the Fuel System category
Nowadays, San Antonio drivers are paying more at San Antonio gas pumps. For some families in the greater San Antonio area, it adds up to several hundred dollars every month. That’s got to come out of the budget somewhere. This is one of the reasons many Texas drivers are putting off buying a new car. They plan on keeping their old vehicle for a year or two longer than before.
Even now, 2/3 of the personal vehicles on our local San Antonio, Texas freeways have over 75,000 miles on them. The average age of vehicles is over nine years. And most people in San Antonio can’t afford to be stranded or inconvenienced by a break down. So following a regular maintenance schedule, like personal diet and exercise plans, is actually critical to preserving your investment.
Determining what to do for a higher-mileage vehicle can be challenging because many automobile manufacturer's manuals don’t publish service intervals after 60,000 miles. Thus, San Antonio auto owners need to be better at keeping records and planning for preventive maintenance.
You can start by figuring that services with a recommended interval should still be performed on that interval, even after you’re past the tables in your service manual. For example, a service might be recommended every 15,000 miles. Well, just keep doing it every 15,000 miles for as long as you have your car.
Now higher mileage engines operate under more stress. Some San Antonio automotive experts suggest that the severe service schedule is more appropriate and that routine service should be performed at shorter intervals. Check with your owners’ manual or service advisor at Cambridge Auto to see if the severe service schedule is right for your vehicle.
And keeping current with your full-service oil change schedule is important for a couple of reasons. First, older engines have had more time to build up oil sludge. Skipping an oil change here and there can really compound the problem for your sedan.
Another equally important reason is that your other fluids are routinely checked and topped off. Power steering fluid, brake fluid, coolant and transmission fluid can be kept at optimal levels even though the older seals and gaskets are leaking more than when they were new.
And speaking of older seals and gaskets: they start to dry out and become more brittle with age. You may want to consider using high mileage formulation oil and fluids. These products contain special additives to condition seals and gaskets to keep them from leaking. The high mileage formulations cost more than standard products, but they are well worth it in terms of preventing serious repair bills down the road.
Older vehicles in the San Antonio, Texas area need repairs and replacements that newer ones don’t. Things like timing belts, radiator hoses, suspension work, anti-lock brakes, air bags, water pumps, alternators and batteries. That may seem like a lot of stuff to have done, but it works out to be cheaper than new car payments.
With a high-mileage vehicle, a couple of relationships will become pretty important. The first is with your service specialist at Cambridge Auto. You need someone you trust to take care of your car and be mindful of your needs. Ask for help to develop a plan to keep your vehicle road-worthy that works within your budget, and for the San Antonio, Texas area driving conditions.
The next relationship is with your vehicle itself. We’re not talking about naming your car or tucking it in at night. We just mean - pay attention and get to know your vehicle. Notice unusual sounds, smells, vibrations, etc. Then you can describe the changes to your service advisor at Cambridge Auto and head off problems. We can’t do anything about the price of gas, but we can properly maintain Old Faithful to keep it safely and economically on the local San Antonio, Texas roads.
Take a look at the attached automotive tips video from AutoNetTV
Posted in the Service Intervals category
There’s a segment of the Boerne population that’s not committed to proper vehicle maintenance. Mistaken perceptions have crept into the Texas area over time. Many Boerne motorists think the root lies in the fact that modern cars are so reliable. Reliability has improved dramatically in recent years. Quality surveys report fewer problems with new cars than ever before.
Back when cars spent more time in the repair shop, Boerne drivers were more mindful of routine service. Now, it’s much easier to put it off.
Take tune-ups for example. In the days of mechanical ignition systems, an engine needed to be tuned-up every couple of years. The ignition points had to be replaced, spark plugs and coils replaced and the timing adjusted. If your engine was out of tune, you knew it. It ran poorly and got bad fuel economy.
Now, the ignition system in your sedan is electronic and controlled by the engine management computer. Spark plugs rarely get fouled and will last for as much as a hundred thousand miles. So tune-ups used to force you in to Cambridge Auto for service and while you were there you just took care of whatever else was on the list.
Also, in recent years, a large percentage of new cars in Boerne have been leased. These folks plan on turning the car in after two or three years, so they haven’t focused on the maintenance that helps your car last longer.
Given all that, what’s the benefit to keeping up with factory scheduled maintenance? Well, your sedan will perform better and return better fuel economy.
Those benefits pay for themselves as they go along. The big plus is that major repairs are prevented. And these aren’t just repairs that are a long ways off. Modern sedan engines are far more sophisticated and have many parts that are in critical need of proper lubrication. Missing just one oil change can allow oil sludge to start forming. Sludge clogs small engine passages, robbing parts of the lubrication they need. An expensive failure could easily occur within two or three years.
And modern engines require more sophisticated fluids. Because of the different types of materials that are used to make auto parts, things like aluminum, plastics and steel, different types of additives are required to protect automotive components from corrosion. These additives deplete with time as well as with use.
For example, your sedan engine coolant could actually become so corrosive that it eats holes in your radiator or other cooling system parts. Of course, that could lead to massive engine damage, all for the want of replacing the coolant on schedule.
Taking care of the little things now prevents big problems later. At Cambridge Auto, we have been taking care of all those little things for 27 years. Your sedan still needs to be taken care of – it’s just that some of those points of care have changed with automotive advancements. The need for proper maintenance in Boerne did not go away.
Posted in the Maintenance category
The function of the fuel filter is pretty self-explanatory. It filters your fuel. The fuel filter is in the fuel line somewhere in between the fuel tank and the engine. Both gas and diesel vehicles around San Antonio Texas use fuel filters.
For more information about your fuel filter, visit Cambridge Auto or come by our shop located at 9823 Fredericksburg Road in San Antonio, Texas 78240.
Please call 210-697-9600 to make an appointment.
Generally speaking there's not a lot of dirt in our San Antonio Texas auto fuel supply, but there is enough that you want to screen it out. The problem actually gets worse the older your vehicle becomes. That's because dirt, rust and other contaminants will settle out of the fuel and onto the bottom of the fuel tank. After your sedan is five years or older, it can actually have a fair amount of sediment built up.
That just means that the fuel filter has to work harder as your sedan ages. It'll get clogged sooner and need to be replaced more often.
A symptom of a clogged fuel filter is that the engine sputters at highway speeds or under hard acceleration. That's because enough fuel is getting through around town, but when you need more fuel for speed, enough just can't get through the filter. Obviously, that could be dangerous if your car or truck can't get enough power to get you out of harm's way.
For just that reason, fuel filters have a bypass valve. When the filter is severely clogged, some fuel can bypass the filter all together. Of course that means that dirty, unfiltered fuel is getting through to be burned in the engine.
This dirt can then clog and damage your fuel injectors. Now injectors are not cheap to replace, so you don't want to cause them damage just because you didn't spend a few bucks to replace a fuel filter.
You know, in a way, the fuel filter can be the poster child for preventive maintenance. It's a little part, it's simple and it's cheap to take care of. But if it's neglected, it could lead to thousands of dollars of repair bills.
Those auto service schedules in your owner's manual are there for a reason. If ever you don't understand a recommended service, just ask your San Antonio service advisor at Cambridge Auto. We'll be happy to explain.
Posted in the Fuel System category
Wheel alignment is often overlooked by busy Kirby and all of South Texas drivers until serious tire damage has been done. One wheel can be knocked out of alignment by hitting a curb or pothole on a San Antonio expressway or surface street.
When a vehicle’s out of alignment, one or more of the wheels does not track true and pulls against the others. This causes several serious problems. First off, the tires will wear out faster and will need to be replaced prematurely. It could also lead to expensive sedan suspension problems.
But the big issue for Kirby, all of South Texas, and San Antonio car owners is safety. When your sedan wheels are out of alignment, the vehicle will pull to one side, which could lead to an accident. When you’re out of alignment, you should have it taken care of right away at Cambridge Auto in San Antonio.
When undergoing an alignment service at Cambridge Auto, your sedan is put on an alignment rack where the tires, steering and suspension parts are checked for damage. Then the alignment is charted and checked against the factory settings.
Precision adjustments are made to bring the wheels back into alignment. This gets all four wheels going in exactly the same direction.
all of South Texas auto owners should be aware of the signs of alignment problems. These include the car pulling to one side. Also, the steering wheel may not be centered when you’re going straight. If you see the edges of one or more tires rapidly wearing down, you should have your San Antonio service center look it over. If you’ve been in an auto accident in Texas that involved a wheel, you should get your alignment checked.
Obviously, a big jolt can seriously knock things out of alignment, but Kirby drivers also need to understand that a series of smaller ones can add up.
That’s why auto manufacturers recommend periodic alignment checks. If your sedan owner’s manual doesn’t specify, once a year might be appropriate. Or check with Dewayne Allen or your service advisor at Cambridge Auto in San Antonio.
One thing’s for sure: the cost of the alignment at Cambridge Auto is cheaper for Kirby drivers than having to buy a couple of new tires because of neglect.
Posted in the Alignment category
No matter how well they’re made, cars are bound to have problems with their design or manufacturing. Think of all the moving parts. When the government thinks a problem is really serious, they require the auto manufacturer to issue recall notices to San Antonio residents and to fix the affected cars free of charge. The auto manufacturer then tries to contact all San Antonio drivers who own that type of car so they can have it taken care of at their San Antonio service center.
To find out if your car has any recall issues, give us a call:
9823 Fredericksburg Road San Antonio, Texas 78240
These recalls always affect safety, so San Antonio drivers would be wise to take them seriously. It’s really easy to find out if a vehicle is being recalled. For links to government sites, look in the AutoNetTV website.
Other website include: carfax.com; autobytel.com; and dmv.org. All of these sites have free recall searches.
Recalls are pretty serious and don’t happen all that often. But sometimes cars have less serious problems that San Antonio auto owners still might want to know about. For these less serious cases, car makers issue what is known as a Technical Service Bulletin – or TSB. These bulletins tell San Antonio service centers how to repair a problem that occurs frequently or is especially difficult.
Your San Antonio tech receives updated information through subscription plans, which are sometimes available in consumer versions too. You can buy access to these for an annual fee.
Whatever your source, pay attention to San Antonio vehicle recalls to keep you and your passengers safe.
Posted in the Maintenance category