About 90% of our San Antonio Texas driving decisions are based solely on what we see. So having a good pair of windshield wipers is extremely important.
Everyone in San Antonio Texas has experienced the frustration and fear of not being able to see clearly during a storm, or when our windshield is just dirty. In fact, it’s estimated that 46,000,000 motorists from San Antonio and across the nation are driving with wipers that can’t adequately clear their windshield in a storm.
It seems like your wiper blades are always at their worst when you need them the most. If that sounds like you, you’ve got plenty of company in the San Antonio area. 78% of drivers only change their wiper blades after the blades function so poorly that they become a safety hazard.
We need to change our thinking. Instead of blades being something to replace when they fail, we need to consider wiper blades as an important safety component. Then we’ll stay ahead of the storm.
You really ought to replace your wiper blades twice a year; in the spring and the fall. If you live in the colder parts of Texas, you may even want to get special winter blades in the fall.
Winter blades are designed to resist freezing. Speaking of winter and freezing conditions, if your car has been sitting for a long time and the windshield becomes frozen, don’t use your wipers to clear off snow and ice. That can just shred your blades and may even damage the wiper motor.
Your wiper blades live outside; freezing cold and blistering sun. Over time, they become hard and brittle, and then tear. They also lose their flexibility and just don’t clear the windshield effectively. Worn wiper blades aren’t just a safety hazard; they can also scratch your windshield. That may require replacing the entire windshield – a big cost for such a little part.
AutoNetTV recommends you replace worn blades right away. Your local service center can provide you with a quality replacement blade. They cost about the same as they would at the store – but installation is included at the service center.
Of course you also need washer fluid to help your blades do their work. Even though Cambridge Auto will top off the washer fluid with a full service oil change, it is a good idea to have some extra fluid at home. It’s a good idea to keep a bottle in the car if you’re on a road trip.
Always use windshield washer fluid. Plain water, even that fancy French bottled water, just doesn’t cut it. It can freeze in the fluid reservoir or on the windshield itself, making things worse. Besides, water won’t do as good job of cleaning your windows.
So follow these tips to keep your windshield clear and your eye on the road.
Find us at:
9823 Fredericksburg Road
San Antonio, Texas 78240
Posted in the Maintenance category
Have you ever gone to San Antonio to listen to an orchestra? The musicians take the stage early and tune their instruments. Each individual instrument must be in tune, but the critical thing is for the entire orchestra to be in tune with each other. That's why they tune up together.
Now this is no surprise; I'm going to relate the orchestra to your car. Your engine has many component systems that each need to be working properly. And the components need to be working in sync, all timed up together in order for the engine to work efficiently.
We call this, (ta-da) a tune-up. When an orchestra's out of tune you get a bad concert. When your vehicle's out of tune you get bad performance and bad fuel economy.
So check your owner's manual for recommended tune-up intervals. Or ask your San Antonio service advisor at Cambridge Auto what he thinks.
...Just be careful not to say you want to make beautiful music together – that kinda makes us uncomfortable.
Posted in the Fuel System category
There was a man in San Antonio who learned that most car accidents occur within a mile of home – so he moved. (Just Kidding!)
When we think of defensive driving, we often focus on our local Texas highway situations. The fact of the matter is we need to be just as careful close to home in San Antonio, because that's where we do most of our driving. We can't let our familiar surroundings keep us from driving defensively.
Defensive driving begins with the proper attitude. Have in mind that you won't let anyone take your safety away from you. You'll be aware of your surroundings, road conditions, other vehicles and hazards. And the first person to be concerned with is you: start with your own environment.
Don't leave without securing all occupants including children and pets. Watch for loose items that can become projectiles during evasive maneuvers.
Driving too fast or too slow increases the chance of an accident.
Never drive impaired: Alcohol is a factor in half of all fatal crashes. Never drink and drive.
Other impairments include being sleepy, angry, daydreaming or talking. If you suddenly wonder how you got where you are – you're not paying enough attention.
Keep your windows clean and uncluttered. No fuzzy dice and stickers.
Keep your car in good shape so that it handles properly: Maintain tires, lights, brakes, suspension, wheel alignment and steering.
Always use your turn signals while driving around San Antonio Texas. Avoid other vehicles' blind spots.
Don't drive faster than your headlights – if you can't stop within the distance you can see, you're going too fast.
Avoid driving over debris in the road. Even harmless looking items can cause damage or an accident.
Keep your wheels straight when waiting to turn at an San Antonio Texas intersection. That way if you're hit from behind, your car won't be pushed into on-coming traffic.
My daddy always said that when you drive, you're actually driving five cars: yours, the one in front, the one behind and the ones on either side. You can't trust that other drivers will do the right thing, so you've got to be aware of what they're doing at all times.
If you see another car driving erratically, weaving, crossing lanes, etc., stay back. Take the next right turn if you're downtown San Antonio, or take the next exit on the Texas highway. Notify the police if you see someone driving dangerously in our San Antonio community.
Never follow too close. The minimum distance is the two second rule. Pick a landmark ahead, like a tree or road marker. When the car in front of you passes it, start counting: 'one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand'. If you pass the landmark before reaching two-one-thousand, you're following too close.
Remember that the two second rule is the minimum – it assumes you're alert and aware. Three seconds is safer. Move out to five seconds or more if it's foggy or rainy.
Someone will inevitably move into your forward safety zone – just drop back and keep a safe distance.
If someone follows you too closely, just move over.
Don't play chicken by contesting your right of way or race to beat someone to a merge. Whoever loses that contest has the potential to lose big and you don't want any part of that. So stay alert, constantly scan around your car and arrive safely.
9823 Fredericksburg Road
San Antonio, Texas 78240
Posted in the Steering category
Let me start by saying that your wheel bearings keep the wheels on your vehicle. Did that get your attention? In this article we’ll discuss more about wheel bearings and how you can keep them doing their very important job while you drive around Boerne Texas.
Come see us at: 9823 Fredericksburg Road San Antonio, Texas 78240
Wheel bearings are pretty simple parts. They’re made of high quality steel and are engineered to last 100,000 miles or more if properly cared for. The bearings do two very important jobs: First they allow the wheel to freely rotate with as little friction as possible. Second, they support the weight of the vehicle. For example, if your car weighs 3,600 pounds, each wheel has to support approximately 900 pounds. That’s a lot of heavy lifting over many, many thousands of miles.
Even though wheel bearings are relatively simple, they need to be in near perfect condition to do their job. The bearings are packed with heavy grease to lubricate and protect them. A seal keeps the grease in and water and dirt out. It’s when the seal starts to leak that problems begin. The grease can become contaminated; causing the wheel bearings to overheat and ultimately fail.
The first sign that your wheel bearings are in trouble is an unusual noise coming from a wheel. It could be a chirping, growling, rumbling or a cyclic sound. The noise could get louder or even disappear at certain speeds. Your technician at Cambridge Auto can inspect for bearing wear by lifting the vehicle and checking for play in the wheel.
Now some wheel bearing assemblies are factory sealed. That means that they cannot be serviced – they can only be replaced. Those that aren’t sealed can be serviced on schedule. The bearings are removed, cleaned and inspected. If the bearings are still good, they’re re-installed – if not, they’re replaced. They are then packed in grease and a new seal is installed.
If your vehicle has a factory sealed wheel bearing assembly, the entire assembly needs to be replaced when trouble arises. Unfortunately, the parts are pretty pricy – but they usually last about 150,000 miles as long as the seals hold up.
Now, even a good seal cannot keep out water that’s exerting pressure on the seal. So if you’ve driven through hub deep water your bearings should be cleaned and repacked if they’re serviceable. If you have factory sealed bearings, you just need to watch for signs of premature failure.
If your wheel bearings can be serviced, your owner’s manual will recommend an interval, usually around 30,000 miles.
Now, if you have any sort of trailer, don’t forget its wheel bearings. They probably need to be serviced even more frequently. This is especially true for boat trailers that are used to launch the boat by backing it into the water. These should be serviced every year, usually at the end of the season so that the bearings don’t have the opportunity to sit and rust all winter.
So what happens if wheel bearings fail? Well, the wheel can literally fall off the vehicle. I don’t need to tell you how bad that could be. So check with your service advisor at Cambridge Auto and see if your vehicle’s wheel bearings can be serviced and when it’s recommended. Listen for warning signs. If you’ve been fording streams or puddle surfing after rainstorms, be especially vigilant.
Come by Cambridge Auto for a wheel bearing inspection, or for transmission service and repair. Call for an appointment at 210-697-9600
Posted in the Tires and Wheels category
Your sedan requires plenty of clean fuel to run. If your fuel contains contaminants, your fuel injectors will eventually become clogged up. When this happens, your sedan engine may not get the proper amount of fuel at the correct pressure to run at peak performance. This hurts fuel economy and performance as you drive around San Antonio. It can also lead to the buildup of harmful deposits on valves and in the combustion chamber.
That’s why all vehicles, including sedans, come equipped with a fuel filter somewhere between the engine and the fuel tank. The job of the filter is to clean out little pieces of dirt and contamination. The filter captures the contaminants and keeps them out of the fuel stream. Of course, like all filters, it will eventually get clogged up and need to be replaced at Cambridge Auto in San Antonio .
If your fuel filter is clogged, the sedan engine can’t get all the fuel it needs, and it may sputter at high speeds or quick acceleration. Many fuel filters have a bypass valve that will allow unfiltered fuel through when they are clogged. This keeps your sedan engine running, but doesn’t protect it from contaminated fuel.
You may find that you need to change your fuel filter at Cambridge Auto more frequently as your sedan ages. Over the years, additional sediment and rust accumulates in the fuel tank and can be drawn into the fuel system. Your fuel filter stands guard at the gates to your engine to protect expensive parts and to maintain performance and fuel economy.
Posted in the Fuel System category
Today we want to talk about a very important system in our cars – the cooling system. It’s one of those things that you don’t give much thought to until it fails and then you’re stranded by the side of the road.
Cooling systems fail more often than any other mechanical system – usually because of neglect. Don’t you hate it when something breaks, and you could have done something to prevent it?
The good news is that if you take care of your cooling system it can keep working for the life of your car.
Here at AutoNetTV, we emphasize preventive maintenance services like replacing your coolant according to the factory schedule. But the various parts that make up the cooling system need attention too. The major components of the cooling system are the water pump, freeze plugs, the thermostat, the radiator, cooling fans, the heater core, the pressure cap, the overflow tank and the hoses.
It sounds complicated, but we don’t have to be experts – we can leave that to our friendly service technicians at Cambridge Auto. But, having an overview will help us remember to take care of our cooling systems.
Most people would be surprised to know that burning fuel in your engine produces up to 4,500 degrees of heat. And all that heat has to be dealt with. If the heat can’t be drawn off the engine, the pistons will literally weld themselves to the inside of the cylinders – then you just have to throw the engine away and get a new one. That would cost thousands of dollars.
Now the water pump is what forces the coolant through passages in the engine to absorb heat. The pump is driven by a belt that needs replacement from time to time. And the water pump will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. Spending some money on replacing the belts and water pump is much less than the cost of repairing the massive damage that can be done when an engine seizes.
There’s another little part of the coolant system that protects the engine. It’s called a freeze plug. If you remember from high school chemistry, water expands when it freezes. In very cold areas, the coolant can actually freeze when the vehicle is left sitting.
It is hard to believe, but the expanding frozen coolant can actually crack the engine block. The freeze plugs fit into the engine block. They fit tight enough to withstand the pressure of a running engine, but can expand or pop out if the coolant freezes. These little things save a lot of engine blocks.
That brings up a good point. An engine has to work in all kinds of temperatures – extremely hot as well as very cold. How does the cooling system adapt to external temperatures as well as varying operating conditions?
Well, it’s much like the way you keep your house at a comfortable temperature all year round – with a thermostat. The thermostat in your car controls how much coolant flows through your engine. When the engine is cold, it restricts coolant flow until the engine comes up to an efficient operating temperature. Then it starts opening up to move more coolant to keep the temperature within a specified range.
The thermostat needs to be replaced from time to time as well. It’s easy to diagnose a failed thermostat and is fairly inexpensive to replace. We can do this for you at Cambridge Auto in San Antonio, just give us a call: 210-697-9600. Now we’ve been talking about all this heat we’ve got to get rid of, but haven’t really talked about where it goes. That’s where the radiator comes in. The hot coolant passes through the radiator. Air flows past the cooling fins and cools the coolant.
The radiator has two tanks that hold coolant: sometimes one the top and bottom or one on either side. If you have an automatic transmission, one of the tanks will also contain a second tank that cools the transmission fluid. Large SUV’s and trucks often have a separate transmission cooler. So when you drive around San Antonio, the air is forced past the radiator. But driving doesn’t produce enough air flow. So the radiator has cooling fans that force fresh air over the radiator. These fans may be powered by a belt or by electric motors.
Now, you also have something called a heater core. The heater core is like a mini radiator. A small fan blows air over the heater core and into the passenger compartment of your vehicle. That’s how you warm your car when it’s cold out.
Next is the radiator cap. With most newer cars around San Antonio, you never remove the radiator cap, except to replace it. You add coolant through the overflow tank. The radiator cap is also called a pressure cap, because its job is to maintain pressure in the cooling system.
High pressure raises the boiling point of the coolant, so it cools more effectively even in very demanding conditions. That is why you need to replace the cap from time to time. They recommend changing it out every time you replace your coolant.
Coming back to the overflow tank, it is needed because when the coolant gets hot it expands and the overflow holds the extra volume. The tank helps maintain the proper level of coolant and keeps air out of the system. You should never open the radiator cap or over flow tank when the engine is hot. This could lead to serious burns.
What else do we need to do to keep our cooling systems working well? Well, there are the hoses that hook all of these pieces together. They’re obviously very tough to deal with the pressure and high temperatures. But they do get worn. Sometimes they get spongy from the heat. Sometimes they lose their connection to the radiator, water pump, etc. It’s a great idea to have your San Antonio service center inspect your hoses at least once a year and replace them, if needed, before they break.
Cambridge Auto can help you check your cooling system and make any necessary adjustments or repairs. Give us a call at 210-697-9600.
Posted in the Cooling System category
Did you know that most of the cars driving around San Antonio Texas carry more computer power than the Apollo 121 Lunar Module that landed on the moon in 1969?
New cars sold in the San Antonio area have as many as twelve networked computers and over five miles (eight kilometers) of wiring. In fact, for the last decade or so, auto computers have been controlling about 85 percent of your vehicle's functions.
Cars have sensors for manifold air temperature, coolant temperature, manifold air pressure, airflow, throttle position, vehicle speed and oxygen content. All of this electronic wizardry is pretty complicated. So how do you know when there is a problem?
It's simple; the Check Engine light comes on. The computer monitors all the sensors and uses that information to decide what to adjust such as the fuel mix, spark timing and idle speed. In addition, the computer monitors its own circuits. When it finds a fault, it turns on the Check Engine light and stores a trouble code in the computer.
It can be pretty disturbing when the Check Engine light comes on. We wonder just how urgent it is. Generally speaking, it is not critical like a temperature or oil pressure light. When you get one of those it means STOP NOW! When the Check Engine light shows up, you should come in to our service center at Cambridge Auto to find out what the matter is as soon as possible.
Since 1996, there has been a strong emissions control component to the Check Engine diagnostic. But if your Check Engine light flashes on and off, you know that it is more urgent and you need to get it checked immediately to prevent damage. You should slow down and avoid towing or heavy loads until you can get it checked out.
Your technician at Cambridge Auto has special diagnostic equipment that will retrieve the trouble code from the computer and help him determine what is wrong. From there, we can fix it and get you back on the road.
Stop by if you're check engine light is on.
9823 Fredericksburg Road
San Antonio, Texas 78240
Posted in the Dashboard category
Today we want to talk about timing belts. They’re something that many San Antonio drivers don’t know much about and yet your vehicle won’t run if it’s broken – and it could cause many thousands of dollars damage if it does break. A broken timing belt is usually a tale of woe. Even though timing belt replacement is scheduled in the owner’s manual, it’s not the kind of thing that most San Antonio car owners remember because it’s not well understood.
Let’s review what a timing belt does. As you know, the engine’s power is generated in the cylinders. A piston rides up and down in the cylinder. During the first down stroke, an intake valve at the top of the cylinder opens and air and fuel is drawn into the cylinder. Then the piston returns to the top, compressing the fuel and air mix. At the top, the spark plug fires, igniting the fuel pushing the piston down in the power stroke. As the piston once again returns up in the final stroke of the cycle, an exhaust valve opens at the top of the cylinder and the exhaust is pushed out. The timing belt is what coordinates the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves. It’s called a timing belt because the valves have to open and close at just the right time.
Now, not all Boerne and Kirby vehicles have timing belts. Some have timing chains. Like the name implies, they use a chain rather than a belt to perform the function. It used to be that most engines used timing chains, which are extremely durable. Manufacturers started using belts rather than chains to save money in the manufacturing process. So now we're left with a component that can break. They sort of shifted the problem to us. There are two broad categories of engine design: interference and non-interference. If the timing belt on a non-interference engine breaks, the engine simply stops running. That could be very dangerous depending on where you are at the time, but it causes no internal engine damage.
Interference engines, on the other hand, will get real messed up when the timing belt breaks, because the valves will actually fall down into the path of the pistons. Things get chewed up when that happens and it’ll cost thousands to repair the engine.
So, what are the warning signs? Unfortunately, there really aren’t any. There aren’t tell-tale sounds. In some vehicles, a technician from Cambridge Auto may be able to see part of the belt for a visual inspection, but many have a cover that’s in the way. The reality is that if the belt slips even one notch, it might as well be broken for all the damage it’ll cause. There’s no middle ground.
So how can we avoid these problems? Simply replace the timing belt when your owner’s manual calls for it. It can be 60,000 miles; it might be 90,000 or 100,000 miles. The point is, if you have 60,000 or more miles, ask your Cambridge Auto service advisor right away if your manufacturer requires a timing belt replacement.
Contact Cambridge Auto to learn more about your car's Timing Belt
You can find us at:
9823 Fredericksburg Road
San Antonio, Texas 78240
Or call us at 210-697-9600
Sometimes you can go quite a while without a failure, but we’ve seen them happen within a couple of oil changes of being due. It’s not worth the risk.
What does it cost to replace a timing belt in Kirby or all of South Texas? Well, that really depends on what kind of car you have. I can tell you that it’s usually not very easy to get to the timing belt – you often have to remove some accessories to get at it. It isn’t a cheap procedure, but it’s a fraction of what it could cost to repair the damage caused by a failure.
At Cambridge Auto we’re all about trying to prevent costly repairs, keeping you and your passengers safe and increasing your driving enjoyment. Thanks to AutoNetTV for their great auto video tips.
Posted in the Parts category
Your car is important to you and keeping it running is vital to your San Antonio lifestyle. That's why you should have it serviced regularly at Cambridge Auto. And even though it may just be routine maintenance, you want it done right.
It's also very important to your San Antonio service center to keep you happy and on the road. You might be surprised at the amount of money our San Antonio service center spends every year to make sure our technicians are properly trained.
Cambridge Auto offers a variety of car care services to many kinds of vehicles. We need to be up to date on the latest techniques and parts so that they can care for your car properly. Our San Antonio centers subscribe to data services that list the high quality parts and fluids recommended by your manufacturer.
And each service has a checklist of standard procedures. Cambridge Auto technicians follow these procedures so they can safely deliver a consistent level of high-quality service.
Some services require the use of specialized equipment. Cambridge Auto technicians are trained extensively on this equipment so that they can service your car quickly and efficiently.
Classroom, video and hands-on training is provided by the company and outside trainers. It's not only important that service technicians be able to perform a given task, they also need to be thoroughly trained in inspection and diagnostic techniques. One of the great services they perform is to spot potential problems before they become serious.
The automotive service industry has standards for classifying and communicating problems to customers. For example, it's one thing to learn that your manufacturer recommends that you change your serpentine belt every 30,000 miles and another to learn that the belt is on the verge of failure. These standards help you understand the urgency of recommendations, letting you make better service decisions.
You may be interested to know that service technicians are trained in compliance with federal and local San Antonio laws and regulations, including environmental regulations regarding the disposal of used parts and fluids.
It's the goal of our San Antonio service center to provide fast, courteous service. You should feel free to ask your technician or one of the managers about your service or for more information about their recommendations.
Well-trained service providers, established procedures, industry standards, and, of course, AutoNetTV, combine to give you the best service experience possible.
Posted in the Maintenance category
Sometimes we hear people say, "What's up with all this maintenance stuff? Modern cars just don't break down." While it is true that today's cars and trucks are extremely reliable, they are also becoming increasingly complicated and use more exotic materials than ever before. All that complexity demands higher tolerances for everything. For example, most folks don't realize how high tech automotive fluids have become. Fluids like, engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant and brake fluid.
Did you know that a modern engine would not run for more than a few months using motor oil formulas from 30 years ago? Today's automotive fluids contain a much higher percentage of additives to protect your vehicle's components from premature wear and corrosion. Time and miles march on for all of our cars. Please don't think we're using scare tactics to get you to take care of your maintenance - but here are some personal stories from AutoNetTV staff members to emphasize the importance of getting things done when they are due. Names are withheld to avoid embarrassment to those who should know better. Even though they should know better, it usually comes down to real life: time and budget. But they are tales of a stitch in time saves nine.
The first comes from a staffer who bought a used pick-up truck for his son. The oil was clean and all the fluids were topped off. A short time later, the truck overheated on the highway and shut down. The repair shop diagnosed the problem: the radiator pan was corroded and dumped the coolant. Even though the coolant level was correct, it was clear that the coolant had never been exchanged - just topped off from time to time. While this kept the engine cool, all of the anti-corrosion additives had worn out; the coolant became acidic and ate through the radiator pan. The cost: hundred of dollars and four days in the shop. This demonstrates the need to get your coolant exchanged on schedule.
Another story involves the true cost of skipping an annual inspection. Our staffer took his SUV in for the Texas safety inspection to renew his registration. At the inspection station, he learned that the law had changed and that his newer rig only required an inspection every two years. He was very happy to save the $45 bucks. The problem was, his rear brake pads were very worn. Two months later, it was bad enough that he could hear the grind - over the radio, DVD player and the kids. He took it in to get the bad news. Both of the rear brake rotors were damaged. The left one could be resurfaced. The right had to be replaced. So saving a few bucks on his safety inspection turned into an extra $500 over what brake pad replacement would have been. Moral of the story: don't skip your annual inspections. The irony is that many San Antonio service centers would have done a brake inspection for free.
Next: a teenage daughter and a curb. Daddy's little princess smacked a curb when she turned into a shopping center and popped the tire. The problem came when Dad didn't get an alignment. The impact was hard enough to ruin the tire - so it was hard enough wreck the alignment. But instead of an alignment after the first tire, Papa ended up buying a second tire a few months later - and then an alignment.
Situation: son and wife with cars from the same manufacturer with essentially the same engine. Our staffer checked the son's maintenance schedule and saw that it needed a timing belt replacement at 90,000 miles/145,000 km. He had it done - it cost several hundred dollars. His wife's car had about 60,000 miles/97,000 km, so it should be ok for a while. Right? Wrong. The problem was that the wife had the turbo charged version. Its belt was scheduled for replacement at 60,000 mi/97,000 km. At 63,000 mi./101,000 km, the belt snapped on the interstate. The valves all crashed down into the cylinders at high speed and the entire head was shredded and had to be replaced. The cost: several thousand dollars. Does he wish he had checked the maintenance schedule? You bet he does - every time he passes a big-screen TV.
We're talking about taking care of little things before they become big things. And when you take care of the little things, your car runs better and is more economical to operate. Remember to save those maintenance records. It'll show potential buyers that you've taken care of your vehicle and it will help you get a better price. Or when you buy a used car, check those records. If there aren't any, assume that the maintenance hasn't been done and take it to your Kirby or all of South Texas service center for an inspection. Take care of unperformed maintenance sooner rather than later.
Posted in the Maintenance category