Important Auto News

Spiteri's Complete Auto Service

Chilly Warning (Diagnosing a Noise in Cold Vehicle)

When the weather gets colder, sometimes the noises your vehicle makes will change.  For example, you may notice a whining sound when you get going in the morning.  It may go away when the vehicle warms up, but it's best not to ignore that sound because it could be a warning of worse things to come.

Colder temperatures cause different components to behave differently.  Let's take a look at a few of them.  First, the fluids in your vehicle.  Cold temperatures can make them behave a little differently, such as engine oil, transmission fluid and power steering fluid. Those characteristics could change if the fluids are older and full of contaminants.

Belts also can create a whining noise when cold.  Since they turn pulleys that move other things, several factors can create issues.  Increased friction can change proper tensions on belts.  Plus, belts change as they age and may crack, get loose or develop a glazed surface. Belts and pulleys also must be aligned properly to work the way they're designed to.

As you can imagine, it's easier for a technician to diagnose a noise if the vehicle is making it.  And if a vehicle only makes a noise when it's cold, that sound may be gone by the time the vehicle makes it to the repair facility.  That means a driver may have to consider dropping off the vehicle the night before so the technician can be the first to start it the following morning.  Most service facilities can accommodate that with either a drop-off box or other arrangement.  Heed your vehicle's warning when you start to hear unusual noises.  That's a cool idea you should be able to easily warm up to.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Weather Station on Wheels (Vehicle Sensor Maintenance)

You probably never thought about it, but your vehicle is like a rolling weather station.  It can check the outside temperature, let you know when the roads are slippery and help you deal with rain. And how it does all those things is pretty cool.

First, just like any weather station, a vehicle has sensors that measure the driving and weather conditions you find yourself in.  Some of those sensors can control computerized systems in your vehicle to react to the weather.  It depends on whether you have a 2-wheel, 4-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle how those sensors will respond.

Let's start with temperature.  Most vehicles now have a thermometer that measures the temperature outside.  It's usually in the front, and likely will tell you on the instrument panel what the outside temperature measures.  But a temperature sensor will also tell your vehicle's computers to turn on or off certain systems like the heating or air conditioning.  If your ambient temperature sensor isn't working right, some symptoms are a malfunctioning automatic A/C or a temperature display that is way different than the app on your phone says it should be.

Your vehicle will also have sensors that measure your speed at each wheel.  They work with an onboard computer to measure slippage in any of the wheels so traction control and antilock brakes work correctly in case of slick roads.

Your vehicle can measure something called longitudinal and latitudinal acceleration, and it uses a yaw sensor to do it.  That helps it determine if you might be in an oversteering or understeering situation.  It's important because it works with your vehicle's brakes to apply stopping power to keep you in control.

A steering wheel sensor tells the vehicle's computers what the driver is doing with the wheel.  It also can work with those wheel sensors to measure how slippery the roads are, whether it be due to a wet (rain) or granular (gravel or sand) surface.  By sending different torque or braking to each wheel, it helps the driver maintain control.

More and more vehicles now have a rain sensor that can turn on the wipers automatically when they measure precipitation on the windshield.

So, you're driving your own weather station, and making sure all this data is coming in properly depends on how each component is working.  Regular service and maintenance on these systems is important to make sure they can do their job. Your rolling weather station can't predict the weather, but it can sure help you deal with it, so help it do its job right.


Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Spiteri's Auto Service Often Asked About Premium vs. Regular Gas

Belmont residents often ask the question: "Will using premium gas make my car run better?" The answer is simple. But first, let's talk about what exactly premium gasoline is.

Different grades of gasoline have different octane ratings. Regular gasoline has the lowest octane rating and premium the highest. Most gas stations around Belmont, CA, also carry a mid-grade that falls in between the two. The octane range for the different grades of gas varies by region due to altitude differences.

Engines require different octane ratings because of design differences. For example, turbocharged engines usually require premium gas.

There's a sticker on your gas tank filler lid that tells you the minimum octane rating your vehicle manufacturer recommends.

For help identifying the type of gasoline your engine needs, come by Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Keys to a Long Lasting Vehicle



We live in a disposable society. Everything from elaborate packaging to our clothing. Even cell phones are disposable. When replacement is cheaper than repair, the term "built to last" goes by the wayside. An exception is our vehicles. They're still a very big investment and Belmont drivers want to make them last as long as possible.  We also want to make keeping them running as cheap as possible. When talking vehicles, it's all about preventive maintenance. There is an old saying that says, "A stitch in time saves nine," and that is really true when it comes to taking care of your vehicle. A great example is coolant service in Belmont.

Your coolant not only protects your engine from overheating and freezing, it must also protect cooling system components from corrosion. Over time, coolant becomes corrosive and actually starts to damage your radiator and other parts. That's why you need to have your cooling system serviced on a regular schedule.

The same is true for your power steering system, brake fluid, air conditioning system, differential and transmission. And of course, Belmont vehicle owners shouldn't forget those oil changes right on schedule. Skipping even one change can start the build up of harmful oil sludge.

Our engines are full of gaskets and seals. Fresh fluids condition those gaskets and seals to keep them from drying out and leaking. Automotive fluids contain additives that help clean and lubricate the various systems they protect. Over time, the additives are used up and the fluid just does not provide the protection it did when it was fresh. And don't forget the mechanical systems. Changing brake pads before they are worn to the point that they cause damage to rotors is a great way to keep your operating costs down.

Replacing serpentine belts and timing belts on schedule is much cheaper for Belmont drivers than repairing the damage that can be caused by failure. Also, air filters, fuel filters, PCV valves and batteries are all important. Regular wheel alignments, tire rotation and balancing will make your tires last longer. And don't forget to replace your shocks and struts when they wear out. Your fuel system needs regular cleaning to keep running well, prevent mechanical damage and improve fuel economy.

Now this is a lot to remember for Belmont drivers - too much, really. But it is your Belmont automotive technician's job to keep on top of this stuff. At Spiteri's Auto Service we can tell you what your manufacturer recommends and help you with a plan to take care of it. We can advise you about which  maintenance schedule you should use - the regular schedule or the severe service schedule - depending on the kind of driving you do. We also know the right fluids for your vehicle and may even suggest higher mileage formulations for your older vehicle.

Bottom line - take care of this stuff on schedule and you will reduce operating costs, prevent damage and maintain your warranty coverage.

Of course, you want your vehicle to look as good as it runs. Regular washing will prevent rust and protect your finish. Take advantage of cleaners, waxes and protectants for your interior and tires. Your vehicle will look great and you'll be proud to drive it longer.

Most of us in Belmont can't afford to throw away our car when it breaks down. By budgeting for regular preventive maintenance, we can prevent many inconvenient - and expensive - problems down the road, and can keep driving "old faithful" for years to come.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Do you have a Clue (Get the Most Out of a Service Visit)

When you head to the doctor, you probably have it in your mind what you're going to say about why you don't feel good.  That way your doctor can use that information to diagnose your problem. You might want to think of that same approach when you take your vehicle in for a repair.

Experts say what will help the service advisor most is for you to bring in some well-organized descriptions about your vehicle's issues.  You might even want to write them down so you don't forget.  Is there an unusual smell?  What does it smell like?  Does the problem happen first thing after starting out? If there's an odd sound you hear, is it dependent on speed?  Does it change when you turn a corner?  

Keep your expectations realistic.  Some conditions may take a long time to diagnose and repair.  If you go thinking you'll be in and out in no time, you might be disappointed when you're told there are other customers ahead of you and you may have to come back tomorrow.  If you can make alternate plans to have someone pick you up and take you back when the vehicle is finished, that way you won't feel like you've wasted your time. 

Most importantly, be available for any communication from the service advisor.  If they have your cell phone and they have a question or need an approval for a repair, the sooner they reach you, the sooner things can move forward. 

The service facility wants your experience with them to be good just as you do.  With a little help from you, they'll get your vehicle back on the road and you'll have a smile on your face.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

The Flat Fix that Fits (Tire Repairs)

Can you think of anyone who likes getting a flat tire?  Of course not.  But when one of your tires winds up with a flat or leak, whether it be from things like hitting a curb, running over a nail or picking up a sharp stone, it's time to have someone who knows what they're doing take care of it.

If you're thinking you'd like to avoid having to buy a new tire, you wonder if a patch or plug will suffice.  It depends where the puncture is and how big the hole is.  Most tire experts will say if the hole in the tire is less than ¼ of an inch or 6 mm, a patch can work.  But a patch likely won't work if the compromised part of the tire is on its shoulder or sidewall.

Here's why.  The shoulder of a tire is the part between the sidewall and tread and it's usually rounded.  It's under a lot of pressure, more than even the sidewalls. And because of that curved shape, it's hard to get a patch or plug to hold.

The sidewall is the side of the tire.  Sidewalls flex a lot when you drive, and the strain can cause a patch or plug to loosen up.  A weak spot in a sidewall is much more likely to fail and cause a blowout.  So if you have damage in the sidewall or shoulder, that tire is a good candidate for replacement, not repair.

If you have a cut or gash in your tire, it's possible the cords that strengthen your tire have also been cut.  That weak spot can spell trouble, and this type of damage usually means you should get a new one.

Your service advisor can tell you what the appropriate action is to take when you have tire damage.  You may be able to get good results with a patch, or you may have to replace one or more tires.  Your safety is riding on them.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

A Door No One Can Step Through (Fuel Door Repair and Maintenance)

Your vehicle has lots of doors including that one usually near the back on the vehicle's side.  That's the fuel door, something you use every time you gas up.  These endure hundreds of open-and-close cycles, usually without any problems.  But when they act up, it can be a major inconvenience for you.

When they stick in the "open" position, it can present real dilemma.  You can still pump your gas, but do you just drive around with that flap sticking out the side? What happens if someone steals the gas cap or it gets damaged? What happens if it rains? Yep, it's decision time.

A fuel door that sticks open can be due to a number of factors.  The hinge on the door may have broken, possibly from corrosion or it may have been hit sometime.  Some vehicles have a cable that operates the door and it could be loose.  The latch that holds the door shut could have broken or it, too, could be bent from something hitting it. 

You probably want to take care of this sometime soon since your gas cap is wide open and unprotected when the door doesn't shut.  Plus, it's possible that the door could be torn off completely.  Often a stuck open fuel door can be fixed fairly inexpensively and quickly depending on the type of mechanism your vehicle has. Looks like it's an open and shut case.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

In a Fog (Fogged Windows in Cold Weather)

It's bad enough in cold weather when ice and snow block your visibility.  Add to that fog on the inside of your windows and you could be driving blind.  So here are a few tips on how to keep your windows from fogging up when there's a chill in the air.

You probably know fog is really condensation, when moist, warm air meets a cold surface and turns to liquid.  If your windshield fogs up, you probably turn on your windshield defroster. Most defrosters blow heated air on the windshield glass to warm it up so it won't condense the moisture.  Many also turn on the air conditioning to reduce the moisture. 

That same strategy can work on the rest of the windows.  First, turn up your heater's temperature setting.  The hotter the air, the more moisture it will hold.  Also, turn off the "recirculating" setting since you want all outside air to come in. Then switch on the air conditioning.  It will remove the moisture from the outside  air that it's blowing inside the cabin.  Try cracking a couple of windows to make it easier for the air to flow. This should do the trick pretty quickly. 

There's one other thing to try.  Many vehicles have electric heater elements embedded in the rear window glass (the rear window defroster) and in the outside rearview mirror glass. Make sure to turn those on, too; sometimes they're on the same switch.

For all of these things to work, of course, your vehicle's components have to be maintained so they'll do the things they're designed to do.  And you didn't think it was important to have your air conditioning working in the cold weather months! 

One final tip.  Keep the insides of your windows CLEAN.  Oil and dirt on the glass give the water molecules something to latch on to.  That ought to clear up this problem.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Tacky or Techie? The Tachometer.

There's a gauge that many vehicles have that says RPM on it.  And there are a lot of people who either don't pay any attention to it or don't even know what it is. Here's why it's a good gauge to know about.

It's called a tachometer, and that "RPM" label means it is measuring how many revolutions per minute (RPM) the engine is turning.  Automotive experts know that a vehicle's engine can be damaged if it turns too fast (revving too high) or too slowly ("lugging" the engine).

A tachometer (sometimes called a tach) is almost a "must-have" gauge for vehicles with a manual transmission; the driver has to manually change gears; the tach helps the driver know when revolutions are in the optimal range.

Some say you don't need a tachometer if you drive a vehicle with an automatic transmission. It's true that most drivers of automatics don't even look at it.  But there are times when paying attention to the tach can help you prevent an expensive repair.

Here's a good example.  Manufacturers now build many of their automatic transmission vehicles with shift paddles.  They let you shift gears without a clutch. That's manual shifting, and drivers need to know they're not revving the engine too high. That's where the tachometer comes in, since it shows you visually when you are in the red zone (RPM too high).

Here's another way the tach can help you: fuel economy. Generally speaking, the lower the RPM, the better the fuel economy. It's not good to go too low, of course, and the tachometer will help you find that spot of maximum efficiency.

You can also spot problems by paying attention to the tach.  When your vehicle stays in first gear longer than usual (higher reading on the tach), then the RPM dip lower than usual after shifting, it may be that your vehicle's transmission is skipping a gear.  Plus, if your vehicle's RPM go up but your speed doesn't, it could mean your transmission is slipping.  Either situation should be checked by a trained technician.

If your commute takes you down some long grades, you might like to put your vehicle in a lower gear to help slow down the car (and not burn up the brakes). Having a tachometer keeps tabs on when your engine is revving too high.

So, consider the tachometer a "bonus" gauge.  It's one more helpful assistant that can help you spot and prevent problems in your vehicle.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Will Proper Auto Maintenance at Spiteri's Auto Service Really Save Gas?

Have you ever thought about all the little things we do to keep our lives running smoothly - like vacuuming? It makes a room feel fresher and more comfortable. We may not consider that we're also prolonging the life of the carpet by keeping it clean. But Belmont drivers don't always extend those good habits into the garage. Our vehicles need regular maintenance just like our rugs need vacuuming. We may not notice a difference in the feel or appearance of the vehicle, but just as cleaning a carpet carries the hidden reward of prolonging its life, maintaining our vehicles incurs a hidden reward that becomes noticeable at Belmont gas stations.

When it comes to reduced fuel economy, there are two culprits: increased friction and inefficient fuel combustion. That means that anything Belmont drivers can do to decrease friction and increase the efficiency of their engines will translate to savings on fuel. Friction increases the amount of energy it takes to move something. So if we can reduce friction, we can decrease the amount of fuel it takes to run our vehicles. Engine oil is usually at the heart of friction problems in an engine. Too little oil means parts are not getting lubricated, which increases friction; dirty oil doesn't lubricate as well as clean oil. So one secret to good fuel efficiency is to stay on top of oil changes. Don't skip them and don't procrastinate. The same auto advice applies to transmission fluid. Keep it full and keep it clean, and your vehicle will run with less friction and better fuel economy.

If your tires are underinflated, it increases the friction between the tire and the road. Again, there is increased drag, and it takes more fuel to move your vehicle. Belmont drivers should check their tire pressure every month and keep their tires properly inflated.

Alignment and brake problems can also increase friction. Besides saving fuel, keeping these systems in good repair has the added benefit of saving you on tires and brake pads. These items wear out more quickly when the alignment is off or when the brake system isn't in good working order. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Spiteri's Auto Service.

The second culprit that stealthily steals our gas is inefficient fuel combustion. It depends on the engine getting the right amount of clean fuel to the right place with the right pressure at the right time in the right pattern. The key to peak engine performance is to keep the fuel system clean. Varnish and gum can build up in a fuel system, which will interfere with the fuel injectors. The fuel injectors are responsible for all those “rights” we spoke of. If they're dirty, amounts, timing, pressure and spray patterns can all get out of whack. The result? Reduced fuel efficiency. A fuel system cleaning at Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont can get your injectors back on track, improving performance and efficiency.

There are a few other maintenance items that can improve your fuel economy. One is to replace your PCV valve when it gets sticky. This valve allows unburned fuel in your engine exhaust to return to the engine. Belmont drivers can also replace worn spark plugs and dirty fuel filters. A well-maintained vehicle will require fewer repairs and save at Belmont gas pumps.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

 

Combustion Choreography: Timing Belt Replacement at Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont

Have you ever seen a ballet performance? Have you wondered how all of those dancers manage to travel all over the stage jumping and twirling and never crash into each other? That's the job of a choreographer.

Our auto engines are also highly choreographed. Pistons travel up and down inside cylinders. Valves at the tops of the cylinders open to let air and fuel in or exhaust out. These valves have to open and close at precisely the right time or the engine will run poorly if at all. The movement of the valves and pistons must be in harmony with each other. This choreography is the job of the timing belt or timing chain.

Timing belts, or chains, rotate the shafts that control the opening and closing of the valves. Timing chains are metal and durable enough that they may never need to be replaced.

Most vehicles, however, use a timing belt. Timing belts are tough and flexible, and considering the work they do, they last a long time for Belmont auto owners . But they do wear out. If they break, the consequences for Belmont drivers can spell disaster.

No matter what kind of engine you have, a broken timing belt will cause the engine to shut down or will lead to major engine damage. But in some engines, the valves protrude down into the cylinders enough that if the timing belt breaks, the pistons can smash the valves, bending or breaking them. If the engine is spinning fast enough, the broken parts can then shred the cylinder head. This adds to thousands of dollars of engine damage.

The only way the damage can be avoided by Belmont auto owners is by replacing the timing belt on schedule. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend replacing the timing belt at 60,000 miles (100,000 kilometers), but others can go as long as 90,000 or 100,000 miles (145,000 to 160,000 kilometers). Check the schedule for preventive maintenance in your owner's manual. If you're due or overdue for a timing belt replacement, don't put it off. Get it done now at Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont.

Your friendly and knowledgeable Spiteri's Auto Service technicians probably aren't great dancers, but they can offer you some great auto advice on how to keep your engine properly choreographed. Don't hesitate to consult them about replacing your timing belt or any other car care concerns you may have.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Battery Replacement for Your vehicle

Modern vehicles in and around Belmont run on 12 volt electrical systems. 12 volts is enough to get the job done for Belmont drivers without having so much power that there is danger of electrocution. But today's vehicles have more electrical components and do-dads than ever before. This really strains your electrical system, making it hard for the battery to keep up. Think about it: electric seats, seat heaters, power locks windows and sun roofs. And then us CA drivers have all the power outlets for our cell phones, computers and DVD players.

We also have navigation systems and powerful stereos. Plus there are all the engine and transmission computers, traction control, stability control, anti-lock brakes, sensors and on and on. Even the security system is running off the battery while the car is turned off.

Fortunately, battery technology has given Belmont drivers resilient batteries that are able to meet these strenuous requirements. But the fact is, batteries just wear out over time. Eventually, every battery gets to the point where it cannot hold enough of a charge to start your vehicle. Sometimes batteries need to be replaced because they have just worn out. Or, in other cases, they have developed a leak which makes it even more important to get it replaced.

Special safety precautions are taken when working with batteries at Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont, CA. These precautions also apply to anyone who is poking around the battery. Batteries contain sulfuric acid that can damage your eyes and burn your skin, so safety glasses and rubber gloves are a must for any Belmont resident working with their battery. Be careful to not spill acid on your clothes or the vehicle's paint. Of course, avoid short circuiting the battery as well.

Sometimes there is quite a price range in Belmont auto part stores for batteries that will work in a particular car. Think of it as "good," "better" and "best." More expensive batteries have a longer warranty and are guaranteed to last longer. As with most things, paying a little more up front saves in the long run for Belmont drivers.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

 

ICE - In Case Of Emergency In Belmont CA

When accidents occur in Belmont, CA, the victims' emergency contacts are extremely important. Too often, those involved aren't able to provide rescuers with phone numbers and medical information.

When CA police and rescue workers must sift through pockets, glove compartments, wallets, purses and cell phone directories, they waste precious time.

In the unfortunate event that you are involved in an accident, you have people in the Belmont, CA, area who you'll want to be contacted to arrange help, give consent to treatment and inform Belmont paramedics of medical conditions, allergies or medications.

A brilliantly simple solution is now spreading through Belmont and around the globe: ICE. ICE – standing for In Case of Emergency – is a way to identify emergency contacts in your cell phone directory.

Simply put 'ICE' before a contact name in your cell phone, like 'ICE – Dad,' 'ICE – Nancy.' or 'ICE – Doctor Roberts.' Rescuers will be able to quickly identify your emergency contacts, saving valuable time.

Bob Brotchie, a Cambridge, England, paramedic came up with the idea and a promotional campaign in England in 2005. This idea is gaining attention in Belmont, CA, and in other countries. Belmont rescue workers all know of how many times they are unable to find a wallet or purse on an accident victim, yet most Belmont area folks over 14 years of age are seldom without their cell phone.

There are national and worldwide disaster databases, but participation can cost up to $200 a year. 'ICE' is free to the 276 million cell phone users in the U.S.

It is easy for you and your families to designate some ICE contacts in your cell phone. Remember to keep the listings current.

Please join Spiteri's Auto Service in getting the word out. Help us put Belmont, CA, on ICE!

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Don't Start with That (Bad Starter Motor)

We've all heard that expression, "That's a non starter." When it comes to your vehicle, that's not music to a driver's ears. That sickening sound when you start the ignition and instead of hearing the engine crank, you hear it slowly turn over and your dash lights go dim. 

There can be many reasons a vehicle won't start, so here's a little history of how the starter came to be an important component of modern vehicles.

You have to move the engine's components to start it. The first cars had a crank that the driver would insert into the front, then start turning things over by hand.  When the engine started, you had to release that crank immediately or risk a broken arm.  Yes, it happened many times.  So, they came up with a better idea: an electric starter, which was a big advance in automotive technology.

With this system, an electric motor rotated a series of gears that turned the gasoline engine's crankshaft so its pistons and parts moved and the engine drew in air.  While this happened, electricity went to the spark plugs and fuel headed to the cylinders.  When the gasoline engine caught, the starter quickly disengaged. Hey, no more broken arms!

Modern systems use the same principle, so when your vehicle won't start, here are a few things to look out for that might point to the starter. 

If the engine turns over s-l-o-w-l-y, it may mean the electric starter motor may just be wearing out and doesn't have enough cranking power.  Bushings, brushes, wire windings and a special switch called a commutator may be going bad.

If when you engage the ignition you hear a faint click, that could be a symptom one or more of the starter's components have failed. If you hear a loud click, it could mean that an electrical switch called a solenoid may not be switching the motor on.

If you hear your engine start to turn over but then it stops and is followed by a grinding sound, some gears may not be meshing the way they should.

There may be many more causes (bad alternator, relay, battery, engine, key fob), so this is when it's time to turn it over to your service facility.  Sometimes they can send out their own tow truck or recommend a reputable towing company.

But it's best not to let it get to this point.  Starter problems often give you advance warning that there is a problem with "almost" not starting or "almost" not turning over.  So when you see that very first sign, "start" on over to talk this one over with your service advisor.  The opposite of a "non-starter" is a starter, and that is music to anyone's ears.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Improve Your Night Vision When Driving in Belmont

Night driving in Belmont 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. Belmont 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. Belmont 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 Belmont 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 Spiteri'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 Belmont 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 Belmont. 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 Belmont.

Stay alert. Stay awake. And keep those headlamps burning bright.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

How to Radiate Cool (Radiator Care)

There's nothing that radiates cool like a vehicle radiator that's helping to keep your engine running at the proper temperature.  You don't have to baby it, but you can't simply ignore it, either. 

Let's take a quick dive under the hood to let you know what the radiator is doing.  It takes the heat your engine produces and moves that heat outside.  It's not an easy job and heat is an engine's number one enemy.  Now that you're thinking how nice you want to be to your radiator, we have a couple of ideas how you can take care of it.

The easiest thing is to pay attention to your vehicle's temperature gauge. If it gets in the "too hot" or "not hot enough" range, have it checked out soon.  Make sure your coolant is kept at the correct level and if you see a trend that you have to add coolant more than a couple of times a year, you might have a leak.

Even if there are no obvious problems, every couple of years or so, consider taking your vehicle in for radiator maintenance.  A technician can run a pressure check for leaks and ensure that the thermostat and radiator cap are working correctly.  The technician will check that fans are running like they should so they can move air over the radiator and heat away from the coolant inside.

Ask your service advisor when you should have your radiator flushed and coolant replaced according to the manufacturer's recommended intervals.  In addition to cooling, coolant has corrosion inhibitors which stop working after a while.  Without those corrosion inhibitors, the inside of your radiator can literally start rotting away.  Keep in mind that the coolant level must be kept at manufacturer's specifications since if those corrosion-preventing chemicals aren't touching the metal, they're not preventing corrosion. 

Different vehicles use different coolants, so your service facility will make sure yours is getting the correct one.  Keep your coolant system happy and one day, maybe you can order up a custom license plate, "RAY-D-8."

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Busting Automotive Myths in Belmont, CA

Myths passed around our Belmont, CA community start with a grain of evidence and are then built up with a lot of imagination and very elastic logic. And the internet is a breeding ground for automotive myths. Some bloggers recall the vehicles of yesteryear and declare their modern decedents to be virtually maintenance free and that anyone who says otherwise is out to rip you off.

To get the truth about auto myths you hear around the Belmont area, come over to Spiteri's Auto Service.


Let's examine a couple of the more popular rants and look at the truth behind them.

The first one is that the chassis no longer needs lubrication for suspension, steering and the driveline. They declare that anyone who has charged you for lubrication is a charlatan.

The truth on which this myth is based is that many new vehicles come from the factory with sealed joints and cannot be greased. However, there are still some grease points on many cars around Belmont. A grease fitting may have been installed in conjunction with a repair. And most trucks and truck-based SUVs driving in Belmont still require chassis lubrication. This is because they are more heavy duty and proper greasing is still required to keep them going.

Another common rant you'll hear around Belmont is that modern vehicles don't need tune-ups. That depends on your definition of a 'tune-up', which has changed as technology has progressed. Before engine control computers, electronic ignition and fuel injection, a tune up meant replacing mechanical parts that wore out. Service technicians at Spiteri's Auto Service would manually adjust fuel and air mix and timing. When these adjustments were off, spark plugs would foul and need to be replaced.

This definition just doesn't apply to modern vehicles. Service centers like Spiteri's Auto Service generally consider a tune-up to be the major service visit, recommended by your manufacturer, every 30,000 miles (50,000 kilometers) or so.

Of course you can't lubricate a sealed joint. Of course you can't adjust a carburetor if your car doesn't have one. You probably don't need to change spark plugs every year if your manufacturer says they can go 30,000 miles (50,000 kilometers). What are these bloggers getting so worked up about?

The danger with these modern-day myths is they prevent people in our local Belmont community from taking care of the routine preventive auto maintenance that manufactures recommend. Check out this partial list of things you still need to do to take care of your car. How many of them are really any different today than they were 20 or 30 years ago?

Oil change, cooling system service, transmission service, tire balancing, tire rotation, wheel alignment, suspension service, power steering service, proper tire inflation, brake service, differential service, battery maintenance, engine air filer, PCV valve, breather element, fuel filter, belts, hoses, timing belt, windshield wipers . . .

You get the picture. Your vehicle is still a machine that needs to be maintained. And, hey, your service advisors at Spiteri's Auto Service have always adapted to keep pace with automotive technology. Next time you come across an angry voice about your car care, talk to your Belmont service advisor at Spiteri's Auto Service, or do some research of your own.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

The Part You've Never Seen (Flat Tires and Solutions)

They say your vehicle has one, but you've never seen it.  And you might not even know it if you stumbled on it accidentally.

We're talking about the jack, that tool that allows you to lift one corner of the vehicle up so someone can change a flat tire.

So you say you'd never try to change a flat anyway, so you don't care where it is.  But one day, you may find yourself in a spot where you're stranded with no cell service and you'll need to at least know the basics of what to do.

Well, here's the ironic part.  Many of today's vehicles don't even have jacks and spares!  Recently, manufacturers have been saving weight by supplying another solution for a flat tire, such as an inflator kit that has a tire sealant in it, or a small compressor.  If your vehicle has one of those, it's a good idea to get to know how to use it before you need to use it.  Hopefully you'll be able to call roadside assistance and they can take care of things, but circumstances may prevent help from coming for a long time. The next time you're here at Spiteri's Auto Service for routine maintenance, ask one of our pros to show you the basics of your vehicle's flat tire tools.  Consider watching an online video, too; there are plenty out there and may be specific to your make and model.

Some vehicles have a space-saving spare, a smaller one that is meant to get you on the road long enough to find a place to have it repaired or replaced.  Those vehicles will also have a jack.  Then there are vehicles that have a full-size spare tire and a jack.  Again, you may prefer to call roadside assistance, but if no one is available or reachable (which is sometimes the case in a major storm), you may have to fix your own flat.

Some drivers do a "dry run" of changing a tire in their driveway during daylight hours so they at least know where the jack and spare are and how to use them.   Our service experts may be able to help you locate each part and give you some tips.  And again, there are many videos online that can show you the fundamentals of jacking your make and model of vehicle. 

Nobody relishes a flat tire.  You may be lucky and never have to change one.  But in this case, a little knowledge is better than no knowledge at all.  In the unlikely case you are stranded at the side of a highway at night in the middle of the rain with no cell service, you'll at least be one step ahead.


Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Cruisin' on Down Main Street

When automakers first came out with cruise control, it was a real luxury item.  The older cruise controls used a mechanical vacuum system but it worked.  Well, some of the time. 

Now days, cruise control is all electronic, thanks to computers.  It's reliable and a real convenience on long trips.  Cruise control is offered on most vehicles and standard on a lot of them.  Because it's electronic, when it breaks, it's usually some electronic component.  Your vehicle's cruise can be the victim of a blown fuse. Or your vehicle's speed sensor, which—not surprisingly—measures your vehicle's speed, can also stop working.  And that will cause your cruise to stop cruising. 

Vehicles with cruise control also have a built-in feature that, when the brakes are applied, turns off the cruise.  With electronic cruise control, that happens thanks to the brake pedal switch, and if a problem develops in that switch, the cruise might not work.

The newest cruise control is called "adaptive." What that means is that it will maintain your vehicle's speed as well as the distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you.  That means if a car ahead of you slows down, your vehicle will slow down to the same speed and even stop if the car ahead stops.  Pretty cool, right? As you can imagine, adaptive cruise control is more sophisticated and has many more components than standard cruise.  The systems vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but they use on-board radar units and cameras to calculate what your vehicle should do to maintain a safe distance and speed. 

Finally, there are still some of the older style cruise controls out on the roads.  They'll stop working when the vacuum actuator develops a problem, a vacuum hose starts leaking or breaks or the cable between the actuator and the throttle kinks, breaks, seizes up or becomes detached. 

If your cruise control isn't working, your service repair facility will be able to determine what kind your vehicle has and what it will take to fix it.  Good news for the cruise blues.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

 

New School: Automotive Spiteri's Auto Service Technician Training

Belmont 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 Belmont 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 Belmont 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 Spiteri'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 Belmont service centers where they work (including Spiteri'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 CA, but the highest of these is Master Technician. It's like a graduate degree in auto repair.

Vehicle repair at Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont requires more than just training and certification, though. It also takes information and creative thought. Belmont 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 Spiteri's Auto Service to solve. Belmont service technicians at Spiteri'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 Belmont 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 Spiteri's Auto Service can help us keep our vehicles on the road. We just can't do it on our own anymore.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com