Important Auto News

Spiteri's Complete Auto Service

Recommended Belmont Service Intervals



Everyone in Belmont, CA, knows we are advised to go to our Belmont dentist twice a year.  Oral-conscious Belmont residents have a teeth-cleaning and examination. Once a year, we get x-rays to look for problems that can't be seen with the naked eye. When our dentist is done, he/she tells us what was found – "Everything's fine, see you in six months." Or "You've got a small cavity starting, let's schedule an appointment to take care of it." By the time you leave, you have a plan for addressing any necessary issues.

This system works so much better than waiting for a painful problem before going into the dentist. Small problems are fixed before they turn into big problems. And you avoid those huge bills.

If Belmont folks understand the wisdom of using this system for handling dental care, why do many resist when facing the same system for our vehicle maintenance?

Following the vehicle manufacturer's recommended intervals can be confusing. First, there are recommendations for so many things: oil changes, transmission, coolant, air conditioning, power steering, brakes, fuel system, filters, belts, hoses, alignment, rotation, balancing ...you get the point.

Every item has a recommended interval and it's hard for Belmont drivers to keep it all straight – even if you're part of the 1% of CA drivers that read their owners' manual.

And if you have more than one vehicle, the complexity is multiplied. You'd need a computer to keep track of everything. Well, that's how your service center does it. For example, Spiteri's Auto Service subscribes to automotive databases that have your vehicle's recommended intervals. You may have wondered how they know what else to recommend when you take your car in for an oil change – it's all in the database.

Well, it's not all in the computer. There are other variables that can't be accounted for in the schedule: Things like Belmont weather conditions, altitude, and where and how you drive in CA. Talk about these things with your service advisor at Spiteri's Auto Service and you may decide that the severe service schedule in your owner's manual is more appropriate.

Since anything that's not driving in moderate weather is considered severe and most of us do at least some of that around Belmont, CA, it should be taken into account.

Let's take your basic oil change as an example. What issues are involved? The oil you put in your vehicle is a blend of base oil and special additives. There are detergents to clean the inside of your vehicle engine and corrosion inhibitors. A good quality motor oil will not only lubricate your engine, it will help it stay clean inside and run cooler.

Now, these additives deplete with use and time. That's why most vehicle manufacturer's maintenance recommendations include both a time and mileage element – like 3 months or 3,000 miles/5,000 km, whichever comes first.

It's easy for Belmont drivers to think, "Gee, I've only driven 2,000 miles/3,200 km in the last 3 months. I can wait on that oil change." But you need to remember that the inside of your engine is a environment. The oil is contaminated with combustion by-products that start degrading its effectiveness even when it's just sitting there.

A lot of people in Belmont don't realize how harmful it is to skip an oil change. There are a lot of metal parts moving around in your engine. Small bits of metal wear off and are floating around in your oil. They can be carried to more delicate areas of the engine where they cause damage. Your oil filter is designed to trap metal particles and other dirt, but if it's clogged up because you haven't changed it, it can't trap any more.

Oil sludge is another problem for Belmont vehicles. Sludge is oil that has turned to a gunky jelly – think 'Vaseline.' Obviously, sludge doesn't lubricate. It can also clog small oil passages so that all the parts don't get properly protected by the oil. That'll lead to premature wear.

If you've missed some oil changes, don't despair. Just talk with the pros at Spiteri's Auto Service. Fess up – you'll feel better. And they can help you get back on track. Following recommended intervals is the key to keeping your vehicle on the road and avoiding repairs.

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

 

 

Smooth Shifting in Belmont, CA: Transmission Service

So you have some exciting plans for the weekend. You're going to take some of your friends out on the boat for some water skiing. Of course, you've gotten the boat all ready. And you haven't forgotten about your tow vehicle. You've gassed it up and even vacuumed it out. However, there is something even more important than the cleanliness of the interior: you want to make sure that your vehicle maintenance is up to date.

Think about it – heavy traffic on the way out of Belmont. There's hilly terrain as you get to the lake. Some dirt roads – and it's going to be pretty hot in CA this weekend. And all the time you'll be towing around a lot of extra weight. That all adds up a lot of severe strain on your engine, brakes and transmission.

Let's just consider the transmission. It's going to be working overtime, spending more time in lower gears. The internal transmission temperature is going to be much higher than normal. A fun little blast to the local CA lake for you is really severe duty for your transmission.

It's important to have enough transmission fluid. If it runs low, the transmission will run hotter and won't have the protection it needs to cope with the added stress of towing. Transmission fluid breaks down and gets dirty over time. Whether you have an automatic or manual transmission, it's important for Belmont drivers to have it serviced by automotive professionals like the team at Spiteri's Auto Service to make sure it runs efficiently.

An automatic transmission contains a maze of passages through which the fluid must pass to keep it shifting smoothly. Belmont drivers who neglect regularly scheduled transmission service risk the passages clogging up and starting to have problems.

Those who neglect their transmission for too long will eventually experience transmission failure. You really don't want to pay for a major transmission repair.

This reminds us of how much of our driving around Belmont, CA, is under severe conditions. Towing or hauling a big load is obvious, but there are lots of other things that constitute severe driving conditions — things like short trips and driving in very hot or very cold CA weather. Dusty roads and city driving around Belmont add to the strain. Basically, any driving that's not at highway speeds or under ideal conditions can be considered severe conditions.

While you have your vehicle in, ask for a trip inspection. Your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Spiteri's Auto Service will check your belts and hoses and let you know if your brakes are in good shape.

Now, don't forget the sunscreen.

 

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

Coolant/Antifreeze Service at Spiteri's Auto Service

Anyone who drives a car in Belmont knows that engines get hot when they run. But did you know that engines need to be cooled to keep running? Heat inside an engine can cause the metal parts to expand, which can seize up an engine and make it stop running. It can even ruin the entire engine! Good vehicle care requires keeping its cooling system in good condition.

A vehicle's cooling system circulates water and antifreeze (coolant) through the engine where it absorbs heat. It then flows to the radiator where the water and antifreeze are cooled by the air that flows over the radiator. Then it circulates back into the vehicle's engine to absorb more heat.

Why shouldn't Belmont auto owners just use water? Because water boils at temperatures that are often reached inside of an engine. Steam won't cool your vehicle engine and is hard to contain within the cooling system. The antifreeze keeps the water from boiling.

So why do we call it antifreeze? Shouldn't it be antiboil? Truth is, the antifreeze performs another critical task. Water freezes in cold CA weather. That would spell disaster for your vehicle's engine. So antifreeze also keeps the water in your cooling system from freezing in all but the most extreme cold. Pretty neat stuff!

Taking care of your cooling system is part of good preventive maintenance for your vehicle. Belmont area drivers should check coolant level often and regularly inspect your cooling system for leaks.

That is just good auto advice. Your vehicle's manufacturer has maintenance requirements for draining and replacing engine coolant. Consult your owner's manual or ask your friendly and knowledgeable Spiteri's Auto Service service advisor for these recommendations, as they vary widely among vehicles.


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

Hitting The Brakes In Lehi

Hello Belmont, let's talk about brakes. Hitting 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 vehicle or truck rolls off a local Belmont 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/kilometers start to add up on the vehicle. Belmont drivers 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 '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 long distances around CA, 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 Spiteri's Auto Service is important for your vehicle and your family's safety. At Spiteri's Auto Service 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 Spiteri's Auto Service. Some of the critical additives in the fluid that lubricate and clean the vehicle 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 Spiteri's Auto Service cleans out deposits, water and dirt. Then the system is filled up with fresh fluid.

The tires are what connect the vehicle to the road. Stopping force all comes down to traction. The better the tires grip the road, the more quickly you'll stop.

This is especially important on wet American Fork area roads and surface streets. Studies have shown that wet stopping distance increases significantly as tires wear down. CA vehicle owners 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.

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

Put on the Brakes: Brake Service at Spiteri's Auto Service

When it comes to preventive maintenance and vehicle care, most Belmont drivers know how important it is to check their brakes. But brakes are more than just brake pads and shoes. There are a lot of components in the brake system, and they all need to be in good working order.

The pads and shoes are known as the friction materials in the brake system. They push together, providing friction which stops the vehicle. It's no wonder they have to be checked regularly for wear, and brake pads and shoes need to be replaced periodically.

Brake pads/shoes gradually wear out, but that doesn't mean your braking gradually becomes less effective. The pads are engineered so that they maintain good braking until they wear too thin to provide adequate friction. At this point, they need to be replaced.

But your braking system also has mechanical parts. These pistons and springs can also gradually wear out or get gummed up by oil, dirt and other road spatter. A brake inspection at Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont  includes a check of these parts as well as the pads and shoes. Your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Spiteri's Auto Service can then advise you of any parts that need cleaning or replacement.

The fluid component to the brake system needs a regular check-up at Spiteri's Auto Service as well. The brake fluid cools and protects your brake system. Protective additives are gradually depleted by the operation of the brake system, and moisture buildup inside the fluid can diminish its effectiveness. When you have your brakes serviced at Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont, the fluid should be checked and, if needed, replaced, which will clean out water, debris and dirt.

It is important to remember that your brake system also includes your tires. No matter how well your brake system is performing, if your vehicle tires are worn, you won't get good stopping power. Traction is the power of your tires gripping to the roadway. Traction is always better on tires with a good tread. Good traction translates to good braking.

This is particularly important on wet Belmont roads. A good tire will give you good braking on either wet or dry CA roads. But stopping distance increases dramatically when worn tires meet wet roads. Tread on a tire acts to channel away water as the vehicle passes over the wet road, improving  contact between the tire's surface and the road; that maintains traction. But the thinner the tread, the less effective the water channels become, and water can get between the tire and the roadway, reducing friction. A loss of friction means a longer stopping distance and possibly the loss of control.

Braking depends on two things: the weight of your vehicle and the speed of the vehicle. The heavier the vehicle or the faster the vehicle, the more braking power it requires. Thus, brake systems vary from vehicle to vehicle. For example, a pickup that is designed for heavy loads has a more powerful braking system than a compact car. Sports cars also have higher-grade braking systems than minivans.

Regardless of what kind of car you drive in Belmont, it is always good auto advice to keep your brake system in good repair, and that means ALL of your brake system. Just one more way to keep your travels accident- and worry-free.

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

Shake It up in Belmont!: Why Wheel Balancing

Our vehicles are not massage chairs. While we may enjoy a good vibration in an overstuffed recliner, we generally want as smooth a ride as possible in our vehicles. One way to achieve this is to keep a vehicle's wheels in balance.

When a tire is mounted onto a wheel, it is usually out of balance. This means that as the wheel spins, there is a slight wobble to the path of the tire. For best handling performance and safety on the road, Belmont drivers want to minimize this wobble as much as possible. So we balance our tires. To balance a tire, your technician at Spiteri's Auto Service spins it on a machine or drum to determine where it is off-balance. He then attaches weights that counter-balance the uneven weight. Most people in Belmont are surprised at how much balancing improves the smoothness of their ride.

High-quality tires generally hold their balance well. But over time, wear and tear take their toll and tires can become unbalanced. Belmont drivers can tell when a front tire is unbalanced if they feel a vibration in the steering wheel. If a back tire is unbalanced, you'll feel a vibration in your seat. You may not notice these vibrations until they get fairly serious — or until someone else drives your vehicle — because they usually develop slowly. If a vibration starts abruptly, it usually means you've lost a balancing weight.

The average tire rotates at about 850 revolutions per minute at 60 mph/97 kmh. When a tire is out of balance, it actually hops down the road, rather than rolling. So at 60 mph/97 kph, it is slamming into the pavement 14 times a second. That's what creates the vibration. When tires are out of balance, they wear out more quickly. The lack of balance also causes extra wear on shocks, struts, steering components and suspension parts.

Getting a balance job at Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont can prevent repair bills and even an accident. It will improve the safety of your vehicle as well as its handling performance. When you change your rims or get a flat repaired at Spiteri's Auto Service, you'll need to get your tires balanced as well. When you rotate your tires, you may want to have them balanced, too.

Some Belmont vehicle owners, however, only balance their wheels every other rotation. You can check your owner's manual to see what is recommended for your vehicle. Balancing your tires is part of preventive maintenance. It keeps your vehicle in good repair and prevents damage to many of its components. So practice good vehicle care and make it a point to keep your tires balanced. It's quality auto advice from Spiteri's Auto Service. Massage chairs may vibrate away our worries, but unbalanced tires will just rattle Belmont drivers' nerves.

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

 

Maintaining Your Older Car in Belmont, CA



The government mandates a lot of equipment on cars in Belmont, CA: emission devices and control computers, safety equipment like airbags and crash worthiness requirements. All of this is great for the Belmont motoring public, but it does add quite a bit to the price of a new vehicle.

Because new vehicles are more expensive, people in the Belmont area are driving their old vehicles longer. The average vehicle is now over nine years old. Two thirds of vehicles on the road in CA have more than 75,000 miles (120,000 km) on them. As cars age, their performance drops, they have difficulty idling for long periods and are more sensitive to weather extremes. Fortunately today's cars are up to the challenge – but they need a little help to keep on goin'.

Give Spiteri's Auto Service a call at 650-593-4758 to schedule your next maintenance.

Some owner's manuals don't specify service requirements at higher mileage. That doesn't mean it doesn't have to be done. In fact, it's more important than ever to stay on top of routine maintenance for cars with more than 75,000 miles (120,000km).

First, just extend regular service intervals out: for instance a service that's recommended every 15,000 miles (24,000 km) should be performed at 15,000, 30,000, 45,000 and 60,000 miles (24,000, 48,000, 72,000 and 96,000 km) and so on. Because of the additional stress older engines experience, the severe service maintenance schedule is more appropriate than the regular schedule; ask your service advisor. Watch for leaks; seals and gaskets dry out over time and don't hold the fluids as well as they used to.

It's also time to make sure you have a good technician, like those here at Spiteri's Auto Service. There are some services and replacements that are scheduled after you put on some clicks, like timing belts, valve train adjustments, suspension, anti-lock brake service, air bags, etc. And unexpected repairs down the road are just par for the course. Check for unusual sounds, smells or the way your car feels. These could be hints that trouble's brewing. Better to catch it early before it turns into a costly repair.

And a regular wash and wax will help maintain your car's appearance. One of the things you can do to really help your high mileage vehicle is to begin using high mileage formulation fluids. There are special engine oils, coolants, and transmission and power steering fluids that are formulated for cars that have a few clicks on the old odometer.

High mileage oil is designed to condition seals and gaskets, reduce wear and avoid premature burn off. Older engines are dirtier inside – and dirty engines contaminate their oil faster. High mileage oil has special additives that clean the engine, removing sludge deposits over time. The result is less stress on the engine, better fuel economy and excellent wear protection.

Studies have even shown that using high mileage fluids early will actually prevent some of the problems of high mileage vehicles. So once you hit around 50,000 miles (80,000 km), consider stepping up to high mileage formulations. High mileage fluids cost a bit more than standard fluids because of the additional additives, but they can be worth their weight in gold in terms of preventing repair costs down the road. It does cost more to properly maintain a higher mileage vehicle – but it's way cheaper than a new car payment!

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

Check Your Shocks and Struts at Spiteri's Auto Service


 

Today we're talking to Belmont drivers about shocks and struts. They're so easy for CA folks to forget about because they last so long and wear out so slowly. But your shocks are really responsible for keeping your tires on the road – so they're very important.

Without shocks, your wheels would be bouncing over bumps and lifting on corners. The shocks push the tire down to the road to maximize traction. Good shocks equal good ride quality and safe handling for Belmont drivers.

There's a difference between shocks and springs. Springs support the weight of the vehicle, keeping it suspended up off the axles. The shocks moderate the rebound motion as wheels hit bumps. Now a strut combines a shock and a coil spring in one compact unit.

It's best to replace all four shocks at the same time. That way you'll have even, predictable handling at all four corners. Anything less could be dangerous.

Visit Spiteri's Auto Service to have your shocks and struts inspected by a professional.


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

Air Conditioning Maintenance at Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont


Warm weather or cold, Belmont drivers still need to think about their vehicle's air conditioning. Most Belmont people don't service their air conditioning until after it fails. At Spiteri's Auto Service, we can advise you on your vehicle manufacturers preventive maintenance schedules for air conditioning service, just as we do for transmission service, oil changes and so on.

Maintaining your air conditioning system means that you always have enough refrigerant to properly do the job. Small leaks in the vehicle's air conditioning system allow the refrigerant to escape and the system can't cool the air as well. We see that a lot at Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont.

The refrigerant also contains oil that lubricates air conditioning components and keeps the seals resilient. Low refrigerant and lubricating oil means that the air conditioning parts will wear out prematurely, and all Belmont vehicle owners know that air conditioning repairs can be costly. At Spiteri's Auto Service, we recommended that the air conditioner be run regularly, even during winter months, to keep the parts and seals lubricated.

Belmont drivers need to be aware that there's one more thing that isn't directly related to air conditioning service but does impact the quality of the air in your vehicle. And that's your cabin air filter. This filter cleans dust, pollen, pollution and other impurities in the air that come from the heater and air conditioner. The cabin air filter needs to be replaced when it's dirty. If you don't, it'll start to smell. Not all vehicles have one, so ask your Spiteri's Auto Service service advisor to check your cabin air filter at the same time they're doing your air conditioning service.

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

Bouncy Bouncy – Are My Shocks Bad?

When Belmont drivers think about preventive maintenance, what usually comes to mind is oil, fluids and brakes. We don't generally think about our shocks or struts, but these auto parts keep our tires on the road.

Belmont drivers don't think about shocks as often as oil changes because shocks and struts last a long time and wear out slowly. They don't need to be checked as often as our brake pads or air filters. By the time your shocks have 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometers) on them, their performance will have noticeable degraded. If you want to restore the handling and ride designed for your vehicle, try replacing your shocks and struts.

Of course, if you drive off-road around Belmont, carry heavy loads, tow a trailer or put in a lot of mileage on poor driving surfaces, your shocks or struts will wear out more quickly. You'll need to replace them more often or upgrade to better shocks.

Your suspension system uses springs and shocks to absorb the “shocks” and vibrations of driving over road surfaces. Springs support the vehicle's weight, suspending it above the axles so the body of the vehicle is protected from most of the bumps on the road. Shocks control the bounciness of the springs by moderating rebound. They also push your tires down onto the road's surface, maximizing traction. Without shocks, your wheels would bounce over bumps and lift against curbs and corners. Shocks are important to the safe handling of your vehicle as well as a comfortable ride. Struts are a combination shock and spring in one unit.

Worn shocks result in lowered vehicle handling performance. If your vehicle “squirms” around corners or gets “floaty” over bumps, then you need to check your shocks. If the rear end of your vehicle squats while accelerating, the front end dips while braking, or one corner sags, you probably need new shocks.

If you're unsure whether you need new shocks, or if you're considering upgrading to a higher quality shock, then consult your friendly and knowledgeable Spiteri's Auto Service service advisor. He or she can give you advice on the condition of your shocks and how to match your driving needs to the quality of your shocks.

At Spiteri's Auto Service we know good vehicle care is essential to the safety, performance and efficiency of your vehicle. It can improve the comfort of your ride as well.

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

What to Do After You Buy a Used Vehicle in Belmont

So you've bought a used vehicle in the Belmont area. Do you know what you're getting? It is hard to know what you're getting because people in the Belmont area sell vehicles for different reasons. Think about why you've sold vehicles. Did you just want something new or were there problems that you wanted to run away from? Maybe it was a little of both.

Used vehicles in CA with 25,000 to 35,000 miles/40,000 to 55,000 km on them are often lease returns, corporate program cars or rental fleet vehicles. Most Belmont buyers feel pretty confident about these because they're newer and may still be under warranty. But how well have they been maintained?

Belmont drivers who are planning to own a vehicle for a long time will keep up on auto maintenance so that they can avoid repairs down the road. But, if you know you're only going to have the vehicle for two or three years, you may not be so committed to maintenance. It would be easy to think that skipping an oil change here and there wouldn't ruin a brand new engine. Then it'll be someone else's problem when it comes time to pay for the damage.

It is very tempting for Belmont drivers to skip the 30,000 mile/50,000 km service if they know they'll be turning in their leased vehicle in a couple of months.

If the vehicle didn't come with maintenance records, Belmont used vehicle buyers need to assume the worst. Most likely the coolant system and transmission have never been serviced. The cabin air filter has probably not been changed and a fuel system cleaning at Spiteri's Auto Service may be in order.

You'll want Spiteri's Auto Service to check the A/C, battery, engine air filter, serpentine belt and hoses. A used vehicle inspection at Spiteri's Auto Service is well worth the cost.

And if your “new” used vehicle has been driven an even longer distance, an inspection is even more important. Check your owner's manual or talk with your service advisor at Spiteri's Auto Service about what should have been done. Please don't forget the timing belt; that can be very expensive if it fails.

Spiteri's Auto Service will help you with a plan to take care of services and get the rest caught up. If your budget won't allow you to take care of everything right away, we can help you prioritize your needs and get it taken care of over the next several months. And remember to keep your maintenance records. They'll help you get top dollar on the CA used vehicle market when it's time for you to sell.

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

No Yolk! Rotten Egg Smell (Sulfur Smell Causes)

The pungent smell of rotten eggs can send people running for the hills.  So when that odor is inside your vehicle, yikes!  Yolks!  The good news is that a trained service technician can search the source of that smell and stanch the stench… that comes from another words that begins with S.  Sulfur.

Fuel contains small amounts of hydrogen sulfide, but they're enough to stink up a vehicle when it's not properly burned.  You may know that the smell of rotten eggs can often be a sign of a catalytic converter that isn't working the way it should.  That could be due to age, damage or an abundance of oil that's clogging it up. 

If a sensor in charge of managing the fuel has failed, the engine can run with too rich of a fuel mixture.  That can overload the catalytic converter and allow some of the byproducts to escape without interruption from the chemical reaction that is supposed to prevent them from going out the tailpipe.

There's another possibility, but it's usually only in stick shift vehicles.  That's leaking, old transmission fluid.

Catalytic converter repairs are best left to a professional. Technicians at your vehicle service facility have equipment and training that can help them pinpoint the cause of this funky fragrance.  Once the cause is found, repairs made and/or parts replaced, the smell should go away fairly rapidly.

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

Sniffing Out a Problem

Your parents probably taught you to have common sense. When it comes to your vehicle, common scents can also come in handy. Different smells may tell you about some conditions in your vehicle that need attention.

For example, you know what rotten eggs smell like.  If you smell them around your vehicle, it means sulfur can't be far away. Here's a surprising fact: Gasoline has a little sulfur in it.  There's a device in your exhaust system that's supposed to convert it to something that doesn't pollute the atmosphere. That device is a catalytic converter.  If you are smelling rotten eggs, maybe your catalytic converter is wearing out.  But it could also be a problem with your fuel injectors.  Either way, something's rotten that should be repaired.

Ever smell something sweet around your vehicle, maybe a little like pancake syrup? If you sniff out a little sweetness just when your engine is warming up or after you shut off your engine, you might be smelling some coolant (anti-freeze).  If it's leaking, then you may be getting a whiff of ethylene glycol, one of the coolant's components.  If the odor is strong inside the car, it could be a leaky heater core. This is important to get checked out because a leak in your vehicle's cooling system can eventually cause expensive damage.

How about that distinctive smell of gasoline? You could have a leak in your gas tank, a hose that vents your gas tank or a leak in a fuel injector line.  A gasoline leak needs to be tracked down since it could catch fire.  It can also be bad for your health if you breathe it in all the time.

When you step hard on the brakes, ever smell something like a rug's in fire? That could mean you've just overheated your brake pads.  If you detect that smell just driving around town, one of the brake calipers could be stuck.  To figure out which wheel has the problem, get out of your vehicle and smell each wheel.  It will likely be obvious where the problem is.

Here's one last smell.  Ever had your oil changed and right after you picked up your vehicle it smells like something's burning around the engine? That's because sometimes a little oil leaks onto the metal when the filter is changed or the oil is poured in.  It's a useful smell to know.  Because of you smell burning oil and you haven't had your oil changed recently, that could mean you have a leak in your engine.  It could be a gasket or a seal, but it also could mean the start of more serious issues. 

All of these things are signals that you should discuss with your service advisor to get them checked out.

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

How to Know When to Change Your Oil at Spiteri's Auto Service

Today in the Spiteri's Auto Service auto care blog, we're going to talk to Belmont drivers about oil change intervals. It seems that as engine technology advances, oil change intervals become longer for Spiteri's Auto Service customers. For example, recently four of the world's largest vehicle manufacturer's shortened the published intervals for several of their engine models. They originally published intervals that extended out to a much as 8,000 miles (13,000 kilometers).

In real world Belmont driving, the oil started to sludge up before the recommended change interval. Oil sludge is a thick jelly-like substance: quite literally petroleum jelly – like Vaseline. This goop was clogging vehicle small engine passages so the oil wouldn't flow to some parts of the engine. This resulted in engine damage. We see it too often at Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont.

The vehicle manufacturers began to offer an extended warranty to cover sludge damage. But there was a catch: the vehicle owner had to follow a new, lower service interval and provide proof of oil changes in order to make a warranty claim.

So here's the bottom line for Belmont vehicle owners: with longer oil change intervals, it's essential to follow them closely. Back in the day of 3 months or 3,000 miles (5,000 kilometers), if you went an extra month or an extra thousand miles or couple of thousand kilometers, your oil was still fresh enough that it didn't have time to build up much sludge.

But if your recommended interval is 6,500 miles (10,000 kilometers) and you go over another thousand miles or couple of thousands of kilometers, you're getting into heavy sludge territory. You absolutely need to follow mileage intervals very closely. And don't forget your severe service schedule. If you do a lot of stop and go driving in CA, short trips, drive in dusty or polluted Belmont conditions, hot or cold weather  or haul heavy loads, you're driving in severe service conditions. Your Spiteri's Auto Service service advisor can help you determine which schedule to follow.

So check your vehicle owner's manual or talk with your Spiteri's Auto Service service advisor about where and how you drive in Belmont. Should you change your oil closer to the regular schedule, or the severe service schedule? You need to make the call.

Let me give you an example of this. Some newer vehicles have an oil change indicator. It has a sophisticated computer algorithm that tracks number of cold starts, engine temperature, RPMs, mileage and many more variables to come up with a recommendation for when to change the oil.

Depending on driving conditions, the indicator in one test vehicle came on at anywhere from 2,500 miles (4,000 km) to almost 7,000 miles (11,000 km). It's typically just over 4,000 miles (6,500 km). Sometimes our driving is easy on the vehicle – like a long road trip. Sometimes, our driving is hard on it – like towing a heavy trailer or a lot of around town driving. But, usually, it's a combination of both.

Once again, it's up to you to make the call as to when to change your oil at Spiteri's Auto Service to protect your vehicle engine. Another place where CA drivers can go wrong is with the type of oil they use. More and more new cars are coming to Belmont owners filled with synthetic oil. Without going into a lot of detail right now, let's just say that synthetic oil lasts longer and is very resistant to oil sludge.

But it also costs quite a bit more, so some people are tempted to use conventional oil for their oil changes. Now, it's always best to use the oil recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. Check your owner's manual see if a conventional oil alternative is allowed.

But getting back to the problem, if your vehicle came from the factory with synthetic oil, the recommended oil change interval is for synthetic oil. If you use conventional oil, you can't use the synthetic interval. You need to shorten it.

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

Ask Spiteri's Auto Service About the Importance of Service Intervals

Today in our Spiteri's Auto Service blog, we're going to talk about following recommended service intervals. Your vehicle isn't the only aspect of your life with recommended intervals: What about six-month dental cleanings and regular physical exams? Then there's laundry, mowing the lawn, paying your electric bill, changing your furnace filter - you get the idea.

Now, what would happen if you didn't follow these intervals? For one thing, your teeth may get more cavities. You might not discover health issues that benefit from early detection and treatment. And you'd have to wear dirty clothes, be embarrassed by your overgrown lawn and have your power shut off.

We all realize there are some things in life that we have to take care of regularly. If we don't, there are negative consequences. Our quality of life diminishes and it inevitably costs more money.

Have you ever wondered, "How often should I bring my car in for scheduled maintenance?" You can let your friendly and knowledgeable Spiteri's Auto Service technician remind you of the manufacturer's recommendations. He has checklists of what the manufacturer recommends and can find potential problems when he inspects your vehicle. Rely on Spiteri's Auto Service professionals to help you make good car care decisions, that's our job.

For those in Belmont who want to be more proactive with their vehicle care, here are some simple ways to remember what has a maintenance interval:

First: fluids. If it's liquid, it's got a replacement schedule. Oil, transmission fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, differential fluid, etc.
Then think tires. They need air, rotation, balancing, and alignment. And while you're thinking tires, think brakes and shocks.
And what makes your car go? Air and fuel. Air filter replacement, fuel filters and fuel system cleaning.

Of course there are more items, but if you remember to take your vehicle into Spiteri's Auto Service for these things, your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor will help you with the rest.

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

Diagnosing Your Vehicle at Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont

When we Belmont residents get a car repair bill, we really shouldn't be surprised to find “diagnostic fees” as one of the line items. When we get a computer fixed, there is usually a charge for the time it takes to diagnose the problem. When we go to a medical doctor, most of his fee is for his ability to diagnose what's wrong. It's no different with our vehicles.

Some diagnoses are fairly simple. Brake repairs at Spiteri's Auto Service usually require only a visual inspection, for instance. But other problems are much more difficult to diagnose. An intermittent engine problem, for example, takes time and expertise to pinpoint.

Modern vehicles have multiple computers that monitor a variety of sensors throughout the vehicle. When one of those sensors has a reading that is higher or lower than the standard parameters, the computer turns on the Check Engine light. Technicians at a service center such as Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont can scan the engine's computer for a trouble code. This code tells the technician which reading is too high or too low.

That's where some Belmont residents get confused. They think that this reading concludes the diagnosis, and they don't understand why the diagnostic fee is as much as it is when all the technician did was to scan the computer. But the truth is the trouble code is only the beginning of the diagnostic procedure.

Remember, the trouble code only tells which reading is out of parameter. It doesn't say what is causing the reading to be too high or too low. Your Spiteri's Auto Service service technician still has to find the underlying problem. It's a lot like going to the doctor. He can take your temperature and discover that you have a fever, but that doesn't tell him what is causing your fever.

Automotive diagnostic technology can cut down the time it takes to figure out what's wrong with a vehicle that isn't running right. But it doesn't do away with the need for your friendly and knowledgeable Spiteri's Auto Service service technician to make a proper diagnosis. Car care, like medical care, still requires the human touch.

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

Servicing High Mileage Vehicles at Spiteri's Auto Service

The price of gas and the uncertain economy are both causing CA residents to review their finances. More and more Belmont drivers are opting to keep their vehicles longer and put off purchasing a newer car. It is estimated that two-thirds of the vehicles on the roads of North America today have over 75,000 miles/120,000 km on them. And the average age of vehicles is now over eleven years. That translates to some car care issues that many Belmont men and women haven't dealt with in the past.

Older vehicles simply have different maintenance requirements than newer ones. Learning those requirements presents a challenge for people in Belmont because many owner's manuals only publish maintenance schedules up to 60,000 or 90,000 miles (96,000 or 145,000 km). Vehicle owners have to keep good records and be more involved in planning preventive maintenance if they want to keep their vehicles on the road. First of all, any service in your owner's manual that comes with a recommended mileage interval should be continued at that interval.

For example, if it is recommended that you change your oil every 5,000 miles/8,000 km, you should continue to change your oil every 5,000 miles/8,000 km. The owner of an older vehicle has to recognize that his engine is operating under higher stress than a new one. It's just starting to show its age. So many experts suggest that the “severe service schedule” should be followed once a vehicle has racked up some serious road distance. On this schedule, the mileage interval for many services is shortened or should be performed more often. Check with your service advisor at Spiteri's Auto Service.

Belmont drivers who own older vehicles should also be careful not to neglect or postpone oil changes. A full-service oil change is more critical for an older vehicle than for a new one. Older engines have had a lot of time to build up sludge in their oil compartment, so changing the oil at regular intervals is a must. Skipping an oil change compounds the sludge problem. With a full-service oil change, the vehicle's fluids are also checked and topped off. Your service advisor at Spiteri's Auto Service will also let you know if these fluids need to be replaced. Older vehicles have older seals and gaskets, which often develop tiny leaks. Regularly checking fluids will compensate for these leaks and offer a heads-up about any serious ones. So, again, it is important to stay on schedule and not skip or procrastinate a fluid check.

Older seals and gaskets begin to dry out and show their age by becoming brittle. High-mileage formulation oils and fluids can help extend the lives of these gaskets and seals. These products contain additives that recondition seals and gaskets and keep them from leaking. High-mileage formulas cost more than standard products, but in the long run they can pay for themselves by preventing more costly repair bills.

If a vehicle is getting on in years or mileage, its parts are as well. High-mileage car maintenance requires necessary repairs and replacements. Timing belts, radiator hoses, parts of the suspension system, anti-lock brakes, air bags, water pumps, alternators and batteries will not last forever and will wear out in higher-mileage vehicles. They need to be inspected regularly by your friendly and knowledgeable Spiteri's Auto Service service advisor and replaced as necessary.

But don't go running for the new car lot just yet. These repairs may sound like a lot, but in total, they're still cheaper for Belmont drivers than new car payments. And if you stay on top of them and budget for them, they aren't as burdensome as it may appear.

If you plan on driving your vehicle into its high-mileage years, there are two relationships you need to develop. The first is with your Belmont service center. Spiteri's Auto Service can offer you invaluable auto advice and help you develop a service plan that is right for you and your vehicle. Second, you need to develop a relationship with your vehicle itself. You don't need to name it, but you should become familiar with its noises and idiosyncrasies. Pay attention to changes in its habits such as new or unusual sounds, smells, vibrations, etc. Taking note of such things and sharing them with your service advisor can help stave off a lot of big-ticket repair issues.

As we get older, keeping up with a diet and exercise plan becomes more and more critical to maintaining good health. It's the same with our vehicles. A preventive maintenance plan and smart vehicle care will keep them on the road and keep them safe for a good many years to come. 

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

 

Give Your Engine Clean Fuel with a New Fuel Filter from Spiteri's Auto Service

Your vehicle requires plenty of clean fuel to run. If your fuel contains contaminants, your fuel injectors will eventually become clogged up. When this happens, your vehicle engine may not get the proper amount of fuel at the correct pressure to run at peak performance. This hurts performance as you drive around the Belmont area. It can also lead to the buildup of harmful deposits on valves and in the combustion chamber.

That's why all vehicles, including vehicles, come equipped with a fuel filter. 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 Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont.

If your fuel filter is clogged, the vehicle 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 vehicle engine running but doesn't protect it from  contaminated fuel.

Belmont drivers may find that they need to change their fuel filter at Spiteri's Auto Service more frequently as their vehicle 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 parts and to maintain performance.

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

Used Cars: Spiteri's Auto Service Advice on What to Do After You Buy

Used vehicles are certainly an economical choice for budget-conscious Belmont drivers. But how can we know we're getting a good used vehicle and not just inheriting someone else's problems?

There are good used vehicles for sale in the Belmont area. Vehicles are sold when families upsize, when families downsize or even when someone just wants a new ride. So the used vehicle may be just fine. But some Belmont used vehicle owners sell them because they don't want to deal with developing or existing problems.

When you're considering buying a used vehicle in Belmont, ask for service records. Check to see if the recommended schedules for preventive maintenance have been followed. If so, you probably have a great used vehicle on your hands. If there aren't any service records, then assume the worst.

Check the vehicle for obvious signs of problems. Kick the tires if you want to but definitely check them for uneven tread wear. This can indicate alignment problems, worn shocks or suspension issues. Listen to the engine for unusual sounds and pay attention to unexpected odors. Take the vehicle for a test drive and make a list of any concerns you might have.

If the used vehicle you're looking at is a late model vehicle with under 35,000 miles/55,000 km on it, take it to Spiteri's Auto Service for an inspection. This inspection will reveal many basic or developing problems. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Spiteri's Auto Service about concerns you had on the test drive. Get a heads-up on needed repairs or maintenance.

Previously leased vehicles are often tempting to used vehicle buyers because they are generally newer models with low mileage and have been factory-cleaned. Be cautious, however. Many Belmont residents who lease vehicles don't bother with preventive maintenance because they know they'll be turning the vehicles in. Again, ask for maintenance records, take the vehicle in for a full-service oil change and consult with the pros at Spiteri's Auto Service about any problems the vehicle may have.

Older used vehicles are even more problematic for Belmont used car buyers. Older vehicles simply come with more maintenance and repair issues than new ones. Take these in for a used vehicle inspection at Spiteri's Auto Service. Usually, a seller will let you do this before you purchase the vehicle. These inspections are very thorough and will help you know what you're getting into. You'll be able to make an informed decision about your purchase. That peace of mind will make the cost of the inspection more than worth your while. It's always good auto advice for Belmont drivers to purchase a Carfax report on any used vehicle. This report will let you know if the vehicle has been in a major accident and will give you a title history. You'd be surprised what used vehicle buyers have learned from those reports. Know before you buy.

Once you purchase a used vehicle, give it some tender loving care. Give it a thorough cleaning, inside and out — and don't forget the engine compartment. A good wax on the outside will make it look and feel “new.” And, of course, stay on top of preventive maintenance. Used vehicles bought in CA can last a good, long time if they're properly cared for. They're economical to buy and can keep on saving us money if we look after them.

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

Go Big or Go Home: Upsize Your Wheels at Spiteri's Auto Service

A lot of us Belmont drivers like our vehicles to reflect our personalities. We're picky about color and body style. We'll customize anything from floor mats to window tints to license plates. One popular way for CA motorists to customize a vehicle is to get new wheels.

Wheels come in thousands of designs. Custom wheels can add personality, style or sass to a vehicle. Many of these customizations involve getting a bigger wheel.

Fifteen or 16-inch wheels used to be the factory standard, but today, because a lot of Belmont drivers like the look of larger wheels, many vehicles are available with 17 or 18-inch wheels. Optional wheel packages of 20 inches or more are also available in Belmont.

If you want to upsize the wheels on your current vehicle, however, you should know it's not a do-it-yourself project. There are factors involved in ensuring your wheel change doesn't jeopardize the safety of your vehicle.

First of all, you need to understand rolling diameter. The rolling diameter is the overall height of a tire. If you increase the rolling diameter of your tires when you upsize your wheels, you may have to modify your suspension to make sure the larger tires fit in the space and don't rub in turns or over bumps. If that's more work than you're willing to do or pay for, then you need to maintain rolling diameter when you change your wheels.

It's not as hard as it sounds. Imagine a doughnut. That doughnut represents rolling diameter, so you can't make the doughnut bigger. However, you can increase the size of the doughnut hole. That gives you a bigger wheel. Tires with reduced sidewall on larger wheels will preserve your rolling diameter.

Rolling diameter is important because your wheels and tires still need to fit inside the wheel well. Also, your speedometer, odometer and anti-lock brakes are all programmed to work with a specific rolling diameter. You'll throw off the readings on your speedometer and odometer if you change your rolling diameter. And for your anti-lock brakes to work properly, your rolling diameter has to be within 3% of factory recommendations. While some Belmont drivers who upsize may not be concerned about meter readings, throwing off the brake system is a serious safety hazard.

Further, many vehicles in Belmont are now equipped with electronically controlled suspensions. Changing the rolling diameter will negatively affect this system as well, which can lead to a less smooth ride and lower handling performance as well as safety concerns.

Your friendly and knowledgeable Spiteri's Auto Service tire professional may be able to reprogram your vehicle's computer to adjust for a larger (or smaller) rolling diameter.

So to maintain rolling diameter, you'll need tires with a shorter sidewall. These tires will be designed to give the sidewalls the strength they need to maintain ride quality. Consider that doughnut again. As the wheel (the doughnut hole) gets bigger, the sidewall of the tire (the width of remaining doughnut) gets shorter. That means the tire holds less air. The sidewalls have to be made stiffer to compensate for the decreased air capacity.

To improve their strength, the shorter tires will also be slightly wider than your previous tires. But this means you'll have a larger contact patch, or, in other words, a larger area of tire making contact with the road. This can actually increase your handling performance and decrease braking distances. Many CA auto buffs customize their wheels just for this reason—they want the improved performance rather than looks or style. If you drive a truck or an SUV around Belmont, you might be interested in the extra control an upsized wheel can provide.

Now, that larger contact patch still has to fit inside your wheel well without rubbing when cornering or when bouncing over bumps or potholes on Belmont roads. This is termed fitment, and you may need a few adjustments so your new wheels will fit properly. You may need spacers so that your brakes will fit inside the new wheels, as well.

Spiteri's Auto Service tire professionals are experts at mounting, adjusting and customizing wheels. They can give you a lot of good auto advice about wheels and tires and how they affect driving performance and car care. They can help you select wheels and tires that will suit your driving needs and habits.

For example, if you drive off-road around Belmont, you should consider a higher profile tire. This type of tire will protect your rims from damage while you're bouncing over rocks. Or, if you tow a trailer or haul heavy loads around CA, you'll want a tire with a load rating equal to your demands. Your friendly and knowledgeable Spiteri's Auto Service tire professional can help you with these types of concerns.

Once you've got your new wheels, have your service advisor at Spiteri's Auto Service see if you need an alignment. You don't want those new wheels and your higher performance compromised by poor alignment. Get the most out of your investment by getting the work done right at Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont.

Last but not least, remember tire pressure. With larger wheels, your new tires will hold less air and they'll need slightly higher pressure. You'll need to stay on top of preventive maintenance and keep them properly inflated. Be sure to check their pressure at least once a week. If you don't keep your tires at their correct pressure, they will wear out really fast. It will also affect your braking and handling performance.

So smile and show off your vehicle around CA. Make it all yours. Bumper stickers, vanity license plates, custom wheels — strut your stuff!

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