How to Avoid Fuel Pump Replacements for Less than $50.00

Money and adding fuel

Save on auto repairs

Have you ever wondered why your vehicles seem to need fuel pumps more frequently than your friends or co-workers?

Are you tired of spending $500 to $700 for fuel pump replacements?

Two ways to reduce or eliminate fuel pump failures:

  1. Never let your fuel level get below 1/8th to 1/4th of a tank.
  2. Change your fuel filter at 30,000 mile intervals (most vehicles)

Both of these methods, which can be done for less than $50, will help you save on auto repair bills due to fuel pump failure.

If you do have a fuel pump failure be sure to have Dale’s auto repair in Boise install a Napa OEM Replacement fuel pump.

These quality pumps will keep your vehicle up to its manufacture standards but will also give you the protection of the Napa Peace of Mind Warranty.

Here are two videos that present the importance of keeping your fuel level above empty so the pump stays cool.

The second method of saving fuel pumps from destruction is by keeping them from working too hard. Hard work causes heat to increase and as stated in both the above videos heat is what damages pumps.

Having the fuel filter replaced is critical to pump life. When the filter is restricted or plugged it is harder for the pump to push fuel. This increased load on the pump generates more heat which will shorten the pumps life.

If you are not sure how long it has been since you had your fuel filter replaced it may be wise to call Dale’s Auto Care in Boise to schedule a filter replacement. Many vehicles can have this done for around $50.

Call today for an appointment – 345-5620.

How to Pinpoint a Power Steering Oil Leak

A 2006 Nissan Murano with a groaning noise while turning was brought to Dale’s Auto Care in Boise for diagnosis and repair.

Dale’s verified the power steering noise and found the fluid (oil) was low.

Upon inspection under the car they found a lot of oil on a large portion of the frame and under the engine.  It was hard to tell where the oil was coming from.

After adding the correct power steering fluid to the Nissan they added a small container of flourescent dye so they could pinpoint exactly where the  leak was.

After running the engine and using the power steering to get it to leak, they shined a black light under the engine area.  The light causes the dye that is leaking out of the power steering system to glow bright yellow.  They could see the exact location of the leaking hose.  Here it is on video so you can see exactly what they saw.

This type of diagnostic procedure will save you money if your vehicle has leaks of any kind.  Dye is available for air conditioning and cooling systems, engine, transmission, differential and power steering systems.  When a shop follows this type of procedure there is no guessing about what is leaking.  Only leaking components should be replaced or repaired.

If it is a small leak the shop may add dye and have you drive the vehicle for a week or two and then have you come back so they can use the black light to locate the leak.

At Dale’s Auto Care we follow this type of diagnostic procedure so we can accurately diagnose and fix your car, truck or SUV right the first time.

Call us today at (208) 345-5620 to make an appointment.

How to Protect Your Car in Winter Driving

Winter driving can be very hard on our cars, pickup trucks and SUV’s.  These 3 tips can help you protect your automobiles from some of the hazards of winter driving and more importantly can save you money and inconvenience.

Driving to work this morning in Boise presented a big strain on our vehicles, due to extremely slick roads.  We received between 5 and 6 inches of snow over night.  The roads were already very slick from yesterday’s snow.

The ice under the fresh snow was hidden from view and very slick.  Many drivers don’t have winter tires installed so the slick surfaces are even more hazardous.  We all know the hazards of these roads but how they affect our cars is the subject of this information.  The bottom line is remembering these tips may help you save money on car repair bills.

Two systems on our cars, drive axles and transmissions, can be damaged by these winter conditions.  The price tag of repairing this damage can run from $250.00 to $2500.00.

The brake system is so critical to winter driving that I would be negligent to not mention it here.  Maintaining the brakes on your car may keep you from getting into a situation that could otherwise be avoided.

So, here are the 3 tips for winter driving:

Drive Axles and Transmissions

Drive axles and transmissions can be easily damaged by accelerating on ice, causing the drive wheels to spin and slip (sometimes up to 50 mph or more).  If the tires suddenly get traction on dry pavement, the instant grip of the tires on the road can break axles or internal transmission parts.  The tip is to be aware of this and proceed with caution.

Windshield WipersWinter Wiper Blades

Another common situation is driving home at night in rain or snow.  You turn the car or truck off and go into the house.  The next morning when you start the car the wipers will continue to move as they were the night before.  If they are covered with snow or stuck from ice you could bend the wiper blade, arm, or cause the fastening portion of the wipers to come loose.  The end result may require replacing some parts, or may require a trip to the auto repair shop for repairs or tightening the arm.  The tip is to free the wipers before starting the car.

Brakes Operating Smoothly

Having brakes that operate smoothly will allow for slowing gradually without grabbing.  If the brakes grab on a slick icy surface you can lose traction and thereby lose control of your vehicle.  Grabbing can be caused by a number of problems in your brake system so have them inspected by Dale’s Auto Care if you experience this condition.

So keep your brakes working smoothly!  Clean and free up your wiper blades before starting your car on icy mornings!  And be aware of the potential expense of breaking a drive axle or transmission component due to slipping on ice.

Call Dale’s Auto Care today at (208) 345-5620 or email us with questions or to make an appointment.

Copyright 2010 Dave Eastman, ADSi.  All rights reserved.

4 Tips for Cooling System Peace of Mind

In the heat of summer the cooling system in your car can be strained to its limit.  Here are some quick and easy tips to help reduce the possibility of having a breakdown.

The cooling system will only keep your car or pickup at the correct temperature if the coolant is a) the correct type, b) at the correct level, and c) at the correct mixture of 50% coolant and 50% water.

Tip 1

Check for debris, like weeds, animal hair, dust, and dirt, that can collect over time in the area between the air conditioning condenser and the radiator.  This restricts air flow through the radiator and reduces its efficiency.  If this hasn’t been looked at for years, have your repair shop remove the upper radiator mounting brackets to take a look.  Often, accumulated debris can be blown out with air and/or water.

Tip 2

Check your coolant level to see if it is low.  If you are going to add coolant yourself, be sure to follow the manufacturer procedures and remember:

  • Always check and add coolant when the engine is cold
  • Always check your owner’s manual for the correct fluid type to add since there are different types of coolant.
  • Use a mixture of coolant and water at the above listed ratio
  • Add the mixture to the “cold fill” mark on the reservoir
  • Don’t overfill!  As heat causes the fluid to expand and the excess fluid is pushed out, it can be confused with a leak.Coolant Reservoir

Tip 3

Be aware that the service life of a coolant will vary depending on the type.  Recommeded replacement intervals of extended life coolant may be as long as 5 years or 100,000+ miles.  These coolants (such as the orange Dex-Cool found in some vehicles) may cost more to purchase, but it has a much longer service life.  Complaints that this type of fluid gets thick and clogs the system and even the heater core are non-existent when a proper fluid level is maintained.

Tip 4

Find out if your vehicle originally came from the factory with an extended life coolant that has been replaced with the traditional “green” antifreeze.  This will make a difference when its time to add coolant or when a recommended fluid change service should be scheduled.  (Traditional “green” needs to be changed every 2-3 years or 30,000 miles.)

If you’re not sure of your vehicle’s service history and don’t want to rummage through your records to find receipts you can log onto OwnerAutoSite from the link on a email reminder about your car sent to you by Dale’s Auto Care.  This will give you instant access to the repair and maintenance history Dale’s has performed on your vehicle (s).  There are also some great educational videos on the site that you can watch at AutoNetTV.

More Tips to Avoid Automatic Transmission Breakdown

In the previous post about towing and extending the life of your automatic transmission, we covered some very important items.  Here are 4 more tips to be aware of when preparing for the trip to the mountains or the desert.

I know you probably get tired of hearing about how important maintenance is, and believe me I understand.  It’s not easy, especially in these times, to put money into your vehicle when it isn’t broken.  But I also know that you don’t want to breakdown on the road going to or coming from your destination.  So here are the tips in no special order.

If you notice anything unusual, check it out right away

Train yourself to listen for any unusual noises while driving.  If you feel or hear what seems like an irregular shifting pattern or notice a leak, don’t wait.  Get it checked immediately for a potential problem.  This may save you money in the long run.  If the Check Engine or Transmission lights are coming on, even if the don’t stay on, be sure to have it checked out right away.

Service it sooner rather than later

A general mileage rule for getting your vehicle’s transmission serviced varies depending on who you talk to.  Of course always consult your owner’s manual first.  If you are not towing or driving in severe conditions (i.e. temperatures in the high 80′s or above or very dusty conditions) a 30,000 mile service or flush interval is normally what is recommended.  If you are driving in severe conditions a 15,000 mile interval would be the best recommendation.  Be aware that on some newer vehicles, the fluids used may allow for extending these mileage recommendations.  Just FYI, the cost of servicing a transmission normally runs between $120.00 and $180.00.

To flush or Not to Flush

Should you flush the fluid rather than having the transmission fluid drained and the filter replaced?  Again consult your owner’s manual.  What you’ll probably find is that many manuals will not mention flushing at all.  Flushing is primarily an aftermarket repair shop recommendation rather than an OEM recommended procedure.  I suggest you contact your shop and ask their opinion, but be sure to ask them if they have researched your particular vehicle to determine if the manufacture has a bulletin out on this procedure.  Honda, for instance, says NOT to flush transmissions on their vehicles.  Their bulletin number HSN 0206-07 gives the reasons why they don’t recommend it.

Be sure the engine and fuel systems maintenance is done

Make sure your engine and fuel system are in good condition and are properly tuned.  The transmission can’t function correctly if these systems are not working the way they are designed to work.  Often times a repair shop will diagnose a transmission complaint only to find out the problem was with the fuel system rather than the transmission.  Don’t waste money by paying for unnecessary diagnosis.

Copyright 2010 Dave Eastman, ADSi.  All rights reserved

Call Dale’s Auto Care at (208) 345-5620 if you have any questions or stop by today in Boise at 2602 Vista Ave.

Be sure to reply to this post to let us know if the information was valuable to you.

5 Tips to Avoid Automatic Transmission Breakdown

Summer is almost here and your’re probably already planning a trip our of town with the camper, trailer, boat, or motor home. Nobody wants to be thinking about how hard towing can be on our automatic transmissions. No one plans to be the guy broken down on the side of the road that everyone else is driving past on their way to the best camp sites. But with Memorial Day fast approaching, here are some tips to help you save money by preparing your tow vehicle or motor home for that first weekend away from it all.
Transmission service intervals and procedures vary from one Original Equipment Manufacture (OEM) to another. With the aftermarket repair industry and many new car dealerships going beyond the OEM servicing guidelines to recommend more frequent transmission flushing and service intervals, always consult your vehicle owner’s manual. The price of most transmission overhauls range from $1500.00 to $2500.00. The much smaller price you will pay for servicing is more than worth the investment.
A day or two before you leave town be sure to check your transmissions fluid level. Warm you vehicle’s transmission to its normal operating temperature. This can be done by simply driving it the recommended mileage distance or time and then check the fluid level following the procedure in your owner’s manual.  Transmission dipstick location

Here are 5 tips that could help you avoid a potential breakdown.  You can also find some additional information about your transmission at the Car Car Aware website.

Avoid excess heat in your transmission

Research suggests that 90% of transmission failures are caused by heat.  A 20 degree increase in transmission fluid temperature above normal can cut the life of the fluid in half.  When driving conditions increase the normal operating temperature of the fluid it accelerates oxidation breaking down of the protective characteristics of the fluid.  This oxidation causes the fluid to turn brown and smell burnt.  It also causes the rubber parts in the transmission to harden which interfers with their ability to function correctly.  Metal parts car warp or expand so much that they damage gaskets and seals.  Heat is a serious enemy of transmission health.

Install an auxiliary cooler

The OEM built-in coolers that come on your tow vehicle may not cool enough to give you the protection you need.  An auxiliary cooler can save your transmission from the damage done by excess heat.  When properly installed the auxiliary coolers may help your transmission to run 30% to 50% cooler when towing.  Running in the neighborhood of a few hundred dollars, this investment is definitely worth looking into.

Don’t tow in overdrive

Most OEMs recommend you not tow while in overdrive, but always consult your manual.  Look for a button on the dash or steering column that turns overdrive off.  If your vehicle doesn’t have this button, if probably has the overdrive position on the shift indicator.  Pull the shift lever from overdrive to the drive position before towing.

Use the correct fluid

Types of fluid vary from vehicle to vehicle.  General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, Dodge, Toyota, Honda, Nissan and other OEMs have their own Automatic Transmission Fluid(ATF).  Many OEMs over the years have improved their fluids and specify that the new fluid will work in their older cars and trucks.  They usually produce a technical bulletin to that effect if such is the case.  The newer fluids may be more expensive but will likely improve the protection of the transmission which makes it worth the expense.

Don’t overfill your transmission

Follow your manual very carefully when checking and adding fluid.  Overfilling can cause the fluid to foam, which can lead to erratic shifting, loss of internal lubrication and potential transmission damage.

Call Dale’s Auto Care at (208) 345-5620 to make an appointment to have your transmission checked or serviced.  They are located in Boise, Idaho at 2602 Vista Ave.

We appreciate knowing if you found this information helpful and would welcome comments.  Watch for another post soon about  automatic transmission care.  Drive safely!

Copyright 2010 Dave Eastman, ADSi.  All rights reserved.

5 Mechanical Problems that Decrease your car’s Fuel Economy

Nobody wants to spend money to fix a car that’s not broken, but nobody wants to spend more than they have to at the gas pump either.  We all know there is that direct link between the fuel economy our car gets and its mechanical condition.  Here’s a few things you might not realize can affect fuel economy.

  1. Misalignment of tires.  One of the highest fuel consumption threats your vehicle can have relates to the alignment of the front tires.  Improper alignment decreases fuel economy by increasing the rolling resistance of your vehicle.  Picture walking with your feet pointed out, like a duck, at a 15 degree angle.  Then, rather than picking them up as you walk, just drag them along the ground.  How efficient would that be?  This can cost you a mile or two per gallon.  On a car that gets 20 miles per gallon (MPG) that is a 5 to 10 percent reduction in fuel economy.
  2. Driving with the park brake partially on.  This OOPS can cost you a mile or two per gallon and decrease your fuel economy by 3 to 8 percent.  The expense of lost fuel, however, may be small compared to the price tag you’ll see for damage done to your brake pads, shoes, drums or rotors.  Failing to notice your park brake is on when the car is in motion can wear out your brake linings incredibly fast, which results in a metal to metal friction that can destroy expensive brake drums and rotors.
  3. Transmission or clutch that slips.  Fuel economy is reduced by 5 to 10 percent when slippage reduces the normal amount of power going directly to the tires as they move the car forward and the driver has to push the accelerator down farther to get to the desired speed.  What can cause an automatic transmission to slip?  Too many things than could be covered in this article, but one easy prevention measure is to be sure the automatic transmission fluid is neither dirty nor at too low a level.
  4. A thermostat that has failed.  Engines are designed to run most efficiently at a specific temperature.  A cold engine needs more fuel than a warm engine.  It is the engine thermostat that gets the engine to the correct temperature as quickly as possible so it will require less fuel.  Because almost all cars and trucks today have a computer that controls the fuel system, any mechanical problem with the thermostat that causes the engine to run colder than it should may cause the computer to adjust and send more fuel than is required.  The additional fuel could reduce your fuel economy by 2 miles per gallon or more.
  5. A bad battery.  Bet that’s one you may not have thought of as a cause for poor fuel economy!  Remember, what charges the battery is the alternator, and what turns the alternator is a drive belt powered by the engine.  This means the alternator consumes energy from the engine, and if it has to work harder to try to keep a bad battery charged, then it stands to reason more energy will be consumed as it is forced to work more.  The result is reduced fuel economy.

Who likes to spend money on their car?  Nobody I know, but when spending money can end up saving you money its helpful to know how to spend wisely.  Hopefully you’ll find these tips helpful as you try to make better decisions about how to spend your car repair dollars.

Copyright 2009 Dave Eastman, ADSi.  All rights reserved.

7 Inexpensive Maintenance Items that Save Fuel

Very little money required but lots of savings!

Fuel economy and cost of gasoline become much more significant when money is tight and the price of this precious liquid keeps going up.

If your kitchen faucet drips you may not worry that much about how much water is lost.  But put a bowl under that drip and I bet you’ll be surprised how fast those drops accumulate in short order.  At $2.50 to $3.00 a gallon, gasoline “drops” can add up to significant amounts of money.   Here are some tips to “stop the drips” . . .

  1. Keep your car, truck or SUV tire pressure at the correct level.  According to a Car Care Council survey, incorrect tire pressure was found in more than 50 percent of the cars they inspected.  Fuel consumption can increase by 1-2 percent when tires are underinflated by as little as 2 pounds.
  2. Keep air filters clean.  Clogged filters were found on 16 percent of the cars they inspected by the Car Care Council.  Replacing a dirty air filter can increase your gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.
  3. Use the correct weight motor oil.  The higher the weight, the thicker the oil.  Many features put in place by manufacturers to improve fuel economy will not work as designed when oil is thicker than specified.  An inprovement of 1-2 percent in fuel economy can be realized by using correct oil weight.
  4. Replace spark plugs at the recommended interval or repair restricted fuel injectors as needed.  It is easy to consider these an inexpensive maintenance item if you consider that worn plugs or restricted injectors could be reducing your fuel economy by as much as 30 percent.  For a car rated to get 20 miles per gallon that could mean as much as 6 more miles per gallon.
  5. Keep your transmission fluid clean and at the proper level.  Transmissions that slip can grreatly affect fuel economy, and fluid that is dirty or at a low level can quickly lead to improper shifting or slippage.
  6. Have a regular vehicle inspection.  Even if your trusted mechanic charges for the inspection, you may be money ahead if they find damage or wear that could result in breakage and create a much more expensive repair later.
  7. Get brake system inspections at least twice a year.  Brake systems on today’s cars are designed to allow for low rolling resistance to improve fuel economy.  Brake parts that are not properly maintained or lubricated interfere with this design, and lead to higher rolling resistance.  That translates to lower fuel economy.

Maintenance costs but it also pays.  Nobody likes to spend money on maintenance work but remind yourself there is a return on that investment in dollars saved over time.  Here’s an ADSi tip . . . If your trusted mechanic charges for their inspection, ask if you can negotiate a FREE inspection in return for your loyalty as their customer and for referring friends in need of quality car care.

 Copyright 2009 Dave Eastman, ADSi.  All rights reserved.