Question: My engine never overheats. Why should I get a cooling system service in San Diego?
Mira Mesa Automotive Answer: That’s a really good question for San Diego car owners to ask, because if you don’t have the full answer you may end up in trouble. It would seem that if your engine is running at the proper temperature that everything must be OK. But the fact is that engine overheating is the most common cause of mechanical failure for San Diego car owners. So how do you get from everything is just fine to suddenly overheating and potential engine damage?
Truth is, it is not a sudden process, but it is an invisible one. Your engine coolant circulates through your engine where it absorbs heat and then flows through the radiator where it is cooled – and then back to the engine again. As long as the coolant is able to flow freely – and there are no leaks – then the coolant can do its essential job. This is the point where San Diego motorists have to look deeper.
The cooling system is a detrimental environment: very hot, with a number of reactive materials like various types of metal, plastics and rubber. Over time the coolant becomes corrosive. Small pieces of metal and other materials flake off and circulate in the coolant. As these bits start to clog up the small passages in the radiator, they cut down the coolant flow, leading to overheating. Corrosive coolant can actually eat away at the system and cause leaks as well.
Now new coolant is full of anti-corrosion additives. These additives neutralize the reactions that lead to corrosion. The additives are eventually used up, leaving the cooling system unprotected.
This is why your auto maker and the team at Mira Mesa Automotive give a recommendation for when your cooling system should be serviced. Your friendly Mira Mesa Automotive tech can also test your coolant for freeze point and PH to see if it needs to be replaced (if you’ve added straight water to the system these numbers may be off). You need to get fresh coolant in there to continue to protect against detrimental corrosion.
So San Diego motorists who’ve gone beyond the recommended service interval should take care of this vital maintenance service to prevent unnecessary repairs down the road.
I recently saw an ad for synthetic oil in San Diego. I really hadn’t heard about it before, so I asked my friendly Mira Mesa Automotive technician for some background. Basically the inside of your engine gets really hot because of friction from the moving parts and from burning fuel. Oil lubricates the moving parts to keep them from getting too hot.
The problem comes when oil turns to sludge, which is kind of a thick jelly. Sludge clogs up little passages so that the oil can’t protect parts of the engine. So the two best ways for San Diego car owners to prevent sludge build-up is to always change their oil on schedule; and to use synthetic oil.
Synthetic oil’s much more resistant to becoming sludge than conventional oil. My San Diego service professional says it has the added benefit of lasting longer than conventional oil so the recommended change interval can be longer.
The thing I think is cool is that synthetic oil is slipperier than conventional oil. Regular oil molecules are long chains where synthetic oil molecules are rounder. It’s like, which is slipperier, a pile of pencils or a pile of marbles? This means that synthetic oil does a better job of lubricating my engine so it doesn’t get as hot, or wear as fast.
Using synthetic oil can help San Diego drivers improve engine performance and help their engine last longer. I’m really glad my service professional filled me in on synthetic oil. Maybe you should consider synthetic for your next oil change at Mira Mesa Automotive.
2. Check yourself and others involved to see if there are injuries. In some states, failing to render medical aid is a crime. 3. Call an ambulance (911) if there are injuries that may need treatment. 4. Turn your hazard lights on. 5. If you keep flares and warning triangles in your vehicle, use them to alert other drivers in the area. Mira Mesa Automotive recommends that all drivers keep safety devices stored in their vehicle along with a first aid kit. 6. If the accident is not serious, and the auto(s) involved are in the street, move them off the road if possible. But make sure you don’t move them so far that you could be accused of leaving the scene of the accident. 7. Call the local San Diego police department regardless of the seriousness of the accident. If there is no documentation of the accident, you can’t file a claim. 8. Don’t admit fault. 9. Write down critical details about how the accident occurred while it is fresh in your memory. If you have a mobile app for your auto insurance, it probably provides an easy way to enter this information. 10. Exchange contact and insurance specifics with the other driver(s) involved. 11. If there are witnesses, get complete contact information. 12. Take photos of the accident with your phone or other mobile device. 13. If the other driver is not the person listed on the registration, find out how they are related. 14. When police officers arrive, record their names and badge numbers. 15. Don’t tell the other driver(s) anything about your auto insurance coverage limits. 16. Make sure you understand clearly what happened.(See number 9.) Be consistent when explaining the situation to police officers or your insurance agent. Don’t change your story or you will lose credibility. Don’t give details to anyone unless you are required to. 17. Make sure you take down the license plate numbers of the other vehicle(s) involved. 18. Consider hiring a lawyer if you have serious injuries that may require long term care or the other driver threatens or initiates legal action. 19. File your insurance claim as soon as you can. The claim process can take a lot of time. You don’t want to delay settlement unnecessarily. Save all receipts for any medical treatment or work done on your auto. 20. If your car isn’t drivable, find out if your insurance policy covers roadside assistance. 21. (This is a bonus!) Make sure you don’t put your signature on any report except those required by a law officer or insurance representative.
You will probably be involved in at least one car accident during your lifetime, even if you are a very careful driver. The good news is that cars are safer than ever before and the rate of fatal crashes has dropped.
If you need accident auto repair for your vehicle, bring it in to Mira Mesa Automotive in San Diego. If your insurance agent tells you that you have to use a certain shop, check the laws in your state. Many states prohibit insurance companies from requiring you to use their contracted facility. You also want to be careful that your service center doesn’t use inferior parts that may void your warranty.
It’s said that 90 percent of our driving decisions are based on visual information. Our wiper blades play an important role in this. Most San Diego, Poway, and Rancho Santa Fe drivers know that a dirty or streaked windshield can catch the glare of the sun or on-coming headlights and make it nearly impossible to see.
Most busy San Diego car owners deal with their wiper blades from a failure perspective. They address them when they no longer function. Instead, San Diego drivers should think about wipers blades as an important safety system that they should maintain, rather than repair.
And don’t think that your wiper blades will last longer because you don’t use them very often. Hey, they live outside in the harsh sun and freezing cold – ice and wind. They just dry out and crack over time.
At Mira Mesa Automotive, we recommend that San Diego motorists change their wiper blades twice a year, in the spring and fall. That way you have functional blades for those spring showers and CA winter storms. And consider a windshield treatment to help repeal water and make it easier to clean off bugs and road grime.
Like everything else in the CA automotive world, there’ve been some big advancements in wiper blades, both in terms of the design and the materials from which the blade is made. We can help you get the same type of blades that came with your San Diego vehicle, or if you have a need for better than average windshield wipers, you can pay some more for an upgraded wiper.
And if you live where there’s a lot of snow and ice in CA, they make special winter blades that don’t clog up and freeze like standard blades.
Give us a call for more information about wiper blades or any other auto part or service. Our phone number at Mira Mesa Automotive is 858.271.6766.
At Mira Mesa Automotive in San Diego CA (92126) we install quality NAPA replacement parts.
Your auto’s so important to your life in San Diego: when it breaks down, you need it back on the road as soon as possible – with the problem fixed right the first time. If you’ve ever check into some of the training technicians at Mira Mesa Automotive receive, you may be surprised at how much knowledge and skill goes into diagnosing and repairing a modern car in San Diego. Our engines are more and more powerful, fuel efficient and reliable. This is all due to engineering. But the advances come at the price of simplicity. Modern cars in San Diego are so much more complex from a mechanical and electronics standpoint that it makes your head spin. Vehicles have several networked computers controlling most of the engine functions and many other vehicle functions as well. San Diego motorists take all of this sophistication for granted – but somebody has to fix it when it breaks.
It requires a high level of commitment on the part of the technician and Mira Mesa Automotive as well. In addition to the training, there’s the financial commitment by Mira Mesa Automotive to purchase the diagnostic and repair tools as well.
The ability to repair your auto requires a strong combination of training and resources. So try to relax next time you bring your vehicle in to Mira Mesa Automotive. You’re in good hands.
The thermostat is an essential part of your cooling system. San Diego drivers’ vehicle thermostats perform a similar function to the thermostats in their homes. At home, you set your thermostat to maintain a comfortable temperature range. When your home gets too hot, the air conditioning kicks on and when it gets too cool, the heater turns on.
Now your engine also has an optimal temperature range: warm enough to run efficiently and not so hot as to cause engine damage. Your is a key valve between the engine and the radiator. When San Diego auto owners first start a cold engine, the valve (thermostat) is closed, allowing the coolant surrounding the engine to warm up to the proper operating temperature. As the coolant gets hotter, the thermostat opens, allowing coolant to flow through to the radiator to be cooled. The thermostat opens and closes to keep the engine within a certain temperature range.
Now thermostats are rated for a specific temperature depending on the engine – not a one size fits all proposition. Thermostats are subject to normal wear. Proper operation depends on a special wax that expands as it heats up to open a spring-loaded valve. A worn thermostat could stick in the open position causing the engine to run too cool. This is inefficient and could diminish performance and MPG. If a thermostat sticks in the closed position, the engine can be subject to the harmful results of overheating.
There isn’t a specific routine for San Diego auto owners to maintain their thermostat, but maintaining the cooling system by changing the coolant/antifreeze on schedule will make sure the coolant has enough needed corrosion inhibitors to protect the thermostat and other essential system components. Cooling system experts and the team at Mira Mesa Automotive in San Diego recommend replacing your thermostat when you do a coolant flush or exchange. Also, thermostats usually wear out faster than your hoses, so if a worn hose replacement is necessary, replace the thermostat at the same time.
If your temperature warning light comes on, have a diagnostic examination of your cooling system right away. This could be a thermostat issue. The thermostat could also be the culprit for San Diego motorists who aren’t getting hot air when they turn on their heater.
The thermostat is a relatively inexpensive part that stands guard between you and catastrophic and pricey engine damage. Follow your car maker’s manual instructions, or check with your friendly Mira Mesa Automotive service advisor to see if it’s time for a cooling system inspection or service.
Today’s Mira Mesa Automotive article focuses on the effect of tire tread depth on braking. When San Diego and La Jolla drivers talk about stopping power, they tend to focus on their brakes. But our tires are where the rubber meets the road. We have to have tires with enough traction to translate braking power into stopping power.
Let’s concentrate on stopping in wet San Diego conditions. In order for a tire to have good contact with the road, it has to move the water out of the way. If it can’t move the water, the tire will actually ride on top of a thin film of water. That’s called hydroplaning and it is a factor in many CA auto accidents. If it’s really bad, you can actually spin out of control. At best, you won’t stop as fast.
Your auto tires have channels for water to flow through. The deeper the channel, the more water it can move. A brand new tire has very deep channels and can easily move a lot of water. As the tire wears down, the channels become shallower and can move less water.When it wears down enough, it can seriously affect your ability to stop on wet CA roads.
That’s why it’s so important for San Diego and Rancho Santa Fe motorists to replace their tires when they get worn. Consumer Reports and other advocate groups call for a standard of replacing tires when the tread is worn down to 4/32 of an inch. That’s 3.2 millimeters. By comparison, you’ve probably seen the wear indicator that’s molded into tires. When tires are worn to 3/32 of an inch, the tread wear bar is visible.
And that little bit of additional tread makes a big difference. Stopping distances are cut dramatically on wet San Diego surface streets and La Jolla highways. A safe stop from CA freeway speeds with 4/32 of an inch of tread would result in a crash with worn out tires.
There’s an easy way to tell when a tire’s worn to 4/32 of an inch. Just insert a quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn’t cover George Washington’s hairline, it’s time to replace your tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.
You’ve probably heard of this technique using a penny and Abe Lincoln’s head. That measure gives you 2/32 of an inch – half the suggested amount. And if you have uneven tread wear – have us check it out at Mira Mesa Automotive. It could be a problem with your steering or suspension components or a wheel alignment problem. If you need new tires or have any concerns about your brakes, give us a call today at 858.271.6766.
Most San Diego drivers associate turbochargers and superchargers with hot rods and racing. However, the number of everyday cars and trucks coming to San Diego from the factory with chargers is growing every year. You need three elements for combustion: fuel, oxygen, and ignition (spark plug in gasoline engines and compression in diesels). Superchargers and turbochargers deal with the oxygen part of the formula. In the normally aspirated engines San Diego auto owners are familiar with, air is just drawn in from the outside by vacuum pressure created as the engine runs.Turbochargers and superchargers compress the air that goes into the engine’s combustion chamber, forcing in more oxygen. This forced charge of air allows an engine to make more power than a similarly sized normally aspirated engine.
So today we have small 4-cylinder turbocharged engines on San Diego expressways making more power than a full-sized V8 did twenty years ago – and getting far better gas mileage. And the power on charged six and eight cylinder engines is through the roof.
In addition to power and gas mileage, charged engines deliver critical benefits for San Diego motorists at higher altitudes. As the air thins with an increase in elevation, there is less oxygen available to burn in the engine resulting in a significant power loss. Charging forces more air – and oxygen – into the engine, preserving much of the power at altitude. Turbochargers use exhaust from the engine to spin an impeller that compresses the air sent to the engine. Because there is a short time between when you step on the accelerator and the time the exhaust pressure builds up enough to spin the turbo up to speed, there is a short lag in power. To combat this “turbo lag”, some auto manufacturers use two turbos: a small one that quickly spins up when engine speed is low and a larger one for when the engine is running quick. Others use a variable vane technology in the impeller to accomplish the same thing.
Superchargers are driven by a belt connected to the engine’s crankshaft. There is no lag because charging starts immediately (it doesn’t have to wait for exhaust pressure). Superchargers are less efficient for San Diego auto owners because they require engine power to run the compressor whereas turbochargers are powered by “free” exhaust. In both types, the air heats up as it is compressed. In some engines it is necessary to cool the air before it goes into the engine. In those engines, the air passes through what is called an inter-cooler to bring its temperature down to the proper range. An inter-cooler is like a small radiator and may be cooled by air flow or by liquid coolant.
San Diego owners of superchargers and turbochargers should always use the fuel grade recommended by their auto maker. This is essential in charged engines because of the extra pressure as the fuel and air is compressed. Using fuel with too low of an octane rating could lead to premature detonation which can cause pricey damage.
Generally speaking, turbochargers and superchargers do not require regular maintenance. But they do wear like any other part in your vehicle and will eventually need repair or replacement. All of your essential regular vehicle maintenanceshould be done on schedule – things like oil changes and transmission service and so on. Talk with your friendly Mira Mesa Automotive service advisor about any concerns you have and about the next services your vehicle needs.
Your serpentine belt drives your alternator and air conditioning compressor. The power steering and power brake pumps are driven by the serpentine belt in many San Diego vehicles. In some autos, the water pump is driven by the serpentine belt (in others it’s driven by the timing belt). The radiator cooling fan on some vehicles are also driven by the serpentine belt. Some have separate electric motors.
Serpentine belts do a lot of work, but they’re tough and can last for thousands of miles, but just how long will they last? That’ll vary for each individual San Diego car. Your manufacturer or Mira Mesa Automotive technician will have a recommendation for when it should be changed, but it could need it sooner. The good news is that a visual inspection can reveal a belt that’s worn.
It’s often recommended that the tensioner pulley that keeps the belt at the proper tension be replaced along with the serpentine belt. This pulley is mounted to the engine block with a spring loaded arm.
What are the warning signs that there’s a problem with the serpentine belt? You may hear a squealing sound from under the hood when accelerating. A loose belt might give you a slow, slapping sound.
I’m Doug. A few years ago I was driving my ’85 powder blue Dodge Ram charger with about 80,000 miles on it. I was going up a hill in San Diego and heard a noise like a tin can rolling down the road. I looked back and saw my drive shaft bouncing down the hill. I put it in four wheel drive and drove to my San Diego mechanic to get it fixed.
What could I have done to prevent that?
Mira Mesa Automotive Tech Answer: Now that’s quite a story. Doug was fortunate that his vehicle had a part-time four wheel drive system that would let him get home without a rear drive shaft.
This “case of the missing drive shaft” highlights the need for regular vehicle inspections. Now most San Diego drivers are familiar with recommendations for preventive maintenance services like oil changes and coolant replacement. What you may not know is that there are also recommendations for inspections at various intervals.
By the time a vehicle gets 80,000 miles on it like Doug had, the owner’s manual would have called for an automotive analysis of things like the suspension, brakes – and the drive line. Chances are that such an inspection at Mira Mesa Automotive would have revealed early signs of a worn u-joint and Doug could have had it fixed before his drive shaft went rattling down the road.
Ask your friendly Mira Mesa Automotive service specialist about the inspections your vehicle should have.