Thursday, October 30, 2014

Electrify Seattle

Great video about why Electric Vehicles are so beneficial! Video was filmed here in the Seattle area!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Understanding the Fuel MPG On Your Vehicle

Understanding the Fuel MPG On Your Vehicle:

With gas prices rising every year, knowing that the days of $1 per gallon are long behind us, we all consider our Fuel MPG (Miles Per Gallon).  Whether you are curious what your current vehicle is getting, or considering buying a new or different vehicle, or even a hybrid, to get better gas mileage and reduce your expense, we will try to dispel some myths, and provide some useful facts, to help you make the right decision.  The truth may surprise you.

We are going to review, getting better MPG out of your existing vehicle, and what do the EPA MPG ratings mean on new cars - and why you may not be getting as much as your vehicle is rated for.

How Gas prices feel

In our thread of Bruce Titus Automotive Group blogs, we have discussed regular maintenance of your vehicle.  You will notice that in every scenario from Transmission Service to Tire Pressure, one of the benefits of maintaining your vehicle is better fuel consumption and improved MPG performance. This is true regardless of your vehicle make, whether it is a Subaru or a Ford, Jeep or Mitsubishi, a well maintained vehicle runs better, and uses less fuel.

First, we are going to start at the basics.  With all of our technologies, we are all guilty of relying heavily on the information provided.  However, it has been reported that technology provided MPG information can be off by as much as 7%.  Now that may not seem much, but when you are really trying to crunch the numbers, it can definitely skew your view.  Also, lest we forget, not all vehicles on the road are brand new with instrument clusters that tell us our current MPG, miles to empty and a host of other wonderful information.  So if you want to figure out your real average miles per gallon (MPG), fill your tank until the pump shuts off.  Do not add more, just to that point.  Document how many miles are on your car and how many gallons you put in, and drive your vehicle normally.  When it is next time to put fuel in, fill your tank until the pump shuts off, record your miles and the number of gallons put into the tank.  Subtract your miles for the number of miles travelled, divided by the number of gallon put into your tank.  This is your average miles per gallon.  Now, it is best to do this over 5-6 fill ups to get the most accurate information, but this will give you a realistic view of your MPG usage.  There are also a host of phone apps and online sites for Fuel Tracking.  You just enter in your miles and fuel gallons and it will track it all for you.

So, now you know your vehicle is getting horrible gas mileage, you want a new car.  What do you do?  Well, this particular story is not about buying a car, we will tackle that in a future article, but you do need to decide if you just want a new car, a brand new car, a hybrid, or an electric car.  There are so many options to consider.  So, for the sake of this article, we are going to look at buying a new car.  You go online or to the car lot, and you look solely at EPA Fuel Economy Estimates, the sticker on the side of the new car.  You think you would like an SUV and you find their ratings range from 14 mpg to 25 mpg.  Is that good? Bad?, so you start looking at little cars, and you see they range from 25mpg to  almost 40mpg.  Well that is definitely good, right?  and then there are the Hybrid's their sticker says that you will get 98 mpg and save $8,000 dollars a year, that is fantastic!  right?! 

 As with any purchase decision you shouldn't make a choice based on just one factor.  There are many factors to consider beside MPG.  Will this car be driven mostly on the highway or in town?  Read that EPA sticker carefully.  You will find on that Hybrid, that it gets the standard amount of MPG for its vehicle class on the highway, most Hybrid systems only kick in when you are going under 35 mph. 

Where do you drive your car?  And we are not just talking about city or freeway driving.  Do you have kids?  how many? do you often volunteer for the soccer car pool? Do you like to go kayaking, camping, what do you need to haul in your car.  Hybrids and electric vehicles tend to be designed with the in city commuter in mind.  They drive to work, in and around high congestion areas with speed limits below 40 and often at a crawl, generally not hauling more than their dry cleaning or an occasional friend, co-worker or shopping bag. 

There are some great small cars like the Nissan Versa, that get excellent Gas Mileage, without being hybrid, or the Subaru Impreza Wagon, which is rated at up to 35mpg highway, and is an awd, full size vehicle.  Weigh all of your needs before making  a purchase. 

Subaru Instrument Cluster
New vehicles whether or not they are rated high on the MPG scale, get better gas mileage because the computer and sensor components in new vehicle help the engine run at peak efficiency.  Looping back around to, whether new, nearly new or old.  Maintenance is your best defense. are some general bullet point ideas to keep your MPG at its best.

  • Your right foot, can be your biggest reducer of fuel consumption.  When driving, maintain an even controlled speed.  Traveling on the highway, use your cruise control.  Less chance of getting a ticket and you will see improved fuel performance.
  • Change octane levels if you can.  If your owner's manual does not specify Premium or Mid Grade fuel, there is no reason to use it. 
  • Maintain your vehicle tire pressure to factory standards and specifications.  Keep good tires, in good condition, low tread and balding tires, are not just a safety hazard, they affect the performance of you vehicle.
  • Change your air filter.  When you are in for your regular maintenance, and the service advisor recommends you change your air filter, this is for a reason.  The improved air flow allows your car to perform at peak efficiency.
  • Regular oil changes:  Follow you maintenance schedule and keep the life blood of your vehicle clean.  Your car will thank you, and so will your wallet at the pump.
  • Change your spark plugs.  This is a standard part of your 30-60-90k maintenance and is critical maintenance for keeping your car running at its best.
  • Don't idle your car.  Sitting in the driveway waiting for someone...turn off your vehicle.  Now, for those of you over about 35, you were probably taught that idling burned less fuel than turning it off and on, while this might have been the case in your dad's old Ford, the newer fuel injected engines no longer require the chug of gas to get going. 
So you have bought a new car and it says you would get 27 city and 35 highway, but you find that you are not getting these numbers.  This is probably one of the top 5 concerns for Service Advisers when people have purchased a new car, who are counting on the EPA Mileage Statement on the car.  Here are some things to note, as always, there is some fine print.

The statement on vehicle is made by a protocol designed by the EPA.  The following statements are also on the sticker...somewhere:  Expected range for most drivers____ to _____mpg.  and Your actual mileage will vary depending on how you drive and maintain your vehicle.  The same factors are involved.

One factor that some don't understand is actually under use.  While it varies by manufacturer, all things about your vehicle from MPG to warranty to maintenance schedules,  are based on a formula of average miles driven, city and highway, average weather conditions.  As with any "average" formula, there are extremes to both ends.  When it comes to driving, there are all sorts of extremes.  Some people are road warriors, whether they are commuters or regional representatives. Then there are the stay close to home type.  Maybe you live in an urban area with good public transportation and only use your car on the weekends, or perhaps, it is just weekly trips to the local grocery store. This will significantly lower your average MPG.  This is contrary to thought process, where some feel that if they are driving very little than they should be getting better than average MPG.  However, if you will notice "City" is always lower than highway.  Why? because of the stop and go, inconsistent gas depression, causing an inconsistent use of the fuel, therefore lower gas mileage.

Regardless of the make, model or year of your vehicle, it comes down to what you need in a car, and adjusting your driving habits, and maintaining your vehicle.

All Bruce Titus Automotive Group dealerships work on all Makes and Models of vehicles, and have the tools and resources to help you get the most of your vehicle and maximize its average miles per gallon.  You Can Count Us to have trained Service Advisers, Parts Representatives and Technicians on hand to meet your needs.

Ready to make the step to a New Car or affordable pre-owned vehicle?  You Can Count On Us, to help you find the perfect car that will meet your needs and your budget. 

You Can Count On Us at Bruce Titus Automotive Group.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Transmission Service

Transmission Service

In our continued efforts to educate consumers on the importance of maintaining your car, we are going to talk about your transmission.  Simply put, without a transmission your vehicle will not go.  Today's vehicles last longer and are less likely to break down.....true and false.  Today's vehicles are much more sophisticated than their ancestors and their regular maintenance is more important than ever.  With regular maintenance most new generation vehicles will go 200,000 miles without any major issues, but the key is regular maintenance.  Their are some simple facts with any vehicle, parts to wear with time and use and when they break, it costs sufficiently more to fix. So smaller investments along the way can prolong your major expenses to the distant future.

Automatic Transmission
As with any major system, the transmission is often ignored or overlooked until it actually breaks, and then it is huge expense and inconvenience.  Transmissions run anywhere from $2500 to well over $5000 dollars depending on the vehicle.  Admittedly, even with regular maintenance, transmissions fail.  There are many factors that wear on your transmission, such as driving habits.  Do you tow with your vehicle.  Are you driving within the limits of your vehicle?  Do you live in extreme temperatures, hills, dirt roads, heavy commuting traffic......all of these things take a toll on your vehicle, and that includes your transmission.

Your automatic transmission is the most complex and most expensive to repair/replace systems in your vehicle.  It has to do a lot of work and it doesn't require as many regular services as your engine.  this is most likely one of the reasons that transmissions get neglected.  Everybody knows that engine oil must be changed regularly for the engine to last, but what about the transmission?  An automatic transmission depends on the transmission fluid to do all of the work:  the gears, it lubricates all the moving parts and cools down the transmission.  The transmission fluid lasts longer than engine oil, but it still deteriorates over time and under load and high temperature.  For this reason, keeping your transmission fluid clean and at the proper level is vital.  It is also important review your owner's manual to make sure you are using the right type of fluid.  This is one of many reasons that it is recommended that you take your vehicle to a certified brand shop such as your local dealership.  Dealership technicians and advisors are certified and trained in their specific brand, and you can count on them using the appropriate fluids and genuine factory parts.

What can damage your automatic transmission:

Most transmission problems begin with overheating.  Under heavy load, such as when towing a trailer, rocking the vehicle from the snow, having continuous stop and go traffic in hot weather, racing, etc. the transmission overheats.  At higher temperatures the transmission oxidizes, losing its lubricating qualities and leaving deposits inside the transmission.  If you check your transmission fluid in an overheated state it will be dark and dirty with a strong burnt smell.  Exposed to the heat the rubber seals, O-rings, become hard and brittle.  The metal parts warp causing valves to stick.  Al of this, sooner or later, results in transmission failure. 

There are many stories out there of people who have purchased a pre-owned vehicle and the transmission has failed shortly after the purchase, but there are an equal number of stories of new vehicle transmissions failing.  It is inevitible the whole story will come out.  Example: Guy buys a brand new Audi only has it 3 days.  It snows, and he uneducated on how to drive in the snow, so he spends a very long time spinning out in the snow, rocking back and forth etc.  This was not a failure on the part of the manufacturer, but improper use of the transmission and allowing it to get too hot.  Another tale of woe:  Brand new Ford Escape with towing package.  The Escape is designed to tow a certain weight limit, the owners did not read the manual, and figured since it had a hitch on it it could tow anything.  So they borrowed a friends large ski boat, and loaded it with all of their camping gear and headed over the pass.  It was over the weight by about 2,000lbs and their attempts to not be one of those "slow people", they pushed the vehicle beyond its limits.  The transmission blew at the top of the pass.  Because of their failure to read the owner's manual, it was not covered by warranty.

How to prevent transmission problems:

It is always a good idea to regularly check your parking space for drips and leaks.  Now your car will leave some traces of fluid that may appear to be oil, but are really just rode grime.  However, when in doubt, check it out.  While a full repair diagnostic can generally run around $100, a multi-point inspection is a few dollars (on average about $20), and sometimes no charge with an oil change or other minor service.  During Car Car Months, multi-point inspections are free at all Bruce Titus Automotive Group locations.

Check your transmission fluid level and condition.  Unsure how?  stop in your local dealer and ask them to check for you, or request that they check at each of your oil changes.  Now, some vehicles can't be checked in your driveway, for example late model Volkswagen models can only be checked by a mechanic.  However, if you car has the feature and you are up to it, check it regularly, especially if you have been putting it through its paces lately.  Foul or exteme weather, towing, long trip, etc.  Review your Owner's manual for instructions on how to check the fluid in your make and model vehicle.  Chage the fluid as often as it is recommended and get the lines flushed about ever 30,000 miles (this varies by make/model and type of fluid used, but it is a good guideline) or 2 years. 

Your transmission fluid should be red, if it is brown, black or smells burned it needs to be changed immediately.  Use only the same type of fluid as directed by your owner's manual.  Many new vehicles are very sensitive to the fluid type, for example the Subaru Forester, model 2011 and newer require synthetic transmission fluid..

Never shift to Reverse or Park unless at a complete stop.  Do not shift from Park to other modes at high engine RPM's. 

READ YOUR OWNER"S manual!  This is important but becomes critical when towing or extreme outside normal use of your vehicle.  Operating outside of the guidelines of your owner's manual can result in Warranty denial. 

Transmission flush vs drain and refill:

There are two ways to replace transmission fluid.  the "drain and fill" method involves draining all of the fluid from the drain plug, or if there is no draing plug, from the transmission pan and refilling ther transmission with new fluid.  In some cars, there is a fluid filter that also should be replaced when the fluid is changed.  The "transmission flush" is usually done with a special machine that is connected in series to one of the transmission fluid cooler lines. With the engine running the machine pumps out old transmission fluid replading it with new fluid at the same time. 

What is the difference?

With the "drain and fill" method only about 40-50% of the fluid can be changed at once, because a large portion of fluid remaining in the torque converter, valve body and other parts of the transmission cannot be drained.  The drain and fill is not a less expensive option and can be done early on in the breakdown of the oil, but will need to be done more often for maximum protection.

The "Flush" method allows a replacement factor of 90-95% and also pushes out any sediment that may be remaining or settled in thelines.  However, the "Flush" method is not always the best method and depends on the make and model of the vehicle.  Discuss the best options with your Service Advisor. 

How to use an overdrive:

Generally speaking, and overdrive (O/D) is the highest gear in the trasmission.  On most cars the transmission has 3 or 4 gears and an overdive (4th/5th).  Overdrive allows the engine to have less repm witht he higher speed in order to have better fuel efficiency.  When you switchit on, you allow the transmission to shift into overdrive mode after a certain speed is reached. When it is off the transmission will not shift into the O/D gear- in normal driving conditions the O/D should always be on.

You may want to switch it off when driving in mountainous regions or while towing a trailer.

The transmission automatically shifts from O/D to the lwoer gear when it feels more load.  When it feels less load it shifts back to the O/D. Sometimes, under certain conditions, such as driving uphill or towing a trailer, the transmission may not b e able to decie to stay in O/D or to shift into the lower gear and it starts to shift back and forth continuously.  This is a time when you may want to switch the O/D off and help the transmission decide.

You may also want to switch off when you want to slowdown using the engine braking for example driving downhill.  As always, review your Owner's Manual.

It's time to visit the dealerhsip:

If you are experiencing any problems with your transmission such as leadks, noises, problems with shifting, etc., please don't wait until the problem becomes worse.  It is so much less expensive to have it checked and maintained than to replace.  If you wait until it is worse it will be too late, you will finally stop and chances are it won't be at a convenient time and location.  These problems do not self correct. 

 Let's face it, where would you rather be? on the side of the road......or on the road?               

In summary:

Your vehicle's transmission fluids need to be replaced regularly, read your owner's manual for the minimum recommended intervals, to assure trouble-free shifting and to extend the life of your transmission, AND help your fuel economy.  If you know that you have your transmission has experienced or possibly experienced, some extreme temperatures or activities, consult your Service Advisor on your next visit to the dealership and ask to check your fluid.  And just so you know, it is ok, to watch them check it, so you can see the color for yourself.

Call 866-99MOTOR or online schedule your free Multi-Point Inspection today.  Don't wait until it is too late.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

The All-New 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander: Perfect for the Road Ahead

Are you in the market for a new SUV? Olympia Mitsubishi has the answer! The All-New 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander  offers a bold new design both inside and out.  The All-New 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander will surely take you on any adventure, while you enjoy peace of mind that you are in one of the safest vehicles today.Offering a great choice in SUV for up to 7 passengers and 31 MPG.
Olympia Mitsubishi offers the new design of the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander with features and amenities that will have you looking for a reason to go on your next adventure in the 2014 Outlander.
The interior of the 2014 Mitsubishi Outlander is designed with you in mind.

It's not only effortless, it's oh-so-cool. Anytime the FAST-Key is inside the vehicle (even if it's in your pocket or purse), just place your foot on the brake and press the Start/Stop button. Presto, the Outlander springs to life. When you're finished driving, simply place the car in park, press the button again and the engine turns itself off.

The Outlander's available Rockford Fosgate® premium sound system with Punch Control® pumps up to 710 watts through nine speakers (including a 10-inch subwoofer) to deliver deep, rich bass and crystal-clear highs. And because it encompasses the latest audio technology such as Digital Signal Processing, DTS Neural Surround™, PremiDIA WIDE™ Surround and Dolby® Volume, the 2014 Outlander is essentially a high-powered concert hall on wheels.

The 2014 Outlander's large cargo hold is great for hauling all sorts of items — unless you can't easily get to it. That's why we gave the Outlander a convenient remote power tailgate that can be activated from the driver's seat or by the FAST-Key entry remote fob.

An available feature on the Outlander, this stunning next-generation navigation system features a 7-inch HD touchscreen, all-new 3D mapping, road speed limits, expanded Points of Interest (POI) and more. Don't know where you're going? Quickly look up destinations and get detailed driving directions. Trying to avoid gridlock? Real-time traffic data is just a click away. Have a friend along for the ride? The built-in Diamond Lane Guidance®™ system can find the fastest routes using carpool lanes. Or do you just want to rock? Crank up the stereo and access thousands of your favorite tunes via the built-in SD card reader or optional USB iPod® cable.
Olympia Mitsubishi offers a number of performance features with the All-New 2014 Outlander as well.

Mitsubishi's innovative ECO Drive Assist System is designed to help you drive more efficiently. Whenever ECO Mode is activated, the 2014 Outlander will initiate energy-saving measures throughout the vehicle, including the engine, air conditioning and even Super All-Wheel Control system. On S-AWC equipped Outlanders, ECO Mode restricts power to only two wheels during normal driving. This reduces drivetrain drag and fuel consumption, yet power can still be instantly transferred to all four wheels the moment a wheel begins to slip for the ultimate balance of fuel efficiency and control.

Considering Mitsubishi's long heritage of all-wheel drive vehicles, it's no wonder that the 2014 Outlander offers one of the world's most advanced all-wheel drive systems: Super All-Wheel Control (S-AWC). Updated for 2014, S-AWC now features four driver-selectable modes: NORMAL for everyday conditions, SNOW for wintry or loose terrain, LOCK for going off-road, and the new AWC ECO Mode, which sends power to two wheels during normal driving conditions to help save on fuel, yet can instantly transfer power to all four wheels the moment any slippage is detected for the ultimate balance of efficiency and control. What's more,

Thanks to Mitsubishi Innovative Valve-timing Electronic Control (MIVEC) technology, both available engines in the 2014 Outlander combine fun with frugality. Start with the fuel-efficient 2.4-liter 4-cylinder engine in the ES and SE. Incorporating a re-engineered MIVEC system that adds continuously-variable valve lift and timing, it delivers 166 horsepower on the road and 31 mpg¹ at the pump. Or take the Outlander GT's 224-hp, 3.0-liter MIVEC V6. Made from durable, lightweight aluminum for less weight and better fuel efficiency, it offers plenty of oomph along with a respectable 28 mpg² on the highway. Whichever engine you choose, MIVEC technology optimizes valve timing at every speed to deliver outstanding fuel economy without skimping on performance.

¹ EPA-estimated highway mileage for ES and SE FWD. Actual mileage may vary.
² EPA-estimated highway mileage for GT trim. Actual mileage may vary.

If you're looking for the thrill and control of manual shifting combined with the convenience and ease of an automatic, these steering-column-mounted paddle shifters fit the bill. Inspired by our rally heritage and included with the GT trim, it lets you easily upshift or downshift with just a tap of your finger.
Come take a test drive today and see how Bruce Titus Olympia Mitsubishi can help you! 

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Power Steering - Maintenance Free: True or False?


In our continuing series regarding the importance of maintaining your vehicle, we are going to discuss the Power Steering system.  We have hit the big scary items, but now it is time to discuss the equally important, but often viewed as unimportant systems, starting with the Power Steering System.

Arm Strong Power Steering - 2 hands cranking the steering wheel

If you are over 30 you probably remember the days of using 2 hands to crank the steering wheel around the corner.  Ever drive Grandpa's old pick up truck?  I remember asking  my uncle if his truck had power steering, he said "Yes, Armstrong Steering", I asked what that meant, and he replied "you need strong arms to steer it".  And thus the driving lesson began.  I still remember the first time I drove a car with power steering, I about ran us into a ditch, took a while to get used to the ease of the steering wheel. 

Cars and trucks have come along way since the first horseless carriage, and they have jumped by leaps and bounds in the last 20 years.  Some of them even park themselves!  Now, the same is true for steering modules and controls, new generation vehicles have totally different systems.  However, for the purpose of this article, we are going to discuss the majority of vehicles on the road right now, which do have power steering, pumps and fluids.

As we have discussed in previous articles, anything with a fluid, has fluid for a reason, and that fluid breaks down, causing damage to the mechanism that result in premature failure and costly repairs.

That is the summary, so let's break it down.

The power steering system is made of 2-3 components (depends on make/model), and whether you have a recirculating ball or rack and pinion steering system, the power steering aspect of the system works essentially the same way. 

Generic rendering of standard power steering set up.  Systems vary by make and model.

Power Steering Pump:

The power steering gearbox is used in vehicles that do not have rack and pinion steering.  The power steering pump pumps high pressure fluid to the gear box.  There is a A"nut" inside the gear box, which is attached to a long screw (torsion bar and rotary valve system).  The fluid forces the nut to move along the screw as you steer.  The nut makes the sector, which is attached to the pitman arm, move, removing a lot of the friction caused by the weight of a heavy vehicle on the road.  The power steering fluid is returned to the reservoir on the power steering pump via the return hose. 

Rack and Pinion:

The rack and pinion works under the same principle as the gear box, using a long screw-type mechanism and  "nut."  The power steering pumps fluid under high pressure to the rack and pinion's steering mechanism.  The power steering fluid pushes left or right, depending on how you are turning eh steering wheel, then it then through the rack and pinion and up the return hose and back into the power steering reservoir.

The power steering fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the power steering pump and system.  Like any fluid it breaks down over time and becomes less effective.  Like with any fluid in your vehicle, the better you maintain your fluids, the longer the parts will last. 

As mentioned, repeatedly, maintenance recommendations vary greatly by make and model, and tragically some owner's manuals leave this tid bit out completely.  As with any fluid, when you need to change your fluids varies greatly by driving habits, overall maintenance habits, and area driving and weather conditions.  Each time you go in for  you oil change, your shop should be performing a basic vehicle inspection.  (If they aren't you need a different shop)  As always, we recommend using a certified dealer to look at your vehicle, they know the specifications best and will be able to spot trouble sooner and make recommendations based on the on the manufacturers recommendations. 

If everyone is different, and it isn't clear in my owner's manual, how do I know when to change it?
Excellent Question!  If your fluid is "dirty" or dark, it is time to change it out.  If it is really dark, and gritty you need it flushed.  If it is low, they need to look for leaks.  If there are no leaks, then you are due for a flush.  As with any fluid, time, not just use, breaks down the fluid.  So regardless of your driving habits, if you haven't done it in the last 2 years, it is time.

Just like any operating part of your vehicle, the reliability of your steering is not just about comfort, it is about safety.  When you turn that wheel, you want it to respond, when and how you expect it to.  Failure to maintain this vital system can have dire consequences, not too mention prove to be very costly.

Replacing your power steering pump can be one of those unexpected expenses that  could have been prevented.  Example:  Subaru Legacy approximately $650 - that is just for the pump, not any hoses, taxes etc.  Nissan Murano - around $900, Ford F150 basic around $450. 

The lesson here, is take care of your vehicle and it will take care of you. 

Click on this video link for a brief overview of your power steering system.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Dealership Maint Schedule - A Must or A Bluff

Today's topic is regarding vehicle maintenance schedules.  There is a lot to talk about, but I will attempt to break it down for clarity. 

You will find a lot of information, especially on the web, but is it all valid?  The web is a great place to shout your opinion, and outside of politics, vehicle maintenance, is loaded with opinion and conflicting information.  So what's the deal.

Here is the deal:  There is no one singular answer, but overall the maintenance of your vehicle is important and will save you money over the life of your car.  How?  Fewer major mechanical issues, less stress from unreiable transportation, safety, and fuel efficiency. 

Maintenance Saves You Time and Money
I have said it before and I will say it again.  The most common misconception about new generation cars is that they require little maintenance.  Keep oil in it and it will run 200,000 miles.  It is statistically proven that car ownership costs about $100 a month above and beyond your payment and fuel.  The problem is we don't set aside $100  a month, and then when a big repair or maintenance item comes up we are not prepared.  I always suggest that you keep a "Car Fund".  Set a little aside each month  to help defer the cost of higher cost maintenance items or major mechanical failure. 

Ok, so back to the topic.  Do you really need to follow all of these maintenance schedules that have been given to you by your dealer.  Yes and No.  I sense your sigh of frustration, so let's break it down.

Generally, dealers set their standard recommended maintenance schedules to the most severe conditions that may occur in your area.  The manufacturer gives a mixed signal, because they give the dealership a set of severe service standards that they recommned, but then their owner's manual, often gives a different interpretation.  Which do you believe?  - heavy sigh.....both.

The fact is every one drives differently.  Our acceleration and braking rate, long distances or in town driving.  Some use Cruise Control, some never touch it, you may haul horse trailers, but somebody with the exact same vehicle, never takes the truck over 40mph and won't even let people ride in it.  So it is difficult for Manufacturer and Service department to come up with just one big "this is what you have to do".

So, the manufacturer analyzes the general "User" of a specific vehicle.  They take these metrics and create a minimum service schedule.  This minimum service schedule is the bare minimum that they believe, under normal operating conditions will keep your vehicle running within normal parameters, and if you follow these guidelines they will continue to warranty the product. 

But what if you fall outside of the "average" user as determined by the manufacturer, maybe you drive way less, maybe you drive way more, and push your vehicle to the end of its design limits?  That is when the more severe schedule comes into play. Not every maintenance is based just on miles, it also is by time.  If you will recall in previous articles regarding fluids in your vehicle, even with lack of use, time will break down those fluids and they still need to be changed.

As complicated as cars have become, it has become more and more difficult to handle car maintenance on a DIY basis, so you need a mechanic.  Many small, independant shops will tell you that the dealership is just trying to rip you off, or sell you something you don't need.  But the truth is, the dealership has the tools, the training and the oversite of the manufacturer to provide you with the best service for your vehicle.  The bigger truth is that there are unethical people and businesses in this world, so it is best to have some basic knowledge so that you are able to participate in the process and not just taken for a ride.

All maintenance times and measurements are guidelines.  Referring back to the previous comment, we all drive differently.  Generally when quoted a 30k service, you can bet that this as an Extreme list and top end of the price scale.  Discuss this with your Service Advisor and find out if you truly, based on your use, need the Extreme.  In the event you don't, for example, if you just had new tires put on or rotated, you would not need this service, so you should be able to subtract a portion from the fee.  (Average is around 19.95) perhaps your Power Steering Fluid, Brake Fluid are still looking pretty good and don't need a flush yet, subtract the amount. 

EVERY Manufacture, and every model have different needs, so you do need to read your Owner's Manual.  The following is a generic guideline of standard service schedules compiled from multiple manufactures and for the purpose of providing you with a solid guide and easy reference point.  In addition, the following guidelines are based on standard oil NOT Synthetic.  Synthetic oils often last longer or are for use with specialy cars, transmissions or components.  It does not mean that it does not break down or need replacing, and the fees are often significantly more than standard.

Standard Maintenance Schedule:

Every 3-3700 miles       or 3 months
Change Oil and Filter
All lights
Transmission Fluid
Axle and suspension parts
Battery terminals, Cables, mounting
Brake fluid Level
Tire tread and wear pattern
Clutch / Fluid (if applicable)
Coolant level and hose inspection
Differential oil
Propeller shaft and drive shaft boots
engine air filter
engine Drive Belts
Exhaust System
Front Suspension, linkage, ball joints
Power steering fluid/ color/level/top off
Shoks and struts
transfer case oil
Wiper blades and washer fluid/top off

Price on this type of service for Basic, Standard oil, will run anywhere from $20 - $50.00  Average about $35.00.  Remember, cheaper is not always better.  Oil is expensive, and when you are paying only $12 -$19 you have to wonder what kind of oil and parts they are using.  They are making money somewhere.  If they are using low grade or recycled oil, you will need to change your oil more often, or it can cause damage down the road.  Both routes equal more money out of your pocket.  Sometimes it is cheaper to pay more and get quality manufacture specific parts and recommended fluids.

Every 6-8000 miles  or 6 months

Change engine oil and oil filter
Rotate Tires/perform visual brake isnpection
Road Test Vehicle

Same Point inspection as above.

Price for this service is general 20-30 above the standard oil change price.  Basically, it is recommended that you rotate your tires, and get your brakes checked every other oil change.  This will prolong the life of your tires, and catch brake wear early.

Every 15,000 miles or Annually 
- this is where what needs to be done will vary greatly.  Almost every manufacture has a 15k requirement.  What is required will vary slightly, but not much, and if it is your first 15k, on a new car, it is VERY important that you get this service done timely.  Again, actual mileage will vary by MFG, however, 15k, is a fairly standard mileage.

Change engine oil and oil filter
rotate tires and inspect tread and wear pattern
Perform Brake Inspection
Replace Cabin Filter (if equipped) -
replace engine air filter
Replace master cylinder brake fluid
perform batter service, install anti - corrosion pads
Road test vehicle
Vehicle Inspection : See above

This service varies in price from $275 - $400, average price for Standard  is closer $275.  Items that may not be necessary - Cabin Air Filter not all vehicles are equipped, and the cost reduction can vary by MFG from $20 - $60.

EVERY 30,000 miles or 2 years
Time in shop;  4-6 hours

this is one that causes great controversy, among the old DIY types and MFG and the smaller shops.  This is the "Tune Up".  and what is needed and the cost associated varys greaty by MFG, for example:  a 2009 Forester Tune up - full Severe Service costs avg:  $495-$550 (std oil)  However, a 2013 Forester is:  $925-$1000.  Why?  Because the 2013 Forester requires all Synthetic Oil:  Engine Oil, Differential Oil, transmission fluid  .  The 2009 does not.  Additional variations among MFG and models are things such as V-6 or 4 cyl.  Is it a Turbo or other specialty engine.  Is it AWD, etc.

Change engine oil and filter
Rotate Tires and inspect tread and wear pattern
Perform brake inspection
Replace master cylinder brake fluid
Replace cabin filter (if equipped)
Replace engine coolant - just like any fluid this breaks down and loses effectivenes.    Some may                       recommend a flush, (especially small non-MFG shops) check your owner's manual first, not all cars can be flushed)
Perform battery service, install anti-corrosioin pads
Replace Spark Plugs (depending on model/type this will vary the cost)
Replace transmission fluid -   Depending on model, driving and many factors, a flush may be recommended at this point:  if the color is only slightly off, a drain and fill will be just fine, especially on the first 30k, however, (read article regarding transmission service) if the fluid is dark, or burned, a flush may be the better route, whether through driving habits or a few isolated incidents, you have caused the fluid to break down quicker, and flushing is generally best at this point.
Perform differential service (This will vary by wether or not it is AWD , type MFG, and may not even be a factor)
Road Test Vehicle
Complete Vehicle Inspection:

Average cost (std oil) $450-$600

Car maintenance is expensive and incovenient, but not near as expensive as blowing an engine, or a transmission, or being stuck on the side of the road on a rainy night with a car full of kids.  Maintaing your car as you go will save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars over the life of your car. 

We hope that this has helped clear the muddy waters somewhat.  We will break down additional maintenance items in future postings. 

Safe journey from the Bruce Titus Automotive Group Inc.
You Can Count On Us, All Around The Sound

Monday, September 16, 2013

Car Battery: A critical system

Standard Passenger Vehicle Battery
All of the systems in your car are symbiotic, together they make up the whole, and in a perfect symphony keep your vehicle moving forward and stopping safely.  However, while your car will run with no brakes, it will even run for awhile without any fluids, it is dead in the water without the battery.  This one single item, can shut the whole process down.

Just about everyone has had the unfortunate experience of having a dead battery.  Most often this only occurs when you are in a hurry, have hungry and tired kids in the car, or you are in the middle of nowhere with no cell reception. 

First:  What is the Battery?

A car battery is type of rechargeable batter the supplies energy (electricity) to your vehicle.  The battery ignites the starter motor, the lights, and the ignitions system of your vehicle.

Most car batteries are usually lead-acid type, and are made of six galvanic cells in series to provide a 12 volt system.  Each cell provides 2.1 volts for a total of 12.6 volt at full charge.  Heavy vehicles, such as highway maintenance trucks or tractors, are equipped with diesel engines,  and may have two batteries in series to create a 24 volt system, or parallel strings of batteries.

Car batteries are made up of plates of lead and separate plates of lead dioxide, which are submerged into an electrolyte solution of about 35% sulfuric acid and 65% water.  This causes a chemical reaction that releases electrons, allowing them to flow through conductors to produce electricity.  As the battery discharges, the acid of the electrolyte reacts with the materials of the plates, changing their surface to lead sulfate.  When the battery is recharged, the chemical reaction is reversed:  the lead sulfate reforms into lead dioxide and lead.  With the plates restored to their original condition, the process may now be repeated. 

Ok, that was the very technical description of what your car battery is.  In summary: it's the power source for your vehicle, and without it, it will not start, or keep running.

The last thing you need is for your vehicle to fail when you need it.  You can avoid expensive service, stress, or costly tow charge by checking your battery frequently, and taking care of it, as you would any other vehicle system. 

Unfortunately, like many of our vehicle systems, we forget about them until they fail.  There are many factors that can shorten or prolong your battery life. Like many of the systems on your vehicle, environmental and use affect the life of your battery.   Because batteries often fail when the weather turns cold, this leads to the false belief that the cold is hardest on your battery.  In actuality hot regions and weather deplete your battery quicker than cold.  In addition, short trips and many start and stops shorten the life of your battery.

Sulfation occurs when a battery is not fully charged.  The longer it remains in a discharged state the harder it is to overcome sulfation.  This may be overcome with slow, low-current (trickle) charging.  Sulfation is the formation of large, non-conductive lead sulfate crystals on the plates; lead sulfate formation is part of each cycle, but in the discharged condition the crystals become large and block passage of current through the electrolyte.  The primary wear-out mechanism is the shedding of active material from the battery plates, which accumulates at the bottom of the cells and which may eventually short-circuit the plates.  Once a cell is dead or damaged, it cannot be repaired.

In the heat, the battery will discharge without use, in the cold, it holds its charge longer.  When you start your vehicle this requires a discharge from the battery.  An example would be a hot summer day, your battery is already discharging (slowly), you start your vehicle, which causes a discharge from the battery.  Now, once you are moving the vehicles systems will work to recharge it, however, if you are just running to the store a 1/2 mile away, the battery will not receive a full charge.  You then get back in the care, start it, discharging the battery, and drive the car home.  Your car battery is now less than fully charged.  If you drive this way frequently your battery will not have the opportunity to fully charge and will fail months faster than you expect.

If you live in a warm climate and do a lot of short, trip driving you should slow charge/trickle charge your battery about once a month.  If you live in a cooler climate, and do lots of longer range driving, you can stretch this out to every 3 months or so. This will help extend the life of your battery. 

If you are unsure of the status of your battery, be sure to discuss it with your service advisor. We recommend a factory trained and certified advisor versus your neighbor or uncle. A professional service advisor will know the type of battery that is best to use with your vehicle.  They will be able to review and test your battery to check if it has bad cells, if it is at the end of its life, or just needs a little water. 

How long your battery will last will, as mentioned, depend on your environment and driving habits, but the type of battery you purchase is also very important.  Again, consult with your service advisor, and your vehicles operation manual to determine the best battery for your vehicle.  Not all batteries are equal, and while they can be expensive, it is not generally something you want to get a "bargain" on.  Like many items for your vehicle, there are generally cheaper or less expensive options.  However, you will often need to replace them more often, which does not calculate to less expensive in the long run.  Especially if it fails quicker, and tow bills or other mechanical expenses become involved.

Generally changing out your batter is fairly simple, however, the ease is relative and varies by vehicle make and model.  If you are not comfortable, please take it to a service location and have them perform this task for you. 

For additional information please follow this link to a short video on the importance of battery maintenance.

We hope that you have found this useful.  To schedule your vehicle in for your regular maintenance and have your battery checked, please contact us at:

Call 1-866-99MOTOR

or schedule online at :

All Bruce Titus Automotive locations service all Makes and Models.