Before the recession hit, the median age for cars in the Saint Charles IL area (zip code: 60174) was over nine years. And two-thirds had over 75,000 miles. At Rx Automotive
Warm weather or cold, Saint Charles drivers still need to think about their sedan’s air conditioning. Most Saint Charles people don’t service their air conditioning until after it fails. At Rx Automotive, we can advise you on your vehicle manufacturer’s 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 sedan’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 Rx Automotive in Saint Charles.
The refrigerant also contains a special 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 Saint Charles car owners know that air conditioning repairs can be costly. At Rx Automotive, we recommended that the air conditioner be run regularly, even during winter months, to keep the parts and seals lubricated.
Corrosion is what leads to many air conditioning system failures for Saint Charles motorists. The small leaks mentioned earlier also mean that air and water can leak into the air conditioning system. This can lead to rust and dirt in the internal workings of the air conditioning components. This greatly accelerates wear and, ultimately, failure.
Air conditioning service at Rx Automotive starts with a visual inspection of the components for signs of damage or leaks. The compressor is driven by a belt from the engine, most often the serpentine belt, so it’s inspected for cracks or wear. The air conditioning compressor and other components are checked for proper operation. Then comes the leak test. If a leak is detected, often in a hose or connection, it’s repaired and the system is retested.
Then the old refrigerant is evacuated and the system is recharged with clean, fresh refrigerant. A final test insures that the sedan’s air conditioner is working, and you’re on your way.
How often this should be done varies from vehicle to vehicle. Your sedan owner’s manual will have the manufacturer’s recommendation and, of course, your Rx Automotive service advisor can tell you. It’s typically every two years.
If you’re not getting enough cool air you know something’s wrong. Also, if you hear strange sounds when you turn the air on, there might be a problem with the compressor and you should get it checked out at Rx Automotive. Replacing a bad A/C clutch in a sedan is cheaper than waiting for it to ruin the compressor.
Saint Charles 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 sedan. And that’s your cabin air filter. This filter cleans dust, pollen, pollution and other impurities in the air that comes 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 Rx Automotive service advisor to check your cabin air filter at the same time they’re doing your air conditioning service.
Today’s Rx Automotive auto maintenance article focuses on your serpentine belt. Your serpentine belt is a long belt that’s driven by your engine. It winds around several accessories that power important automotive systems. Let’s go over them.
First, the serpentine belt drives your sedan air conditioning system. It spins the compressor that makes the cool air that takes the edge off the summer heat in St Charles.
Next, the belt powers the alternator. The alternator creates electricity that’s used by your sedan’s electrical systems and also charges your car battery. All St Charles drivers know that without the alternator, the battery will go dead in a few miles.
The serpentine belt may also run the pumps for both the power steering and power brakes. And, on many sedans, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine to keep it within normal operating temperatures as you drive around St Charles.
Now on some sedans, the water pump is powered by the timing belt instead of the serpentine belt. So you can see the serpentine belt does a lot of work. And it if breaks, it affects a lot of systems. That’s why manufacturers and your service advisor at Rx Automotive have recommended that it be changed every so often so that it doesn’t fail.
Your St Charles service technician can perform a visual inspection of the belt to see if it has any cracks that signal the belt could fail soon and will measure the amount of belt material to make sure there is enough.
There’s a special, spring loaded pulley attached to the engine called the tensioner pulley. Its job is to make sure there’s a constant tension on the serpentine belt so that it doesn’t slip. The spring can become worn and no longer provide the necessary pressure to keep the belt tight. At Rx Automotive, we recommend that the tensioner be replaced at the same time as the serpentine belt.
All in all, the serpentine belt’s an important part for the function of your sedan. And it’s not that expensive to replace in St Charles – so it’s good to do so before it fails.
When it comes to their vehicles, some St Charles people don’t have a maintenance mindset. They know they need to take care of their cars, but it just seems really hard to get them to remember to do it. St Charles drivers generally accept that many things in life require regular maintenance, but just may have not applied it to their sedans.
For example: the lawn. You water it and mow it every week. And weed the flower beds and rake the leaves. There are other things that St Charles people are good about maintaining. Going to the dentist twice a year. Clothes to the dry cleaner. Flu shots. Taking the kids to your St Charles doctor for a checkup before school starts.
So St Charles people really are maintenance minded. They just have to learn to apply that mindset to cars. I mean, if you never brush your teeth or go to the dentist, you’ll become painfully aware of your neglect when you get a big cavity. Once the damage is done, we learn our lesson and start to take better care of things.
Unfortunately, St Charles sedan owners too often learn the hard automotive lesson when they bring their vehicle to Rx Automotive on a tow truck. So many times a little routine maintenance would have prevented a breakdown.
So how can St Charles drivers get into the habit of taking care of their sedan? It’s so easy to forget. If you skip cutting the grass, you see it every time you pull in the driveway.
Here’s something that will help: The key to good vehicle maintenance starts with the oil change. Think about it – when you go in for a full-service oil change, your Rx Automotive tech will check all your fluids. If one of them is low, he can look for the reason why. If your serpentine belt is cracked, he’ll see it and let you know. Corroded battery cable – they’ve got you covered. And at Rx Automotive, we check to see if your sedan manufacturer has recommended any services at your current mileage.
The oil change becomes kind of a focal point, a way to check in to see what needs to be done. The fact is that vehicle inspection surveys consistently reveal that over 80% of vehicles have one or more unperformed repair or maintenance service. Vehicles are generally very reliable and can take a lot of abuse and neglect. But, you’ve got to remember that sedans are complicated machines. There are parts and fluids that are critical to their function. Without them, the sedan won’t run at all.
So when you come in to Rx Automotive for an oil change, you get a visual inspection from your knowledgeable service advisor and a reminder for recommended services so you can avoid a total failure. And remember that your Rx Automotive service advisor can help you work out a maintenance and repair plan, prioritizing and scheduling the work to make sure you and your family are safe, and avoid expensive breakdowns.
So you have some exciting plans for the IL weekend. You’re going to take some of your Saint Charles, IL 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. But you want to make sure that your sedan maintenance is up to date.
Think about it – heavy traffic on the way out of Saint Charles. There’s hilly terrain as you get to the lake. Some dirt roads – and its going to be pretty hot in Saint Charles this weekend. And all the time you’ll be towing around several thousand extra pounds. 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. What’s a fun little blast to the local IL 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, you need to have it serviced at Rx Automotive on schedule to make sure it runs efficiently.
An automatic transmission contains a maze of passages through which the fluid has to pass to keep it shifting smoothly. If you neglect transmission service, the passages can get clogged up and you start to have problems.
Neglect your transmission for too long, and it can fail. You really don’t want to pay for a major transmission repair.
This reminds us of how much of our driving around Saint Charles, IL 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, driving in very hot or very cold weather. Dusty roads and city driving around Saint Charles, IL add to the strain. Basically, any driving that’s not at highway speeds or under ideal conditions.
While you have your vehicle in, ask for a trip inspection. Your Saint Charles, IL service technician at Rx Automotive will check your belts and hoses and let you know if your brakes are in good shape.
Now, don’t forget the sunscreen.