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Midwinter 4×4 Maintenance and Safe Driving Tips

Preventative maintenance is key to keeping your 4×4 running the way it did as you drove it off of the lot. 4×4, off road vehicles are built to be driven differently and here in Castle Rock, Colorado, we put those differences to the test. Whether you use your 4×4 simply to drive to the office or if you are towing tools and supplies for large construction jobs, there is a certain level of wear and tear any 4×4 will put up with before needing a check up. Consider midwinter maintenance as the best way to keep your 4×4 healthy for the upcoming seasonal changes.

Winter is a season that screams for 4 wheel drive. In some cases, it is the only means of transportation during the worst snow and ice storms, but driving a 4×4 alone doesn’t mean that you are invincible to bad weather and potential accidents. Here are some preventative measures for your 4×4 vehicle that will keep it performing best in the winter weather.

  • Tire Safety – Performance of your vehicle begins with proper tire care and maintenance. Take the time to review the owner’s manual of your vehicle or check the interior of your vehicle’s door to determine the correct tire pressure for your 4×4. Driving on tires that are not properly inflated is dangerous for you and others on the road. It can cause poor performance, skidding, and a blow out should they continue to be driven on without proper care.
  • Consider Snow or Studded Tires – If you want to step it up a level in the winter months, consider swapping your standard issue 4×4 tires for either snow or studded tires. If you perform a job where driving in all types of weather is necessary, this could be a viable option for best performance during poor, icy road conditions. Winter weather specific tires adhere to the road better than your average tires, as they provide more traction on conditions that are poor. These tires should only be used during the winter months.
  • Check Antifreeze Ratio – It is important to mix antifreeze 50/50 with water for the best performance in your 4×4. If temperatures are consistently below zero, that ratio may be altered slightly to include a greater amount of antifreeze. Adjusting this ratio should only be an option during the winter months, as it will be overkill once spring arrives.
  • Top off the Windshield Washer Fluid – During poor driving conditions, it is easy to go through this fluid quickly. Carry a bottle of washer fluid along with you at all times. The worst scenario is that you may run out of fluid while driving, making your windshield a mess of snow, salt from the road, and ice residue that may make proper vision an impossibility. This makes driving incredibly dangerous in poor weather, especially here in Colorado.
  • Inspect Your Wiper Blades – Always keep an eye on your wiper blades. Are they performing properly? Have they become dull and ineffective? Keep this in mind for the same reason you should be checking the wiper fluid level. If clearing the window of snow and ice becomes impossible, so does driving during bad weather.
  • Take it slow – Just because you are driving a high-powered 4 wheel drive machine, it doesn’t mean that you are invincible (though we may feel that way at times.) Keep to the speed limit or below during poor weather. Also, keep in mind that others around you may not be driving a 4×4 equipped with snow tires. Defensive driving during poor, icy weather is paramount to driver safety.

Contact us today at Advanced Four Wheel Drive and Auto Repair to schedule a Midwinter Routine Maintenance appointment and ensure that your 4×4 is operating at peak performance during the winter weather.  Let the experts get you back on the road better than ever!

Get a New Fuel Filter and Give Your Engine a Boost

Your SUV or car requires clean fuel to run well. Your fuel injectors can get clogged when your fuel isn’t clean. If your fuel injectors get blocked, your engine won’t get the right amount of fuel to run properly. This will hurt your fuel economy as you drive around Castle Rock. It can also create harmful deposits and buildup on valves and in the combustion chamber.

This is why all vehicles have a fuel filter between the engine and the fuel tank. The filter’s role is to clean out the flecks of dirt and contamination and keep them out of the fuel stream. Because of this, the fuel filter will get clogged over time and need to be replaced.

If your fuel filter is clogged, your vehicle may sputter when at high speeds or with quick acceleration. There are many filters that have a bypass valve that allows unfiltered fuel through when clogged. This will keep your engine running but it does not protect it from dirt and contaminated fuel.

As your vehicle ages, you may find that you will need to change your fuel filter more often. More and more sediment and rust gathers in the fuel tank over time and can be drawn into the fuel system. Your filter is the guard that protects your expensive engine parts and maintains your fuel economy. Because of this, you shouldn’t skimp on replacing your filter when needed.

Advanced Four Wheel Drive & Auto Repair Discusses Regular vs. Premium Gas

People in Castle Rock, Colorado, often ask if premium gas is better for their car. Let’s begin with a quick education on what premium gasoline actually is.

With different grades of gas there are different octane ratings. While premium gas has the highest octane, regular gas has the lowest octane rating. Most gas stations in Castle Rock carry a mid-grade fuel also that falls in the middle. Due to altitude differences in various regions, octane ranges are different in various locations.

There are different octane ratings because there are different types of engines. As an example, turbocharged engines often require the premium gas.

If you look at your gas tank filler lid, you will see a sticker that directs you on the minimum octane rating your vehicle manufacturer recommends.

We’d be happy to help you identify the type of gas your engine needs if you come by our Castle Rock service center at 736-C W. Castleton Road in Castle Rock, Colorado. You can also give us a call at 720-358-2957 and we can schedule an appointment for you.

If you want to tackle it on your own, read the owner’s manual to see if it’s okay to use lower grades. With some cars it is acceptable to use a lower grade and the engine control computer can simply adapt. You will lose some performance by doing so, but it won’t do any damage. That said, with other engines if you use a lower grade fuel it can result in serious damage; so it’s not worth saving a few dollars on gas only to pay hundreds for a repair.

It is always best to use the grade of gas that is recommended by your vehicle manufacturer.

Today’s vehicles that are computer controlled are optimized to run best on the recommended grade of gasoline. Please note that using a higher grade of fuel than what is recommended will not benefit you at all. You will not get additional performance or increased fuel economy so don’t waste your money.

There are regulations in place that require detergents for all grades of gas to ensure that your engine has the same protection, despite the grade of gasoline you use. If you do hear pinging or knocking from your engine, do take it seriously and get your vehicle SUV into Advanced for a free inspection. It might be a sign that you just need a tune-up but better to be safe than sorry.

Although gas prices remain high, be sure to select the right fuel for your car. Note that it will help to keep your tires inflated properly and your car or SUV well maintained so that you will get the best fuel economy possible.

24/7 Towing Offered at Advanced Four Wheel Drive & Auto Repair in Castle Rock

  • Advanced Four Wheel Drive & Auto Repair in Castle Rock, Colorado is very proud to announce our towing services, intended to make your repairs as convenient as possible. Here are some of the highlights:
  • 24/7 towing available
  • VERY competitive towing fees
  • Tow truck driver will drop your car at the shop and take you back home or to work at no additional charge
  • No added fees for after hour or weekend tow service
  • Use flatbeds tow trucks only to ensure vehicle safety
  • We accept towing Insurance programs

Should the need for a tow arise during business hours, please give us a call at (720) 358-2957. If you have a need after hours or on the weekend, please call (719) 491-0965. A trained, courteous member of our team will arrange to have your vehicle towed to our shop. Take all of the guess work out of looking up a tow company that you have never used before. Here is the great news, you will not have any immediate out of pocket expense. We will simply place the charges on your repair order.

Keep Things Flowing with a Fuel Filter Replacement at Advanced Four Wheel Drive and Auto Repair

The purpose of a fuel filter is self-explanatory. It filters your fuel. The fuel filter is located in fuel line between the fuel tank and the engine. Gas and diesel vehicles around Castle Rock use fuel filters.

As your vehicle ages, fuel line problems actually gets worse because dirt, rust and other contaminants will settle out of the fuel and onto the bottom of the fuel tank. The amount of sediment built up after your car, SUV or 4×4 is five years or older, can be considerable. This means that the fuel filter has to work harder and will get clogged sooner, needing to be replaced more often.

One symptom of a clogged fuel filter is that the engine will sputter at highway speeds or when you accelerate hard. This happens because there is not enough fuel getting through when you need more speed. Clearly, this could be dangerous if your car or SUV can’t get enough power and you need to maneuver quickly.

Dirt can also clog and damage your fuel injectors. Since injectors are not cheap to replace, you don’t want to risk their integrity just to save a few dollars on replacing a fuel filter.

The fuel filter is almost the poster child for preventive maintenance. It’s a small part and it’s cheap to take care of but if it’s neglected, it could lead to thousands of dollars in repair bills.

The auto service schedules in your owner’s manual are important to follow and there for a reason. If ever you don’t understand a recommended service, just ask one of our service advisors at Advanced Four Wheel Drive and Auto Repair. We will be happy to explain.

If you would like more information about your fuel filter, visit Advanced Four Wheel Drive or come by our shop. Please call us today for an appointment. We’d be happy to provide free transportation during any needed repairs to make things as convenient as possible.

Castle Rock Drivers: Good Ears Might Save on Auto Repair Bills

The next time you are driving your car around castle rock, turn down the radio for a minute and listen. You could save hundreds of dollars by avoiding auto repairs.

By listening for early warning signs when driving your vehicle, you can get repairs done before they become bigger problems or require towing charges which can be expensive.

Proactive maintenance and taking the time to look under your hood can also help, of course. After a period of time some of the parts will start leaking. In newer cars, belts, which often drive more than one pump or accessory, can loosen and become frayed. If you sniff around for problems (literally), it may reveal gas or oil odors, which are also warning signs of trouble that could be down the road.

You should have a competent mechanic diagnose any problem, but the following checklist can help you to be aware that something is wrong before you get stranded.

Here is what to look and listen for:

  • Water pump: Be sure to look for leaks around the front of the engine. If you see greenish water it means anti-freeze. Also listen for any knocking sounds, kind of like marbles are in the engine. When the engine is off and cold, grab the opposite fan blades and jiggle them to see if they are loose. Both are warning signs that you have a bad water pump bearing. Also be sure to inspect the condition of the belts. If you leave a bad water pump unchecked, it could cause your car to overheat and can even cause permanent damage to the engine block.
  • Battery: When inspecting the battery, look for corrosion on the terminals. Side-terminal batteries have particularly small connections, so double-check those. Make sure that the connections are tight. If you have a maintenance-free battery, it should have an indicator that appears green if it is fully charged. Also listen for sluggish starting.
  • Alternator: Similar to the battery, the alternator is part of the ignition system, which is complex. A faulty alternator may keep a car running for a while but it is a false sense of security because it will likely go out when you need it most. You can look for early signs by checking the dashboard for a warning light or a needle gauge that reads on the “discharge“ side.

Also check to see if the headlights get brighter when you rev the engine or if the lights dim when you honk the horn. Check the belts. Listen for a metallic, scratchy noise, which could mean you have a bad alternator bearing.

Alternators today have voltage regulators, and ignition coils are built into the distributors of many new cars. This can make it hard to pinpoint the problem. Also, sometimes just a loose wire or a loose belt can cause a problem.

  • Starter: If electrical accessories and the headlights work fine but the engine still has a hard time cranking over, the problem could be the starter. This is another part of the ignition system. Listen for a loud `whirr` or clicking sound when you turn the key. This likely means that the starter is going bad.
  • Steering: If you notice difficulty staying in your lane, you should check the tire pressure. If your tires are fine, the steering linkages may be the culprit.

Brake Flush Maintenance Saves Your Brakes!

Why proactively flush and replace the brake fluid? This is actually a legitimate piece of preventive maintenance. Brake fluid is a hydrostatic fluid, meaning that it attracts water. To test this, leave a can of brake fluid out to sit and it will collect water on top of it.
Keeping brake fluid free of water is important since water can rust the brake lines and over time affect operating parts in your vehicle. It’s actually a good idea to have your brakes flushed every 1 to 1.5 years.

Sun Dangers for Vehicles in Castle Rock

While most of us love the summer sun, heat is the enemy for cars as it can ruin everything from your cooling system to your oil and tires. The extent of repairs needed for heat issues can be as small as replacing a radiator hose to as grand as needing to buy a new engine.

As the weather heats up, we see a rise in calls for repairs. A lot of the problems are a result of drivers not understanding that heat can be damaging to their vehicles. When cars run hot, many of us simply ignore the issue until something more dramatic happens. Some common sense checks you should take as the weather heats up are: checking the cooling system, hoses and belts and changing to a heavier weight of oil (ideally not a multi-grade because it can break down in high heat). You should also check your batteries, especially if they are original equipment and over two years old.

Summertime heat can also just be uncomfortable, we suggest that you run your air conditioner on recirculate so that you are recirculating cool air from inside and not pulling hot air in from outside. This is easier on you and on your air conditioner! You could also consider tinting your windows to block the heat. A windshield sun shade, ideally a reflective one, could also be used when you are parked in the sun.

Castle Rock Drivers: Is your car making a strange rumbling noise?

Do you hear a rumbling sound when you drive? First check your tires! Check to see if there are signs of substantial wear, which could indicate they are out of balance or out of alignment.

If tires are not the problem, have your breaks checked. They could be ready for new pads or in need of new rotors. If the brakes look good, worn struts could be causing the noise.

The lesson is this: whenever you hear a strange noise that is difficult to pinpoint, the golden rule is to start with the least complicated and expensive possibility and go from there.

If your car is making a strange noise, we’d be happy to look at it for you! Please call Advanced Four Wheel Drive and Auto Repair in Castle Rock for a free inspection.

Break Leak in Castle Rock?

Is your car, truck or SUV making strange noises? Do you see spots on the driveway or in your garage? If so, you could have a break leak and it will only get worse over time.

To do a little self-inspection, wait until your car has been at rest, ideally overnight before looking under the car. Then you should inspect the inside surface of each wheel for dark spots: looking for fluid that runs from the rim to the bottom of the tire. If you’re in a pinch for time or cash, you can get by for a few days or maybe weeks by religiously topping off the fluid, but you should know that the cost of repair is not that great and if the issue is left too long, the brake fluid can soak into the pads and ruin the brakes altogether.

If you think you have a possible break leak please bring your car into Advanced Four Wheel Drive and Auto Repair in Castle Rock, Colorado, for inspection on us. We want to ensure that you are safe and sound on the road!