CarSmart Auto Service

Providing Saint Louis car owners with quality automotive services and repairs since 1980

CarSmart Auto Service - Providing Saint Louis car owners with quality automotive services and repairs since 1980

Keeping Your ‘Old Faithful’ Auto Running

At Carsmart Auto Service we’ve had a lot of Marlborough, East Carondelet, and Fenton clients asking how they can make their vehicles last longer. These questions are actually a reflection of a trend that’s been building for several years in MO. The median age of personal vehicles is now over nine years. And 33 percent of all vehicles on the road have over 75,000 miles on them. It looks like it’s going to keep heading in that direction for a while. With high fuel prices, a lot of Dupo folks are putting off buying a new car. Thanks to AutoNetTV, we can provide you with a video answer to this vital question.

So let’s say you’re one of the average drivers in the Dupo area; you’ve got a nine year old car with 80,000 miles on the odometer. What can you to do make it last another year or two?

Let’s start with the premise that there’s no reason that a modern car can’t run for 200,000 miles with proper care in Marlborough. The engineering and manufacturing quality is there.

Of course, some parts will wear out along the way, but there’s no reason for a catastrophic meltdown if quick Marlborough auto owners stay on top of their recommended car maintenance. The maintenance schedule in some auto maker’s owner’s manuals runs out at 60,000 miles or so: how do Marlborough car owners know what to do when they’re way past that?

It is a challenge, for example: If a service is recommended every 15,000 miles for the first 60,000 miles you can just keep getting it done at least every 15,000 miles after you hit 60,000 miles. But, it gets more complicated because older engines lose some efficiency, are dirtier inside and are just more stressed. That means it’s very important to not miss any scheduled services. Skipping just one oil change at Carsmart Auto Service in Marlborough, for example, leaves an opportunity for dangerous sludge to build up. Talk to your courteous Carsmart Auto Service service advisor.

So all the usual things like oil changes, transmission service, coolant service, brakes, power steering, fuel system cleaning – all that stuff needs to be maintained. People responsible for fleet vehicles around Marlborough are sticklers for scheduled maintenance. They know that money spent on maintenance saves them three ways:

  1. it keeps fuel economy from decreasing;
  2. it prevents expensive repairs, and;
  3. they can postpone purchasing new vehicles.

Having the oil changed may be the most essential thing auto owners can do. A full-service oil change at Carsmart Auto Service means that all of your other fluids get topped off so they are never low enough to cause damage. It also gives your courteous Carsmart Auto Service service advisor a chance to spot problems in the early stages so that you can fix them before they get pricey. And it gives you a touch point with an automotive professional along the way to remind you of things that aren’t scheduled as often – things like differential service and timing belt replacement.

If you live in the Marlborough area and have an older vehicle, you may need to follow the severe service maintenance schedule. Check your owner’s manual and talk with your tech at Carsmart Auto Service. Conditions inside an older engine, transmission and cooling system can arguably be considered severe – so shorter intervals could well be called for.

And, the team at Carsmart Auto Service strongly encourages Marlborough auto owners to consider using high mileage formulation fluids. They’re fluids like engine oil, transmission fluid and coolant that are formulated for older engines. They have special additives to clean deposits, and to condition and restore seals and gaskets that dry out with age. Some Marlborough auto owners start using higher mileage formulations at around 50,000 miles as a preventive measure.

Of course you also want to still look marvelous in your older car as you drive around Dupo. Salt and road grime wreak havoc on your paint job and can lead to body rust – so regular washing is very important. Also, a good quality waxing is recommended at least twice a year.

Give us a call for more information:

Carsmart Auto Service
7921 Watson Road
Marlborough, MO 63119
314.968.9496

Cooling System Components


Today we want to talk about an important system in our cars – the cooling system. It’s one of those things that Marlborough drivers don’t give much thought to until it fails and then they’re stranded by the side of a road in Marlborough.

Cooling systems fail more often than any other mechanical system – usually because of neglect. Don’t you hate it when something breaks, and you could have done something to prevent it?

The good news is that if Marlborough car owners take care of their cooling systems they can keep working for the life of their car.

Here at AutoNetTV and Carsmart Auto Service in Marlborough, we emphasize critical preventive maintenance services like replacing your coolant according to the factory schedule. But the various parts that make up the cooling system need attention too. The major components of the cooling system are the water pump, freeze plugs, the thermostat, the radiator, cooling fans, the heater core, the pressure cap, the overflow tank and the hoses.

It sounds complicated, but we Marlborough drivers don’t have to be experts – we can leave that to our courteous technician at Carsmart Auto Service. But, having an overview will help us remember how to take care of your car’s cooling system.

Most Marlborough folks would be surprised to know that burning fuel in your engine produces up to 4,500 degrees of heat. And all that heat has to be dealt with. If the heat can’t be drawn off the engine, the pistons will literally weld themselves to the inside of the cylinders – then you just have to throw the engine away and get a new one. That would cost thousands of dollars.

Now the water pump is what forces the coolant through passages in the pickup engine to absorb heat. The pump is driven by a belt that needs replacement from time to time. And the water pump will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. Spending some cash on replacing the belts and water pump is much less than the cost of repairing the extremely costly damage that can be done when an engine seizes.

There’s another little but important part of the coolant system that protects the engine. It’s called a freeze plug. If you remember from high school chemistry, water expands when it freezes. In very cold areas, the coolant can actually freeze when the pickup is left sitting.

It is hard to believe, but the expanding frozen coolant is strong enough to actually crack the engine block. The freeze plugs fit into the engine block. They fit tight enough to withstand the pressure of a running engine, but can expand or pop out if the coolant freezes. These little things save a lot of engine blocks.

That brings up a good point. An engine has to work in all kinds of MO temperatures – extremely hot as well as very cold. How does the pickup cooling system adapt to external temperatures as well as varying operating conditions?

Well, it’s much like the way you keep your Marlborough house at a comfortable temperature all year round – with a thermostat. The thermostat in your pickup controls how much coolant flows through your engine. When the engine is cold, it restricts coolant flow until the engine comes up to an efficient operating temperature. Then it starts opening up to move more coolant to keep the temperature within a specified range.

The thermostat needs to be replaced from time to time as well. It’s easy for your Carsmart Auto Service technician to diagnose a failed thermostat and is fairly inexpensive to replace. We can do this for you at Carsmart Auto Service in Marlborough, just give us a call: 314.968.9496. Now we’ve been talking about all this heat we’ve got to get rid of, but haven’t really talked about where it goes. That’s where the radiator comes in. The hot coolant passes through the radiator. Air flows past the cooling fins and cools the coolant.

The radiator has two tanks that hold coolant: sometimes one at the top and bottom or one on either side. If you have an automatic transmission in your pickup, one of the tanks will also contain a second tank that cools the transmission fluid. Large SUV’s and trucks often have a separate transmission cooler. So when Marlborough car owners drive around Marlborough, the air is forced past the radiator. But driving doesn’t produce enough air flow. So the radiator has cooling fans that force fresh air over the radiator. These fans may be powered by a belt or by electric motors.

Marlborough drivers also have something called a heater core. The heater core is like a mini radiator. A small fan blows air over the heater core and into the passenger compartment of your pickup. That’s how Marlborough motorists warm their cars when it’s cold out in MO.

Next is the radiator cap. With most newer cars around Marlborough, you never remove the radiator cap, except to replace it. You add coolant through the overflow tank. The radiator cap is also called a pressure cap, because its important job is to maintain pressure in the cooling system.

High pressure raises the boiling point of the coolant, so it cools more effectively even in very demanding Dupo conditions. That is why Marlborough auto owners need to replace the cap from time to time. The team at Carsmart Auto Service recommends changing it out every time you replace your coolant.

Coming back to the overflow tank, it is important because when the coolant gets hot it expands and the overflow holds the extra volume. The tank helps maintain the proper level of coolant and keeps air out of the system. Marlborough auto owners should never open the radiator cap or over flow tank when the engine is hot. This could lead to serious burns.

What else do we Marlborough auto owners need to do to keep our cooling systems working well? Well, there are the hoses that hook all of these pieces together. They’re obviously very tough to deal with the pressure and high temperatures. But they do get worn. Sometimes they get spongy from the heat. Sometimes they lose their connection to the radiator, water pump, etc. It’s a great idea to have your Marlborough service center or courteous Carsmart Auto Service service professional inspect your hoses at least once a year and replace them, if needed, before they break.

The team at Carsmart Auto Service can check your cooling system and make any necessary adjustments or repairs. Give us a call at 314.968.9496.

Carsmart Auto Service
7921 Watson Road
Marlborough, MO 63119
314.968.9496

Carsmart Auto Service Often Asked About Premium vs. Regular Gas

Marlborough motorists often ask the question: “Will using premium gas make my car run better?” The answer is simple. But first, let’s talk about what exactly premium gasoline is.

Different grades of gasoline have different octane ratings. Regular gasoline has the lowest octane rating and premium the highest. Most gas stations around Marlborough, MO also carry a mid-grade that falls in between the two. The octane range for the different grades of gas varies by region due to altitude differences.

Engines require different octane ratings because of design differences. For example, turbocharged engines usually require premium gas.

There’s a sticker on your gas tank filler lid that tells you the minimum octane rating your auto manufacturer recommends.

For help identifying the type of gasoline your engine needs, come by Carsmart Auto Service in Marlborough:

7921 Watson Road
Marlborough, MO 63119
314.968.9496

Marlborough car owners should read their owner’s manuals carefully to see if it’s acceptable to use lower grades. With some cars in Marlborough, MO it is; the engine control computer can adapt. Marlborough car owners will lose some performance, but won’t do damage. With other engines, using a lower grade of fuel could result in serious and pricey damage; so you don’t want to save a couple of bucks at the pump only to pay it out a hundred fold at your Marlborough repair shop.

Your car will run best on the type of gas recommended by the manufacturer.

Today’s computer controlled vehicles are optimized to run well on the recommended grade of fuel. Using a higher grade than is recommended will not give Marlborough car owners any additional performance or better gas mileage.

Regulations require detergents for all grades of gasoline, so your engine will have the same protection, regardless of the grade of fuel you use. If you do hear some knocking or pinging from your engine, take it seriously and get your pickup into Carsmart Auto Service. It may be a sign that you need a tune-up or some other repair.

In times of expensive gas prices, most Marlborough auto owners are conscious of making their fuel dollar go further as we drive around MO. Be sure to use the right gas for your car. Keep your tires properly inflated and your vehicle well maintained and you will get the best MPG possible.

Fuel System Cleaning at Carsmart Auto Service for Better Performance

Hi Marlborough motorists. Let’s talk fuel injectors. A fuel injector is a valve that delivers fuel to a vehicle’s engine. It has to deliver the precise amount of fuel, to precisely the right place, precisely when the engine needs it. The fuel also has to be mixed with air before it can burn in the engine.

Fuel injectors are engineered to spray fuel in a specific pattern into the engine. (The pattern varies by engine type and design.) In order to achieve these spray patterns, the fuel must be pressurized.

The pressure in a fuel injection system varies depending on its type. Many gasoline pickup engines use port injection systems, which operate with a pressure of 60 pounds per square inch. Newer direct injection systems operate at 10 to 30 times that pressure. Some diesel passenger vehicles have fuel injectors that operate at 30,000 pounds or more per square inch.

Fuel System Cleaning at Carsmart Auto Service for Better PerformanceVehicles have one fuel injector for each cylinder in the engine. Your vehicle’s control computer constantly monitors the engine and various sensors in the vehicle and adjusts the fuel injectors accordingly so that they can deliver the proper amount of fuel to the engine. As you can see, fuel injectors are a sophisticated and vital part of your vehicle’s engine. Because fuel injectors are such precision instruments, dirt and contaminants are a serious detriment to their performance. When an injector gets gummed up, it affects the pressure, pattern and timing of the fuel delivery. The result is a decrease in fuel efficiency and loss of engine performance for Marlborough drivers.

So it’s to Marlborough drivers’ advantage to keep their fuel injectors clean. That starts with keeping the fuel in your tank clean. High-quality fuel contains detergents and additives that help clean your engine. Brand-name fuel companies also deliver a more consistent quality of fuel to Marlborough auto owners than do bargain Dupo area service stations.

The second way to keep your injectors clean is to keep your fuel filter clean. This filter screens dirt and rust out of the fuel as it travels from the tank to the engine. If the filter clogs up, fuel will bypass it and carry its load of dirt into the engine.

Marlborough drivers should check their owner’s manual to find out how often they should change their fuel filter. This should be part of your regular preventive maintenance. Also, remember that if you use bargain-brand or low-grade fuels, or if you drive an older vehicle between Marlborough, East Carondelet and Ballwin , your filter will need to be changed more often.

You can also purchase cleaners at Carsmart Auto Service that will protect your fuel injectors. These cleaners are added to the fuel tank. They work best at preventing build-up in your fuel injectors and can clean up small amounts of carbon, gum and varnish. But they won’t be able to clean a fully gummed-up injector. Read the labels before using any of these products for full directions on their use. If your fuel injectors are gummed up, you can get a professional deep cleaning service at Carsmart Auto Service in Marlborough that will result in better MPG and improved vehicle performance.

Good car care will prevent serious damage to your fuel injector system. And this is one system that you want to keep in perfect condition.