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

Tracking True In MO: Wheel Alignment In Ballwin

Wheel alignment is often overlooked by busy Ballwin and Fenton car owners until serious tire damage has been done. One wheel can be knocked out of alignment by hitting a curb or pothole on a Dupo expressway or surface street.

When a vehicle’s out of alignment, one or more of the wheels does not track true and pulls against the others. This causes several serious problems. First off, the tires will wear out faster and will need to be replaced prematurely. It could also lead to expensive pickup suspension problems.

Tracking True In MO: Wheel Alignment In Ballwin

But the big issue for Ballwin, Fenton, and Marlborough car owners is safety. When your pickup wheels are out of alignment, the vehicle will pull to one side, which could lead to an accident. When you’re out of alignment, you should have it taken care of right away at Carsmart Auto Service in Marlborough.

When undergoing an alignment service at Carsmart Auto Service, your pickup is put on an alignment rack where the tires, steering and suspension parts are checked for damage. Then the alignment is charted and checked against the factory settings.

Precision adjustments are made to bring the wheels back into alignment. This gets all four wheels going in exactly the same direction.

Fenton drivers should be aware of the signs of alignment problems. These include the car pulling to one side. Also, the steering wheel may not be centered when you’re going straight. If you see the edges of one or more tires rapidly wearing down, you should have your Dupo service center look it over. If you’ve been in an auto accident in MO that involved a wheel, you should get your alignment checked.

Obviously, a big jolt can seriously knock things out of alignment, but Ballwin drivers also need to understand that a series of smaller ones can add up.

That’s why auto manufacturers recommend periodic alignment checks. If your pickup owner’s manual doesn’t specify, once a year might be appropriate. Or check with Dan DeCaro or your service advisor at Carsmart Auto Service in Marlborough.

One thing’s for sure: the cost of the alignment at Carsmart Auto Service is cheaper for Ballwin drivers than having to buy a couple of new tires because of neglect.

Commitment to Make Your pickup Last At Carsmart Auto Service

For advice on how to make your pickup last longer, visit us at Carsmart Auto Service
7921 Watson Road
Marlborough, MO 63119
314.968.9496

These days many people in the Dupo area are really committed to making their cars last a long time. First thing: you’ve got to start with what you’ve got. It’d be ideal if people started with a brand new car, never missed a scheduled service item, paid attention to the severe service maintenance schedule and had regular inspections. But if you’ve had the vehicle for a while, or bought it used, its maintenance history is what it is; and that’s where you start.

Go through the maintenance schedule for your pickup and see what’s been done and when. Have your Marlborough service advisor at Carsmart Auto Service do an inspection and come up with a list of stuff that needs to be done. Review the list and prioritize the work, talk about budget and make a plan to get caught up.

Making a plan is so important. Suppose you go in for an oil change and learn you need your cooling system serviced, a transmission service and are coming up on a timing belt replacement in the next 5,000 miles. You might be pretty overwhelmed.

To make it even more stressful, these are all very important systems that are expensive to repair if there’s a failure. In consultation with your Marlborough service advisor, you might decide to take care of the transmission on this visit, set an appointment for the cooling system service next month and get an estimate for the timing belt replacement so you’ll be prepared for it in a few months.

Having a plan for taking care of these important services will set your mind at ease.

Clean Air for Your Engine: A New Engine Air Filter at Carsmart Auto Service

All of us Marlborough car owners know we have to get the oil changed in our pickups periodically. That’s just part of good car care. But when Dupo service advisors change your oil, they also usually inspect your air filter. That’s why they sometimes let you know that your air filter needs to be changed before releasing your pickup.

Don’t just chock this up to trying to sell you something else. Fenton drivers really do need to change their air filter when it gets dirty. You can check your owner’s manual to see how often your air filter should need to be changed, but remember, if you live in an area in MO with poor air quality, or if you drive a lot or drive under harsh conditions in the Dupo area, you may need to change that filter more often than is recommended.

Changing an air filter isn’t guesswork. If a filter’s dirty, it needs to be replaced. Air filters aren’t very expensive at Carsmart Auto Service in Marlborough. But the problems they cause if Marlborough auto owners don’t change them can get to be costly.

For every gallon of gas your pickup burns, it needs 12,000 gallons of air. Clean filters allow better airflow into your engine, which means that your engine will get more air more quickly. That means your pickup engine runs more efficiently.

Dirty air filters cut airflow to your engine. All the debris in the filter clogs up the spaces the air needs to pass through to get to the engine. This dirty air can damage costly electronic components.

If you are in tune with your pickup, you’ll notice a difference when you change a really dirty air filter for a clean one. Your pickup may actually purr for you again. Its performance improves when it has a new, clean filter. So remember, changing your air filter is one of the most vital elements of preventive maintenance. At Carsmart Auto Service, it’s inexpensive, it’s effective, and it’s essential.

Fuel Saving Tip: Car Weight And Your MO Driving

Weight is the enemy of fuel economy. Everyone from here to Fenton knows this makes sense.

Some of us in the Fenton area carry a bunch of unnecessary weight, and I’m not talkin’ what you see in the mirror.

pickup Weight Guys; sports equipment and tools. Ladies; well, just take a look around the passenger compartment and trunk. I think my car has about forty-five pounds of French fries on the floor.

All that extra weight wastes gas as you drive between here and Fenton, and everywhere else.

Lose the junk and save some money.

…And you really only need one of those spare tires.

Watching Your Check Engine Light

Did you know that most of the cars driving around Marlborough, MO carry more computer power than the Apollo 121 Lunar Module that landed on the moon in 1969?

New cars sold in the Dupo area have as many as twelve networked computers and over five miles (eight kilometers) of wiring. In fact, for the last decade or so, auto computers have been controlling about 85 percent of your vehicle’s functions.

Cars have sensors for manifold air temperature, coolant temperature, manifold air pressure, airflow, throttle position, vehicle speed and oxygen content. All of this electronic wizardry is pretty complicated. So how do Marlborough motorists know when there is a problem?

It’s simple; the Check Engine light comes on. The computer monitors all the sensors and uses that information to decide what to adjust such as the fuel mix, spark timing and idle speed. In addition, the computer monitors its own circuits. When it finds a fault, it turns on the Check Engine light and stores a trouble code in the computer.

It can be pretty disturbing for Marlborough motorists when the Check Engine light comes on. We wonder just how urgent it is. Generally speaking, it is not critical like a temperature or oil pressure light. When you get one of those it means STOP NOW! When the Check Engine light shows up, you should come in to Carsmart Auto Service in Marlborough to find out what the matter is as soon as possible.

Since 1996, there has been a strong emissions control component to the Check Engine diagnostic. But if your Check Engine light flashes on and off, you know that it is more urgent and you need to get it checked immediately to prevent damage. You should slow down and avoid towing or heavy loads until you can get it checked out.

Your courteous Carsmart Auto Service technician has special diagnostic equipment that will retrieve the trouble code from the computer and help him determine what is wrong. From there, we can fix it and get you back on the road.

Stop by if you’re check engine light is on.

Carsmart Auto Service
7921 Watson Road
Marlborough, MO 63119
314.968.9496

How Your Check Engine Light Works

Have you ever had an experience like this in Marlborough MO? You drive through the one of those automatic car washes. When you get to the end, where the dryer is blowing, your check engine light started flashing!

You fear the worst, but within a block or two, the light stopped flashing, but stayed on. By the next day, the light was off.

You wonder; “What was going on?” Well, it’s actually a good lesson in how the Check Engine light works.

Your air intake system has a sensor that measures how much air is coming through it. When you went under the high-speed dryer, all that air was blasting past the sensor. Your engine computer was saying, there shouldn’t be that much air when the engine is just idling. Something’s wrong. Whatever’s wrong could cause some serious engine damage.

Warning, warning! It flashes the check engine light, to alert you to take immediate action.

It stopped flashing because once you were out from under the dryer, the airflow returned to normal. Now the engine control computer says the danger is past, but I’m still concerned, I’ll keep this light on for now.

Then the Check Engine Light goes off in a day or two.

The condition never did recur, so the computer says whatever it was, it’s gone now. The danger is past, I’ll turn that light off.

Now a flashing check engine light is serious. You need to get it into our Marlborough MO shop as soon as possible. But if it stops flashing, so you have time to see if the problem will clear itself or if you need to get it checked. How does the computer know when to clear itself?

Think of it this way. The engine control computer is the brain that can make adjustments to manage the engine. Things like alter the air to fuel mix, spark advance, and so on. The computer relies on a series of sensors to get the information it needs to make decisions on what to do.

The computer knows what readings are in a normal range for various conditions. Get out of range, and it logs a trouble code and lights up the check engine warning.

The computer will then try to make adjustments if it can. If the computer can’t compensate for the problem, the check engine light stays on.

The computer logs a trouble code. Some people think the code will tell the technician exactly what’s wrong?

Actually, the code will tell the technician what sensor reading is out of parameters. It can’t really tell you why, because there could be any number of causes.

Let’s say you’re feeling hot. You get your heat sensor out – a thermometer – put it under our tongue and in a minute or two you learn that you have a fever of 104 degrees.

You know your symptom – a fever – but you don’t know what’s causing it. Is it the flu, a sinus infection or appendicitis?

You need more information than just that one sensor reading. But it does give you a place to start and narrows down the possible problems.

There are reports on the internet telling you that you can just go down to an auto parts store and get them to read your trouble code or buy a cheap scan tool to do it yourself.

There are two problems with that. First, the computer stores some trouble codes in short term memory, and some in permanent memory. Each manufacturer’s computer stores generic trouble codes, but they also store codes that are specific to their brand.

A cheap, generic scan tool, like you can buy or that the auto parts store uses, doesn’t have the ability to retrieve long-term storage or manufacturer specific codes. Your Marlborough MO service center has spent a lot of money on high-end scan tools and software to do a deep retrieval of information from your engine control computer.

The second problem is that once you’ve got the information, do you know what to do with it? For example, a very common trouble code comes up when the reading on the oxygen sensor is out of whack.

So the common solution is for the auto parts store to sell you a new oxygen sensor, which are not cheap, and send you off on your way. Now your oxygen sensor may indeed have been bad and needed replacing. But the error code could have come from any of a dozen of other problems.

How do you know the right solution? Back to the fever analogy, do you need surgery or an aspirin? Leave it to the pros at Carsmart Auto Service. Give us a call at 314.968.9496 and let us help you resolve your check engine light issue.

Why is My Check Engine Light On?

 

The Check Engine Light strikes fear into the hearts of some Marlborough auto owners and is totally ignored by just as many. Just what it means is a mystery to most of us Marlborough motorists.

Let’s get the urgency issues out of the way first. If your check engine light is flashing, that means that something is wrong that could cause critical engine damage. Naturally, you need to get that taken care of right away. If your check engine light is flashing, you shouldn’t drive at MO highway speeds, tow or haul heavy loads. Take it easy all the way to your Marlborough service center.

Why is My Check Engine Light On?

If the light is glowing steadily, you should keep an eye on it for a day or two. If the light doesn’t go off, schedule an appointment with your courteous Carsmart Auto Service service professional to get it checked out.

Some more Marlborough information on how the Check Engine Light works may be informative for Marlborough car owners. Most of your engine functions are controlled by a computer, not surprisingly, called an engine control computer. The computer is able to adjust many engine parameters for environmental conditions, engine condition and even the way you drive.

In order to make these adjustments, the computer relies on a network of sensors to provide data. The computer knows the proper operating range for each sensor. When a sensor reading is out of range the computer runs some tests and may turn on the pickup’s Check Engine Light.

A simple example is a loose or missing gas cap. This may cause one of the sensors to read out of range. The computer doesn’t know if it’s a serious condition that caused the reading or just a loose gas cap, so it stores a trouble code and turns on the Check Engine Light.

Now when you tighten up the gas cap the sensor readings will be in the correct range. The computer will keep checking on the report for a day or two. Since a bad reading didn’t come up again, it turns off the Check Engine Light. The computer will also try to make adjustments to compensate for some readings. If it can do so, it’ll then turn off the Check Engine Light.

If the problem can’t be resolved then the light will remain on and you should get your pickup looked at. Your courteous Carsmart Auto Service service specialist will plug a scanner into the on-board diagnostic port and read the trouble code stored in the computer. The trouble code will give the technician a starting place as he diagnoses the cause of the problem.

Can Your Car Last Another Year?

Have you checked out the price of new vehicles at Marlborough car dealers? Ouch! Add financing and insurance and – well a new ride may not seem so attractive. A lot of Marlborough, MO folks are hoping to make their cars last a lot longer.

Fortunately, with the current state of automotive engineering and manufacturing, there’s no reason a modern vehicle can’t be made to last for a 150,000 miles or more for smart Marlborough motorists.

The old adage: ‘a stitch in time saves nine’ is really true for Marlborough auto owners when it comes to car maintenance. A great example is coolant service.

Over time, coolant becomes corrosive and actually starts to damage your radiator and other parts. Smart Marlborough motorists have their cooling system service taken care of right on schedule.

Ditto for your power steering system, brake fluid, air conditioning system, differential and transmission. Of course, oil changes should be done right on schedule to avoid the build-up of harmful oil sludge.

Don’t let your brake pads go too long before they are worn to the point that your rotors are at risk. Preventative auto maintenance at Carsmart Auto Service is a great way to keep your operating costs down in Marlborough.

Replacing belts and hoses is much cheaper than repairing the costly damage that can be caused by failure.

We know that this is a lot for busy Dupo area drivers to remember. Let the team of automotive professionals at Carsmart Auto Service keep on top of this stuff for you. We can tell you what your auto maker recommends and help you develop an affordable plan to take care of it.

Bottom line – do routine maintenance on schedule and you will reduce operating costs, prevent expensive repairs and maintain your warranty coverage. Call Carsmart Auto Service today for an appointment; you can reach us at 314.968.9496.

Let us take good care of your car at Carsmart Auto Service in Marlborough, and it’ll take good care of you.

Carsmart Auto Service
Give us a call today at 314.968.9496.
Or stop by at 7921 Watson Road, Marlborough, MO 63119

Ethics of Automotive Repair in Marlborough

We’re going to be talking about the ethics of automotive repair. It seems like news outlets really like hit-and-run reporting; they hit everyone from groceries stores to retail to physicians. And the Marlborough automotive service and repair industry hasn’t been given a pass either.

Unfortunately, every profession in Marlborough has some bad actors that hurt the reputation of everyone else. On the automotive side, industry associations and professional licensing organizations are very committed to high ethical standards.

Yet some people remain uncomfortable with Marlborough automotive service and repair. It may start with the fact that our vehicles are a big investment and we rely on them for so much in our lives. That alone guarantees our attention. And how well we understand the recommendations really impacts our comfort level.

If we understand what’s recommended and the benefits of taking care of the work – and the pitfalls of putting it off – we’ll have more trust in the recommendation. So communication is key. It’s like going to the doctor; If she’s using medical jargon and takes a lot of basic medical knowledge for granted, we have a hard time following her train of thought. It can be like that with your Marlborough service advisor too. He’s so familiar with all things automotive, he may forget you don’t know a PCV from an EGT.

If you don’t understand what your doctor’s talking about: ask some questions. If you don’t understand what your Marlborough automotive advisor’s talking about: ask some questions.

Let’s go back to those ethical standards; when we hear a repair recommendation, we always ask ourselves, “Is this really necessary?” Well, here’s the industry standard:

If a technician tells you that a repair or replacement is required it must meet the following criteria:

  1. The part no longer performs its intended purpose
  2. The part does not meet a design specification
  3. The part is missing

For example, it you take your car in for a grinding noise when you step on the brakes, you may just think you need new brake pads. After the inspection, the technician at Carsmart Auto Service says that you have a cracked rotor and need to replace it.

If you tried to get him to simply put new pads on, he would say that if you didn’t want to replace the rotor; Carsmart Auto Service would ethically have to refuse the repair.

To just put pads on a cracked rotor would have been very wrong. The brakes could’ve failed at anytime and needed to be repaired – not just have a band-aid slapped on them.

Now, looking at something not so serious, the technician may suggest repair or replacement if:

  1. The part is close to the end of its useful life – just above discard specifications or likely to fail soon
  2. To address a customer need or request – like for better ride or increased performance
  3. To comply with maintenance recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer
  4. Based on the technician’s informed experience

Of course, the technician has the burden of making ethical recommendations and properly educating their customers. For the customer, if you are uncomfortable with a recommendation, ask some questions. More information is always a good thing.

Drive Train – What You Need to Know In Marlborough

One Marlborough automotive service issue that doesn’t get much attention is driveline service. Drivelines don’t get talked about very much around Dupo, but they’re very important. First let’s define what the driveline is:

Taking a small step back, the power plant is comprised of the engine and transmission. The driveline starts there and includes all of the components that transfer power from the transmission to the wheels.

That’s not really a lot of components, but they handle the full force of the engine. Without the driveline you’re not moving. So Marlborough auto owners need to take good care of it. The driveline components differ depending on whether your vehicle has front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, all wheel drive or four wheel drive. For purposes of our discussion, we’re going to have to oversimplify a bit.

If you are ready to have your drive train looked at, give us a call:
Carsmart Auto Service
7921 Watson Road
Marlborough, MO 63119
Call Us at 314.968.9496

Let’s start with front wheel drive. The point where the transmission stops and the driveline begins is a little blurred with front wheel drive because the transaxle houses both the transmission function and the differential function. The half shafts that send power to each front wheel, come out of the transaxle. The shaft is connected to the wheel by a constant velocity, or CV, joint. The CV joint is protected from dirt and water by an airtight, flexible rubber boot.

So, Carsmart Auto Service driveline service would include properly servicing the transaxle and inspecting the cv boot to see if it’s torn or loose. If it is, it needs to be replaced and the CV joint inspected for damage. Repairs may be in order. Besides visual damage to the airtight CV boot, you might hear a clicking noise when turning. Recommended maintenance for the transaxle and CV joints will be spelled out in your owner’s manual or check with your courteous Carsmart Auto Service service professional.

On to rear wheel drive. The driveline for a rear wheel drive vehicle starts with the driveshaft – that long tube that connects the transmission with the differential on the rear axle. Some vehicles in Marlborough have a two piece drive shaft. The shafts are connected to the transmission and the differential with big universal joints. Most Marlborough motorists have probably heard the term ‘u-joints‘. These joints can wear out, just like the CV joints in front wheel drive vehicles. You may hear some clunking or feel a jolt when shifting into drive or reverse – if you do, get your driveline inspected at Carsmart Auto Service in Marlborough.

The differential on the rear axle sends power out to each rear wheel through half shafts in the axle. The differential fluid needs to be drained periodically and replaced with clean fluid. When the seal on the end of the axle is damaged or leaks, the axle will need to be serviced. The routine maintenance item here is differential service. Be sure to check your owner’s manual or Marlborough service advisor for intervals.

Now let’s go on to all wheel drive. Remember that the difference between all wheel drive and four wheel drive is that an all wheel drive vehicle is essentially providing power to all of the wheels all of the time. The pickup may be able to shift more of the power to the front or to the back depending on where you need traction. All wheel drive vehicles are designed to work well on dry pavement. Even some high-end sports cars from makers like Lamborghini and Porsche have all wheel drive.

Some all wheel drive vehicles are designed to work well off-road in Marlborough, but all hard-core rock crawlers are four wheel drive. These guys thrive in mud, sand, rocks and hills – but they don’t work well on dry pavement when they’re in four wheel drive. So they have the option to shift to rear wheel drive only on dry pavement.

Most all-wheel drive vehicles are very similar to front wheel drive when it comes to the front end. They also have a center differential that transfers power to the rear differential. Connecting it all is a shaft from the transaxle to the center differential and another from the center differential to the rear differential. So all of the normal front wheel drive service is critical as well as service to the center and rear differentials.

Four wheel drive can be thought of as a rear wheel drive vehicle that can also send power to the front axle. There’s a transfer case in the middle of the vehicle that can be shifted to send power through a drive shaft to a differential on the front axle. So Marlborough car owners need differential service for the front and rear differentials and for the transfer case as well.

The bottom line for Marlborough auto owners is that the maintenance schedules are in your owner’s manual. Your Marlborough service advisor can answer any questions you’ve got. If this is the first time you’ve heard some of this stuff – it’s time to ask someone at Carsmart Auto Service if any of it needs to be done now.

Watch our auto tips video from AutoNetTV