About Us > Blog

Steering Clear in Pleasant Hill

2018-08-12 08:10:04

Those who know vehicles believe the steering system may be the most vital component of them all. Perhaps you've found over the years your steering has gotten loose. Or maybe suddenly, your steering wheel has gotten very hard to turn. Let's steer you in the direction of understanding why this may be happening.

First, loose steering. This can likely be the result of wear and tear on the components that connect the steering mechanism with the wheels. Those parts can be ball joints, Pitman arms or tie rods. These parts take a lot of abuse on the road, thanks to railroad tracks, potholes, uneven surfaces: you name it. It's important that they be checked regularly and maintained at Timmons Vehicle Service.

Second, the hard-to-turn wheel. Virtually all vehicles on the road have power steering. There are a couple of different types, though, so let's deal with each. By the way, when they fail, your vehicle's steering can suddenly go from easy peasy to really hard to control.

Some vehicles have hydraulic power steering. It uses a hydraulic fluid that can either leak out or become contaminated. When that happens, you can lose that power assist. There's also a belt involved, and if it becomes worn, stretched or cracked (or even breaks), you'll find yourself struggling with the wheel. If you hear a loud whine coming from the area in the engine compartment when you are steering, that could mean your power steering pump is failing. The best way to avoid these problems is regular maintenance.

Recently, manufacturers have been using electric power steering systems that have some advantages over hydraulic systems. They have electric motors that—like everything mechanical—can fail. Sometimes a fuse to the power steering motor will blow, but simply replacing the fuse often doesn't get to the root cause of the problem. A Timmons Vehicle Service technician can evaluate the system and recommend a solution.

Steering issues are all about safety and should be addressed as soon as possible. When you tell your service advisor, try to be specific about the signs and symptoms. It's one way to steer clear of trouble on the road.

Timmons Vehicle Service
855 Contra Costa Blvd.
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
925.938.9665

Automotive Tips from Timmons Vehicle Service: A Broken or Damaged Timing Belt

2018-08-06 10:02:03

The timing belt rotates the cam shafts which open and close the valves that allow air, fuel, and exhaust to flow through the engine as it powers your car when you drive around Pleasant Hill.

An old timing belt can lose a “tooth” in the belt allowing it to slip. The engine could stop or misfire. Timing belt slips – or a broken timing belt – can be disastrous on some engines. In “interference” engines, open valves can get in the way of the piston when the timing belt breaks or slips. When that happens one or more valves can be bent requiring expensive engine repairs.

It is important for Pleasant Hill drivers to replace their timing belts as recommended in their owner’s manual to avoid unnecessary breakdowns. Ask the team of professionals at Timmons Vehicle Service in Pleasant Hill if it’s time for your timing belt to be replaced.

Timmons Vehicle Service
855 Contra Costa Blvd.
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
925.938.9665

Breathe Free in Pleasant Hill: Cabin Air Filter Replacement at Timmons Vehicle Service

2018-07-29 07:49:03

There are a lot of new features, both optional and standard, on Pleasant Hill drivers' vehicles these days. One you may not have heard of is called a cabin air filter. Simply put, its job is to keep the air in the passenger compartment of your car nice and clean.

A cabin air filter is similar to the filter you use on your furnace at home in Pleasant Hill. Cabin air filters can catch particles down to three microns. By comparison, a grain of sand is 200 microns. So cabin air filters are effective against dust, dirt, pollen, mold spores and most pollutants in our Pleasant Hill area atmosphere. Good news if you suffer from any types of allergies, or if you live in an area in CA prone to air pollution.

Cabin air filters are generally located in the engine compartment or under the dashboard. They can be tricky to access and replace, so you'll probably want to go to your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Timmons Vehicle Service to get it done. Check your vehicle owner's manual to find out if your vehicle is equipped with a cabin air filter and how often it should be changed. Recommendations vary, but generally a cabin air filter should be changed every 12,000 to 15,000 miles (19,000 to 24,000 kilometers).

Of course, if you are an allergy sufferer in Pleasant Hill, you may want to replace it more often. Also, if you do a lot of driving in polluted or dusty areas in CA, you'll also want to shorten the cabin air filter replacement period. Dirty air filters just don't work well, and they can exude an unpleasant odor if ignored for too long.

Most Pleasant Hill folks know that good car care includes keeping your vehicle clean, including the air inside the passenger compartment, so changing your cabin air filter should be part of your routine preventive maintenance. It's good auto advice as well as good medical advice that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You really shouldn't wait until the interior of your car starts to smell and your eyes start to water before you change your filter. And trying to cover it up with a dangling green pine tree is not the right answer, either!

Cabin air filters can be a welcome relief to Pleasant Hill allergy sufferers, but they're also a great idea for anyone in CA who just wants to breathe better.

Timmons Vehicle Service
855 Contra Costa Blvd.
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
925.938.9665

 

When "Shady" is a Good Thing

2018-07-24 08:36:04

Just like your skin can burn from too much sun, so can the paint on your vehicle.  It can turn dull, oxidize and fade the more ultraviolet rays beat down on it. One solution is to park in a shady spot, or you can buy a cover for your vehicle and put it on when you know it's going to be sitting in the sun for awhile. Yes, it takes a couple of minutes to put on, but in the end, keeping the gloss on your paint will help it retain its beauty… and its value.

And it's not just the sun that can damage your vehicle's paint.  Grit, bird droppings, sap, dust and dead bugs can all ruin the paint.  So, keep your vehicle clean.  Wash it with a soap made especially for vehicles. Dry it with special towels that won't scratch your paint.  Remember:  DON'T WASH YOUR VEHICLE IN THE SUN. Once your vehicle is washed, protect the paint even further with a coat of wax.  DON'T WAX YOUR VEHICLE IN THE SUN, EITHER.

Don't forget the vehicle's interior.  Plastic components inside can literally disintegrate when sunshine heats them up.  That's what causes that oily film on the inside of the windows. So, pick up some of those reflective panels that unfold, placing them in the windshield and back window when you know the sun and heat are going to be intense.  They'll keep out the ultraviolet light and help the interior stay cooler as well.  That will help prevent upholstery from fading and plastic from cracking.

While you're at it, keep your interior's interior clean, too.  That dust and dirt can literally bake into the dashboard, the seats, console and carpeting.  There are cleaning products designed to clean your vehicle's interior that won't stain it or dry it out.

You invested a lot of money into that vehicle.  The sun and dirt are just waiting to destroy it.  Defend your valuable vehicle against the elements.  Hey, it may not wind up on display in a museum, but it'll look great and last longer with just a little TLC.   

Timmons Vehicle Service
855 Contra Costa Blvd.
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
925.938.9665

Hold the Oil! (Oil Pan Gasket Replacement)

2018-07-17 08:35:03

You've likely heard how important oil is to your vehicle's engine. Did you know that there's one part that's responsible for holding that oil so you can use it every day? It's called the oil pan, and it sits at the bottom of the engine.

The oil pan is a vital, though simple, part of your engine's lubrication system. Oil circulates through parts of your engine to keep them lubricated. It reduces friction so everything works smoothly. Without oil, friction would quickly destroy your engine. The oil pan keeps that oil contained in the lubrication system, so it's important that the oil doesn't leak out. Since it's a metal part attached to another metal part, there is a gasket between the oil pan and the part of the engine it attaches to.

Various things can put stress on the oil pan and gasket, including weather extremes, the speed you're traveling and the condition of the oil. You may drive over a couple of bad roads and kick up debris onto your oil pan. All this wear and tear, heat and time can take their toll. So after a while, the gasket can just wear out and start leaking. It usually starts pretty slowly. If you see oil visible under your vehicle where you park it, that might be a sign of a leaky oil pan gasket. Another sign? You smell burning oil coming from your engine. If the leak is bad and your engine has lost a lot of oil, you may eventually see the oil light go on.

Let your service advisor know if you are experiencing any of these things. Driving with insufficient oil can badly damage your engine. And it can do it quickly. A Timmons Vehicle Service trained technician will check to find the source of the leak. It may just be a gasket, but it also could be the oil pan is damaged and needs replacing as well.

This is a repair you should get taken care of. Your engine needs its lubrication system intact to provide you many years of service.

Timmons Vehicle Service
855 Contra Costa Blvd.
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
925.938.9665

Hold the Oil! (Oil Pan Gasket Replacement)

2018-07-17 08:35:03

You've likely heard how important oil is to your vehicle's engine. Did you know that there's one part that's responsible for holding that oil so you can use it every day? It's called the oil pan, and it sits at the bottom of the engine.

The oil pan is a vital, though simple, part of your engine's lubrication system. Oil circulates through parts of your engine to keep them lubricated. It reduces friction so everything works smoothly. Without oil, friction would quickly destroy your engine. The oil pan keeps that oil contained in the lubrication system, so it's important that the oil doesn't leak out. Since it's a metal part attached to another metal part, there is a gasket between the oil pan and the part of the engine it attaches to.

Various things can put stress on the oil pan and gasket, including weather extremes, the speed you're traveling and the condition of the oil. You may drive over a couple of bad roads and kick up debris onto your oil pan. All this wear and tear, heat and time can take their toll. So after a while, the gasket can just wear out and start leaking. It usually starts pretty slowly. If you see oil visible under your vehicle where you park it, that might be a sign of a leaky oil pan gasket. Another sign? You smell burning oil coming from your engine. If the leak is bad and your engine has lost a lot of oil, you may eventually see the oil light go on.

Let your service advisor know if you are experiencing any of these things. Driving with insufficient oil can badly damage your engine. And it can do it quickly. A Timmons Vehicle Service trained technician will check to find the source of the leak. It may just be a gasket, but it also could be the oil pan is damaged and needs replacing as well.

This is a repair you should get taken care of. Your engine needs its lubrication system intact to provide you many years of service.

Timmons Vehicle Service
855 Contra Costa Blvd.
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
925.938.9665

The Engine Gets a Boost (Turbocharged Engine Maintenance)

2018-07-09 01:58:03

If someone told you that your vehicle could have the same power but with a smaller engine, wouldn't that sound like great idea? Just think, a smaller engine would save you money at the gas station and you'd still get the same horsepower.

The technology to do just that has been around for a long time. It's called a turbocharger.

Race cars and other performance vehicles have been using turbochargers for years. It gives them a power boost without the need of a bigger engine, saving them fuel and pit stops.

Automakers have offered turbo gasoline and diesel engines for years, but there were problems with durability. Plus drivers had to make some driving adjustments with the way turbos delivered power. Newer turbos, though, have been vastly improved, and manufacturers are including them in more models. For example, Jeep offers its 2019 Cherokee with a choice of two engines that each make about 270 horsepower. One is a 4-cylinder turbocharged engine and the other is a 6-cylinder conventional gasoline engine. The general rule of thumb is: the fewer the cylinders, the better the fuel economy.

A turbocharged vehicle uses a turbine that is turned by exhaust gas. That compresses air that goes into the engine, which then allows it to use more fuel per second, increasing power. One advantage of a turbo is that it is only engaged when the driver demands more power from the engine by stepping on the throttle harder.

One thing to remember, though, is that turbocharged engines have additional parts and are more complex. That means they can be more expensive to maintain. The upside? You'll likely save fuel.

Like any complex machine, it's important that you maintain your turbo vehicle so it will give you more years of service. Timmons Vehicle Service technicians are trained to inspect and service the systems associated with a turbo engine. If you already drive a turbocharged vehicle, keep up your regular maintenance schedule to get the longest life and performance out of it.

Because of the advantages these powertrains offer, turbo engines are definitely here to stay.

Timmons Vehicle Service
855 Contra Costa Blvd.
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
925.938.9665

The Engine Gets a Boost (Turbocharged Engine Maintenance)

2018-07-09 01:58:03

If someone told you that your vehicle could have the same power but with a smaller engine, wouldn't that sound like great idea? Just think, a smaller engine would save you money at the gas station and you'd still get the same horsepower.

The technology to do just that has been around for a long time. It's called a turbocharger.

Race cars and other performance vehicles have been using turbochargers for years. It gives them a power boost without the need of a bigger engine, saving them fuel and pit stops.

Automakers have offered turbo gasoline and diesel engines for years, but there were problems with durability. Plus drivers had to make some driving adjustments with the way turbos delivered power. Newer turbos, though, have been vastly improved, and manufacturers are including them in more models. For example, Jeep offers its 2019 Cherokee with a choice of two engines that each make about 270 horsepower. One is a 4-cylinder turbocharged engine and the other is a 6-cylinder conventional gasoline engine. The general rule of thumb is: the fewer the cylinders, the better the fuel economy.

A turbocharged vehicle uses a turbine that is turned by exhaust gas. That compresses air that goes into the engine, which then allows it to use more fuel per second, increasing power. One advantage of a turbo is that it is only engaged when the driver demands more power from the engine by stepping on the throttle harder.

One thing to remember, though, is that turbocharged engines have additional parts and are more complex. That means they can be more expensive to maintain. The upside? You'll likely save fuel.

Like any complex machine, it's important that you maintain your turbo vehicle so it will give you more years of service. Timmons Vehicle Service technicians are trained to inspect and service the systems associated with a turbo engine. If you already drive a turbocharged vehicle, keep up your regular maintenance schedule to get the longest life and performance out of it.

Because of the advantages these powertrains offer, turbo engines are definitely here to stay.

Timmons Vehicle Service
855 Contra Costa Blvd.
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
925.938.9665

Power Steering Service in Pleasant Hill

2018-07-03 09:13:03



Most Pleasant Hill drivers are too young to remember life before power steering - cranking those great big steering wheels! It was a pretty good workout. Now power steering is standard. Let's look at how it works. The heart of any power steering system is its pump. The pump pressurizes the power steering fluid that provides assist for steering. Most pumps are driven by a belt that is run by the engine; a few are electrically powered. A high-pressure hose passes fluid from the pump to the steering gear. A low pressure hose returns the fluid back to the pump.

These hoses can develop leaks, so it is a good idea for Pleasant Hill drivers to have them inspected at every oil change. Low fluid can damage the power steering pump. That is why power steering fluid level is on the checklist for a full-service oil change. The fluid needs to be compatible with the hoses and seals, so check your owner's manual for the right type - or just ask your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Timmons Vehicle Service in Pleasant Hill.

The fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the power steering system. It breaks down as the years go by and collects unwanted moisture, so Pleasant Hill drivers need to replace it from time to time. Many vehicle manufacturers specify power steering service intervals. Unfortunately, this important service is sometimes left off the car maintenance schedule for many of us. So, when in doubt, every 25,000 miles/40,000 km or two years is a good fallback. Your technician at Timmons Vehicle Service will use a detergent to clean the system, flush out the old fluid and replace it with the good stuff.

Here are some  warning signs of trouble with your power steering: It's harder to turn the wheel, there's erratic power assist, you hear loud whining coming from the pump (which may be difficult to hear over the loud whining coming from the backseat), you have to top-off the fluid frequently, or you hear squealing belts. Remember to never hold the steering wheel to the far right or left for more than a few seconds at a time. That will wear out your power steering pump quickly.

Other steering components can be bent or damaged from wear or hard knocks: ball-joint, idler-arm, steering-gear, steering-knuckle and tie rod to name a few. Warning signs here are steering play, wandering, uneven tire wear and an off-center steering wheel. An annual alignment check at Timmons Vehicle Service in Pleasant Hill will reveal bent or damaged steering components.

Most SUV's, pick-ups and rear-wheel-drive cars need regular front-wheel-bearing service.

The bearings should be cleaned and inspected. If they are excessively worn, they need to be replaced. The bearings are then repacked in clean grease. The team at Timmons Vehicle Service also recommends the wheel-seal be replaced when the bearings are serviced. Like everything else, check your owners' manual maintenance schedule. It's usually required around every two years or 40,000 miles/64,000 km. If you drive through water in the Pleasant Hill area, the bearings will need service more often.

Timmons Vehicle Service
855 Contra Costa Blvd.
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
925.938.9665

 

Smooth Shifting in Pleasant Hill, CA: Transmission Service

2018-06-25 07:30:03

So you have some exciting plans for the weekend. You're going to take some of your 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. However, there is something even more important than the cleanliness of the interior: you want to make sure that your vehicle maintenance is up to date.

Think about it – heavy traffic on the way out of Pleasant Hill. There's hilly terrain as you get to the lake. Some dirt roads – and it's going to be pretty hot in CA this weekend. And all the time you'll be towing around a lot of extra weight. 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. A fun little blast to the local CA 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, it's important for Pleasant Hill drivers to have it serviced by automotive professionals like the team at Timmons Vehicle Service to make sure it runs efficiently.

An automatic transmission contains a maze of passages through which the fluid must pass to keep it shifting smoothly. Pleasant Hill drivers who neglect regularly scheduled transmission service risk the passages clogging up and starting to have problems.

Those who neglect their transmission for too long will eventually experience transmission failure. You really don't want to pay for a major transmission repair.

This reminds us of how much of our driving around Pleasant Hill, CA, 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 and driving in very hot or very cold CA weather. Dusty roads and city driving around Pleasant Hill add to the strain. Basically, any driving that's not at highway speeds or under ideal conditions can be considered severe conditions.

While you have your vehicle in, ask for a trip inspection. Your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Timmons Vehicle Service will check your belts and hoses and let you know if your brakes are in good shape.

Now, don't forget the sunscreen.

 

Timmons Vehicle Service
855 Contra Costa Blvd.
Pleasant Hill, CA 94523
925.938.9665

next >