The Aardvark Automotive Guide to Dashboard Warning Lights

Everyone who drives a modern vehicle is at least somewhat aware of the dashboard warning lights that let you know when there may be trouble lurking under your hood. The “check engine light” is probably the most familiar—but it continues to perplex drivers regularly… “My car’s driving fine. Why is my check engine light on?” or “I just got an oil change. What’s up with the check engine light?” In addition to the check engine light, many newer cars have warning lights for tire pressure, the cooling system, engine oil, other fluids, and more. So, if you see one of these lights while driving, what should you do? Keep going? Panic? Pull over? Should you stop where you are, or is it safe to drive home?

Without further ado, here’s Aardvark Automotive’s guide to dashboard warning lights…

Check Engine Light – Flashing Versus Solid

Your vehicle’s check engine light can indicate many different issues, but you may not know that there is a distinction between a solid light and one that is flashing. A solid check engine light usually means a problem has occurred more than once—often an emission-related problem—and you should get it checked out soon. In general, a solid check engine light is no cause for immediate alarm, but get it checked as soon as you can. On the other hand, a flashing check engine light is an urgent warning. If you continue driving, you are likely doing damage to your engine, so you should stop as soon as possible.

Oil Pressure Warning Light

The oil pressure light appears when you start your vehicle, and should go off almost immediately. If you ever see this light while driving, stop when you can and check your oil level. If you’re low on oil, top it up, and start the engine again. If the light stays on, or if you weren’t low on oil, it could be an indicator of a more serious problem, so bring your car in for a check-up ASAP.

Battery Warning Light

Like the oil pressure warning light, your battery light appears when you start your vehicle, and probably goes off soon after. If it stays on, or if it appears while you’re driving, then there could be either a problem with your battery or alternator. A battery warning light should be taken seriously—you don’t want to be stranded with a car that won’t start. If your batter is over two years old, it may need replacing. If not, you may have an alternator problem.

ABS Light

The ABS light indicates trouble with your antilock braking system. While it doesn’t usually mean you have no braking ability, the ABS light means something about the system isn’t functioning properly. So, it’s okay to drive your car for the time being, but you should be driving straight to the auto repair shop.

Brake & ABS Warning Light

If you see a light shaped like a circle with an exclamation point in the middle, you should stop driving as soon as safely possible. Don’t brake suddenly. Rather, slow down gradually, and get yourself some assistance. This light signifies a problem with your brake system that is serious and potentially dangerous.

If any of your dashboard warning lights are on, call Aardvark Automotive and schedule service. Even if it doesn’t seem like anything’s wrong with your vehicle right now, you can save yourself from dealing with—and paying for—a major repair down the road.

Ideas for Old Tires

In the spring and summer, we think it’s great to have some fun projects in mind to keep ourselves outdoors and busy. For an auto-related upscale, look no further than the old tires you’ve had (or need to have) replaced.

Did you know that every year 290 million tires are discarded? But luckily for the environment (and for us), about 233 million of those tires are recycled in one way or another. For example, shredded tires can be used for playground surfaces, welcome mats, hot-melt asphalt, bark mulch, and even made into building materials for green construction. You can also recycle your own used tires by creating rustic and funky planters, tables, and more. Here are some ideas:

  • Do you have kids or grandkids? Do you have an old tractor tire or know someone with a farm or ranch in the Amarillo area? If so, fill a tractor tire with sand to make a great sandbox for kids, especially little boys who love farm equipment.
  • To make a cool planter with personality, stack a couple of tires on top of each other, bolt them together, and paint them a cheerful color (or two). Fill with dirt and plant your favorite flowers. (Just don’t grow vegetable plants in tires.)
  • Another way to do tire planters is to hang the tires and fill the bottom with dirt, or you can slightly embed them in the ground.
  • For fun and exercise, lay two rows of tires next to each other, somewhat staggered, and use them for broken-field running.
  • To make an instant patio table, bolt two tires together, paint them a fun color, and add a wood or glass top. We think a salvaged wood and salvaged tire table combo is whimsical, charming, and so much better than a generic patio table from the store.
  • Combine used tires with other building materials (and a little imagination), and you could set up an entire playground of climbing structures and obstacle courses.
  • And of course, we can’t leave out the classic repurposing of an old tire… what kid (or grownup) doesn’t love a tire swing? All you need is a rope and a tree, and sweet sunny afternoons.

Whatever you decide to do with your used tires, it’s important to recycle them somehow. (Definitely don’t leave them lying around, as old tires collect water and can quickly become mosquito breeding grounds in the summer.) Not only will you be doing your part to help the environment, you’ll likely have some fun in the process, and you’ll have something to show for it when you’re done.

Talking Tech

Good Communication Makes Auto Repair Easier

 

We know—an unexpected, budget-busting auto repair is stressful. In fact, one of the worst parts of our job is to confront drivers with bad news about their vehicles. And while we strive to explain necessary auto repairs as delicately and sensitively as possible, we understand you may still feel upset when we present you with a poor diagnosis. We believe—just like in any relationship—good communication is an excellent antidote for conflict. Here are some suggestions for talking tech, and getting the most from your auto repair experience.

 

Be specific when describing a problem with your vehicle. For example, “I’m hearing a high-pitched squeal between 50 and 60 miles an hour that seems to come from the left-rear wheel is much more helpful than, “The wheel is making funny noises.” Mention all your observations, even if you don’t know if they’re relevant.

 

Don’t self-diagnose. Targeting and accurately identifying problems in complex modern vehicles is a specialized skill best left to an auto repair technician, not Google. Automakers have established procedures to determine the cause of most vehicle issues, which must be followed before undertaking repairs.

 

Ask questions. If there are any terms, explanations, or charges you don’t understand, just ask. Don’t be shy—we’re here to help.

What to expect from us…

 

Good answers to all your questions. Our service writers are very knowledgeable and skilled at explaining vehicle issues and repairs. If you’d like to talk to the technician working on your car, we’ll introduce you. We want you to feel confident your vehicle is in good hands.

 

A written estimate. We’ll provide you with a written estimate itemizing everything we’re going to do to your car before work begins. And we’ll stick to that estimate unless you authorize changes.

 

Options and priorities for repairs. In many cases, some auto repairs need to be handled immediately while others can wait a certain amount of time. We’ll explain your “repair priorities,” so you can budget accordingly, and we’ll send you reminders so a minor (for now) issue doesn’t turn into a major problem.

 

Count on Aardvark Automotive to handle all your car care needs!

 

If you live in the Amarillo area, we hope you’ll call us here at Aardvark Automotive the next time you need auto repairs or maintenance. We’re an auto repair shop you can trust to do right by you and your car.

2017 New Year’s Resolutions for You & Your Car

We know, sometimes New Year’s Resolutions are tough to stick to, but these five simple car care routines are quick and easy to maintain. (We’d say easier than not eating carbs or sticking to a five-day-a-week exercise routine.) Consider these pointers (and general recommendations) to be just a few little reminders to do the basic things to keep your car running into 2018 and beyond! Think about it – you can still be a responsible adult and eat bread, but not so much if your insurance is expired or you can’t remember the last time you got an oil change.

  1. Wash or get your car washed regularly. This is one of those little things that falls to the side after a while. Keeping your car washed and clean can help maintain visibility and extend the life of your vehicle’s paint coat.
  1. Check the oil. Making sure you always have enough motor oil in the engine is a simple thing to check, and relatively cheap to maintain – much cheaper than auto repairs arising from oil neglect. Plain and simple, oil is a non-negotiable.
  1. Check your tires. Take just a couple extra minutes in the morning, and make sure your tires aren’t going flat on you, or suffering from any type of damage. Use the penny trick to check your tread – simply place a penny headfirst into several tread grooves across the tire. If you always see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are shallow and worn. If part of Lincoln’s head is always covered by the tread, you have more than 2/32 of an inch of dread depth remaining, which means you probably don’t need new tires.
  1. Stick to your vehicle manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. Yes, we know, you hear this all the time. Even still, we can’t stress enough how important regular maintenance, like oil changes, are to the life of your car and your engine.
  1. Keep your vehicle insurance up to date. Not only does valid car insurance provide you with worry-free driving for the year, it’s mandatory! Take a moment to make sure your proof of insurance is in your car and your necessary stickers are current.

If you stay on top of these five tasks for your car this year, the other road bumps you may encounter won’t be so bad. But for any issues you do run into, you can count on us to make things right. Make an appointment online or give us a call!

Sincerely,

Your Car Care Conscious

(aka Aardvark Automotive)

The Lone Star State’s Dream Destination for Auto & Truck Lovers… And It Only Happens Once a Year

The State Fair of Texas rolls around once a year, and this year, the massive event kicks off on Friday, September 30 in Dallas and runs through October 23. During the state fair, automakers with a full-size truck line often reveal a new model, introduce an entirely new truck, or present a special edition truck with a Lone Star state theme. While the technicians at Aardvark Automotive specialize in high-end import car repair, we are still Texans, and can’t help but get excited about the trucks featured at the state fair.

state_fair_of_texas

Automakers bring their trucks to Texas because Texans buy more trucks than any other state in the country, as both work trucks and luxury vehicles. (Have you ever heard the term “Texas Cadillac”?) Which means even if you drive a Mercedes or Audi in Amarillo, we wouldn’t be surprised if you have some variety of pickup in your driveway as well. Plus, the State Fair of Texas is so big it hosts its own auto show, so what better place to introduce new trucks? But now you may be wondering, what other types of vehicles will be at the auto show?

texasstatefair

The Largest New Car Show in the Southwest

In fact, the State Fair of Texas Auto Show is the largest new car show in the Southwest, generally showcasing around 400 of the latest models from the world’s leading automobile manufacturers. Not only are the hottest new rides on display, there are also fun auto-related activities and live entertainment for the entire family. Everything’s bigger in Texas, and that includes the state fair and the auto show. In addition to an indoor setup spanning two buildings, 175,000 square feet of outdoor space, called the “Truck Zone” is devoted to the aforementioned truck exhibit.

Comprehensive Service for the Best Cars & Trucks on the Road Today!

Whether you drive a feat of German engineering or a Texas Cadillac (or both!), the mechanics at Aardvark Automotive can handle the repairs and maintenance you need for your vehicle. We can also answer any questions you have about purchasing a new car or truck. Give us a call today or contact us online to make an appointment!

Wheels to Prosper 2016 Winners Announced!!!

On Saturday, July 23, we announced the winners of our 2016 Wheels to Prosper Car Giveaway! This year, two vehicles were donated from the Amarillo community, and Channel 10 News was on hand to document the event. Thank you to everyone who participated and attended. We couldn’t do it without you!!!

 

wtp-winners-2016-KeshanaMeet Keshana, Winner of a Mercury Sable

Keshana Darling is the winner of the 1998 Mercury Sable! She is a sophomore in college, and she plans to pursue a career in engineering once she graduates. Last year, she was unable to join her family for the holidays because she didn’t have a car to drive home. This year, she’ll have her own wheels, and be able to get where she needs to go, whether for school, work, or family. Thank you Keshana for helping others, and being a valuable member of our community! We know you’ll do great things with your car and with your life.

 

wtp-winners-2016-LarissaMeet Larissa, Winner of a Ford Taurus Wagon

Larissa is a single mom with two boys, an 8-year-old and a 4-year-old. Needless to say she has her hands full, and she’s is an EMT, who must always be ready to respond to those in need. Her goal is to advance in her career and become a paramedic, but doing all she needs and wants without a car was nearly impossible. Now she’ll be able to get herself and her boys where they need to go, and pursue her dreams for the future. Thank you Larissa for making a career out of helping others. You deserve a hand up!

Congrats to two very hardworking and deserving people!

 

More on Wheels to Prosper

For us at Aardvark Automotive, one of the highlights of every year is our Wheels to Prosper Car Giveaway in July. The program was started by a group of auto shop owners actively engaged in improving the reputation and quality of service in the auto repair industry. The concept is to use our skills (repairing and maintaining cars) to improve a deserving individual’s life. Our winners are nominated by their family members, friends, and peers because they selflessly help others even when they are in need themselves.

From selecting the right vehicle (or vehicles) for the giveaway to fine-tuning the condition to getting to know our nominees, Wheels to Prosper is always a humbling and extremely rewarding experience. If you’re interested in being involved in our next Wheels to Prosper giveaway, please give us a call or contact us online. We welcome any inquiries and contributions.

Don’t Sweat it this Summer… Take Care of Your A/C!

ac-repair

It’s hot! In Amarillo, we’re expected to reach 100° this weekend, and it’s probably going to be in the 90s through all of August and possibly September, too. If your car’s A/C isn’t working, just admit it, you’re going to be miserable! But don’t worry—Aardvark Automotive can help. We’ll pinpoint exactly what is wrong with your air conditioning, and as you’ll see from this article, it could be a few different things. You want to make sure your cooling system gets the right fix to work properly, with the least cost and inconvenience for you.

Don’t Ignore Weak Airflow from Your A/C

One of the first signs of a compromised A/C system is weak airflow from your vents. The main causes of weak airflow are mold or mildew in the evaporator core, a loose hose, non-functioning ventilation fan, and worn out seals. Just having one these issues can not only cause weak airflow, it can lead to much more significant problems, so it’s best to have your air conditioning checked out before further damage occurs. With A/C, it’s literally cooler not to procrastinate.

When Your A/C Just Isn’t What It Used to Be…

Some vehicles have Driver Information Centers (DIC) to let you know how your car’s systems are faring, but many do not, so you may not realize your A/C is failing until it starts blowing less-than-cold air. The lack of crisp, cold air in your vehicle could be caused by:

  • Failed compressor or compressor clutch
  • Failed blower motor or blower motor resistor
  • Clogged expansion tube or refrigerant charging hose
  • Failed o-ring, seal, hose, or another A/C system component causing a Freon leak
  • Failed switch, fuse, relay, control module, blend door or solenoid
  • Damaged or failed condenser or evaporator
  • Vacuum leaks

If your car develops an A/C leak, letting it go for too long can spell major trouble for your cooling system. On the other hand, if you (or we) find the leak early, the repair you need will likely be small and much less expensive than if the leak has been affecting your air conditioning for a while. With long-time leaks, moisture will most likely enter your cooling system and damage vital and expensive parts.

When it’s this hot, don’t risk your comfort and safety with a poorly functioning A/C system. Bring your vehicle to Aardvark Automotive, and we’ll make sure your air conditioning is in top condition!