This Autumn, Fall in Love with Your 4×4 All Over Again

Over the years, we’ve seen 4×4 trucks and SUVs become more and more popular in Amarillo. And why not? What better way to explore the dusty, dirt trails and flats outside the city and command the road in town. However, by simply doing what it’s made for, your 4×4 goes through more than the normal amount of vehicle wear and tear. So, before embarking on your next off-road excursion this fall, follow these maintenance tips for 4×4 vehicles.

Oil changes – All vehicles require routine oil changes, and this is especially true for 4x4s. Off-road use puts a lot of stress on the engine. Also, several driving modes use a lower gear to increase torque. This makes your vehicle’s engine work harder, potentially leading to increased oil sludge.

Air filter changes – Off-road surfaces are full of dirt and other pollutants. Those contaminants build up over time and can clog your vehicle’s air filter, which, in turn, can seriously compromise engine performance. Always follow the air filter change intervals provided in your vehicle’s manual, but more frequent changes may be necessary if you take your 4×4 for frequent off-road excursions.

Suspension – Bumpy, uneven roads and trails can cause suspension damage. If your ride feels rougher, or if your 4×4 nosedives during sudden braking, you may need suspension service or a repair. Bring your vehicle in for a suspension inspection even if you have a skid plate.

Shocks and struts – Potholes abound on off-road trails, so your shocks and struts need to be up to the task. Worn shocks affect your steering and can even break through your vehicle’s body. If driving your 4×4 feels especially bumpy and jostling, you may have damaged shocks needing repair or replacement.

Tire balance and rotation – Your vehicle’s transfer case will sustain significant wear and tear if tire balance or rotation is off even a little bit. Properly balanced and rotated tires help to distribute the weight evenly around the CV axle.

At Aardvark Automotive, we’ve seen our fair share of huge 4×4 trucks and SUVs in our shop, and we love working on these beasts. And rest assured, our facility is big enough to house the big vehicles we service and repair. So, before going on your next off-road excursion in the Amarillo area, bring your 4×4 to Aardvark for a maintenance inspection and any necessary repairs. You’ll feel more confident behind the wheel, making your truck that much more enjoyable.

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Adios Apple Maps

Google Maps is becoming available for use with Apple CarPlay

We’ve talked before about how dangerous it is to use a cell phone while driving, whether you’re talking or texting. (Texas finally banned texting and driving last year.) One way automakers have made it easier for drivers to avoid cell phone use behind the wheel is by integrating cell phones into vehicle operating and entertainment systems. Today, just about every major auto brand has Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto on their vehicles, and those that don’t are working to make the feature available.

Apple CarPlay and Android Auto allow drivers to use the interface from their cell phones on their car’s center screen. Not all phone apps are compatible, but generally the most important ones are. You can play music on your phone through your vehicle’s speakers and send messages using the car’s voice control system. As far as navigation, with CarPlay or Android Auto, you don’t have to spring for the automaker’s built-in navigation system, which often isn’t as good a cell phone navigation app.

But for those who have Apple CarPlay, a common complaint is being forced to use Apple Maps, rather than Google Maps, Waze, or any other preferred third-party application. Well, those annoying days are gone because Apple just announced CarPlay will begin supporting third-party navigation apps.

We bet this function will help prevent drivers from glancing down at their phones while driving (because they’re using a different navigation app), and it’s probably a big reason Apple decided to change its business strategy. While less people will likely use Apple Maps, the company doesn’t want to be blamed for causing more car accidents simply for the sake of not allowing the competition on CarPlay.

Look for the update this fall

According to Apple’s announcement, the third-party navigation compatibility enhancement is part of a significant number of updates that come along with Apple iOS 12. The update will roll out this fall for iPhone 5s and later models, in addition to certain iPad and iPod models.

At Aardvark Automotive, our technicians are trained, qualified, and equipped to service the latest and greatest vehicles on the market. In other words, if you don’t want to go back to the dealer for maintenance or repairs on your new(er) car, you don’t have to. Enjoy the personalized service of a local auto repair shop and the technical capability of skilled and experienced mechanics.

 

 

True or False? You must go to a dealer for service if your car is still under warranty.

New car owners often assume auto maintenance performed at an independent auto repair shop will void their vehicle warranty. But do cars under warranty require auto maintenance at the dealer? After all, many people have a local mechanic they’ve trusted for years, and who wants to upgrade their vehicle only to downgrade on customer service? The fact is you don’t have to—you can have your car serviced wherever you like without jeopardizing your new vehicle warranty. The law protects your right to choose where you want to get your car serviced.

The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act Protects Your Right to Choose Where You Get Your Car Serviced

A federal law known as the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act allows car owners to service their vehicles at an independent auto repair shop, and neither the dealership nor the auto manufacturer can void your warranty because you had a repair or tune-up performed at a third-party servicer. The Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act also prohibits vehicle manufacturers from voiding a warranty because the owner used recycled, refurbished, or aftermarket parts. In most cases—not because we recommend it, but to show the intent of the law—you can do maintenance work yourself without invalidating your warranty.

However, while you’re protected by law to choose your auto service provider, you should always keep records of all servicing from an independent auto shop. If you file a warranty claim, the manufacturer may ask for proof of servicing, and your receipts show that servicing was done by a reputable provider and in accordance with manufacturer specifications. Also, the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act does not apply in absolutely every instance. For example, vehicle manufacturers can nullify warranties due to some specific cosmetic changes.

Is your car still under warranty? Bring your vehicle to Aardvark Automotive for maintenance and repairs, maintain your warranty, and enjoy exceptional customer service!

A lot of the information you find online about auto maintenance is incorrect. Please ask us if you have questions about your vehicle’s warranty and your options for handling auto repairs and maintenance. We always give honest car care advice because one of our goals is to help customers make smart, informed decisions to get the most from their vehicles. And if your car is still under warranty, don’t fret about having to go to a dealer for service. You have options, and the right to choose what’s best for your needs.

 

 

 

 

More Power to You — Common Reasons a Car Battery Won’t Hold a Charge

Most drivers have had to use jumper cables (or enlist the help of someone else’s jumper cables) at one point or another because their car failed to start. Perhaps you left the headlights on, or an interior light, or maybe your battery simply reached the end of its lifespan. But, in some cases, when a car battery charge won’t hold, the battery itself may not be the problem. The issue may be a bigger, more complex malfunction that requires a professional diagnosis by an experienced auto repair technician.

Repeat dead battery? We can help with that

Sometimes, a repeat dead battery requires the straightforward solution of simply getting a new battery for your vehicle. Generally, if the battery is more than four years old, or if it appears corroded and worn out, it’s safe to say age or battery corrosion is, in fact, your problem, and car battery replacement is your obvious solution. Another way to determine if you have a bad battery is by testing your headlights. If they appear dimmer than normal, or don’t come on at all, then a nearly-expired battery is most likely the cause.

Other times, a faulty alternator may be preventing your battery from holding a charge. If you come to us with a charging or starting issue, we’ll check the alternator cables for signs of fraying or cracking. If the engine stalls not long after jumpstarting your car, that’s another indication you have an alternator issue. We’ll also check your starter because a malfunctioning starter can also cause your battery to lose its charge.

We advise bringing your vehicle in for maintenance if it fails to start, as replacing the battery when the alternator or starter is the root cause of your charging issue will only lead to future troubles and unnecessary headaches—and the reverse is also true. In addition, we’d like to point out that battery, charging, and/or starting-related problems happen just as often in the spring and summer as they do in the winter. So, don’t ignore your battery as the temperatures rise because a dead battery isn’t a season-specific issue.

Call Aardvark When Your Car Won’t Start!

As part of a routine spring check-up at Aardvark Automotive, our technicians will examine the health of your battery, and we’ll let you know if your battery or any other vehicle component is near the end of its life. Because it goes without saying (but we can’t help ourselves), the last thing anybody wants is a car that won’t start, or a spring breakdown.

Slow Down for Speed Bumps— Not Only for Safety, But Also to Avoid Damaging Your Car

We know, sometimes speed bumps can seem like a nuisance when you’re driving along at a reasonable pace, and there’s no apparent reason to suddenly slow down. However, failing to put on the brakes for a speed bump is not only irresponsible, it puts tremendous wear on your car. So, next time you’re tempted to zip right over a speed bump, consider the following damage you may be doing to your vehicle, and the expensive auto repairs such damage may require down the road.

Ways Speeding Over Speed Bumps Can Harm Your Vehicle

The four components/parts of your car that are most likely to be damaged by speed bumps are your shocks, steering, exhaust system, and tires. Here’s how…

  • Shocks – Your vehicle’s shocks are responsible for absorbing unevenness in the road, such as potholes and rocks but also speed bumps. However, your shocks may not be able to absorb all the impact of a sudden bump or dip at high speeds, causing your shocks to bend and shatter and leaving your car with less protection.
  • Steering – If your shocks are compromised and ineffective, your vehicle’s other components and systems become vulnerable—particularly, your steering. Once your steering is susceptible to vibrations, a leak in the power steering reservoir may develop, your steering rack mounts may be damaged, and/or your wheels may be thrown out of alignment.
  • Exhaust – Your exhaust system is located right underneath your car. When you drive faster than you should over a speed bump, your vehicle may launch off the road, and when you land, your exhaust system can strike the pavement, hard, causing serious damage.
  • Tires – When your vehicle lands with force after hitting a speed bump, the impact can cause your tire’s sidewall to contact the pavement. Because the sidewall is much thinner than the tread, your tires will wear prematurely as the result of weakening the sidewall.

Call Aardvark Automotive for Help with Shocks, Steering, Exhaust & Tires

At Aardvark Automotive, our auto repair technicians are skilled at identifying and fixing issues involving shocks, steering, exhaust, and tires—no matter how they are caused. However, we hope after reading this article, your auto repairs won’t be necessitated by driving too fast over speed bumps. Let’s keep our cars in safe and reliable condition and our neighborhoods even safer. Don’t let a speed bump get the better of you by damaging your vehicle.

Summer is the season for baseball, barbecues, and breakdowns… but not if you follow our summertime car care advice!

Yay! Summer is upon us. We’re ready for baseball games, barbecues, camping, swimming, and spending lots of time with friends and family. Unfortunately, another hallmark of summer is an increased number of broken down vehicles making an appearance at our shop. Please heed our summertime car care advice and avoid being stranded with all your beach gear on the way to the lake. You can thank us later. 😉

  1. Get your oil and filter changed regularly. If you’ve been driving a lot (as we often do in summer), base your need for an oil change on the number of miles you’ve driven, not the date you last had your oil changed. A fresh oil filter and clean oil will help your car run better in the heat.
  2. Tire pressure increases in warm weather, so check your tire pressure often, but only after your car is rested to ensure an accurate reading. With correct tire pressure, you’re less likely to experience a flat, and you’ll enjoy improved gas mileage.
  3. Summer in Amarillo without air conditioning is not an option. Get your A/C and cooling system checked to make sure you don’t have any leaks or bad hoses, and you do have proper levels of refrigerant and coolant fluid.
  4. Speaking of hoses, you should have all of them inspected, and your belts too. If your belts and hoses overheat, your vehicle cannot lubricate itself properly, and a breakdown is likely.
  5. No vehicle inspection is complete without checking the braking system, as your brakes are critical for your safety, your passengers’ safety, and everyone else with whom you share the road.
  6. Change your wiper blades if you haven’t recently—you need to be able to see in the event of a summer downpour.
  7. Do you own a front window shade? If not, get one, and if so, use it. It will protect your vehicle’s interior from sun damage (think of it as auto SPF), and help keep you from boiling when you get in the car on a hot day.
  8. Now is a good time of year to change your cabin air filter to get rid of any springtime leaves and pollen.
  9. Want to know a great summertime chore for the kids—washing the car once a week. Dirt and grime make it difficult to see when the sun is glaring through your windshield, and keeping the exterior clean helps protect your paint from damage caused by insects and birds.
  10. Last—but definitely not least—drive safely. It’s easy to get distracted when you’re on a long road trip or out driving with friends. Please pay attention when you’re behind the wheel, and help ensure everyone has a safe and happy summer.

Thank you for reading, and happy summer from all of us here at Aardvark Automotive!

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.