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March 13, 2018

How Do I Change the Car Oil?

tune up kit Bowers Automotive Colorado SpringsHow do I change the car oil? Here at Bowers Automotive of Colorado Springs, we love to see car owners showing an interest in basic auto mechanics. One of the easiest things to learn to do by yourself is to change the motor oil. This is something that every vehicle needs fairly often. Even if you don't plan on doing it by yourself, there's no harm in knowing how to do it, just in case.

The Basics

Motor oil is needed by your engine to lubricate it's moving parts. When your car has plenty of clean oil, it runs smoothly, uses less fuel and doesn't overheat due to excessive friction between the engine parts. Over time, oil can break down, pick up dirt and turn into a thick sludge-like substance that does not efficiently lubricate the engine. If you change the car oil before it gets to this stage, you’ll ensure that it runs in top condition.

A regular oil change is one of the most important parts of vehicle maintenance. Your car's manual will state how often the oil should be changed. At an auto shop, you may be able to get an oil change for between $30 and $55. A DIY oil change will probably cost you about $24, or closer to $35 if you also change the filter. In reality, you probably won't end up saving a lot of money by changing the oil yourself, but it's an excellent skill to have.

Gather Your Equipment

To change the car oil, you will need the following tools and materials:

  • Jack and jack stands
  • Plastic sheet or cardboard to catch any spills
  • Safety goggles
  • Box end or open end wrench
  • Oil collection/recycle container
  • Oil filter wrench
  • Funnel
  • New oil filter
  • New oil
  • Rag 

Before You Change the Car Oil

It's a good idea to collect all the required tools and materials together before you begin. Find a level and stable surface to jack up the car safely. Lay down some plastic sheeting, cardboard or plywood under the vehicle to avoid creating a mess with spilled oil. You may want to use a foam mat to get under the car.

If you have been driving the car in the previous hour or two, the engine oil will be extremely hot. Allow it to cool for at least a few hours before attempting to change it; otherwise, you can risk burning yourself badly. If the engine is completely cold, it's helpful to start the vehicle and leave the engine running for five minutes. This will warm up any old, congealed oil and get flowing better.

Drain the Old Oil

The first step to change the car oil is draining out the old stuff. Look for an oil pan at the very bottom of your engine. You should see the drain plug at the bottom of the pan; it looks like an oversized bolt. Before touching the plug, position your oil container beneath it.

Using the box end wrench, loosen the drain plug. Remove the cap with one quick movement to avoid getting your hand covered in oil as it starts to drain out. Allow all the oil to drain into your container. You can get this oil recycled at most full-service gas stations and auto shops. Replace the drain plug and tighten it according to your vehicle's torque specifications.

Remove the Old Oil Filter

Next, you have to remove the old oil filter. Using the oil filter wrench, crank the filter counterclockwise until it comes loose. Be aware that there will probably be some old oil held in the filter that can splash out. Make sure the rubber gasket comes away with the filter. If it is still stuck to the engine, you will have to peel it off.

Prepare and Install the New Oil Filter

Take your new filter and use some fresh oil to coat its rubber gasket before installing it. Fill the new oil filter about 2/3 of the way up with new oil. Now you can carefully hand-screw it clockwise into place. Remember to move it slowly to prevent the oil splashing out. There is no need to screw the new filter into place with a wrench, as this might overtighten it. Use your hand to get it as tight as you can; that will be sufficient.

Refill the Oil

Now it's time to refill the engine with oil. Under the hood of your car, look for the oil fill cap. Open it up and place the funnel inside for easy pouring. Before you start to fill it up, check the owner's manual for the oil capacity of the engine. You want to pour a little over 3/4 of this amount into the engine at first. If you are using single quart containers, it should be easy enough to measure it out, and the 5-quart containers will have markings on the side of the bottle to show you how much you are using.

Check the Oil Level

When you change the car oil, the reason you don't add the full volume of oil at once is that there is always some old oil that remains trapped within the engine and tubes. If you don't take this into account, you may accidentally overfill the engine and make a mess.

Use the dipstick to check the current level of oil in the engine. Remember to wipe off the oil before checking the level, as it may be still covered up to the level of the old oil. If the oil is below the lower mark, continue to add more little by little until it reaches the correct level. Remember to replace the oil fill cap.

Now you know the basics of how to change the car oil. While it’s not complicated, it does require some patience and advance preparation. If you are not sure about tinkering with the inner-workings of your car, there's no need to worry. At Bowers Automotive, we can give you a great deal on a basic oil, lube and filter service. Whether you do it yourself or leave it to the professionals, the important thing is to make sure to change the oil at the recommended intervals.

February 19, 2018

What's Wrong with My Exhaust System?

catalytic converter Bowers Automotive Colorado SpringsIf you are currently wondering what's wrong with my exhaust system, then it may be time to get in contact with Bowers Automotive in Colorado Springs. Your car's exhaust system plays a crucial role in routing combustion gases out of the engine and away from the cabin. It also helps to keep your car running quietly and efficiently while reducing the level of air polluting emissions produced by the vehicle. For some helpful tips on diagnosing a problem with your exhaust system, keep reading.

Loud Rumbling: If your car starts to make a rumbling noise while running, it is very likely that there is a problem with the muffler or a leak somewhere in the exhaust system. As soon as you begin to hear a change in the noise made by your exhaust, have it checked by a professional. Generally speaking, the longer you leave this problem to worsen and the louder the rumbling gets, the more complicated and expensive the repair job will be.

Catalytic Converter: A damaged catalytic converter will often produce a rattling sound when the car is stopped in traffic or parked. Catalytic converters contain precious metals that make up part of the filtration system which works to neutralize noxious gases. Due to the high value of these metals, it is reasonably common for catalytic converters to be stolen from vehicles. If your catalytic converter has been removed, you’ll notice a loud noise and obvious decrease in performance when the car is running.

Exhaust Leak: A new vibration felt through the seat of the car, the steering wheel or when you touch the pedals is a warning sign that may have you asking what’s wrong with my exhaust system? Usually, a leak in the exhaust system is to blame. Broken seals, disconnected components or damage to the tubing of your exhaust system can allow exhaust to escape in a location where it should not be present.

Vibration, noise and a change in engine efficiency are common symptoms of this kind of exhaust leak. If you notice that your car needs gas more often and the fuel is not lasting as long, get your car tested for an exhaust leak. If there is one, your engine will have to work harder to convert fuel into the same amount of energy. An exhaust leak will result in you burning through fuel faster than you usually would.

Your exhaust system's tubing, catalytic converter, and muffler are all susceptible to damage, as well as standard wear and tear. Leaving them without attention from a professional mechanic will cause your vehicle to run loudly, inefficiently and produce toxic gases that are bad for the environment and human health.

As soon as you find yourself wondering what's wrong with my exhaust system, just call the local experts at Bower's Automotive in Colorado Springs. We perform a fast and accurate evaluation using modern diagnostic tools at our auto shop. Our team can then provide professional repairs to get you back on the road, as well as ongoing automotive maintenance to ensure your exhaust and all other systems are in proper working order. Give us a call to make an appointment.

February 9, 2018

How to Fix Transmission Problems

transmission Bowers Automotive Colorado SpringsThis week at Bowers Automotive of Colorado Springs, we are focusing on how to fix transmission problems. If you suspect there is an issue with your vehicle's transmission, there is no need to panic. Transmission malfunctions are not always as complicated as most drivers think they are. Often, you can carry out some of the easy fixes for minor transmission problems on your own. Keep reading to learn which issues to tackle yourself and which require the attention of our qualified mechanics.

Transmission Fluid Leak

If you notice the fluid is lower than it should be when you check the dipstick, you probably have a transmission fluid leak. The seals at the driveshaft, transmission and input gasket should be checked without delay as these are the most likely locations for a leak. You can temporarily solve this problem with a bottle of Stop Leak, available from most service stations. If the leak continues, you will need to take the vehicle to an auto shop for inspection and to have it repaired. 

Transmission Overheating

If your vehicle is under strain pulling a heavy load, the transmission can overheat. It often happens when the transmission lines are clogged or if the fluid has become contaminated with dirt and metal particles. To solve this issue, completely drain and replace the transmission fluid, as well as clean the transmission filter. This requires you to open up the transmission, so this is only recommended if you are experienced and comfortable working on this part of the car. Just be sure to have your vehicle's manual on hand.

Transmission Slipping

If you feel the gears slipping or resisting when you try to change them, usually either a fluid leak or a malfunctioning solenoid is to blame. A faulty solenoid needs to be opened and checked for a build-up of debris or obstruction. This is best done by a technician if you are inexperienced with basic auto mechanics. Solenoids and other components of the transmission system often have longer warranties than other car parts. You may be eligible for a replacement by your car dealership.

These are some of the most common issues that affect car transmission. It's important to remember that taking good care of your transmission system and doing preventative maintenance will go a long way in saving you from having to fix transmission problems. And remember, never try shifting into 'Reverse' or 'Park' until the car has completely stopped moving. And always have the vehicle’s brake pedal pressed when shifting out of 'Park.'

Checking your transmission fluid according to your manufacturer's guidelines and taking your vehicle for regular maintenance checks will help avoid any unwanted surprises with the transmission. If you do experience a serious problem with your transmission or any component of your car, try to get it checked out without delay. At Bowers Automotive, we know how to fix transmission problems quickly, affordably and professionally. Call us today on 719-596-4818 for more information or to get a quote.

January 19, 2018

Understanding Your Car Alternator

Understanding Your Car Alternator Bowers Automotive Colorado SpringsWhen it comes to understanding your car alternator, and everything else under the hood, it is best to consult the experts. Bowers Automotive in Colorado Springs has been servicing vehicles since 1993. Our team offers friendly, efficient service at the right price. And helping customers understand their vehicles better is one of our passions. While many components of vehicles have modernized and changed over the past few decades, alternators have held their basic structure and function within your car. 

What Does the Alternator Do?

The purpose of your car's alternator is to convert mechanical energy into electrical energy, to produce an AC current that can be used to charge the battery. A standard car's battery lasts for years and does not need to charge from an outside source. This is thanks to the alternator, which harnesses mechanical energy from the motor while the engine is running and turns it into an electric current capable of charging the battery of your car.

The battery needs to maintain a constant charge in order to be capable of turning on the lights, radio, heating systems, GPS and internal computers within your car. If you have ever found that your car's battery is dead after not using the vehicle for an extended period, this is because the battery depends on a regularly running motor to remain charged.

How Does It Work?

Understanding your car alternator is a little complicated. It uses the principle of electromagnetic induction to produce electricity. This is when voltage is generated across a conductor by a changing magnetic field. The alternator is composed of an iron conductor with coils wound around it and a magnet that can be rotated inside the conductor. To create the changing magnetic field, the magnet must be physically rotated. Whenever the engine is running, the moving drive belt produces the force necessary to set the magnet rotating.

What Happens When the Alternator Malfunctions?

Some signs of a failing alternator include dimmed headlights, failing electrical components and difficulty starting the car's ignition. A loosened belt could be the culprit, and the problem can be easily solved by having it tightened up.

If you notice that your battery fails to retain a charge, leaks or is completely dead, it may be time to replace the alternator. A good way to check for an alternator malfunction is to charge the battery from an external source. A loud grinding noise will be produced by the alternator if the bearings have started to go and need to be replaced.

At Bowers Automotive in Colorado Springs, we have the latest in diagnostic tools and auto repair technology. We can take the guesswork out of understanding your car alternator by quickly identifying any malfunctions. We pride ourselves on delivering high-quality, reliable repair services. If you suspect any issues with your vehicle's electrical system or mechanical parts, do not hesitate to get in touch with us. More often than not, the quicker we address the problem, the easier it is to fix!

January 5, 2018

Proper Car Maintenance for the New Year

proper car maintenance for the New Year Bowers Automotive Colorado SpringsToday, Bower's Automotive in Colorado Springs offers a short guide to proper car maintenance for the New Year. If you only keep one resolution for 2018, then be sure to make it count. Get out the calendar and mark the date for your next auto service, or even better, set a reminder on your phone. By keeping your car up to date with maintenance in the following areas, you can significantly lower the risk of road accidents and potential breakdowns.

Brakes Maintenance

Keeping the brakes in good condition is absolutely vital to your safety and a smooth driving experience. For high mileage vehicles or if you drive in heavy traffic, having the brakes checked once per year is a good idea. If you have noticed that putting pressure on the brakes causes a foul odor, a shaking in your steering wheel, squealing or grating noises, then it is may be time to change the brake pads.

Oil Change

Besides including this as proper car maintenance for the New Year, this is one of the most important car care items on the list. Now, how often to change the oil depends on the age and model of the vehicle. Generally, an oil change every 7,500 to 10,000 miles is sufficient, but if your car has an oil life monitor, you can rely on it to say when to change the oil. Between changes, use the dipstick to check if the oil is low or dirty on a regular basis.

Air Filters

The air filters can also be serviced every time you get an oil change. If you frequently drive near construction sites or in an area with a lot of dust, wind or sand, get the air filters checked more often to prevent too much build-up.

Tire Rotation and Alignment

A good rule of thumb is to get the tires checked each time you get an oil change. Tire rotation, balance, and alignment will prevent the tires from wearing out quickly and unevenly. Once per month, check the tread of the tires and the tire pressure. The optimal PSI range can be found in the owner's handbook. Driving on underinflated tires reduces fuel efficiency and can increase the risk of damage.

Windshield Wipers

Wiper blades need to be replaced regularly in order to keep working efficiently. They should be replaced at least once per year and more often if you usually drive through heavy rain or snow.

Belts and Hoses

Have your mechanic check all belts, hoses and rubber seals regularly or during a tune-up. These parts can wear out easily and lead to significant damage if not replaced in time. Fluctuations in temperature and a high annual mileage will cause these to wear out faster.

Following this guide to proper car maintenance for the New Year will ensure your vehicle is in top condition throughout every season. Prevention is key when trying to avoid costly repairs and unexpected breakdowns. Taking your car to a qualified mechanic in Colorado Springs regularly will give you peace of mind on the road and a safer driving experience. Bowers Automotive offers a complete range of maintenance and repair services to all types of vehicles.

 

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