Important Auto News

Spiteri's Complete Auto Service

Speak Up: Talking with Your Spiteri's Auto Service Service Advisor

About 80% of the vehicles on Belmont roads today are behind on their preventive maintenance schedules. That translates to about 160 million vehicles in the United States that aren't performing as well as they could be - thousands right here in CA. Some of the maintenance issues are minor. Others represent serious safety concerns.

There are many reasons Belmont drivers neglect their routine car care. Some of the more common ones are complacency, lack of confidence, lack of trust and budget issues.

Modern vehicles are amazingly reliable compared to their older counterparts. They can run for years without any repairs, and we sometimes translate that to mean they don't need any maintenance. The trouble is that without maintenance, parts in the vehicle are gradually wearing out, fluids are getting dirty, oil is developing sludge — a lot of stuff is happening that we can't see, and it is destroying the vehicle. The first time we learn there is a problem, we have a major repair bill on our hands.

Older vehicles just couldn't keep going without frequent maintenance; they broke down without timely vehicle care. Modern vehicles are designed to keep running even when they're not fully healthy. Unfortunately, that convenience has led some of us to become complacent and ignore vehicle care — until we have to fix something. And fixing something today takes a whole lot more than it used to.

Some people in Belmont just don't feel comfortable taking their vehicles to their local Belmont service center. They don't know much about engines or auto mechanics, so they don't know what questions to ask. They don't want to appear foolish or ignorant.

Your physician doesn't expect you to understand what a ligament is or how it works. But if you have a problem with one, she's going to explain to you what it is, what's wrong with it and how it can be fixed. It's in her best interest as well as yours to do so. You'll both feel more comfortable with the treatment.

That's what you can expect from the pros at Spiteri's Auto Service. They have to be highly trained and work with a lot of complex, high-tech systems. They don't expect their Belmont customers to understand car care. So ask questions. You need auto advice from a service specialist, just as you need medical advice from a doctor and financial advice from a financial advisor.

Which brings us to the next concern: trust. A lot of rumors fly around Belmont about auto repair scams. You may have heard about some local auto shops taking advantage of customers and replacing parts that weren't broken. Frankly, this is just bad business practice. Belmont auto service centers won't stay in business long if they're engaged in this type of activity.

It's in the best interest of Belmont service centers to diagnose a problem correctly and fix it right the first time. That's how they keep their businesses open.

Trust must be earned. But just as it took time for you to establish a relationship and rapport with your doctor, it will take time to build a relationship with your service center.

Also, realize that when your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Spiteri's Auto Service recommends routine maintenance, he is generally relying on your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. In other words, your trust lies both with your service advisor and your vehicle manufacturer. You'll find that most of the service recommendations from Spiteri's Auto Service you receive coincide with what's in your manual.

Those recommendations were set up by the engineers who designed your vehicle, not Spiteri's Auto Service. The team at Spiteri's Auto Service is just offering you a friendly reminder — a helpful reminder really, since most of us don't post our owner's manuals to our calendars.

Money is behind most neglect of vehicle maintenance. First, they worry that they can't afford it. Second, they worry that they're being overcharged.

The simple truth is, car care is like health care. We can't afford not to have it. Preventive maintenance is cheap compared to repair work. It extends the lives of our vehicles and saves us money on fuel. It also makes our vehicles safer to drive, which can prevent accidents. Putting off preventive maintenance can be very expensive.

Belmont area service centers have to be competitive. Like any business, they can't afford to overcharge customers or they go out of business. But vehicle care today does cost more in CA than it used to. Vehicles are more sophisticated, complex and high-tech. That means technicians have to be better trained. They have to purchase high-tech diagnostic equipment and tools. They have to keep up with the latest advances in vehicle engineering and subscribe to computer databases. Like any business, they also have labor costs, insurance, rent, utilities, taxes, office supplies, etc.

If you are strapped for cash, Spiteri's Auto Service can offer auto advice to help you keep your car running safely and manage your budget. For example, let's say you need new brake pads, transmission service and a new cabin air filter. A technician can't ethically recommend you delay brake service: that creates a safety hazard for you and other Belmont drivers. You need to get that done now. But they can let you know if the transmission service can wait a month and how long you can put off changing the cabin air filter. They can also estimate what these services will cost. That gives you the time and information you need to save up for the other services.

The key to modern car care is preventive maintenance. Our modern vehicles are safer, more fuel efficient and more reliable than ever before. But to keep them that way Belmont drivers have to be more proactive about caring for them. It's good to know there are knowledgeable professionals at Spiteri's Auto Service who can help us do just that.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Belmont Car Owners Ask: Why Do I Need to Change My Serpentine Belt?

Any Belmont driver who understands preventive maintenance knows that “if it ain't broke, don't fix it” is bad auto advice. Replacing a part before it breaks is much less costly for Belmont residents than repairing the engine damage that comes after a part breaks or fails. A good example of this is the serpentine belt.

The serpentine belt gets its name because of its circuitous path around the engine. The serpentine belt is driven by the engine and powers a number of systems, as follows:

1. The serpentine belt spins the compressor that generates the cool air for the air conditioning system.
2. The serpentine belt powers the alternator. The alternator generates electricity for use in the vehicle's electrical systems and to charge the battery. Without the alternator, the battery wouldn't last more than a few miles.
3. In many Belmont residents' vehicles, the serpentine belt runs the pumps for both the power steering and the power brakes. In other vehicles, the power steering pump may be electric and the power brakes may use a vacuum boost.
4. On many vehicles, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump keeps coolant circulating through to maintain appropriate operating temperatures. In some CA vehicles, a timing belt runs the water pump.

When a serpentine belt fails, all of these systems fail as well, which can lead to engine impact.

Replacing parts before they break saves money for Belmont residents by preventing more repairs and the frustration of having your vehicle in the shop for an extended period of time. If you're looking for an adage to apply to good car care, you might remember the old story of how “for want of a nail, the kingdom was lost.”

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Custom Wheels and Tires for Your Belmont Ride


 

It seems like everywhere you go in the Belmont area you see custom wheels. Big trucks, little cars, mini-vans - it doesn't matter - are expressing themselves with custom wheels. Some CA auto owners want smaller tires and wheels - some want larger - and some want them enormous. So where do you start if you want new wheels? At Spiteri's Auto Service, we suggest you start with your budget. We know, that sounds so practical. But if the look you're after goes beyond just new tires and wheels and enters into the world of suspension modifications, you need to be prepared for the additional cost.

Let's start with something easy - you want to give your ride a unique look and the stock wheel size is just right for you. One of the concerns you will have is that the new wheels have the same offset as your vehicle factory wheels.

Your tire and wheel professional at Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont can help you find the right size wheel or install adapters to make your new wheels fit. All you have to do is pick from the hundreds of styles available.

So, what about Belmont drivers who want to upsize? Well, if you want bigger wheels, but you want to keep the same overall tire diameter, that's pretty easy for the team at Spiteri's Auto Service. The same offset concerns apply. You need to know that the tires will likely be a little bit wider than the originals and you don't want them to rub when you make sharp turns. Your tire professional at Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont will help you avoid this.

Heading the other direction, some vehicle owners in the Belmont area like to run smaller than standard wheels and lower the suspension. All of the same fitment issues still apply as well as calibration issues. Don't think that vehicle suspension modifications are a bad thing. Many systems actually improve ride, function and performance over the stock set-up.

Regardless of your budget, you want your vehicle to continue to do all the things you need it to do. Some of those show cars and trucks you see on TV and Belmont showrooms  look good but have been modified in ways that may not suit your needs. For example, if you put large rims on your SUV with low profile tires, you may be in for busted rims if you go off-roading a lot around the Belmont area. There just isn't enough sidewall to absorb the impact of thumping over rocks.

Some stuff the largest tires and wheels possible in their vehicles but have to severely restrict suspension travel so that the tires aren't rubbing all day. That can lead to a very harsh ride around CA. Again, talk with your Spiteri's Auto Service wheel professional about all of these things: how you drive in Belmont, what look you are going for, your budget and what compromises you are willing to make.

At the end of the day, you're going to be rollin' out of Spiteri's Auto Service with one sweet ride.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

When Are Your Tires Worn Out?


 

Hey Belmont area drivers, are your tires worn out? What is the standard for our CA streets? How can you tell on your vehicle?

While there may be legal requirements for the Belmont area, there are safety concerns that go beyond meeting minimum replacement mandates.

Two-thirty-seconds of an inch is the depth of the tire tread wear indicator bars that US law has required to be molded across all tires since August 1, 1968. When tires are worn so that this bar is visible, there's just 2/32 of an inch – 1.6 millimeters – of tread left. It's that level of wear that's been called into question recently.

We're referring to the tread depth on a tire, it can't move surface water out of the way and you start to hydroplane.

In a safety study, a section of a test track was flooded with a thin layer of water. If you laid a dime on the track, the water would be deep enough to surround the coin, but not enough to cover it.

A car and a full-sized pick-up accelerated to 70 miles per hour, or 112 kilometers an hour, and then made a hard stop in the wet test area. Stopping distance and time were measured for three different tire depths:

  • New tire tread depth
  • 4/32 of an inch, or 3.2 mm
  • 2/32 of an inch, or 1.6 mm

So what happened with the 2/32 inch/1.6 mm tires on the car? Get this – when the car had traveled the distance required to stop with new tires, it was still going 55 mph/89 kph. Stopping distance was nearly doubled to 379 feet/116 meters, and it took 5.9 seconds.

Wow! That means if you barely have room to stop with new tires, you would hit the car in front of you at 55 mph/89 kph with the worn tires.

Now, with the partially worn tires – at 4/32 of an inch, or 3.2 mm – the car was still going at 45 mph/72 kph at the point where new tires brought the car to a halt. It took nearly 100 feet, or about 30 meters, more room to stop and 1.2 seconds longer. That's a big improvement. We can see why Consumer Reports and others are calling for a new standard.

Of course, stopping distances were greater for the heavier pick-up truck.

How do you know when your tires are at 4/32 inch or 3.2 mm? Easy; just insert an American quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn't cover George Washington's hairline, it's time to replace your tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.

You may remember doing that with pennies. A penny gives you 2/32 inch, or 1.6 mm, to Abraham Lincoln's head. The quarter is the new recommendation – 4/32 inch, or 3.2 mm.

How do people feel about replacing their tires earlier? Well, tires are a big ticket item and most people want to get the most wear out of them that they can. But do you want that much more risk just to run your tires until they are legally worn out?

For us, and we would guess for many, the answer is "no".

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

 

Your Vehicle Is NOT Maintenance Free, Belmont Car Owners

A generation ago, Belmont drivers seemed to be more inclined to keep their vehicle's preventive maintenance on schedule. One reason for this may be that vehicles back then were a lot less reliable than they are today. Taking your vehicle in to your Belmont shop every year or two for repairs seemed to be a good reminder to keep the oil changed.

For example, almost everyone in Belmont used to take their vehicles in for regular tune-ups. Vehicles had mechanical ignition systems, which meant ignition points, spark plugs and coils had to be replaced and the timing adjusted every few years. As long as the vehicle was in for a tune-up at Spiteri's Auto Service, the vehicle was inspected and you took care of any needed repairs at the same time.

Today's engines have electronic ignition systems and engine control computers. Spark plugs can last for up to 100,000 miles/160,000 km. Vehicle reliability has vastly improved in the last few decades, and surveys report fewer problems with new vehicles than ever before. That also means that our vehicles don't experience a huge performance drop when they're ready for some care. But it doesn't mean that they don't need it.

Modern Belmont drivers need to rely on calendars and mileage intervals to know when to schedule maintenance. Owner's manuals contain recommendations on when different types of maintenance should be performed. Also, Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont can provide advice about auto maintenance schedules. At Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont, we know that benefits of staying on top of preventive maintenance are substantial. First, you'll get better engine performance and fuel economy. Those two things alone return the cost of preventive maintenance: in fuel savings and safety. Also, routine maintenance has been proven to prevent major car repairs later on. Again, the cost savings can be significant. As the old saying goes, “Spend a penny, save a dime.”

Modern vehicle engines may be more durable and reliable than their predecessors, but they're more sophisticated and complex as well. For this reason, preventive maintenance today is even more critical than the old tune-up. Modern engine systems have a lot of parts that have to stay lubricated. These parts can be made of aluminum, plastic or steel. Special additives in lubricants are required to keep each of these materials from breaking down or corroding. Over time, these additives are depleted, even if the vehicle isn't driven. This makes fluid changes a critical part of scheduled maintenance if you want to keep your vehicle on the road.

As an example, coolant fluid in your engine is a sophisticated mix that not only keeps your vehicle engine cool but also protects and maintains its components. However, this fluid gradually gets contaminated and anti-corrosion additives are depleted. It can become corrosive and damage the vehicle's engine parts it was designed to protect. It can eat holes in your radiator and other engine parts. Changing the coolant could have prevented this damage, and it's a whole lot easier and cheaper than replacing a radiator.

Timely oil changes are more critical for Belmont drivers than they used to be. Skipping just one oil change can start the build-up of oil sludge in your engine. Sludge can clog small engine passages, which cuts off the supply of lubricant to engine parts. Just this small bit of sludge can reduce the life expectancy of your engine. If the build-up continues, it could lead to engine failure within two or three years.

One word of warning to anyone in Belmont who purchases used vehicles: take care when buying a leased vehicle. Belmont folks who lease vehicles only intend to drive them for two or three years, generally the years when the vehicle is least likely to experience any problems. One of the reasons people lease vehicles is that they don't want to be bothered with maintenance or vehicle care. Before buying a pre-leased vehicle, be sure to inspect it for signs of damage that result from lack of proper care.

We can all be grateful for the improved reliability of our modern vehicles. With proper maintenance and care, we can expect them to last longer, perform better, get better fuel economy and require fewer repairs than ever before. We just have to be more conscientious about scheduling time for their care.

Give us a call or send us an email for more helpful tips.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

 

 

Which Item Is Most Stolen from Vehicles in Belmont?


 

Which item is most often stolen from vehicles in Belmont?

Is it:

  1. Stereo
  2. Wheels
  3. Air Bag
  4. DVD System

Well, if you said stereo – you used to be right. But airbags have now surpassed stereos as the biggest target for theft in CA – approximately 50,000 a year are stolen across the country. New airbags cost about $1,000, but go for $50 to $200 on the black market in CA.

Stolen airbags are making their way back into cars that have been in an accident. Of course, the danger to the consumer of having a stolen airbag installed is that you can never be sure what may have previously affected them and if they will work right when you need them.

Contact us at Spiteri's Auto Service for more information about where to get your airbags checked or replaced.
Find us at 292 OLD COUNTY RD, Belmont, CA 94002
You can reach us by phone at: 650-593-4758

There are reports that 1 in 25 airbag replacements are stolen or salvaged airbags – or no airbag is installed at all.

That is definitely one car part you don't want to take a chance with, so Spiteri's Auto Service recommends following these guidelines:

  • Use a reputable collision repair center that employs ASE certified mechanics (we can offer recommendations at Spiteri's Auto Service).

 

  • Inspect the invoice to ensure that the repair shop purchased the airbag from a manufacturer, dealer or recycler. If you can inspect the airbag prior to installation, it should be packaged in a sealed container from the manufacturer.

 

  • You will see the SRS light (Supplemental Restraint System) when you first start your vehicle up. This tells you that the airbag system is activated. If you do not see the SRS light, there is likely a problem with the airbag system.

 

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Fuel Injection Basics for Belmont



All modern Belmont vehicles come with fuel injection systems, so it's a topic Belmont drivers need to know something about. The mighty fuel injector is a valve that delivers the gas or diesel fuel to the right place, in the right amount at the right timeto be mixed with air and burned in the engine.

So how many fuel injectors does your vehicle have? There's one for each cylinder. So four, six or eight for most folks in Belmont, CA. Some vehicles have 10 or 12 cylinders. The engine control computer makes adjustments to the fuel injector as it monitors the engine and other sensors. Fuel injectors are a pretty high-tech.

Spiteri's Auto Service can help Belmont drivers with a fuel injector cleaning service. What's the benefit? In order to work right, the fuel injectors have to deliver the fuel at a precise pressure at a very precise time. It's important that the fuel is sprayed in a particular pattern as determined by the engine design.

Over time, varnish can start to build up in the fuel injectors, effecting the pressure, pattern and timing of the fuel charge. The result is that the fuel doesn't get burned as efficiently as it could. That robs performance and hurts fuel economy.

What about dirty fuel? How does that affect the fuel injectors? The fuel injectors are the last stop in the fuel system. It starts at the fuel tank. Frankly, the best way to keep your fuel injectors working well is to use high quality fuel. It's tempting to shop for bargains in Belmont with fuel prices as high as they are, but major brands in the Belmont, CA, area have better detergents and additives and deliver consistent quality.

What about a good fuel filter? The fuel filter is component of the fuel system. Its job is to filter out the dirt and rust that collect in the fuel tank. If it's clogged up, the dirt will bypass the filter and head upstream to the fuel injectors.

It's important to replace the fuel filter when your manufacturer recommends it. That's part of a comprehensive fuel system cleaning.

There are different kinds of fuel injection systems. Port fuel injection systems, the kind most gasoline engines have, operate at 60 pounds per square inch. The injectors for the new gas direct injection engines Belmont drivers are starting to see require 10 to 30 times as much pressure. And some diesel engines for passenger vehicles have injectors that operate at 30,000 pounds or more per square inch. There's no room for dirt and gum in a precision part like that.

There are a lot of good products available in Belmont, CA, that can clean fuel injectors. They're best used to prevent fouling in the fuel injectors. Many can't clean a seriously gummed up injector – that requires a professional deep cleaning, like those we offer at Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont. But putting the cleaner in the fuel tank after you've had Spiteri's Auto Service take a look at your fuel system will help keep it clean. Be sure to read the label for directions.

Give us a call if you think your vehicle may be ready for a fuel injector cleaning.

 

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

 

Battery Replacement at Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont

Hello, welcome to Spiteri's Auto Service. Today's focus is batteries. It seems like everything in Belmont runs on batteries. Of course, the batteries we're most concerned with here at Spiteri's Auto Service are those in our customer's vehicles. Just like the batteries in our smoke detectors or TV remote, Battery they wear out and need to be replaced . This can be thought of as the power output used to start a cold vehicle engine. The number of cold cranking amps you need depends on your vehicle and where you live in CA, specifically how cold it is. (Many Belmont drivers have first-hand experience trying to start their car on a cold winter morning.) The two factors are that the colder your vehicle's engine is, the more power it takes to turn the engine over to get it started. It has all that cold, sluggish oil to contend with.

The other factor is that the chemical reaction in the battery that creates electrical energy is less efficient when the temperature dips. Let's say it's 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees C) in Belmont. At that temperature, 100% of the battery's power is available. At freezing, only 65% of battery power is available, but it requires 155% as much power to start the engine as it did at 80 degrees F (27 degrees C).

As you can see, the colder it gets, more power is needed, but the available power drops.

So if you live where it's cold in CA, you need a battery with more cold cranking amps than you do where it's moderate or hot. The battery that originally came with your vehicle was based on averages. At Spiteri's Auto Service, we like to remind Belmont drivers that they should always get at least as many cold cranking amps as their vehicle manufacturer recommends but may want to upgrade if they live where it gets real cold.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

 

TPMS: Tire Pressure Monitoring for Your Belmont Vehicle

Belmont drivers may know that all 2008 model year and newer cars, mini-vans and light trucks in CA come with a tire pressure monitoring system. Many slightly older vehicles around the Belmont area have these systems as well. A tire pressure monitoring system – called TPMS – consists of sensors on each wheel that measure tire pressure.

If tire pressure drops 25 percent below the vehicle manufacture’s recommended pressure, the sensor sends a signal to a monitoring unit that causes a warning to light up on the dashboard. When drivers see the warning light, they know it's time to put some air in the tires.

There are many benefits to people in Belmont who drive with properly inflated tires. First is cost savings. Running at the correct air pressure improves fuel economy. Driving on underinflated tires is like driving through sand – it drags down your fuel economy. Drivers in Belmont will also see longer, more even tread wear so your tires will last longer.

Another important benefit of properly inflated tires is increased safety for Belmont vehicles. Underinflated tires become hotter, and that heat can actually lead to tire failure – possibly resulting in an accident. Your vehicle and the tires themselves will just perform better and more safely around Belmont with properly inflated tires.

Local CA consumer groups and law-makers advocate TPMS systems hoping that they will save lives, property damage and inconvenience. While you can't put a value on saving a life, Belmont drivers should keep in mind that TPMS systems aren't free.

The systems themselves are added into the price of the vehicle. The batteries in the sensors will have to be replaced from time to time. Parts will break and need to be replaced. In colder climates around CA, ice and salt are frequent causes of failure.

In addition, there are other behind-the-scenes costs we want you to be aware of. Every time a tire is replaced, repaired, rotated or balanced, the tire technician has to deal with the TPMS system.

Belmont service centers such as Spiteri's Auto Service must purchase equipment used to scan and reactivate the TPMS system after every tire service. Because older tire change equipment can damage TPMS sensors, your Belmont area service center may need to buy expensive, new tire changers.

Since there is no uniformity among manufacturers, technicians need to be trained on several TPMS systems. These behind-the-scenes costs are very real to Belmont service center managers.

That's why the team at Spiteri's Auto Service is anxious for people in the Belmont area to understand the financial impact of TPMS systems. In the past, we've been able to quickly and cheaply provide tire services and then pass the low cost on to customers as an expression of our good will. But now even these simple jobs take much longer and require equipment.

Sensors will need to be removed and reinstalled. Even a tire rotation will require that the monitor be reprogrammed to the new location of each tire. When a vehicle battery is disconnected, the TPMS system will need to be reprogrammed.

So when you start so see the cost of tire changes, flat repairs and rotations going up in CA, please keep in mind that it's because of this new safety equipment. The team at Spiteri's Auto Service just wants to keep you safely on the road – and we're committed to doing it at a fair price.

It's important to remember that the TPMS warning only comes on when a tire is severely underinflated. You'll still want to check your tire pressure regularly. At every fill-up is best, but you should check pressure at least once a month. Here's wishing you safe travels.

Contact Spiteri's Auto Service for more information about Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems.

 Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Serpentine Belt Service at Spiteri's Auto Service

Most Belmont folks occasionally have days when they've got a bunch of errands to run. Yesterday was my day off and I needed to fill the gas tank, pick up some groceries at my Belmont market, swing by the ATM and get the kids from school. I could have made four trips . . . but that would have been totally inefficient. Instead I got unusually organized and planned my stops. I hit the ATM first and got gas next. Then I went to the supermarket and picked up the kids on the way home. I was proud of my wise use of time and money.

What does this have to do with your car? Well, back in the day, each of your engine's accessories, like the alternator and air conditioner, were powered by separate belts. A vehicle might have five or six belts. These days, vehicles have a single belt to run all the accessories. It's called the serpentine belt. A pulley attached to the vehicle engine's crank provides the power to turn the serpentine belt. On the engine in the video, the first accessory in line is the power steering pump, which makes it easier to steer your vehicle.

Next comes the alternator which powers the vehicle's electrical system and charges the battery. Then the air conditioning compressor. This helps make cold air to keep you comfortable all summer long in Belmont. Finally, we come to the belt tensioner. Its job is to apply pressure on the belt to keep it tight. Then, back home to the crank.

This is a pretty typical setup, but it can vary somewhat. In some vehicles the water pump or radiator fan or the power brakes are also run by the serpentine belt. Some even have two serpentine belts. No matter how your engine is laid out, you're not going far without a serpentine belt. Your vehicle manufacturer has a recommended interval for replacing your belt and your Spiteri's Auto Service service technician can inspect it for damage or wear.

Several years ago, manufacturers started making serpentine belts out of a new material. It's much more durable, but it's harder to tell when the belt needs to be replaced. The old style belts would crack and chunks would fall off so you could easily see when you needed a new one.

On the new style belts, if the ribs wear too deep, it's time to replace. Your Spiteri's Auto Service technician uses a simple gauge to tell when the belt is worn.

A worn belt stresses your vehicle engine's expensive accessories and causes them to wear prematurely. So, change your serpentine belt and belt tensioner according to your manufacturer's recommendations to extend the life of your accessories and to prevent future breakdowns.

Give us a call.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Drive Defensively in CA

Car care is part of auto safety in Belmont. But the most important thing we can do to improve safety on CA roads is to drive safely.

Defensive driving begins with the proper attitude. Have in mind that you won't let anyone take your safety away from you. You'll be aware of your surroundings, road conditions, other vehicles and hazards. And the first person to be concerned with is you: start with your own environment.

Don't leave without securing all occupants including children and pets. Watch for loose items that can become projectiles during evasive maneuvers.

Driving too fast or too slow increases the chance of an accident.

Never drive impaired: Alcohol is a factor in half of all fatal crashes. Never drink and drive.

Other impairments include being sleepy, angry, daydreaming or talking. If you suddenly wonder how you got where you are – you're not paying enough attention.

Keep your windows clean and uncluttered. No fuzzy dice and stickers.

Keep your car in good shape so that it handles properly: Maintain tires, lights, brakes, suspension, wheel alignment and steering.

Always use your turn signals while driving around Belmont, CA. Avoid other vehicles' blind spots.

Don't drive faster than your headlights – if you can't stop within the distance you can see, you're going too fast.

Avoid driving over debris in the road. Even harmless looking items can cause damage or an accident.

Keep your wheels straight when waiting to turn at an intersection in Belmont . That way if you're hit from behind, your car won't be pushed into on-coming traffic.

My daddy always said that when you drive, you're actually driving five cars: yours, the one in front, the one behind and the ones on either side. You can't trust that other drivers will do the right thing, so you've got to be aware of what they're doing at all times.

If you see another car driving erratically, weaving, crossing lanes, etc., stay back. Take the next right turn if you're downtown Belmont, or take the next exit on the CA highway. Notify the police if you see someone driving dangerously in our Belmont community.

Never follow too closely. The minimum distance is the two second rule. Pick a landmark ahead, like a tree or road marker. When the car in front of you passes it, start counting: 'one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand.' If you pass the landmark before reaching two-one-thousand, you're following too closely.

Remember that the two second rule is the minimum – it assumes you're alert and aware. Three seconds is safer. Move out to five seconds or more if it's foggy or rainy.

Someone will inevitably move into your forward safety zone – just drop back and keep a safe distance.

If someone follows you too closely, just move over.

Don't play chicken by contesting your right of way or race to beat someone to a merge. Whoever loses that contest has the potential to lose big and you don't want any part of that. So stay alert, constantly scan around your car and arrive safely.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Drive Train - What You Need to Know in Belmont



One Belmont automotive service issue that doesn't get much attention is driveline service. Drivelines don't get talked about very much around Belmont, 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 Belmont residents 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 at 650-593-4758.

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, Spiteri's 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 friendly and knowledgeable Spiteri's Auto Service service advisor.

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 Belmont have a two piece drive shaft. The shafts are connected to the transmission and the differential with big universal joints. Most Belmont residents 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 Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont.

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 Belmont 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 vehicle 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 Belmont, 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 recommended 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 Belmont residents need differential service for the front and rear differentials and for the transfer case as well.

The bottom line for Belmont residents is that the maintenance schedules are in your owner's manual. Your Belmont 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 Spiteri's Auto Service if any of it needs to be done now.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Deciphering the Spiteri's Auto Service Menu Board

Let's talk about deciphering the auto service menu board. Belmont, CA, service centers like Spiteri's Auto Service have a board that lists the routine services they provide. But some people don't know what these services really are unless they ask. Let's go down a typical list, in alphabetical order, starting with air conditioning service.

Feel free at any time to give Spiteri's Auto Service a call at 650-593-4758 to learn of the many services we offer, or stop by our Belmont, CA auto center at 292 OLD COUNTY RD, 94002.

First remember that all of these services are recommended by vehicle manufacturers. They set how often or at how many miles/kilometers the service should be done.

Air conditioning service involves purging the old refrigerant and capturing it for proper disposal. Then fresh refrigerant is installed. The fresh refrigerant will lubricate the system and will also help it cool better.

Alignment. Service centers like Spiteri's Auto Service make sure all four wheels are lined up and track with each other. This reduces tire and suspension wear and improves safety and handling.

Battery service. Service centers like Spiteri's Auto Service inspect the battery for corrosion, leaks or damage. Test the battery's ability to hold a charge. If the battery's still strong, clean it up. If not, replace it.

Brake service. This could be two things. A brake inspection to see if the brakes are working well mechanically and to see if the pads are still safe. If not, replace the pads and make any repairs that might be in order.

The other thing is to evacuate the brake fluid, clean out the system and replace it with fresh fluid. This is important, but often overlooked.

Cabin air filter. The cabin air filter is the filter that cleans the air that comes into the passenger compartment. It works like the filter on your furnace at home. It gets dirty and needs to be changed often.

Cooling system. This is the cooling system for your engine. Replace the old coolant with fresh to protect your radiator and other cooling system components from corrosion.

Differential service. Every vehicle has at least one differential. They don't require service very often, so people don't think of them much. The differential transfers power from the drive train to your wheels. Drain the old fluid and add fresh lubricant.

Engine air filter. This filters the air that's burned in the engine. It also gets dirty and needs to be replaced often.

Fuel filter. This filter cleans the fuel before it gets to the engine. Like the other filters, it too gets clogged and needs to be replaced in order to maintain good flow.

Give us a call.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com



Automobile Fluids For Your vehicle


If you've walked through the automotive fluids section of an auto parts store in Belmont, you'll know how overwhelming the sheer number of products available can be. How do you know what's right for your vehicle?

As you know, these fluids all serve a function in making your car run as you drive around the Belmont area. Your vehicle manufacturer has specified a particular type of fluid for every system from the motor, to the cooling system, brake fluid and so on. When you realize that not every variation is applicable to your vehicle, the task becomes more manageable.

First let's talk about why there are so many varieties. Starting with motor oil, we see that manufacturers match the properties of a particular weight or type of oil with the design needs of the engine. For example, engines with sophisticated valve trains often require a thinner weight of oil.

Some vehicles around Belmont come from the factory filled with synthetic oil and the recommendation to use it for life. The safe bet is to always use what the factory recommends. The recommendation is what's been proven to work in function and durability tests. The recommended oil is also a factor in determining oil change interval schedules.

Sometimes fluids are developed specifically to meet the needs of a particular family of engines. An example would be coolant. Because of the different materials used to build the cooling system, the coolant has to be formulated to protect those parts, which vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, from corrosion. We've seen special coolant in CA for General Motors, Volkswagen, Chrysler and others.

The same is true of transmission fluid and brake fluid in recent years.

The really good news is that the friendly and professional service advisors at Spiteri's Auto Service have databases that tell them the recommended fluids for your vehicle. This takes all the guess work out. If you have some special needs, like a higher mileage engine or want enhanced performance, ask your service advisor for upgrades or additives that'll meet your needs while being consistent with the manufacturer's recommendations.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Make Your Battery Last



Today's report from Spiteri's Auto Service is on vehicle batteries, why they die and what we can do to lengthen their life. Most of us have had a dead battery at one time or another. In fact, it would be very unusual if you hadn't. You may be surprised to learn that only 30 percent of Belmont vehicle batteries last for 48 months.

Now that's an average. How long a battery lasts depends on many factors. You may not know that one of the biggest factors is the temperature where you live and drive around in CA. You might suppose that cold weather was harder on batteries because it takes more power to crank a cold engine, but the opposite is actually true.

For more information on your battery, please visit us:
Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758

Batteries in very cold climates have a life expectancy of 51 months as opposed to 30 months in very warm climates. The reason is simple: batteries are chemically more active when they're hot than when they're cold.

A vehicle battery will actually start to discharge on its own within 24 hours in hot weather. It takes several days in cold weather. When batteries are left too long in a state of partial discharge, the discharged portion of the battery plates — for the lack of a better word — 'die.' Recharging the battery will not restore the dead part of the battery plate.

One of the big problems for the way most of us drive in the Belmont area is that our batteries are often partially discharged. The biggest job the battery does is to start the vehicle. It takes some time for the alternator to recharge the battery after starting. If you're driving short distances, especially if there are several starts and stops, your battery may not fully recharge.

Another issue is that vehicles are coming equipped with more and more electricity-hungry accessories like navigation systems, DVD players, CD and MP3 players, heated seats, heated steering wheels and so on. And we often plug in cell phones, computers and other gadgets. Combine that with short trips and it's no wonder that our batteries are partially discharged.

Experts say we can extend our battery life by topping off the charge periodically using a good quality battery charger. You may have heard these chargers referred to as 'trickle chargers.' They're attached to the battery and plugged into a wall outlet to slowly bring the battery up to full charge.

Now, there's some science involved with how fast a battery should be recharged. If you buy a cheap manual charger, you'll have to tend it. Frankly there is a learning curve on how to do it right and it requires much attention. A computer controlled charger – or smart charger – monitors the process and determines the appropriate rate of charge. And it even stops charging when it's fully charged. It costs more than the manual charger, but the automatic model is worth it.

The suggestion is to charge once a month in warm weather and once every three months in cold weather.

Another thing to avoid is deeply discharging your battery, something like running the headlights and stereo with the engine turned off. That'll take months off the battery life every time you do it.

Now, as we discussed, heat is hard on a battery. A dirty, greasy battery holds more heat. You can wipe off excess dirt with a paper towel or ask your service advisor at Spiteri's Auto Service to clean it for you. We can even test your battery and tell you if it's time to replace it.

Batteries are fairly expensive, so taking a few steps to make them last longer is well worth it. Of course, the battery will eventually need to be replaced. Always make sure you get a new battery that meets the factory specifications for your vehicle. If you feel you need more battery capacity than what came with your vehicle, talk with your service advisor at Spiteri's Auto Service about appropriate upgrades.

If you have a dead battery, be careful to inspect it before you jump start it. If the case is bulging, cracked or leaking, do not jump start it. Damaged batteries can explode or catch fire. And deeply discharged batteries can freeze. Do not jump start a frozen battery.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

A Cool and Smooth Transmission in Belmont

When it comes to preventive maintenance on our vehicles, most of us Belmont drivers remember to get our oil changed. But services that occur at longer intervals — like transmission service — sometimes get overlooked. Yet transmission service is part of car care. A poorly maintained transmission will fail and lead to repairs.

The transmission transfers power from the engine to the drive wheels. When it's clean and well-lubricated, it gives maximum fuel efficiency. But when it gets dirty or worn down, your transmission will suffer. Your transmission relies on transmission fluid to keep everything running well.

This is why the transmission fluid must be changed periodically. Your owner's manual will give you a recommended time schedule for this service. Or, you can ask your friendly and knowledgeable Spiteri's Auto Service service advisor. Generally, the interval is around 35,000 miles (55,000 km) or every two years. But the interval for your vehicle may be shorter or longer.

At Spiteri's Auto Service in Belmont, transmission fluid can usually be changed while you wait and is simple and not particularly expensive. Compared to the cost of transmission repairs or a new transmission, it's downright cheap! So take some good auto advice from the team at Spiteri's Auto Service and take care of your transmission. It will pay you back in a longer, smoother ride.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Deep Clean Your Fuel System at Spiteri's Auto Service

Having trouble with your fuel system? Bring your vehicle into Spiteri's Auto Service for a check up.

In today's Spiteri's Auto Service auto post, we're talking about fuel system cleaning. The first thing to know is how important it is to have a clean fuel system. Belmont residents need fuel to go, and the cleaner the fuel system, the more efficiently the fuel will burn. That means more power and better mileage .

A clean fuel system saves money for Belmont drivers at CA gas stations. We guess you could say it all starts and ends at the pump. One of the most important things Belmont residents can do to keep their vehicle fuel system clean is to buy good quality gas. Major brands have detergents that keep gum and varnish from rapidly building up in the fuel system.

So buying cheaper gas in CA can actually be more expensive for Belmont drivers in the long run. Now, most cars on CA roads are more than five or six years old. That means they've had time for some dirt and rust to start accumulating in the fuel tank. This junk needs to be filtered out of the fuel before it hits your vehicle engine. That's the fuel filter's job.

When the fuel filter is clogged, the dirty fuel will bypass the filter and go on up to the engine where it can clog fuel injectors and get into the cylinders. So Belmont residents should have their fuel filter changed when recommended. Check your owner's manual or ask your friendly and knowledgeable Spiteri's Auto Service service advisor if your fuel filter is due for replacement.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Automotive Tips from Spiteri's Auto Service: Wiper Blades – Signs of Wear

90% of our driving decisions are based on vision. Anything that impedes your vision can affect your driving safety – including a dirty windshield. In that sense, your wiper blades are an important safety system. Most Belmont drivers will wait until their wipers have failed before they replace them. Then they find themselves in a driving situation around CA when they really need forward visibility only to discover that their wipers are worn or maybe even torn and can’t clear snow or rain from the windshield.

As an important safety system, wiper blades should be replaced BEFORE they fail. Test your wipers at least once a month. If they are not doing the job, your friendly and professional Spiteri's Auto Service service advisor can replace them for you.

Give us a call.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Water Pump

Your cooling system is very important. It circulates coolant through the radiator and your engine to protect your vehicle from overheating. There are five main components to the cooling system:

  • the radiator
  • the radiator cap
  • the hoses
  • the thermostat
  • the water pump

The water pump's like the heart of your cooling system, circulating the fluid throughout your vehicle. It's a small pump that's driven by the engine; usually by belt, but sometimes by a chain or gear.

The water pump only operates when the engine's running. Water pump failure is pretty routine. We see it often at Spiteri's Auto Service. Some start failing at around 40,000 miles/64,000 km, but most fail by 100,000 miles/160,000 km. Consult your owner's manual or friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Spiteri's Auto Service to see what's recommended.

Since a water pump either works or it doesn't, you need to change it when it fails. Water pumps fail in one of two ways: the bearings fail or they begin to leak. It's possible to have a leak from a cracked water pump, but it usually leaks at the gasket where it attaches to the engine.

So how can Belmont drivers tell when the water pump is failing? If you can hear a low-pitched grinding sound coming from the water pump, it's got a problem. If you can see coolant in that area, you've got a leak.

Some water pumps are driven off the timing belt. They might be under a plastic cover so you can't see the water pump. Look for coolant on the driveway. If you see some, have Spiteri's Auto Service check it out.

Most timing belts need to be changed at 60,000 miles/97,000 km – some longer. It's a good idea to change your water pump at the same time if it's one of those that's driven off the timing belt. To start with, 90% of the work's already done with the timing belt change. And if you don't and develop a leak later, you'll have to change the belt again along with the water pump because the belt will have been contaminated by the leaking coolant.

Spiteri's Auto Service can replace a failed water pump with a brand spankin' new one or with a rebuilt pump. Rebuilt will save you some money, but ask your service advisor at Spiteri's Auto Service what he thinks. Don't feel too bad if your water pump gives out. They will all wear out eventually. We can get you back on the road and on with your life.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com

Engine Hydration for Belmont Drivers: Role of Your Water Pump

The cooling system in an engine has five components: the radiator, the radiator cap, the hoses, the thermostat and the water pump. The water is literally the heart of the system. Just as your own heart keeps your blood circulating through your body, the water pump keeps coolant circulating through your engine.

The water pump is driven by a belt, chain or gear and only operates while the engine is running. It has a limited life span and sooner or later will have to be replaced. You can check your owner's manual to find out how long your water pump should last. Some can fail at only 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers), but almost all of them fail by 100,000 miles (160,000 kilometers).

Water pumps don't gradually wear out; they fail. In other words, they're either working or they're not. A failed water pump has to be replaced.

Water pumps can fail in two ways: they can spring a leak or their bearings fail. Leaks can come from a cracked pump but usually develop at the gasket where the pump attaches to the engine.

If you hear a low-pitched grinding sound coming from the water pump, it's time for a new one. If you see coolant leaking in the area near the pump, it needs to be replaced. Also, coolant on the driveway could indicate water pump failure. Many water pumps aren't visible because they're under a plastic cover, so you may have to take your vehicle to Spiteri's Auto Service to know if the water pump has failed. If your water pump is run by the timing belt, then it should be replaced when you replace the belt. Most timing belts need to be replaced at around 60,000 to 90,000 miles (100,000 to 150,000 kilometers). The labor for replacing a timing belt is about 90% the same for replacing a water pump, so it's cost-effective to take care of them both at the same time. Also, if your water pump develops a leak (if it's powered by the timing belt), you have to replace the timing belt as well since contamination by coolant fluid damages the belt. It just makes sense for Belmont residents to replace both of these parts whenever either one needs it.

Replacing a water pump at Spiteri's Auto Service is a vehicle care issue that almost all of us Belmont residents face eventually. They don't last forever. On the other hand, we can extend the life of most of the components of our vehicle through preventive maintenance. Just as exercise and diet keep our heart healthy, regular check-ups and fluid changes will keep our vehicles healthy. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable Spiteri's Auto Service service advisor.

Spiteri's Auto Service
292 OLD COUNTY RD
Belmont, CA 94002
650-593-4758
http://carsupport.com