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Keeping Your 'Old Faithful' Auto Running

Posted January 27, 2010 10:00 AM

At L and M Motors Inc we've had a lot of Anchorage customers asking how they can make their vehicles last longer. These questions are actually a reflection of a trend that's been building for several years in AK. The median age of personal vehicles is now over nine years. And 33 percent of all vehicles on the road have over 75,000 miles (120,000 km) on them. It looks like it's going to keep heading in that direction for a while. With high fuel prices, a lot of AK folks are putting off buying a new car. 

So let's say you're one of the average in the Anchorage area; you've got a nine-year-old car with 80,000 miles (130,000 km) on the odometer. What can you do to make it last another year or two?

Let's start with the premise that there's no reason that a modern car can't run for 200,000 miles (320,000 km) with proper care in Anchorage. The engineering and manufacturing quality is there.

Of course, some parts will wear out along the way, but there's no reason for a catastrophic meltdown if Anchorage drivers stay on top of their recommended car maintenance. The maintenance schedule in some vehicle manufacturer's owner's manuals runs out at 60,000 miles (100,000 km) or so: how do Anchorage vehicle owners know what to do when they're way past that?

It is a challenge, for example: If a service is recommended every 15,000 miles (24,000 km) for the first 60,000 miles (100,000 km), you can just keep getting it done at least every 15,000 miles (24,000 km) after you hit 60,000 miles (100,000 km). But, it gets more complicated because older engines lose some efficiency, are dirtier inside and are just more stressed. That means it's very important to not miss any scheduled services. Skipping just one oil change at L and M Motors Inc in Anchorage, for example, leaves an opportunity for sludge to build up. Talk to your service advisor at L and M Motors Inc for more details.

So all the usual things like oil changes, transmission service, coolant service, brakes, power steering, fuel system cleaning – all that stuff needs to be maintained. People responsible for fleet vehicles around Anchorage are sticklers for scheduled maintenance. They know that money spent on maintenance saves them three ways:

  1. it keeps efficiency from decreasing;
  2. it prevents repairs, and;
  3. they can postpone purchasing new vehicles.

Having the oil changed may be the most important thing Anchorage drivers can do. A full-service oil change at L and M Motors Inc means that all of your other fluids get topped off so they are never low enough to cause damage. It also gives your friendly and knowledgeable L and M Motors Inc service advisor a chance to spot problems in the early stages so that you can fix them before they get worse. And it gives you a touch point with an automotive professional along the way to remind you of things that aren't scheduled as often – things like differential service and timing belt replacement.

If you live in the Anchorage area and have an older vehicle, you may need to follow the severe service maintenance schedule. Check your owner's manual and talk with us at L and M Motors Inc. Conditions inside an older engine, transmission and cooling system can arguably be considered severe – so shorter intervals could well be called for.

And, the team at L and M Motors Inc strongly encourages Anchorage drivers to consider using high mileage formulation fluids. They're fluids like engine oil, transmission fluid and coolant that are formulated for older engines. They have special additives to clean deposits, and to condition and restore seals and gaskets that dry out with age. Some Anchorage auto owners start using higher mileage formulations at around 50,000 miles (80,000 km) as a preventive measure.

Of course you also want to still look marvelous in your older car as you drive around Anchorage. Salt and road grime wreak havoc on your paint job and can lead to body rust – so regular washing is very important. Also, a good quality waxing is recommended at least twice a year.

Give us a call for more information:

L and M Motors Inc
400 W 53rd Ave
Anchorage, AK 99518
907-563-4994



Fuel Filter Service in Anchorage, AK

Posted January 21, 2010 10:00 AM



There are a surprising number of small, inexpensive parts that can lead to expensive engine damage when they fail. It doesn't seem right.

Fortunately a lot of those things can be taken care of in routine maintenance. They may not be easy to remember because it is a long list, but your service center at L and M Motors Inc can help you know what's scheduled to be taken care of.

Some of us in Anchorage, AK, really don't look forward to going in for an oil change and then getting a list of the other things the manufacturer recommends.

But automotive maintenance is all about prevention and addressing small problems before they get big. Let's take the fuel filter for example.

You may not know this but the median age for private vehicles on our Anchorage, AK, roads is over nine years. When vehicles get older, five years or so, they've accumulated a lot of dirt and rust in their gas tanks. If that dirt gets into the engine it can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage. So somewhere between that dirty gas tank and the price of a great vacation is the lowly fuel filter: a very inexpensive part that doesn't cost too much to replace. And your vehicle will just run better too.

A clogged fuel filter can't let enough fuel through. You might notice at first that your vehicle is running fine around town but struggles or sputters on the Anchorage, AK, freeway or when you accelerate. Enough fuel can't get through to meet the demands of higher speed. If it gets bad enough, your engine might just shut off or not start at all, which could be dangerous.

Some fuel filters have a bypass. When they get clogged, they allow dirty fuel to move around the filter element so dirt ends up in the engine. We've already talked about how expensive that can be.

The fuel filter is even very important for newer vehicles. The fuel is still dirty even if there isn't rust in the tank. It's just that the fuel filter will need to be changed more frequently as the vehicle gets older.

How often should you change your fuel filter? Check your owner's manual. Your Anchorage, AK, service advisor at L and M Motors Inc can tell you as well. It's usually around 30,000 miles (50,000 kilometers) or so. Ask if it's time for a full fuel system cleaning as well. They often go hand in hand.

It's good to know that your Anchorage, AK, service center has your back. When you're motivated to maintain your vehicle's performance and to reduce operating costs, you'll think of L and M Motors Inc as your ally - and maybe even your memory.

L and M Motors Inc
400 W 53rd Ave
Anchorage, AK 99518
907-563-4994



Recommended Anchorage Service Intervals

Posted January 5, 2010 10:00 AM



Everyone in Anchorage, AK, knows we are advised to go to our Anchorage dentist twice a year.  Oral-conscious Anchorage residents have a teeth-cleaning and examination. Once a year, we get x-rays to look for problems that can't be seen with the naked eye. When our dentist is done, he/she tells us what was found – "Everything's fine, see you in six months." Or "You've got a small cavity starting, let's schedule an appointment to take care of it." By the time you leave, you have a plan for addressing any necessary issues.

This system works so much better than waiting for a painful problem before going into the dentist. Small problems are fixed before they turn into big problems. And you avoid those huge bills.

If Anchorage folks understand the wisdom of using this system for handling dental care, why do many resist when facing the same system for our vehicle maintenance?

Following the vehicle manufacturer's recommended intervals can be confusing. First, there are recommendations for so many things: oil changes, transmission, coolant, air conditioning, power steering, brakes, fuel system, filters, belts, hoses, alignment, rotation, balancing ...you get the point.

Every item has a recommended interval and it's hard for Anchorage drivers to keep it all straight – even if you're part of the 1% of AK drivers that read their owners' manual.

And if you have more than one vehicle, the complexity is multiplied. You'd need a computer to keep track of everything. Well, that's how your service center does it. For example, L and M Motors Inc subscribes to automotive databases that have your vehicle's recommended intervals. You may have wondered how they know what else to recommend when you take your car in for an oil change – it's all in the database.

Well, it's not all in the computer. There are other variables that can't be accounted for in the schedule: Things like Anchorage weather conditions, altitude, and where and how you drive in AK. Talk about these things with your service advisor at L and M Motors Inc and you may decide that the severe service schedule in your owner's manual is more appropriate.

Since anything that's not driving in moderate weather is considered severe and most of us do at least some of that around Anchorage, AK, it should be taken into account.

Let's take your basic oil change as an example. What issues are involved? The oil you put in your vehicle is a blend of base oil and special additives. There are detergents to clean the inside of your vehicle engine and corrosion inhibitors. A good quality motor oil will not only lubricate your engine, it will help it stay clean inside and run cooler.

Now, these additives deplete with use and time. That's why most vehicle manufacturer's maintenance recommendations include both a time and mileage element – like 3 months or 3,000 miles/5,000 km, whichever comes first.

It's easy for Anchorage drivers to think, "Gee, I've only driven 2,000 miles/3,200 km in the last 3 months. I can wait on that oil change." But you need to remember that the inside of your engine is a environment. The oil is contaminated with combustion by-products that start degrading its effectiveness even when it's just sitting there.

A lot of people in Anchorage don't realize how harmful it is to skip an oil change. There are a lot of metal parts moving around in your engine. Small bits of metal wear off and are floating around in your oil. They can be carried to more delicate areas of the engine where they cause damage. Your oil filter is designed to trap metal particles and other dirt, but if it's clogged up because you haven't changed it, it can't trap any more.

Oil sludge is another problem for Anchorage vehicles. Sludge is oil that has turned to a gunky jelly – think 'Vaseline.' Obviously, sludge doesn't lubricate. It can also clog small oil passages so that all the parts don't get properly protected by the oil. That'll lead to premature wear.

If you've missed some oil changes, don't despair. Just talk with the pros at L and M Motors Inc. Fess up – you'll feel better. And they can help you get back on track. Following recommended intervals is the key to keeping your vehicle on the road and avoiding repairs.

L and M Motors Inc
400 W 53rd Ave
Anchorage, AK 99518
907-563-4994

 

 



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