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Is Your Anchorage Driving Severe?

Posted November 30, 2010 1:00 AM



People near Anchorage, AK, often ask L and M Motors Inc how often they should have a particular service done. It's a great thing to ask. You can look at your owner's manual or have your Anchorage, AK, service advisor at L and M Motors Inc look up your vehicle in a service database. What you find is often a surprise to people – there are actually two service schedules.

One is the regular schedule and the other is the severe service schedule. Service intervals are shorter on the severe service schedule. When asked, most folks in Anchorage will say that their driving is normal and that the 'regular' schedule probably applies to them. 'Severe service' sounds pretty extreme – 'I don't drive like that.'

Well, here is what the manufacturers say constitutes severe driving conditions; you can draw your own conclusions.

  • Most of your trips are less than four miles (six and a half kilometers).
  • Most of your trips are less than ten miles (16 km) and outside temperatures are below freezing.
  • The engine is at low speed most of the time – not on the highway. You operate your vehicle in dusty areas.
  • You regularly tow a trailer or carry heavy loads.
  • You drive with a car-top carrier.
  • You do a lot of stop-and-go driving.
  • You drive in very hot or very cold weather.

If that's severe driving, what constitutes regular driving? Well, it would look something like this: I live somewhere with moderate temperatures all year round – I'm thinking San Diego here. And I live close to a freeway on-ramp. Everywhere I need to go is right off the freeway, at least four miles (six and a half km) from my home. I can drive at a steady 60 miles per hour (100 kph) when I'm on the freeway.

I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like my normal driving. It sounds more like ideal conditions. I live where it gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I run short errands around Anchorage. Occasionally we load up for family trips.

For me, normal driving includes elements of severe service driving. So here's what I tell people: think about how you drive, where you live, where you go and what you are expecting to with your vehicle in the near future.

Picture a line with 'regular' on one end and 'severe' on the other, and make a judgment on where you fall. If your regular oil change recommendation is 5,000 miles (8,000 km) and the severe service recommendation is 3,000 miles (5,000 km), when should you change your oil? For me, it's closer to 3,000 miles (5,000 km). For my wife, it's closer to 5,000 miles (8,000 km). Your Anchorage, AK, auto service advisor at L and M Motors Inc will be happy to have this discussion with you and help you sort it out.

Just a quick word on why severe service intervals are shorter. One has to do with heat. That can either be external heat from the weather, engine and transmission heat from stop-and-go driving or working extra hard moving heavy loads or towing. The heat causes the fluids like oil and transmission fluid to break down more quickly, and then they aren't as effective.

Another factor is water. Moisture naturally collects in fluids as they cool. In your motor oil, for example, if you don't drive long enough for the oil to fully heat up, the water won't evaporate. Water in the oil can lead to the buildup of damaging sludge.

If you live where the air is dusty or polluted, fluids will become contaminated and filters will get dirtier more quickly.

So make an honest evaluation of your driving conditions. You've made the commitment to take care of your vehicles, so it only makes sense to follow the right schedule.

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



Wiper Blades in AK

Posted November 18, 2010 2:00 AM

If you're gonna drive around the Anchorage area, you've got to be able to see! So having a good set of windshield wipers is extremely important. We've all experienced the frustration and fear of not being able to see clearly during a storm or when our windshield is just dirty.

It seems like your wiper blades are always at their worst when you need them the most. But windshield wipers are like most other vehicle parts– they require regular attention in order to work their best.

You really ought to replace your wiper blades twice a year; in the spring and the fall. If it's going to be a particularly harsh winter in AK, you may even want to get special winter blades in the fall. Winter blades are designed to resist freezing.

Speaking of winter and freezing conditions, if your car has been sitting for a long time and the windshield becomes frozen, don't use your wipers to clear off snow and ice. That'll just tear up the blades and cause them to wear out more quickly. It may even damage the wiper motor.

Over time, wiper blades become hard and brittle, and then tear. They also lose their flexibility and just don't cover the windshield effectively.

Worn wiper blades aren't just a safety hazard; they can also scratch your windshield. That may require replacing the entire windshield, a big cost for such a little part.

Replace worn blades right away. Our professionals at L and M Motors Inc can provide you with a quality replacement blade. They cost about the same as they would at the store, but installation is included at L and M Motors Inc in Anchorage.

Of course you also need windshield washer fluid to help your blades do their work. Even though L and M Motors Inc will top off the washer fluid with a full service oil change, it is a good idea to have some extra fluid at home, or in the car if you are on a long trip.

Always use windshield washer fluid. Plain water, even that fancy bottled water, may freeze in the fluid reservoir or on the windshield itself, making things worse. Besides, water won't do a good job of cleaning your windows.

And remember that some vehicles have two reservoirs: one for the windshield and one for the back window, which may be under the hood or somewhere in the back.

So follow these tips to keep your windshield clear and your eye on the road, and give us a call.

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



Why People in Anchorage Hesitate to Get Their Vehicle Serviced

Posted November 17, 2010 1:00 AM



A recent report stated that over 80 percent of the vehicles on our Anchorage, AK, roads have one or more service or repair that's needed but hasn't been taken care of. Now that's a lot of undone service. That translates into something over 160 million vehicles in North America alone. Some of the neglected items are minor. Others are serious safety concerns.

There are several reasons we hesitate to take care of recommended services, especially services that our Anchorage automotive advisor recommends when we're in for something else, like an oil change.

The first issue boils down to comfort with car care. We don't always feel we know enough to make good decisions. Some of that can be attributed to the fact that vehicles are so reliable these days. They almost become an appliance. Of course you love your vehicle, but if you don't have to worry about it breaking down all the time, you're not forced to think as much about preventive maintenance.

Perhaps your dad knew a lot about cars and always made sure they were taken care of. He was very comfortable dealing with his local Anchorage service center. People who don't know as much about cars hesitate to ask questions because they don't want to look ignorant.

It's human nature. But there's so much to know in this world, and we can't all be experts in everything. So we specialize. It's very important to ask questions of any specialist, whether it's your doctor, financial advisor or your automotive technician in Anchorage, AK.

Your service advisor at L and M Motors Inc wants to answer your questions. We want you to understand the recommendation and why it needs to be done.

That brings us to the next issue; people say that they don't always know if they really need the service or if they are just being sold something.

At the heart, it speaks to trust. Do you trust your Anchorage service center and your service advisor? Trust has to be earned, and that takes time and experience. But you can shortcut the process when you realize that most of the recommendations are based on manufacturer's maintenance schedules.

In other words, "You don't have to trust me, you can trust your owner's manual."

Your Anchorage service center has computer databases that contain the manufacturer's recommendations for almost all vehicles, so they don't need to rummage through your glove box to look for your owner's manual to know what to do.

Basically, the engineers who designed the car say, "Here's when you need to have it serviced." That's who makes the recommendation, not the technician. He's just reminding you.

Now you do need to trust your Anchorage technician's experience and judgment from time to time. When he inspects your vehicle, he may find problems or concerns. He will explain things so that you can prioritize the concerns and make a good decision about whether or not to have something done.

That brings us to the third issue; money. Often the concern is about spending the money to take care of a recommended service. Our money has many places it needs to go. And we have another list of places we want it to go. Auto maintenance isn't usually on either of those lists.

Look, everyone who works at L and M Motors Inc has a family budget, too. They can relate. Maybe a little look behind the scenes would be helpful.

Service centers like L and M Motors Inc invest heavily in training, diagnostic equipment and tools so that they can make repairs and perform services as efficiently as possible. And like any other business, they have labor costs, insurance, rent, utilities, shop and office supplies, taxes and so on.

We work hard to make sure that we diagnose the problem correctly and fix it right the first time. That's the only way we can maintain our reputation and remain in business. If we're not satisfying our customers and providing a good value, you won't come back and the service center won't be around for long.

When there is a real budget concern, your L and M Motors Inc service advisor can help you prioritize the work that needs to be done and come up with a plan for taking care of it that works within your budget.

Let's say you have a serious problem with your brakes. That's a safety concern, so a technician can't ethically say, well, let's put that off for a couple of months. What they can do is take care of the brakes now and address the cabin air filter or transmission service next month.

Ask us for more details.

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



Saving Lives in Anchorage with Tire Pressure

Posted November 4, 2010 2:00 AM



All new passenger vehicles on our Anchorage, AK, roads now have tire pressure monitoring systems – TPMS for short. They are designed to alert you if your tires are underinflated. Since they are fairly new, a lot of people have questions about them.

First off, the most important thing is that you still need to check your tire pressure every week – or at least every time you gas up. The TPMS system alert comes in when your tire is 20 percent below the factory recommendation. So if the recommended pressure is 34 pounds per square inch, the TPMS warning won't come on until the pressure is at 28 pounds. That's significantly underinflated, enough to raise safety concerns.

The worst is tire failure. A severely underinflated tire can overheat and fail. Also, handling degrades to the point that you may not be able to steer out of trouble. Also underinflated tires wear out faster and they waste fuel. So it's costly to not stay on top of proper inflation.

What's the practical value of the TPMS system? Well, it's twofold. First, it can alert you when your tire is losing pressure due to a puncture or a bent rim. That's an important warning that you might not have gotten until next time you gassed up.

The second is that we all occasionally forget to check our tire pressure. So it's a fail-safe system to let you know there's a problem brewing.

Other things can cause your TPMS system to go off. The system also monitors itself. The sensors that are mounted in the wheels have little batteries that send a signal to the monitor. The batteries go dead over time and the TPMS system will let you know. And the sensors could break. Also road salt from our AK roads can ruin them.

There's also a hassle factor that your Anchorage, AK, tire center has to contend with. For example, when you have your tires rotated in Anchorage, the TPMS system has to be re-calibrated so that it knows which tire is on which corner of the car. Same is true for when you have new tires or winter tires installed. Flat repairs, as well.

That takes extra time. And it requires the right equipment and training. Special – and expensive – tire change machines need to be used with some sensors. It's all complicated by the fact that there are a number of different TPMS systems in use so the tire professionals at L and M Motors Inc need equipment and training for each kind. Tire centers have had to raise the price of some of these basic services to offset their increased costs.

Also if you add custom wheels on your vehicle, you need to put in new TPMS sensors if your originals won't work on the new rims. If you don't your TPMS light will be on constantly and you won't have the benefit of the warning system.

All in all, the mandated TPMS systems will save lives, so they're worth the added hassle and expense.

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



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