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Archive for July 2014

Maintaining Your Diesel in Anchorage

Posted August 1, 2014 12:00 PM

Diesel engines have been used extensively in Europe and Asia for many years. They haven't been as common in the Anchorage area because of the high sulfur content in our diesel fuel. But the government is now mandating lower sulfur content and, as a result, we are going to see more Anchorage diesel-fueled vehicles on the road, especially in passenger cars and SUV's.

Diesels are popular in AK because they get better fuel economy than gas-powered engines. They also last longer. Modern diesel engines are quiet and powerful. And if you associate diesel engines with black smoke, then you're not up with the times. That smoke is a thing of the past.

Diesels don't produce any more pollutants than gasoline engines. The pollution standards for diesel-powered vehicles are as strict in AK as for other vehicles.

Also, diesel engines can run on bio-diesel fuels as well as fossil fuels. Diesel fuel can be produced from vegetable oil or from cellulosic waste like wood chips and sawdust. In AK, we may soon see bio-diesel produced from algae. These fuel sources will lessen Anchorage drivers dependence on fossil fuels and may even become truly renewable and sustainable.

Diesel-powered vehicles also perform as well as other passenger vehicles. Most people don't notice a difference in driving one or the other. If you haul heavy loads or tow a trailer around AK, however, the diesel is a definite improvement.

So, you may be asking, if diesels are so great, why don't all Anchorage people drive them? Surely there are disadvantages you haven't told me about. That's true. Diesel engines are heavier than gas engines, and they cost more in AK. The better fuel economy of the diesel engine is partially offset by the higher purchase price.

Because of higher fuel prices, diesel engines used to be more expensive to drive in Anchorage. But now, with higher volatility in the prices of both gasoline and diesel fuel in AK, that cost difference is less definitive. Whether a diesel or gas engine is more expensive for AK drivers depends now on the current price of fuel and how far you drive.

Consider also that diesel-powered vehicles have a high resale value in the Anchorage area, and the costs of owning and operating a diesel vs. a gas-powered vehicle in AK becomes a real toss-up.

Preventive auto maintenance for diesel vehicles has also become similar to that of gas-fueled vehicles in recent years. The major difference is that diesels require cleaner fuel, air and oil, so their filters are more expensive than those for gasoline engines. The engine air filter must be changed more frequently as well.

The costs for car care and repairs in Anchorage are similar. You may be thinking, wait:  You just told me that filters are more and have to be changed more regularly. True, but that is offset by the fact that diesel engines have a much longer lifetime than gasoline engines. So if you are the type of owner who prefers to hang on to a vehicle for a long time, you will be more than rewarded with a diesel engine.

So if you have been looking for Anchorage auto advice on whether to switch to a diesel vehicle or stay with a gas-powered one, then we hope this helps. The answer as to which type of vehicle is better is that it depends on the driver and their driving habits. Now that you know the facts, you can make an informed choice based on your own priorities and needs.

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



Vive la Differential at L and M Motors Inc in Anchorage

Posted July 29, 2014 12:00 PM

There are a lot of drivers in Anchorage who are due for a differential service, but had never heard of a differential before. With front-wheel drive being so common in AK these days, the differential is just taken care of during a transmission service, so most Anchorage folks don't even have to think about it. And rear-wheel drive differentials don't need to be serviced for years, so it's understandable that it's not something on the top of your mind. It's not uncommon for people in Anchorage to not know they have a differential, let alone know that it needs service.

To better understand what a differential does, think about a track at any AK high school. There are lanes marked off on the track. For the longer distance races, the starting lines are staggered. The starting lines for the outside lanes are ahead of the starting lines for the inside lanes. That's to compensate for the longer length of the outside lanes. Staggering the starting lines means that each runner has the same distance to run.

The differential compensates for the difference in speeds between the inside vehicle wheel and the outside wheel in a turn, because they have to travel together through slightly different distances.

It's a very important function. When you think of it, all the power to get a vehicle moving goes through the differential. Most cars weigh between 3,000 and 6,000 pounds (1,400 and 2,800 kg) – trucks even more. The power from the engine goes through the transmission and then through the differential to the drive wheels.

That's a lot of work and requires very heavy duty parts. And those parts need protection. The differential fluid lubricates the gears in the differential and keeps them cool. The fluid eventually gets dirty and worn down. Some kinds of differentials require special additives that break down over time. So manufacturers recommend intervals for when to replace your differential fluid.

Your knowledgeable L and M Motors Inc service technician will drain the used fluid and check it out for metal bits, which could be a sign of excessive wear on the gears. He'll then replace the fluid and install the additives if necessary.

Your L and M Motors Inc service advisor can look up the vehicle manufacturer's recommended service interval or you can check your owner's manual.

At L and M Motors Inc, we've been providing quality automotive service for our valued Anchorage customers since . If you need to schedule differential maintenance, or any other automotive service, give us a call at 907-563-4994.

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



Smart Anchorage Drivers Protect Against Overheating

Posted July 22, 2014 12:00 PM

Engines get hot when they run. This heat can build up and damage vital engine parts, so engines need a cooling system to keep them running. Cooling system failure is the most common mechanical failure in vehicles. This is unfortunate, because these failures are usually easy for Anchorage drivers to prevent.

The radiator is the best-known and most recognizable part of the cooling system. Hoses filled with coolant (also known as antifreeze) connect the radiator to the engine. The coolant draws heat from the engine and then flows to the radiator. Air passing through cooling fans on the radiator cools the coolant. The coolant then cycles back into the engine to start the process over again.

The most critical component of the cooling system, however, is the coolant itself. A mixture of water and coolant/antifreeze helps keep it both from freezing and from boiling away. Either can result in serious engine damage.

Different engines require different types of coolant/antifreeze. The owner's manual will list what kind a vehicle requires. Using the wrong type or mixing different types of coolant/antifreeze may void the warranty on the cooling system and may damage it as well.

Insufficient coolant can lead to engine failure. Coolant levels need to be checked regularly and topped off as necessary. If coolant levels drop quickly or consistently, the cooling system should be inspected for leaks. Coolant/antifreeze contains additives that protect the radiator and other coolant components from rust, scale and corrosion. Over time, these additives are depleted, so it is necessary for Anchorage drivers to replace coolant at specified intervals. Changing coolant should be part of routine preventive maintenance for any vehicle.

This service is often ignored, though, since old coolant still cools the engine. Vehicle owners don't realize there is a problem until the system fails. They are left with major repairs and possibly a damaged engine, which could have been prevented with a cooling system service at L and M Motors Inc in Anchorage.

If your vehicle sends a warning message to check its coolant or if the temperature gauge is reading in the red or hot zone, then the cooling system needs serviced. This service is critical and should not be put off since the potential for damage is high.

In an emergency situation, water or antifreeze can be added to your vehicle so that it can be driven to a service center for proper car care. For this reason, your owner's manual contains instructions for how to top off insufficient coolant – allow 45 minutes for the engine to cool before attempting to add coolant or water. However, the fluid should be added to the coolant overflow bottle, not to the radiator itself. Removing the radiator pressure cap can result in severe burns.

Topping off in an emergency, however, does not fix the problem. The vehicle should immediately be taken to L and M Motors Inc in Anchorage where they can inspect the cooling system, repair any leaks and clean it if necessary. They can identify what caused the emergency situation in first place and ensure it doesn't happen again.

Regular maintenance of a vehicle's cooling system is just good auto advice for Anchorage drivers. Cooling system service is relatively inexpensive and doesn't take long at L and M Motors Inc. Lack of it, however, can put a vehicle in the scrap heap.

Talk to our service advisor at L and M Motors Inc for more information. 

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



A Cold Day in Anchorage – Air Conditioning Service at L and M Motors Inc

Posted July 22, 2014 12:00 PM


Most Anchorage drivers worry about a breakdown or a tire blowout on a busy AK highway, but don't worry too much about failure of their air conditioning system. A breakdown on the side of the road can be a miserable and dangerous affair during Anchorage rush hour, but so can a long ride in a hot vehicle.

A lot of Anchorage drivers judge their vehicles' air conditioning systems as “non-essential” and so may neglect them in favor of repairs and maintenance that keep the vehicle running. But preventive maintenance of an air conditioning system is simple and inexpensive, while auto a/c repair can be very expensive.

Anchorage drivers should have the refrigerant in their air conditioning system checked regularly to ensure it is adequate and clean. Air conditioning systems often fail because air and water have contaminated the refrigerant. Air reduces the efficiency of the refrigerant, and water can cause rusting of the system's components. If your refrigerant is contaminated, the system should be evacuated and recharged. This will actually extend the life of your air conditioning system, preventing repairs, and keep it at peak performance.

At L and M Motors Inc, we advise our Anchorage customers to run their air conditioner periodically in the winter. This will keep the seals from drying out and cracking, saving them the inconvenience of this relatively minor repair.

Check with your vehicle owner's manual or with your friendly service advisor at L and M Motors Inc for information about how often your vehicle air conditioning system should be serviced.

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



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