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When Do My Shocks Need to Be Replaced?

Posted February 25, 2015 12:00 PM

A good suspension system gives a vehicle a smooth, even ride while providing Anchorage drivers with good handling and control. But like any system on your vehicle, parts of the suspension system can wear out, leading to a lower ride quality and safety concerns. So it's a good idea for drivers in Anchorage to remember their suspension system in their schedule of preventive maintenance. Springs do most of the work of the suspension system. The most common types of springs are coil and leaf, but air springs and torsion bars are becoming more common. The body of the vehicle is “suspended” by the springs.

If springs were the only working component in your suspension system, however, you'd spend your travel time bouncing up and down like a bobblehead. That's where your shocks come in. They keep the rebound, or bounciness, of the springs under control. Shocks also keep your tires on the road, which keeps the driver in control of the vehicle. Some vehicles have struts in their suspension system. Struts are a compact combination of springs and shocks. They do the same job but in a single package.

Shocks wear out gradually, so it can be difficult for Anchorage drivers to notice when they need to be replaced. There's no definitive point when a vehicle's ride goes from "smooth and controlled" to "a bit imprecise." To check if your shocks or struts are worn, you should first do a visual inspection on them. If they are leaking fluid, they need to be replaced.

There are other less obvious signs that your suspension system needs attention. For example, an uneven, cupping wear on your tires may indicate that your shocks are worn. If your vehicle feels “floaty” when you turn, or, in other words, you don't feel that you have full control of the vehicle, you should check your shocks. Also, if the front end of your vehicle dips noticeably when you stop, it's time for new shocks.

Your owner's manual gives recommendations on how often the shocks should be checked, usually between 15,000 and 30,000 miles (24,000-50,000 km). If one of your shocks does need to be replaced, you should replace all four. This will keep your suspension even and ensure good handling of your vehicle. If you carry heavy loads, tow a trailer or drive on uneven Anchorage area terrain, you might also consider upgrading to a heavy-duty shock.

Regular shocks contain hydraulic fluid. The fluid helps them absorb the bumps or “shocks” of the road so the impact doesn't transfer to the vehicle's body. Premium shocks are filled with compressed nitrogen gas, which costs more but does a better job of controlling body motions. Regular shocks can develop air bubbles that reduce their effectiveness; the premium shocks don't have this problem. So if you want higher handling performance, if you drive off-road around AK or if you just want added comfort, you should consider upgrading to premium shocks or struts.

Replacing struts can put your vehicle out of alignment, so an alignment check should always follow this type of repair. Talk to your service advisor at L and M Motors Inc in Anchorage for more information.

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

 



Super Slick at L and M Motors Inc in Anchorage: Synthetic Oil

Posted February 18, 2015 12:00 PM

When you get an oil change, it's always a safe bet to just use the type of oil the manufacturer recommends. But sometimes we're asked if we'd like conventional or synthetic motor oil. We glance at the price tags on the two options and choose the cheaper one. But in this case, the more expensive oil might be the better bargain for Anchorage drivers.

Conventional oil is made from petroleum. Its molecules form long hydrocarbon chains. Synthetic motor oil is either more highly refined petroleum or completely man-made. Its molecules are more uniform. This provides advantages over conventional motor oil.

First of all, the molecular structure of synthetic motor oil makes it more slippery than conventional oil so it lubricates better. This translates to better wear protection for Anchorage drivers, cooler operating temperatures and more engine power.

Further, synthetic oil is more heat-resistant than conventional oil, and it doesn't vaporize as easily. It provides better protection for severe conditions like stop-and-go driving around Anchorage and very hot or freezing AK temperatures.

Also, synthetic oil doesn't generate oil sludge like conventional oil. This prevents small engine passageways from becoming clogged, which can significantly extend the working life of your vehicle engine.

Manufacturers are aware of the advantages of synthetic oil, and many of them are using it to fill their vehicles before delivering them to be sold. Many owner's manuals now come with the recommendation to use only synthetic oil. Because synthetic oil wears better and protects better than conventional motor oil, it can be changed less often. If your vehicle came with a recommendation for synthetic oil, you may have noticed that the recommended period between oil changes is longer than what you're used to. However, if you switch to conventional oil, you need to be aware that you can't follow this longer service interval. You'll have to change your oil more often.

On the other hand, if you are using conventional oil and you switch to synthetic oil, you may be able to lengthen the time between oil changes. You can ask the pros at L and M Motors Inc for more information. They can offer you good auto advice about oils and service intervals based on your driving habits and requirements.

Oil changes are the hallmark of preventive maintenance at L and M Motors Inc. All Anchorage drivers need them. So we should get excited about a product that reduces how often we need them. Synthetic oil is more expensive, yes, but it can pay for itself by lasting longer than conventional oil. And when you add in the hidden savings of an extended engine life and improved fuel economy, not to mention increased engine power, there's a good chance that synthetic oil actually saves cash in the long run. All Anchorage drivers pay for vehicle care. But understanding what we're paying for can make us more savvy shoppers.

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

 



Problems with Suspension Solved at L and M Motors Inc in Anchorage

Posted February 12, 2015 12:00 PM

A vehicle's suspension system is tough. It can last for years and after lots of driving for Anchorage drivers. But it can be damaged quickly by hitting a pothole, curb or rock, and it can wear more quickly if you frequently drive off-road or on bumpy roads. A workhorse vehicle — one that hauls heavy loads — is also going to be hard on its suspension system.

Because the useful life of your suspension system contains these elements of unpredictability, it is important for Anchorage drivers to have them inspected periodically. Worn, broken and missing parts can be identified during an inspection at L and M Motors Inc . An ineffective suspension system will decrease the driver's control over a vehicle, so when it is damaged it frequently leads to the worst kind of vehicular damage — dangerous accidents.

The suspension system is composed of springs and shock absorbers (or shocks). Springs suspend the weight of the vehicle above its axles. They allow the vehicle to “bounce” over bumps, which reduces the force of the impact on the vehicle. Shocks reduce the rebound of the “bounce,” smoothing out the ride of the vehicle. They also force the tires to retain constant contact with the road. Shocks are responsible for “handling performance,” or the ease with which the driver controls the vehicle.

The springs in the suspension system are heavy-duty and rarely break or wear out. Shock absorbers are tough, too, but they will wear out.

Your vehicle might be equipped with struts. Struts are a combination spring and shock absorber. Struts, like shocks, have a limited life span.

Inspecting shocks or struts for damage and wear should be part of your preventive maintenance routine. Since a good suspension system is ultimately a safety feature of your vehicle, it's always better to be proactive about its care. In this case, good car care can prevent accidents.

There are some signs that will warn you that your suspension system may be in need of attention. One of the signs might be a cupped wear pattern on your tires. This is caused by the shocks bouncing unevenly. Other signs of bad shocks manifest themselves in the handling performance of your vehicle. You may notice a drifting sensation when cornering, often referred to as a “floaty” feeling. If the front of your vehicle dips significantly when you brake or if it rocks back and forth after stopping, it's time for new shocks. Your technician at L and M Motors Inc will check your shocks visually. If they're leaking, they need to be replaced.

Any one of these symptoms warrants an inspection of the suspension system. You should also get your suspension system inspected if you are involved in an accident involving one of your wheels. Anchorage drivers should never put off suspension repairs. If you experience suspension system failure, it can cause a serious accident. If one of your shocks needs to be replaced, then replace all four of them. This allows for even handling of the vehicle. Replacing just one of the shocks is rarely good auto advice.

When you replace your shocks or struts, use parts that are equivalent to — or better than — the original shocks on the vehicle. The original equipment was for the weight and expected use of the vehicle, and Anchorage drivers should never downgrade.

Upgrading, however, is another matter for Anchorage drivers. If your suspension system gets a workout or you just want to improve your vehicle's handling performance, then you should upgrade to a better shock. If you haul heavy loads around Anchorage or tow a trailer, then you should definitely be getting heavy-duty shocks.

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



Road Trip: Be Ready for Anything with a Trip Inspection at L and M Motors Inc

Posted February 5, 2015 12:00 PM

Road trip, anyone? Nothing spoils a great vacation faster than ending up stranded on the side of the road or spending a week in a rundown motel while our vehicle sits in the shop. Long days on the road can bring out the worst in your vehicle, so before you leave, prepare it for the journey by getting a trip inspection at L and M Motors Inc in Anchorage. After all, you wouldn't travel without clean socks, why ask your vehicle to travel with a load of dirty oil?

The first step in a trip inspection at L and M Motors Inc is to look at your travel plans. What kinds of roads will you be driving on? Will you be in the AK back country or on the freeway? Will you be crossing mountains? Off-roading? What will the weather be like? How far away from Anchorage will you be traveling? How much are you hauling? Will you be towing a trailer or lugging a rooftop carrier? Will you encounter dust, mud, snow or sea salt? All of these questions can help determine which services are most needed. And don't hesitate to ask your L and M Motors Inc service advisor. He can give you good auto advice on what trip conditions are hardest on what systems of your vehicle and what kinds of services it realistically needs. Start with the tires and check them for tread wear and proper inflation. Replace or rotate them as needed. If you need to change them out for winter tires, then do so.

Then look at your shocks or struts for wear. Replace them if needed. You'll want that extra comfort on your trip. Be sure to check your alignment as well. Steering a vehicle that is out of alignment is tiring, and dangerous. Don't overlook your brakes. With extra passengers and baggage, your brakes are going to get a workout. You want them in top condition.

In addition, inspect belts and hoses. If any of them are close to wearing out, have them replaced before your long trip does them in.

Change your engine air filter if it needs it, or if it's close to needing it. Your car's air filter processes 12,000 times as much air as the amount of fuel it burns. A clean air filter will protect electronic sensors that affect how your engine runs.

Get an oil change at L and M Motors Inc in Anchorage if it's coming due. Make it a full-service oil change while you're at it. That way, all of your fluids will get checked and topped off. Change any dirty or old fluids. Anchorage drivers don't want to overstress their cooling systems or transmissions with dirty fluid during a long trip.

Does your vehicle smell? Check the cabin air filter. The bad smell could also indicate an exhaust leak, which can be fatal on a long trip. So don't ignore bad odors; check them out.

If your air conditioning hasn't been up to snuff, then give it an overhaul. You want your vacation to be relaxed and pleasant, and that means keeping the passenger compartment comfortable.

And be sure to check your wiper blades and your headlamps. You may find yourself driving in unfamiliar territory at night after a long day. You'll want to be able to see as much as possible.

Of course, almost everything listed here is just part of preventive maintenance for smart driving. If you keep up with your vehicle care on a regular basis, a trip inspection will be a breeze at L and M Motors Inc.

Taking care of your vehicle before you leave for a road trip will pay you back in safety, peace of mind, improved comfort and better fuel economy. It will also help your vacation go as planned by keeping you on the road and headed for that next great adventure. Just don't forget to pack your socks.

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



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