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Archive for April 2015

Good Timing: Proper Timing Belt Replacement Saves Money for Anchorage Drivers

Posted April 28, 2015 12:00 PM

Knowing how their engine works can help Anchorage drivers make informed decisions about auto care and prevent repairs to their vehicles. This is especially true when it comes to timing belts.

An engine's power is generated in the cylinders. Inside the cylinder is a piston that moves up and down while the engine is running. Power is generated in a cycle that includes four strokes of the piston. First, the piston drops and a valve at the top of the cylinder opens to let in fuel and air. The piston then rises, which compresses the fuel and air. At this point, the spark plug fires, igniting the fuel and pushing the piston down. This downstroke transfers energy to the engine, which provides the power it needs to run. The piston rises again, and a valve opens to release the exhaust.

All of this movement is orchestrated by a timing belt. The timing belt is so named because it keeps the pistons and valves operating in synch with each other, just as a conductor keeps all of the instruments in an orchestra in time with one another. Thus, the timing belt is critical to the proper operation of your engine.

Not all vehicles in the Anchorage area have timing belts. Some have timing chains. A timing chain is more durable and rarely breaks, but timing belts are cheaper, so many use them to save money.

Timing belts wear out and break, so part of preventive maintenance for Anchorage drivers is to replace the timing belt on schedule.

The results of failure of a timing belt depend on the type of engine in your vehicle, but they are always inconvenient and can be very costly for Anchorage auto owners. If your engine is a non-interference engine and the timing belt breaks, the engine simply stops running. Now that can be an incredibly inconvenient situation depending on where you are driving around Anchorage when it breaks, but it won't cause any engine damage. On the other hand, if your vehicle has an interference engine and the timing belt breaks, the valves on your cylinders will actually fall into the path of the pistons. Then things start getting chewed up by the motion of the engine and it will cost thousands of dollars to get everything sorted out again. Compounding the problem is that there aren't any warning signs before a timing belt breaks. A visual inspection of the belt is difficult also. In some vehicles, parts of the belt may be visible, but most vehicles hide the belt under a cover.

The timing belt doesn't even have to break to cause major engine damage. If it slips, even one notch, the result could be engine damage with repair costs in the thousands of dollars.

Our only car care option is to simply replace the timing belt periodically. You can check your owner's manual to find out how often your timing belt should be replaced. Many vehicles need a replacement at 60,000 miles (100,000 kilometers), but the recommended replacement mileage could be as high as 90,000 or 100,000 miles (145,000 to 160,000 kilometers). If your owner's manual recommends replacement at 60,000 miles (100,000 kilometers), however, don't wait until 65,000 miles (105,000 kilometers) to get it done. Remember what you're risking.

Replacing a timing belt is not a cheap part of preventive maintenance for Anchorage vehicle owners. The belt is usually difficult to get to and often requires removal of some of the engine accessories. The cost of the replacement, however, is a lot less than what the repairs may cost if the timing belt fails.

For more auto advice on timing belts and other engine components, you can always consult with your service advisor at L and M Motors Inc. When it comes to car care, ignorance is not bliss. It can end up costing you in a big way.

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



Wipe Out! New Wiper Blades for Anchorage Drivers

Posted April 23, 2015 12:00 PM

When people in Anchorage talk about vehicle safety, they think of tires and brakes. But do we think about our windshields? Isn't the ability to see a prime safety factor when it comes to driving around AK? Yet we often don't even notice our windshields until we can't see through them or our wiper blades fail.

It's estimated that around 46 million people are driving with wipers that won't keep their windshields clear during a storm — that's 46 million people with impaired vision during a storm. For safety's sake, Anchorage drivers need to change the way they think about wiper blades. Most of us, 78% in fact, only change our wiper blades after they fail. In other words, we don't get new ones until the old ones become a safety hazard. Instead, we need to make wiper blades part of our preventive maintenance routine.

Wiper blades should be changed twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. In AK areas that experience harsh winter weather, special blades are available that prevent ice and snow from collecting on the wiper. Ask your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at L and M Motors Inc about wiper blades that repel ice and snow.

No matter what blades you use on your vehicle in the winter, don't expect them to clear the ice and snow from your windshield after your vehicle has been parked for a while. Using your wipers will shred your blades and may even damage your wiper motor. And don't drive on Anchorage roads with a frosted windshield. That's a serious safety hazard. It can cause accidents, and you could be held liable.

Wiper blades are subjected to harsh conditions in AK. They're out in the Anchorage sun and in the cold. Over time, they become hard and brittle and lose their flexibility. Then they start to tear. Without flexibility, wipers just can't clear a windshield of water or snow. And torn wipers can actually scratch your windshield. Then the entire windshield has to be replaced — along with the wiper blades. It's a prime example of how preventive maintenance could have saved you repair bill.

Anchorage drivers can purchase new wiper blades at L and M Motors Inc or at any Anchorage auto parts store. They cost about the same. But at L and M Motors Inc we'll also throw in the installation.

Once you have good wipers installed, don't forget to top off your windshield washer fluid. If you take your vehicle in for a full-service oil change at L and M Motors Inc in Anchorage, your washer fluid will get topped off then. But it's good auto advice to purchase a jug of washer fluid to keep at home — just in case. And pack it in the car when you go on long trips.

While we're on the subject, L and M Motors Inc advises Anchorage drivers to always fill their washer fluid reservoir with windshield washer fluid. Don't ever use water. Water can freeze in the reservoir, which can damage it. It can also freeze onto your windshield. Besides, plain water just can't get a windshield clean. Think about it. Do you use plain water to clean your bathroom mirrors? And a bathroom mirror doesn't get exposed to anything near the gunk that can end up on your windshield. Windshield washer fluid was designed to do one thing — to clean windshields. Let it do its job.

A clean windshield is not just good vehicle care for Anchorage drivers — it's also a safety feature. Let's keep it that way.

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

 



L and M Motors Inc Engine Air Filter Replacement

Posted April 17, 2015 12:00 PM

When your experienced L and M Motors Inc technician changes your oil, he will also inspect your air filter. You shouldn't need a new air filter at every oil change, but you will need to change it regularly. Heed your technician's auto advice if they tell you to change your air filter.

An air filter does what its name implies: it filters stuff out of the air. Air is drawn into your engine through the filter because your engine needs air to burn fuel. If the filter weren't there, a lot of dust and debris would come into the vehicle engine with the air when you are driving around Anchorage. That dust and debris would get hot, burn and produce all kinds of ash and gumminess that would eventually clog up your engine.

Drop in an air filter and voilá! Problem solved.

But air filters themselves get clogged up with all the junk they clean out of the Anchorage air. This doesn't allow the junk into the vehicle engine, but it does block up the airflow. A blocked airflow will reduce engine efficiency.

Anchorage residents who get a charge out of the feeling of power in their engine might consider upgrading their air filter. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable L and M Motors Inc service advisor. Premium air filters have been proven to increase horsepower and torque. So with the cost of a premium air filter, you can increase the horsepower in your engine — there's no cheaper way to do that!

It's also one of the simplest elements of routine preventive maintenance – and it protects against damage to expensive vehicle electronic systems. No Anchorage resident should have an excuse to drive around AK roads and highways with a dirty air filter.

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

 



Helping Anchorage Drivers Get the Right Tires

Posted April 9, 2015 12:00 PM

Every Anchorage vehicle owner has to purchase tires at some time or another, so it's a good idea to understand what the choices are. The best seasonal performance is achieved by purchasing tires to match the season you are driving in. Summer tires are designed for hot temperatures. The tread is engineered for good traction on dry or rainy AK roads. But the rubber compound in summer tires gets stiff when temperatures drop below 45°F (7°C), and snow and mud can pack into the tread, reducing the traction of the tire.

Winter tires are designed for good traction on snowy surfaces. The tread actually throws snow off of the tire as the wheel turns. The rubber compound in a winter tire is soft so that it will remain flexible at temperatures below 45°F (7°C). At higher temperatures, however, the softer rubber wears down rapidly.

All-season tires sacrifice some of the extreme performance of summer or winter tires, but they maintain adequate traction in either type of Anchorage weather.

So your first consideration when buying a tire is where you live in AK, and where you usually drive. If you require maximum summer and winter performance you can go with dedicated summer and winter tires; you would just need to change out your tires each spring and fall.

For serious winter driving in AK, look for tires with a severe snow rating. These tires are labeled with a mountain-and-snowflake logo.

Your second consideration is the quality of tire to purchase. Summer, winter and all-season tires come in a variety of grades and styles at AK tire stores. Anchorage drivers will want to purchase a tire that will give them good wear and that will handle their driving style and road conditions. Your L and M Motors Inc tire professional can give you auto advice as to which type of tire will best fit your needs.

Anchorage vehicle owners who drive off-road around AK may want to look at a high-grade tire that is designed for off-road use. These tires are designed to handle the extra wear of off-roading while still giving good performance on Anchorage streets and roads. There are a number of options to choose from so that you can find the right tire whether you are only an occasional off-road explorer or a serious rock climber.

New wheels can be purchased in Anchorage as a statement of style or to add personality to your vehicle. There are almost unlimited options. If you change the size of the wheels on your vehicle, however, you will need to get some professional help to make your vehicle compatible with its new wheels. Talk to your L and M Motors Inc for more information about tires.

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



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