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Anchorage Drivers: What Is the Risk of High Oil Change Intervals?

Posted July 25, 2016 1:19 AM

Anchorage residents may have heard that vehicles don't need their oil changed as often as they used to. That's true. But it's not the whole story.

Owing to improved engine technology and higher oil quality, most newer vehicles can go longer between oil changes than their older counterparts.

So what is a good time interval for oil changes? How do Anchorage residents know when to change it? And why do we change it in the first place?

Oil lubricates a vehicle's engine, which protects it from friction damage. Over time the oil can collect dirt and contaminants that inhibit its performance. But dirty oil isn't the only problem for Anchorage residents. What you really want to avoid is called oil sludge.

Oil sludge is caused by moisture in the oil and by hot spots in your engine that burn off oil. This sludge is a gooey gel that can clog engine passageways, which can block lubricants from reaching vital engine parts. The result can be engine wear or even engine failure.

Sludge forms rapidly in an engine that is driven under what are termed “severe conditions.” A vehicle's owner's manual includes recommendations for oil change intervals under both normal and severe conditions. Severe conditions include towing a trailer, driving in polluted or dusty AK conditions, hauling heavy loads or using a car top carrier. Also, extremes in climate such as very hot or very cold temperatures constitute severe conditions for Anchorage drivers.

Anchorage residents may be tempted to overlook the severe conditions preventive maintenance schedule in their 's owner's manual because of the word “severe.” But consider this: the most common form of severe conditions is stop-and-go driving, or only driving your vehicle on short trips around Anchorage.

When a vehicle only makes trips under four miles/six kilometers, or under 10 miles/16 kilometers in freezing conditions, the engine doesn't get warm enough for condensation in the oil to evaporate. The result? You get oil sludge build-up. If your driving patterns are the same as any of the conditions that count as severe, you should be changing your oil more frequently under the severe conditions schedule. 

The team at L and M Motors Inc in Anchorage can help you understand what type of oil to use in your vehicle and how it can affect your oil change schedule. Some vehicles are filled with synthetic or synthetic-blend oil at the factory. The owner's manual will recommend that this oil continue to be used in the vehicle, and oil change intervals will be based on this type of oil.

Also, if your vehicle uses conventional oil, but you have some of those severe driving habits we talked about, you can switch to a premium-grade oil to give your vehicle extra protection. The answer to why we change our oil is fairly simple: to protect our engines and make our vehicles last longer and run better. But the answer to how often to change our oil is more complex: it depends on our vehicle, our driving habits, where we live in AK and what kind of oil we use.

When it comes to oil changes, a little information can go a long way to helping Anchorage residents save money and extend the life of their vehicles. Stay safe, and stay on the road.

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



Training Received by Technicians in Anchorage, AK

Posted July 18, 2016 1:38 AM

When your vehicle breaks down in the Anchorage, AK, area, or just needs some routine service, it can make you a little nervous. Because your vehicle's so important to your life, you need to be back on the road as soon as possible — with the problem fixed right the first time.

We've been checking into some of the training our Anchorage, AK, technicians receive, and we're very impressed. It's amazing how much knowledge and skill goes into diagnosing and repairing a modern vehicle. So it's not like when your uncle worked on his hot rod over the weekend.

Today there are four-cylinder engines around Anchorage that make more power than the V-8's in luxury cars did 20 years ago. A new V-6 Toyota Camry could beat Sonny Crocket's Ferrari in a race to 60 mph/97 kph.

Our engines are more and more powerful. And they're so reliable. This is all due to engineering. But the benefits come to Anchorage drivers at the price of simplicity. Modern cars are so much more complex from a mechanical standpoint that it makes your head spin.

Then there are the electronics. Some vehicles on AK roads have several networked computers controlling most of the engine functions and many other vehicle functions as well. Anchorage drivers take all of this sophistication for granted – but somebody has to fix it when it breaks.

It's a real challenge for the pros at L and M Motors Inc and other Anchorage auto service centers to keep up. It requires a high level of commitment on the part of the auto technician and the service center. In addition to the training, there's the financial commitment to purchase the diagnostic and repair tools as well.

So where do Anchorage technicians go for training? There are many sources. It's usually a combination of formal classroom training, training provided in the service center by auto parts and equipment manufacturers, online courses and home study courses. There are many independent certifications available all the way up to Master Technician.

Service centers in Anchorage, AK, have a lot of other resources available.  No one can know everything, so service centers like L and M Motors Inc subscribe to data services, technical libraries and even online communities that can help them when they run into a difficult problem.

It's like those medical diagnosis shows on TV. Here are the symptoms. What's the diagnosis and treatment? Diagnosis is every bit as much an art as a science. Anchorage drivers want everything to be simple, straightforward and cheap – and sometimes it just isn't.

So, be more relaxed next time you take your vehicle in. You can trust the professionals at L and M Motors Inc. You're in good hands. The more you know, the more comfortable you can be with your automotive service decisions at L and M Motors Inc. 

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



The Easy Way to Save Cash in Anchorage

Posted July 10, 2016 7:18 AM

The hottest AK news story may be different every day, but there's one topic that seems to come up over and over again – the price of gas in Anchorage. If you feel like most of your paycheck goes into your gas tank, this post is for you. Here are several basic things people in Anchorage can do to greatly reduce their gas consumption, save money, and help the environment. You can really improve your fuel economy by how you drive – but first, here's a review of things you can do for your vehicle that'll save gas no matter how you drive.

The first one for Anchorage drivers is keeping tires properly inflated. That can save 2 miles per gallon/.85 km per liter. Driving on low tires is like driving through sand – your car just has to work harder. Most Anchorage service centers will fill up your tires for free, so just ask L and M Motors Inc. Also, make a habit of checking your tire pressure whenever you fill up. Many Anchorage gas stations have an air hose you can use for free.

Another important item is to keep your air filter clean. An air filter all clogged up with dirt and bugs doesn't let enough clean air through to efficiently burn fuel. Using a dirty air filter will cost you almost 2 miles per gallon/.85 km per liter in reduced fuel economy. And worn spark plugs can cost about the same. A spark plug can fire as many as 3,000,000 times for every 1,000 miles/1,600 km driven. Check the vehicle owner's manual for replacement recommendations.

The biggest item is the oxygen sensor. This device provides the engine management computer with information it needs to fine-tune the fuel/air mix. When that's messed up it can cost Anchorage vehicles up to 3 miles per gallon/1.3 km per liter. And of course, there's dirty or substandard oil. Dirty oil causes extra drag. The wrong grade may be too thick. That's another .4 miles per gallon/.17 km per liter right there.

One item Anchorage residents seldom think about is their gas cap. A worn, loose or missing gas cap can cost another 2 miles per gallon/.85 km per liter. Adding up all of these worn, missing or sub-par items leads to a total of almost 11.4 miles per gallon/4.85 km per liter in reduced fuel economy! And with current gas prices in the Anchorage area, the cost really adds up. Taking care of these simple maintenance items will save Anchorage drivers at the pump. 

Now most vehicles aren't missing on all of these items, but think about which ones might affect you right now! And don't forget tune-ups, dragging brakes, low transmission fluid, fuel system cleaning, wheels out of alignment, PCV valve, fuel filter and other services spelled out in your owner's  manual.

L and M Motors Inc knows all this stuff and can tell you when you're scheduled to take care of each item. Create a system of your own to track your service schedules, or just use the computer system at L and M Motors Inc – which may also be updated with recall notices and maintenance schedule items from your vehicle manufacturer.

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



Time for Differential Service at L and M Motors Inc?

Posted July 4, 2016 10:48 AM

Hello Anchorage - let's talk differentials. If you have a rear-wheel drive vehicle, your differential is on the back axle. With front-wheel drive cars, the differential is up front. All-wheel drive and 4-wheel drive vehicles have three differentials - front, rear and in the middle. So you see, you've got a differential (or two or three) and it needs service now and then.

What does your vehicle differential do? Well, it compensates for the differences in speed between your outer and inner wheels in a turn. Using the dimensions of a typical car, let's compare the distance the wheels travel from the start of a turn through to the completion of the turn.

The inside wheel travels about 12.6 feet/3.8 meters. How much farther does the outside wheel travel? About 18.8 feet/5.7 meters – over 6 feet/1.9 meters more. This means the outer tire has to rotate 9 times in the same amount of time that the inner tire has to rotate only 6 times - so the outer tire has to spin faster in order to keep up. The differential makes this possible.

The gears in the differential are cooled and lubricated by differential fluid. It's this fluid that needs to be serviced. Small bits of the gears break off and are suspended in the differential fluid. The dirtier the fluid, the faster the gears wear.

So your L and M Motors Inc technician drains the old fluid out and replaces it with fresh fluid. Some differentials also need a special additive that is put in at this time.

So when should you have your vehicle differential serviced? Intervals vary from vehicle to vehicle – and may be as short as 15,000 miles/24,000 km – so check your vehicle owner's manual or ask us at L and M Motors Inc. If you frequently drive with heavy loads, tow a trailer or drive in hot AK conditions, you may need to change differential fluid more often. Servicing your differential on schedule at L and M Motors Inc can save a pricey replacement down the road.

Give us a call.

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



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