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September 18, 2017

Common Reasons Why Your Car Won’t Start

Common Reasons Why Your Car Won’t StartIf you bring your car, truck or SUV to Mountain View Automotive in Thornton, our experienced technicians can look at common reasons why your car won’t start and get you back behind the wheel. We know that your car not starting when you need it the most can be frustrating. We’ll look at the typical culprits that fall into one of two categories, when the engine won’t crank (or it cranks very slowly) and when the engine cranks but doesn’t run.

Category 1: The engine doesn’t crank or it cranks slowly

If the engine cranks slowly or won’t crank at all it could be the battery, alternator or starter.

Dead battery

We’ve all experienced the dead battery or the almost dead battery that is very weak and almost dead. It’s one of the most common reasons why your car won’t start. When it happens, the starter will crank slowly. It will make the “rrrr” groaning sound. When the voltage gets even weaker you may hear that dreaded “kkkk” sound. If the battery is dead, there won’t be any sound. Even the instrument panel lights will dim or not go on when you try to start the car.

Your first inclination may be to jump so that you can bring your car into our mechanics at Mountain View Automotive. However, first make sure the clamps on snugly on the battery terminals. Just tightening loose clamps may fix the problem, but if the clamps were already tight then the battery probably needs a jump.

Now, every driver should know how to jump-start a car. If you don’t do it right, it will create sparks and could damage either of the vehicles hooked up for the jump. This includes knowing in what order to connect and disconnect the cables as well as where to attach the clamps. They even make jumper cables that let you know, often with lights, if you are connecting them properly. Choose a set of heavy gauge cables to make sure it can carry the electrical current.

Sometimes a dead battery doesn’t need to be replaced but instead needs to be charged and the battery terminals and clamps cleaned. The corrosion on the battery can create resistance to starting and have trouble charging when the car is running.

The problem could also be bad positive battery cable connections at the power distribution center which is normally the fuse block under the hood or a bad negative cable connection to a bolt on the engine or body. The cables will need to be removed and the connectors cleaned.

Our mechanics can test the battery's condition and the charging and starting systems. You may need a new battery. If you do, we can make sure it is the right one for your vehicle.

Alternator

If your alternator isn’t working then the battery won’t be charged while you drive. It could also be a worn out or slipping drive belt. A warning light should light up if the alternator fails or the belt breaks. There may be no warning light if it’s just a poor output from the charging system. The gauge on the instrument panel should show about 14 volts.

The alternator may not be recharging the battery during short trips, especially if the headlights, wipers, heater, radio, rear window defroster and heated seats are on. So, if you normally only take short trips, you should take a longer trip every now and then to make sure the alternator is recharging the battery.

Starter

Sometimes what may seem like a weak battery is actually a bad starter because the starter is drawing more current than the battery can supply. The slowly spinning starter draws excessive power and sometimes that “grrr-grr” sound of the starter can be mistaken for a weak battery. The starter drive gear or the engine's flywheel may have damaged teeth, causing a grinding sound also. If the starter can’t even turn, it may mean there is a bad relay, solenoid or ignition switch. We’ll check out the entire system and take care of any issues we come across.

Wheel Lock

When it comes to common reasons why your car won’t start, this one might seem silly, but it happens. So, if your car won’t start because the key can’t turn in the ignition switch, it could be just your car’s anti-theft feature which locks the steering wheel when the key is removed. Every now and then the wheel moves back against the locking pawl and stops the key from turning. All you have to do to unlock it is move the steering wheel a little as you turn the key.

Category 2: The engine cranks but doesn't run

The second situation is when the engine’s starter cranks like normal but the engine refuses to run. In this case, it is probably not the battery, starter, or alternator but something else instead. Let’s look at these common reasons why your car won’t start.

Gas

Always check the most obvious first. Could your car be out of gas? Take a look just to rule it out – the problem could be just that straightforward.

Fuel pump

Despite having a full tank of gas, a bad fuel pump or fuel pump relay could prevent the fuel from reaching the engine.

Frozen fuel line

It is possible that your fuel line could be frozen. Always try to keep your gas tank at least half-full during cold weather.

Spark plugs

You may need new spark plugs. Don’t forget to replace them when they are scheduled to be replaced during factory scheduled maintenance.

Security system

Sometimes new electronics of a car’s security system prevent it from starting. If you put the wrong key in the car’s ignition it could mean a 20-minute delay to starting the car.

When you think about it, common reasons why your car won’t start are plentiful and vary quite a bit. Regular maintenance at Mountain View Automotive in Thornton can protect against most of them but for those unexpected reasons that leave you stranded, our ASE-certified master technicians can get you right in and fix it for you.

August 14, 2017

Tips for Selling Your Car at Top Dollar

Tips for Selling Your Car at Top DollarToday, our technicians at Mountain View Automotive in Thornton provide our favorite tips for selling your car at top dollar. These guidelines will help you maximize your trade-in value or stand out from other sellers when going with a private party transaction. Of course, if your vehicle needs any of the work listed below, just give us a call or stop by the shop.

So, what’s it going to be? If you want to sell your vehicle, you can trade it in at a dealership or sell it privately. Trading it in will usually get you less money. Selling it privately will probably make you more money and with all the social media options for advertising your car, it’s likely it will sell fast as well. Either way, you want your car to look its best in order to get the most for it.

Now, let’s take a look at those tips for selling your car at top dollar…

Preparing the car to be sold

You should clean up and repair the car, choose the best time of year to put it up for sale, gather the paperwork, and know the legal requirements to sell the vehicle. Here are some of the most important steps you should take before selling a used car privately.

  • Clean up the car so it looks good. Throw out the trash and wipe down the interior. Wash the exterior of the car. Complete all the factory maintenance necessary and within budget.
  • Decide when the best time is to sell your car. Family cars, sedans, wagons, AWD vehicles, SUVs, can all be sold throughout the year. If you can afford to wait, sports cars are usually best sold in the spring and summer. If you are selling a four-wheel drive vehicle, it might be best to sell it in the fall or winter. An older, well-loved car may sell best in the fall and winter as well.
  • Get your car’s paperwork together, including the title, maintenance records, and any warranty information. Know what you DMV needs you to do to sell the car.

Complete the recommended maintenance

If your car’s maintenance is current then it will present well and you will be able to get more money for it. Mentioning that it is up-to-date on its maintenance schedule may also get more responses from your sales ad. Keep receipts of all maintenance completed.

Fix cosmetic issues

Exterior flaws may demand that you advertise your vehicle for less, or may even cause buyers to lose interest when they view your car. Also high on our list of tips for selling your car at top dollar is to repair visible problems, whether they are mechanical or purely cosmetic.

  • Repair stone chips and cracks in your windshield (Your insurance may even pay for this)
  • Replace your tires if there is less than 2/32 of an inch of tread remaining – if you’re seeing uneven tread wear, a computerized wheel alignment might be needed
  • Fill paint chips with exact color touch-up paint
  • Get minor dents repaired

Complete a Colorado emissions inspection

One of the most important tips for selling your car at top dollar is to take your vehicle to a Colorado emissions inspection station to ensure it’s road ready.

  • Repair any components that fail the emissions testing
  • If the repairs are too expensive you can sell your car “as is” and include a list of repairs

Detail your car

Pay attention to the exterior of your vehicle and get it looking good. The appearance of the car means a lot when you are trying to generate potential buyers.

  • Completely clean the interior of the car, including upholstery, carpets, seats, dash board, etc.
  • Wash the exterior of the car, including the wheels, the underside, and the windows, and polish the car’s trim

Advertise your car properly in the right areas

You will need to get the word out that the vehicle is for sale.

  • Decide where to advertise to reach the most people. There are many options that can reach the right market for your car. Online sites include Craigslist, eBay Motors, Cars.com, TrueCar, and Carlypso, AutoTrader among other sites. For classic or vintage cars, try ClassicCars.com and Hemmings.com. For high-end sports car or luxury cars, try DuPont Registry.
  • Give the details, mentioning the options and positive aspects of the vehicle and stating the exact mileage, year, make and model
  • List any recent work that will add or reinforce the value to the vehicle, including any accessories, new tires, or recent auto repairs or maintenance that’s been done
  • Determine a fair price for your car that represents its value but will get it sold quickly. If you don’t need to sell it fast and it is in excellent shape, you can price it higher and wait for the right buyer. Check online sites to help you determine the fair market value of a vehicle, including Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds.com, and AutoTrader.com. Sometimes putting the price a little higher is a good idea so it gives you room to haggle.
  • Take good pictures of the car’s exterior and interior for the ads, avoiding any distractions in the photo’s background
  • Make sure you list accurate contact information, including a phone number and email address and be able to respond to buyers responding to your ad
  • Respond promptly to any potential buyer’s interest, answer their questions and be available to meet with them to show them the car

Finalizing the sale

Make sure the paperwork is accurate and know the legal requirements so it will legally transfer the ownership of your vehicle to your buyer.

  • Know what is required to transfer ownership
  • Verify the buyer’s payment before you sign the documents and hand over the keys
  • Remove the license plate from the car and cancel the insurance

Now that you know our tips for selling your car at top dollar, you may have some work to do. The extra effort you put in will be worth it because you will sell the car faster and get a higher price. Our technicians at Mountain View Automotive in Thornton can help you get your car in good shape by completing the maintenance needed to get it ready to sell. We are also happy to help you with the repair and maintenance of the next car you buy.

July 13, 2017

What’s Wrong with Your Car’s Heating & Cooling System?

What’s Wrong with Your Car’s Heating & Cooling System?Do you worry about what’s wrong with your car’s heating & cooling system? If you have any concerns, bring your vehicle to Mountain View Automotive in Thornton. We can pinpoint the problem and get it fixed right away. Here, we’ll discuss a few things that may indicate there is trouble with the heating and cooling system such as blue or green discharge, clicking sounds, water vapor or bad smells, and much more.

When the air conditioning is not blowing cool air and the air from the heater is not warm, you automatically know there’s a problem. But what’s wrong with your car’s heating & cooling system is a bit more complex and may require the help of a professional to get it diagnosed, fixed and blowing the right temperature.

Refrigerant Leak

Many times a lack of coolant makes the air conditioner blow warm air. This means that the Freon or other refrigerants the compressor uses to evaporate heat is gone. It could be it just needs to be filled. If it’s recently been filled and it’s suddenly gone, you may have a leak. If it is a leak, you can’t just recharge the air conditioning system to fix it. 

Another way to tell is if the car AC doesn’t work and there is a colored discharge that looks blue or green, it is probably a leak. The color is from a UV dye which is added to the refrigerant to detect leaks easier.

If the air conditioning system has a leak, it’s called an open system. The leak needs to be repaired quickly or moisture will enter the system and cause damage. When the moisture and the refrigerant mix together, corrosive acids can destroy seals and components and cause a leak. Rubber seals and hoses can also lose their elasticity over time and break down, allowing refrigerant to escape and moisture to enter the air conditioning system. When moisture is present, it can damage the accumulator, receiver or drier because they remove moisture from the air conditioning system and even break if they are exposed to a leak or a crack.

We will need to find the leak, but that’s not always easy. The leak could be in the compressor, the evaporator, or the condenser. There is also a small metal can containing the desiccant, that needs to be changed if the system is opened. These parts of the car are not located near each other, so we can’t really just replace the whole air conditioner, like in one piece.

There are often several feet of hard and flexible lines that could be damaged and might be the cause of the leak. These lines can be evacuated and recharged. Then we can add dye to help us find the leak.

If it is a leak, we will make sure there are no electrical problems because a leak in the engine or electrical system could be dangerous and cause bigger troubles.

Heater Coil

If your heater doesn’t work, it could be a problem with the heating coil, even if it’s been flushed out. When you turn on the heater, it actually removes heat from the cooling system, so it cools the engine. It may need to be flushed again.

Some additional problems with a car heater and cooler could also be the compressor, the thermostat, the drain tube, the evaporator or heater core, the resistor stack or the climate control head. 

Compressor

If you hear a clicking sound when the air conditioning is on, it may be a sign the compressor is not working. The air conditioning cools and dries the air, absorbing the moisture as it blows over the glass to clear the windshield. The clicking sound is made by a magnetic clutch turning the compressor on and off. The high or low limit switches may cause the compressor to cycle and temporarily shut off the compressor so it won’t be damaged. If you also hear the clicking when you use the defroster it may be low pressure in the compressor.

Thermostat

If your vehicle is not heating up it could be a malfunctioning thermostat. If it’s a cold day and the vehicle’s temperature display on your dashboard says the motor isn’t at its operating temperature and the air blows heat when the vehicle is idling but not when it’s moving, it probably means that the thermostat is stuck open.

Here’s what happens, the thermostat opens and closes, keeping the engine at the right temperature. If it breaks it will be stuck open or closed. When it is stuck open, the engine is slow to warm up and keep at the right operating temperature. When it is stuck closed, the engine can overheat because the coolant can’t get to the radiator. If the thermostat is the problem, it is cheap and easy to locate and fix.

Drain Tube

If there is a white mist or water vapor coming from your car’s vents and when you turn off the car there is no water dripping from the undercarriage, your drain tube is probably clogged and condensation is accumulating in the heating and air box. We need to unclog the tube.

Evaporator or Heater Core

If there is a bad smell of syrup or hot antifreeze and the windows fog up when you drive at night, there could be mildew on the evaporator or something wrong with the vehicle’s heater core.

Resistor Stack

If the car’s HVAC control speeds aren’t working or it won’t cycle between the settings, you may have a bad resistor stack which is located under the dashboard.

Climate Control Head

If the system is still working and blowing cool air, but there is a problem switching the air from vent to defrost, we may need to reset the climate control head.

There are many things to look at when we’re trying to find out what’s wrong with your car’s heating & cooling system, but our automotive experts at Mountain View Automotive in Thornton know what to look for. Our experienced ASE-certified technicians can fix all of your vehicle’s heating and air conditioning system problems. Our strange Colorado weather often requires using both heat and air conditioning during the same season. Let us help you get your heating and cooling systems working properly so you can enjoy a comfortable ride.

June 26, 2017

10 Tips to Help Your Car Last Longer

10 Tips to Help Your Car Last LongerCars are expensive and we depend on them for everything, so, here are 10 tips to help your car last longer with help from Mountain View Automotive in Thornton. By following some simple suggestions you can extend the life of your vehicle.

Drive cautiously

Try to avoid sudden stops and starts, high speeds, and sharp corners. This kind of driving can put undue stress on your car, including wearing out your car brakes.

Keep the interior and exterior clean

It’s not just a matter of appearance to keep your car’s interior and exterior clean. Dirt and dust on your car can cause undue wear to your car’s surfaces. You should wash your car’s exterior often. The interior should also get some cleaning attention because it will help prevent problems like cracked leather or scratched dashes.

Read the owner’s manual

Every car has different needs depending on the particular make and model. Read the car’s owner's manual and follow the recommended maintenance schedules and other advice for your specific car.

Schedule regular oil changes

It is very important to make sure you change your oil according to your owner’s manual (usually every 3,000 to 5,000 miles). When a car’s oil level is low or the oil is dirty, it will add friction between the moving parts. This will cause wear and tear on the engine.

Check all the fluids

You need to pay attention to all of your car’s fluids, not just the oil. Our mechanics will check your car’s transmission fluid, brake fluid, power steering fluid, and coolant.

Replace the air filter

You need to replace the air filter about every 12,000 miles. Dust and dirt can gather on the air filter and affect your car’s gas mileage and engine performance.

Check the tire pressure

Don’t forget to ask us to check your tire pressure. If your tires are inflated to within 5 PSI of the recommended pressure levels it can improve your gas mileage and the handling of your car. You can find your car’s recommended tire pressure on the side of each tire, on a label inside your the door jamb, or in your owner’s manual. You can also ask one of our auto technicians.

Take care of minor repairs right away

If you notice something about your car is just not right, whether it doesn’t run the same, or there’s a sound or smell that never used to be there, you need to take care of it right away. Don’t wait to see if it will go away because it won’t. Bring it into our automotive technicians at Mountain View Automotive. We can diagnose and repair whatever the problem is. It will save you money and prevent more damage later on.

Park in the shade or covered lots

The sun can damage your car’s surfaces, so we suggest you always try to park your vehicle in the shade or in covered lots and carports. This will help stop the bleaching to your interior’s upholstery and damage to the car’s exterior paint.

Take longer trips

Starting and stressing your engine when it is cold can harm your car’s mechanical elements. So take longer trips if you can to make sure the engine gets warm and is properly lubricated.

Our goal is to keep your car running well for a long time. If you use these 10 tips to help your car last longer, you will be ahead of the game. Our automotive experts will help you with all your regular maintenance and repairs at Mountain View Automotive in Thornton. Feel free to schedule an appointment or stop by the shop.

June 12, 2017

Symptoms of Shocks and Struts in Need of Repair

Symptoms of Shocks and Struts in Need of RepairIf you know the symptoms of shocks and struts in need of repair, you’ll know when to bring your car into Mountain View Automotive in Thornton. Your car’s suspension system helps your car stay in control when you’re on the road. When the suspension system goes bad, the tires wear out more quickly, your car takes longer to stop, and it can lose stability on tight turns, increasing the possibility of a rollover.

Your car’s shocks and struts usually last about 50,000 miles. After that distance, there will usually be wear and tear on the internal components and you will want to replace them. It’s important for you to be able to recognize the warning signs that your shocks and struts may not be working properly.

Let’s take a look at the symptoms of bad shocks and struts. They include:

The tires show cupped or uneven wear

Are your tires wearing unevenly? Your tire treads should wear down at about the same time. Uneven tire wear means the weight is not being distributed right. Several things can cause this, but a bad suspension is a possibility.

The car nose dives when it brakes  

Does the car’s front end dip or lurch when you brake? If so,  this could be a sign that the shocks aren’t performing well. Bring your car to Mountain View Automotive to have the suspension checked.

There is  excessive bouncing after  the car hits a bump

Do you notice bouncing when you hit a bump? Here’s how you can tell. Push down on the front and rear of the car with your full weight, and then release it. See if the car body bounces or rocks after you release it. If the bouncing continues more than 2-3 times on either front or rear of the car, the shocks may be worn out.

The ride is harsh, bumpy or shaky

Is your car’s ride becoming increasingly rough? If you start to feel every bump in the road or there’s a bouncing every time you hit a bump or dip, these are signs the shocks or struts are wearing out.

There is fluid leaking out of the shock or strut body

Do you see visible signs of wear on the shocks or struts? Look underneath the vehicle at the shocks. If they appear oily, they are probably leaking fluid. If they look dented or otherwise damaged, they are probably not doing their job well.  Either way, it’s time to bring them to us to have them looked at.

There is drifting or swaying on turns    

Do you feel the car drifting during turns, or is there a swaying or rocking motion when the car turns? This often means that the shocks are having trouble stabilizing the vehicle against the centrifugal force of the turn. You may need to have your shocks and struts replaced.

The odometer has  50,000 miles on it

Has your car driven 50,000 miles? Check your owner’s manual to find out what your vehicle manufacturer recommends for suspension service, but most manufacturers say shocks and struts should be replaced every 50,000 miles. Even if  they are not showing signs of significant wear, it’s best to get new ones. This way you assure your will have a safe and comfortable ride.

Other things to look for

Some other things to look for include mounts or bushings that are broken or worn, the shock or strut bodies are dented or damaged, and the steering is stiff and noisy.

Now that you know the symptoms of shocks and struts in need of repair, you can get our Mountain View Automotive ASE-certified technicians in Thornton. We’ll check everything out and if needed, replace them, so that you get back your vehicle’s smooth, safe ride.

 

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