Our Current Blog Articles
November 22, 2017
What Happens if You Ignore the Check Engine Light?
The dash indicator goes on and you wonder what happens if you ignore the check engine light. At Mountain View Automotive in Northglenn, we know it’s very important to bring your vehicle in. A check engine light means your car has a problem that could affect your car’s emissions systems – and if you don’t fix the initial issue, it could snowball into something bigger, more complex and even more costly.
The check engine lamp on your dashboard will light up and either blink or remain constant, which will help us determine the problem. If the check engine light remains constant, the vehicle’s problem is not an emergency but you should get your car in soon.
However, when the check engine light is blinking that means there could be a severe engine misfire and that may cause unburned fuel to be dumped into the exhaust system. If that is the case, it can raise the temperature of the catalytic converter and cause damage. When that happens, it may need expensive repairs. We recommend reducing the engine’s power and getting your vehicle checked as soon as possible when you see a blinking check engine light.
Even though the check engine light is on, you might not even notice a change in your vehicle’s performance because the car’s computer will compensate for the problem even though your mileage is reduced and your car is emitting a high level of hydrocarbons.
Here are problems your car may be experiencing when the check engine light comes on:
Wiring Harness and Spark Plugs
If these aren’t working, the fuel will not be burning efficiently in the engine and will lead to poor gas mileage and reduced engine performance. Problems with wiring harness and spark plugs can also cause problems with the catalytic converter, oxygen sensors, and ignition coils.
The sensors measure the oxygen emerging from the combustion chambers into the exhaust. This will reduce your gas mileage. If there is unburned oxygen that means unburned fuel. The oxygen sensors need to be fixed or it could cause damage to the catalytic converter.
Loose Gas Cap
Try tightening your gas cap. Sometimes this alone will fix the problem. You may need to get a new gas cap because the seal may no longer be good. If that’s the case, fuel will be evaporating and fuel line pressure will not be properly maintained.
Mass Air Flow Sensor
The sensor measures the air coming through the air intake system and sets the ideal fuel-air mix for the engine. If this sensor isn’t working it can create faulty fuel mix ratios will cause economy and performance to suffer. This can lead to damage to the ignition parts, oxygen sensors, and the catalytic converter.
If it’s your catalytic converter it may indicate other problems as well. This one is not a cheap fix, but you don’t want to wait and see what happens if you ignore the check engine light.
Some people confuse the maintenance service light with the check engine light but the maintenance service light illuminates when routine service is needed. Although this is important, it doesn’t need immediate attention like a check engine light. What happens if you ignore the check engine light? Damage to your vehicle and costly repairs. Bring your vehicle into Mountain View Automotive in Northglenn and we will find out what’s wrong and fix it.
November 11, 2017
When to Come in for an Oil Change
We have a lot of customers ask us when to come in for an oil change. Our certified technicians at Mountain View Automotive in Northglenn are always happy to answer that question! Of course, it depends on a few factors. One thing that is clear is that if you don’t change your oil regularly it can shorten the life of your engine.
One of the purposes of your vehicle’s oil is to cut friction. After you drive for a while, your car’s oil gets contaminants and loses its viscosity (the ability to flow). Those contaminants create friction when parts rub together. If your vehicle experiences a lot of friction it will wear the parts out faster, sometimes causing major troubles with your engine. The damage could even require an engine overhaul or replacement.
Start by looking at the car manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedule regarding when to come in for an oil change. The manufacturer knows what works best for your specific vehicle model. You can look in your owner’s manual that came with the car. If you don’t have the manual because you lost it or you bought your car second hand, you can find typically find the recommended oil change schedule on the car’s manufacturer’s website.
You may hear someone talk about a set time period that is recommended for an oil change but not all cars and trucks are the same, so there is no set time period. When your car, truck or SUV needs an oil change depends on the age of your vehicle, the mileage, and how you use your vehicle. Changing your oil more frequently than recommended is fine but not necessary.
With today’s vehicle computers, your car will let you know when to come in for an oil change. If your low oil light indicator comes on, you need an oil change. Bring it in as soon as you see it and if you can, don’t wait for the light because by the time it comes on your car may already be experiencing damage to your engine.
When to come in for an oil change also depends on what kind of driving conditions you face. If you have a lot of cold starts, extreme heat, towing, and multiple short trips under four miles, it can shorten the oil life. If you regularly have these kinds of driving conditions it can shorten your service interval by 25 to 40 percent.
Dash Maintenance Reminder
Do you drive a lot or a little? The number of miles you drive also factors into how often you need to change your oil. Your dash light is triggered by your car’s computers which tracks your car’s time and mileage. In addition, some car’s dash reminders use an electronic sensor that measures the car’s oil quality, and others use an algorithm based on driving metrics to determine the life of the oil. If your car doesn’t have a dash reminder, you can always refer back to your manual for guidance.
Oil changes are important to keep your car running. So if you want to know when to come in for an oil change, give us a call at Mountain View Automotive in Northglenn. We can help you with oil changes, other maintenance, and any repairs. Bring in your car, truck or SUV and we can get the oil changed quickly.
October 15, 2017
Winter Driving Tips
It’s that time of year for winter driving tips from Mountain View Automotive in Northglenn. This will ensure your car or truck is ready for the cold and snowy months ahead. Whether you’re planning a trip into the mountains or simply want to get around the Denver area safely, you can always bring your vehicle to our certified technicians, and we’ll get your vehicle ready.
So, let’s take a look at our winter driving tips and how to be as safe as possible.
Test the Battery and Charging System
Don’t risk getting stranded. Have your battery, charging system, and belts tested. In winter, the engine is sometimes harder to start because the oil isn't as fluid as it was in the summer and the batteries can lose power when the temperature drops. You will need more power to start your engine in the winter. Ask us if your battery is the right battery for winter driving.
Carry Sand in the Back of the Car
With a rear wheel drive vehicle, you can put a bag or two of sand back by the rear axle. The extra weight will increase the traction of the rear wheels. But don’t put it too far back. If you do, it can lift up the front end and you will lose some steering and braking abilities. When the temps really drop, you can add a block heater to your engine but remember to unplug it before you drive away from your house.
Check the cooling system
Antifreeze is an important item on our winter driving tips list because it protects your car from the cold winter temperatures. Your vehicle needs a 50-50 mix of coolant to water which has a lower freezing point. If you use 100% coolant it is less able to transfer heat away from your engine and can cause melted spark plugs and engine failure.
Antifreeze also keeps your cooling system from rusting. However, rust inhibitors in antifreeze break down over time and need to be renewed. Your engine's coolant should be changed at the interval recommended by your manufacturer. Draining the coolant and refilling the system removes dirt and rust particles that can clog up the cooling system and cause you troubles.
Keep the Gas Tank Full
Sometimes traffic gets backed up in winter. One of our most essential winter driving tips is to avoid running out of gas on a cold day or night. Get your gas tank filled. If you do get stuck or stranded, the engine will be your only source of heat. If you have gas, you can stay warm. If you are stranded, make sure you remove the snow from behind the tailpipe from time to time.
Bring a Cell Phone
Although most people already carry cell phones when they drive, make sure you have one with you on those cold, icy days so you can call for help if you need. Keep a charger in your car even if you typically don’t need to use it and bring a charged power bank on longer trips.
Keep the Windshield Washer Fluid Full
You need to keep your windshield clear, so you will need a lot of windshield washer fluid in the snowy winter. Keep it full, preferably with a product that won’t freeze in cold temperatures (a must-have if you park outside) and even one that can help remove ice and frost.
Look at the Windshield Wipers
Consider getting winter wipers that have rubber coverings that keep ice from collecting on the blade. Don’t forget to take them off in the summer. Another of our winter driving tips is to turn off the wipers before you shut off the engine. This will prevent water from freezing the wipers to the windshield overnight.
Check the Tire Pressure
Our ASE-certified technicians will check your tire pressure because tire pressure drops by about one pound per ten degrees of temperature. If your tires have low pressure it will affect your car's handling. If you have a newer vehicle made after 2008, you also have a tire pressure monitor that will let you know when your tires have dangerous changes in tire pressure.
Keep Basic Supplies in the Car
Drive prepared. Start with a snow brush and an ice scraper for the car. You might also consider keeping a shovel and a bag of sand in the car to help with traction. A jug of windshield wiper fluid is also a good idea. You also might want to keep a blanket, boots, and maybe a warm pair of clothing in the trunk as well. Water and snacks are good to have all year long.
Get Snow Tires
If you live in a place where it snows, you should consider getting four quality snow tires. If you can, get four steel rims and mount the snow tires permanently on those rims. That will help make changing them easier. Snow tires will help you get started and increase your traction when you're braking and turning. This can be especially important in slippery, icy conditions.
Some mountain roads require tire chains. Keep them in your trunk in case you need them. Make sure you know how to put the chains on the tires. It’s much harder to figure it out in cold, snowy weather on the side of a road.
Make Sure the Car is Cleaned Off
Before you drive, make sure all snow on your car is cleaned off and the visibility is good. That means the whole car, not just a small patch or only the driver’s side windshield. That includes your side mirrors and the headlights and taillights. Don’t leave snow on the top of your car. When you take off or stop, the snow will slide off the roof and cover your windshield. It can also land on cars behind you which puts their safety at risk.
The cold and snowy weather is here with plenty more coming. Follow these winter driving tips and bring your vehicle into Mountain View Automotive in Northglenn. Our trained and certified mechanics will make sure your car, truck or SUV is ready for those tough winter driving conditions.
September 18, 2017
Common Reasons Why Your Car Won’t Start
If 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You may need new spark plugs. Don’t forget to replace them when they are scheduled to be replaced during factory scheduled maintenance.
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
Today, 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.
- Change the oil
- Flush the engine coolant
- Change the automatic transmission fluid
- Change the power steering fluid
- Change the brake fluid
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.