28- How often should I have the A/C charged in my car?

The short answer is: when the vent air goes from feeling cold to feeling cool.

Often times in moderate climates, such as we have in the Bay Area, one can go for several months without using the air conditioning in the car. Meaning, if there is a problem at the end of summer or fall, we may not notice it until the first warm day of spring, when we turn it on for the first time of the year and not too much happens.

The air conditioning system in a car is a closed loop system filled with Freon. The Freon is pumped throughout the car’s a/c system of various pipes, hoses, condensers, and various other devices at high pressures.  Over time some of the seals and hoses may develop small leaks.

If enough Freon leaks out, the system will not be as efficient at cooling or it may stop working altogether. Unless you develop a large leak or blow a hose out altogether, the first notice you will get is the feeling that it’s just not as cold as it used to be. Now this can happen for a sundry of reasons that are not always related to low Freon.  So, you can’t assume Freon or lack thereof is the problem.

A professional technician, such as those at Sturken Automotive can run a battery of tests to see if low Freon is the problem, or if some other issues are stopping the system from providing maximum cooling.

Just how cold should my a/c get? Well, that is a good question without a solid answer because it depends on a number of variables. Suffice it to say that if it is a reasonably warm day in the 70’s, the duct temperature at the coldest vent in your car (usually the center dash) should be reading about 25-30 degrees cooler. If you are not getting close to that range, then it is time to have the system inspected.

Running the air conditioner when it is not in optimum condition costs money in fuel as the engine has to turn the a/c pump longer. The longer the pump runs, the harder everything associated with it has to work; consequently more fuel is used.

If your car, truck, or RV is over 5 years old chances are it could use an a/c checkup. Schedule an appointment with us at Sturken Automotive and we will check all of the air conditioning components such as the: fans, belts, a/c pump, Freon, duct work, vacuum lines, controllers, a/c relays, cabin air filers, hoses, evaporators, radiators and the air temperature to make sure you stay cool in your car, truck, or RV.

Don’t lose your cool- call Sturken Automotive at 408 295-7195 today!

27- Hats Off To Valvoline

Recently, Valvoline Oil Company came out with a blend of partially remanufactured motor oil. They have been promoting it and have even used it in one of their NASCARS; and, sure enough, they’ve even won a race or two while using it.

So what is remanufactured motor oil and what’s the big deal?

Remanufactured oil is used motor oil that has been essentially re-refined and is every bit as good as virgin motor oil. Valvoline is the first major oil company to successfully market a re-refined oil product.

Even though the product named Nexgen, is a partial blend of virgin oil and remanufactured oil, it has been proven that we don’t need to rely on our ever decreasing petroleum supplies to get a highly regarded first rate motor oil. If every motor oil producer could make a similar product, the world could save millions of gallons of crude oil per year.

Sturken Automotive is proud to say that we have been using 100% re-refined motor oil for years. Why have we done this? Simply put, it is the right thing to do. The oil is rated every bit as good as 100% virgin oil. It does not cost any more than conventional motor oil of the same quality. And finally, it puts a little less stress on our reliance of external oil suppliers. Besides,  Mother Earth could use a break.

Our hope is that all oil companies will follow suit and create their own Nexgen type of supplies. Hopefully, the marketplace will accept the products as over time the blends may increase substantially and the U.S. can significantly cut its reliance on foreign crude oil.

Sturken Auto is proud to use remanufactured motor oil from our local supplier Coast Oil Company. We enjoy pursuing environmental stewardship and are glad to do what we can for Mother Earth.

If you would like to learn more about minimizing your car’s impact on the earth, please look us up: Sturken Automotive for tips on what you can do.  Or give us a call now to schedule an appointment for your car or truck so you to can minimize your impact on the environment.

Sturken Automotive (408) 295-7195

26- When do I need to change my windshield wipers?

Your windshield wipers need to be replaced when they don’t properly clean your windshield. That may be in 6 months or several years. The time may vary because of several factors, but the two primary factors are how you store your vehicle and how much you use the wipers.

If you live in an area where it rains a lot, your wipers see far more use than drier climates causing the rubber blades to wear faster.

Storing your vehicle in a garage or shaded area means the sun’s radiation won’t have as much of an effect on the rubber blades and they may last longer.

Wiper use and the sun’s effect on rubber plays a large part in wiper life; but there are numerous other factors that can come into play as well such as:

  • How good is the wiper to begin with? Is it a low-end rubber or a higher end blade?
    • Did you know there is a difference?
  • Was the blade properly installed so it lays properly against the windshield?
  • Do you use your windshield washers to clean your windshield or do you clean it by hand? Do you live in an area that has a lot of insects?
    • If you do, and you use the washers to clean off the windshield, the debris takes its toll on the wipers.
  • Do you live in an area that has a lot of fallout, tree sap, heavy industry or acid rain?
    • These all play a part in breaking down not only the wiper blades but also numerous other automotive components.


If your windshield is pitted from lots of drive time, the rough surface will eat up your wiper blades much sooner than a smooth clean surface.

The above listed reasons/circumstances can shorten the life of your car’s wiper blades; some can be prevented if precautions are taken.

So what can you do to increase the useful life of your wiper blades?  Probably more than you thought before you started reading this blog!

Keep your car and especially the windshield clean. Wash the wiper blade edge when you wash the windshield and park in the shade when you can.

Be sure to purchase a high quality wiper blade from a major manufacturer such as www.tricoproducts.com or http://www.boschautoparts.com/WiperBlades/Pages/WiperBlades.aspx. Starting with a premium product gives you a much higher chance of keeping the blades in tact longer.

Also have your blades professionally installed so you don’t bend the wiper arms or break the retaining mechanisms. (Sometimes they are harder to install than they look!).

Regardless of what you do or don’t do, the blades are going to wear out eventually. For safety’s sake, please have your wiper blades checked at least annually or just replace them for peace of mind. If you see any cracks or splits in the wiping part of the rubber, they need replacing. And, don’t forget the rear blade if you have one back there too.

Wiper blades are an important part of automotive maintenance and more importantly your safety.

Please allow us at Sturken’s to inspect your wiper blades during your next visit. For an appointment, please call us now at (408) 295-7195.