Treat Your Fuel Pump Well

Car manufacturers don’t mention this, but it is important not to drive “on fumes”. As a matter of fact, AC Delco in its Women’s Car Care Seminar recommends that we make a stop at the gas station any time the tank is less than 1/3 full.

The reason for this advice is to protect the fuel pump. The fuel pump in modern vehicles is an electrical/mechanical device. All such devices need to be cooled. There are two ways that a fuel pump is cooled:

1) Gasoline flows through it and heat pass from it to the engine.
2) The fuel pump is immersed in gasoline and cooled in a fuel bath.

As the fuel tank gets close to empty, this second way of cooling the fuel pump becomes less and less effective.

Running “on fumes” will usually not destroy your fuel pump immediately but it does cause it to work at higher than optimal temperatures. Over time, this will cause faster wear. That may make it necessary to replace the fuel pump sooner than expected.

Another reason not to run “on empty” is that fuel pumped from a “dry” tank may contain moisture and deposits. Over time, these contaminates could damage the fuel filter or the fuel pump itself.

So be good to your fuel pump – keep the fuel tank at least 1/3 full at all times.
This will also keep you from running out of gasoline. Being out of gas is not only a hassle, but… you guessed it – it’s really bad for the fuel pump.

Topping off your fuel tank hurts you, your pocketbook and the environment.

Being busy, we try to squeeze in as much gasoline as possible to stretch out our trips to the gas station. But topping off after the gas pump automatically shuts off is a bad idea. There are two very important reasons why topping off is bad for you and the environment.

1. When the automatic shutoff occurs, your tank has the right amount of gasoline. If you put more gasoline in the tank, some of the gasoline may get into the carbon filter – this component is only supposed to carry fumes. This will not destroy your car. But over time, it can result in lower mileage, higher emissions, and unnecessary repairs.
This is bad for your pocketbook, and bad for the environment. Don’t over fill. You’ll keep the Bay Area a bit less smoggy.

2. When you continue to top off your fuel tank after the automatic shutoff, there is a possibility that the extra gasoline will spill out.
Three reasons why this is bad:
a. You are spilling money on the ground – literally.
b. Gasoline runoff goes into the ground, into the air and into the storm water system. No fuel spill is good for anything alive.
c. Gasoline fumes are bad for you – topping off and spilling that stuff makes it more likely you will breathe the fumes. In extreme cases fuel spills at filling stations can become fire or explosion hazards.

So next time you are at the gas station – let the automatic shutoff do its job – save your money and save the environment.

Is your new Audi, BMW or Subaru burning too much oil?

Consumer Reports just released a result of its annual survey of car owners. One of the surprising results was that some newer cars (2010-2014) consumed as much as a quart of oil per month.

Such oil consumption is considered normal in older cars – those with over 100,000 miles – but for newer cars to be burning oil at that rate is unusual to say the least.

Consumer Reports went one step further, and called on the car makers to repair these cars under the powertrain warranty or to extend warranties.

Models most likely to experience this problem are:

Audi A3, A4, A5, A6 and Q5

BMW 5, 6, and 7 Series and X5

Subaru Outback, Legacy, Forester and Impreza

An article by AP cites Audi spokesman Bradley Stertz saying that “a class action lawsuit against Audi over oil consumption by the 2.0-Liter turbocharged four-cylinder engines is close to being settled without the company admitting liability or wrongdoing.”  The settlement affects 2009 A4, 2010 A4 and A5, and 2011 A4, A5 and Q5 models.

Various Toyota models manufactured between 2006 and 2011 have also been flagged for burning too much oil. The models include Toyota Camry, Toyota Corolla, Toyota Solara, Toyota RAV4, and Scion (made by Toyota). Toyota Prius is also known for burning quite a bit of oil, sometimes as much as a quart every 2000 miles.

Lawsuits notwithstanding, whether these companies admit liability or not, if you drive one of their cars, do check the oil regularly, and keep an extra quart in the trunk, just in case.

36- Are Factory Parts Always the Best Options for my Car?

The answer is no. There are times when they are and times when they aren’t. The parts
supplied by the car companies while of good quality, are often more expensive than what they could be if supplied by other manufactures (aftermarket).

Many times the new car makers contract with the aftermarket to make their new car products.  But, when they do so, they stamp them with the original equipment (O.E.) stamp.  The ultimate seller of these parts, the new car dealers, has to mark up the prices substantially to make their margins.  This of course makes the parts more expensive to the end user.

If that same part if sold by the same supplier without the O.E. stamp and without the dealer mark-up, to the local parts store the end cost is substantially lower.  This is the
identical part at a much lower cost.  This usually happens with faster moving and popular parts such as brakes, water pumps and radiators.

In another scenario such as the case of shock absorbers, the factory part is almost always a balance of comfort and performance.  If the vehicle owner wants his or her car to feel or handle differently then factory parts are never the answer.

The last scenario usually has to do with cost and/or quality.  There are companies all over the world that produce automotive parts of all varying degrees of quality and function.  If the consumer has a newer car and can afford it, the dealer part or a high end substitute might be best for the situation.  On the other hand if the car is older, perhaps near end of service, or the owner is on a strict budget, then lower tier aftermarket parts might be a better option.  These parts often are not built as well and often don’t offer much in the name of a warranty, but if money is an object then
these parts my suit the purpose.

Each repair scenario requires a question to the owner about his or her intention with the car and of course their budget.  This is where a good car care professional can help to make the right decision for the case at hand.  You can always depend on Sturken Auto to help you make the right repair.

Why guess when it comes to repairing
your car?

For a complete analysis of your car,
truck or RV, call Sturken Auto today.

(408) 285-7195

35-Insurance Companies Using Spy Devices

Insurance companies keep finding new ways to make us pay. Now some are giving you an incentive to let them hook up a spy-device to your car.  They obviously are going to charge you more if you drive more miles.  But some monitor how often and for how long, you exceed 80 mph. They can even monitor how aggressively you drive including how fast you take corners and brake to a stop.  When they get more sophisticated, I can see them determining your location by GPS to see if you are exceeding the posted speed limits.  State Farm says that people who have signed up for their program get
about 10 percent off their bill.

My question is:  Can this data be used against you in an accident?  If they monitor your speed and turning data, can’t this be used against you?  The airbag computers already store some incriminating evidence of what was going on just before they deploy and
the courts are having to sort out when this data can be used.  Is it worth 10 percent to give up your privacy?  Maybe a better alternative is to find a cheaper insurance company.

–Jerry Spradlin

Reprinted with permission-Import Automotive Parts & Accessories Magazine, October/November

34- Class C Motor Home Wheel Alignment

We have been doing a lot of wheel alignment work on Ford ( E-350 & 450 chassis.  When our technicians are doing their inspections we are noticing that many of these coaches have feathered wear on the inside of the front tires.  This happens because of how the load is distributed on the chassis.  When Ford sends a chassis to the coach manufacturer the wheels are aligned.  When the body of the coach is built, thousands of pounds of weight are added. Most of this weight ends up over the rear wheels.

When the coach enters service, the owners add fuel, water, accessories, personal gear and their families.  This causes more weight to go to the rear of the vehicle. More weight in rear means less weight on the front axle. Because wheel alignment is
predicated on weight distribution, it is important that the alignment is done after
all the weight has been added.

In reality, this is not taken into consideration.  So in many cases a coach is out of alignment the day it enters service.  Some RV manufacturers add additional springs or air bags (   to balance things out but this is not always the case.  Vehicles that are out of alignment won’t necessarily pull or drift to one side of the road. But, they will wear tires prematurely. This improper wear can be corrected thereby saving hundreds in unnecessary tire replacement costs.

Please give Sturken Auto & RV a call to have
your wheel alignment inspected and tires checked for uneven wear. (408)

30-How Much is a Brake Job?

How long is a stick? That really is how ambiguous that question is!  There are no legal definitions of a “brake job”.  So anyone that uses that term can define it any way they want. Professional automotive organizations such as the ASCCA have been working for years to develop legal definitions.  You see there are numerous factors that come into play when working on the brakes of a modern automobile.  Without a thorough brake inspection there is no way anyone is going to tell you what your car needs unless they already know your car, its condition, mileage, and how you drive it.

The better question might be, “I want my car to stop like it did when it was new.  What needs to be done to get to that condition?”  After all, isn’t that what you want?  A car that stops?  A set of brake pads or shoes can be replaced on your car or truck.  But it may not stop any better than it did before.  In some shops (especially those that advertise one size fits all for brake service work) simply putting on new parts in place of the old ones, is considered a brake job.  A truly professional automotive repair shop
would not do that.  A professional repairer would talk to you first to assess how and where you drive, who drives the car, and what you do while you drive. (tow, race, etc.)  Also he would ask how long it has been since your last brake job.   What do you like
or not like about how the vehicle stops. Do you hear strange noises, vibrations, shuddering, pulsations or pulling.  And last but certainly not least the technician will drive your car to see how it currently performs.  After that, then the brake inspection can begin.

The test drive will allow the technician or service writer to begin his assessment on stopping performance.  Next the vehicle will be put on a lift to allow the wheels to be removed.  (This is when the true inspection begins)  The technician will then check brake pad thickness, wear patterns, rotor condition and thickness.   Then he will inspect for lateral run-out and look for fluid leak/seepage. Next he will check for excessive caliper wear or rust.  Finally he will check the condition of the brake fluid, the caliper mounting surfaces and the surrounding suspension components.   In older cars and some trucks, he would inspect the wheel bearings and grease seals for wear.  After all of those inspections are completed, a true estimate of cost for your “brake job” can be written.  If you get a quote before your vehicle brake system is inspected in this manner, it’s nothing but a guess.

I don’t know about you, but when it comes to my safety and the safety of everyone else on the road, I don’t want to hope or guess that my car is going to stop.  So the next time you need brakes (or think you do), do the right thing and have your brakes
professionally inspected by a shop you trust.

In an emergency situation you want brakes to stop!

For a comprehensive
brake inspection, call Sturken Automotive at 408-295-7195.

29-Fall is the Time for Car Care

As autumn comes we should focus some of our Fall thoughts on
the weather that is about to visit us.Typically October brings a change of the seasons-virtually always rain,and in some areas snow and ice.

This means that drivers should pay extra attention to the
parts of the car that are affected by changes in conditions.  Things such as wiper blades, coolant/antifreeze, heater and defrost operation, and perhaps tire-tread depth
and rubber conditions, should be inspected before the winter is upon us.

Any or all of these parts or systems can wreak havoc on yourwallet or your family’s safety if they fail at the wrong time.  Believe it or not, as the operator of a motor vehicle, it is possible to almost ensure that your safety and well-being are guaranteed with proactive maintenance. By simply having the various systems and parts of your vehicle inspected proactively, you are helping to keep repairs as well as the chance of an
accident to a minimum.

A lot of folks balk at spending money to do things to their cars when everything appears to be working just fine.  But, that it the secret to automobile longevity and cost minimization. If you do routine and preventative maintenance on a regular basis, chances are you won’t have big repair bills.  Believe itor not, it is cheaper for you to have preventative maintenance performedconsistently than to fix or repair things as they break. And, as your mechanical shop, I can assure you that we prefer it that way.  We get no pleasure in handling you a large repair bill instead of a small maintenance bill.  You will feel better because you are making the choice on how and when to perform maintenance. Versus your car breaking down when, where and how it wants to. And the cost being whatever they turn out to be.

So the message here is to take control of the situation so
the situation (expensive car repair) does not take control of your wallet.  October is National Car Care Month.  Sturken Auto is offering free preventative
maintenance inspections all month. Please give us a call to get your vehicles inspected soon.

Sturken Auto Inc.  408-295-7195

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