WINTER IS COMING... WHEEL ALIGNMENT SERVICE AT WESTGATE AUTO REPAIR IN ROCHESTER
When all of your vehicle’s wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Hitting a road hazard in Rochester or even just the normal bumps and bounces of everyday driving in MN can cause your wheels to be out of alignment. This can lead to premature tire and suspension wear.
Here are some alignment basics: The first angle is called toe: Do the wheels point in towards each other or away from each other at the front of the tire? The next angle is called camber: Do the wheels tip in or out at the top?
And finally, there is castor. Castor measures the angle where the front axles attach to the vehicle.
The ideal alignment for your vehicle was designed by its engineers. Alignment service in Rochester, MN at Westgate Auto Repair starts with an inspection of the steering and suspension to see if anything’s bent, broken or worn out. Then our friendly and knowledgeable repair technician will look at tire condition.
From there, the vehicle is put on an alignment rack and an initial alignment reading is taken. The wheels are then aligned to manufacturer’s specifications. Your vehicle’s owner’s manual probably has a recommendation for how often your alignment should be checked – usually every couple of years. If you suspect an alignment problem, get it checked here at Westgate Auto Repair in Rochester, MN before you suffer tire or suspension damage.read more
WESTGATE AUTO REPAIR QUESTION ABOUT YOUR COOLING SYSTEM
Westgate Auto Repair Tech Question: I was driving down the freeway in Rochester, MN and smoke started coming out of my car. I pulled over and called my husband. I had to be towed to my Rochester mechanic. He said my car had overheated. What can I do to prevent that in the future?
Westgate Auto Repair Answer: Oh, sounds like a rough experience. Unfortunately overheating is the most common engine failure in Rochester. It’s also one of the easiest to prevent. The basic idea is this: you need to keep enough coolant/antifreeze flowing through your vehicle engine to keep it cool. Problems come for Rochester drivers when they develop leaks in their systems – like in the radiator or a hose – and the coolant leaks out. Sometimes the coolant gets so contaminated that it blocks up the radiator so the coolant can’t get through. Enough of that and you end up broken down on the side of the road.
Your owner’s manual recommends a schedule for coolant replacement. That’s because your coolant actually becomes corrosive over time and starts to eat away at the cooling system, causing leaks or blockages. New coolant stops that process.
Ask your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Westgate Auto Repair about inspecting your vehicle cooling system for leaks, spongy hoses and other damage. If it’s time to replace your coolant, hoses or other cooling system parts, have it done right away at Westgate Auto Repair in Rochester. Prevention at Westgate Auto Repair is the key.read more
BATTERIES ARE A HUGE PART OF MODERN LIFE
Batteries are a huge part of modern life in Rochester MN. I mean, how many battery chargers do you have? Of course, our purpose here is to talk about your car battery. With old man winter just around the corner, people come into Westgate Auto Repair and need a new battery, they’re really not that happy about having to spend the money. But the fact is that 70 percent of batteries don’t make it for 4 years.
There are some things that you can do to extend the life of your battery. First, keep it clean. If you see it getting dirty or greasy, let us know at Westgate Auto Repair and we can clean it off. A dirty battery runs hotter and that shortens its life. If your battery terminals are corroded, let Westgate Auto Repair take a look at that too. We can clean them, and if the corrosion has gotten into the battery cables, we can replace them.
Also running your battery way down is bad for it: Things like running the headlights or watching a DVD player with the car turned off can deeply deplete your battery. The typical battery can only take about 10 of those deep cycle depletions before it gives up the ghost.
Because we often take short trips around Rochester with lots of stops for errands, our batteries can end up not getting fully recharged just by driving around. That also shortens battery life. You can hook up a good quality automatic battery charger at home from time to time. We recommend charging every three months during cold months.
Now when it’s finally time to get a new battery, we can help you find the right replacement. We’ll always make sure to meet your manufacturer’s recommendations. Now if you have special needs – like live in a very cold climate or run a lot of electrical accessories, we can look at an upgrade that’ll give you the power you need.read more
(front wheel area making sounds?) The axle assemblies in your vehicle transfer power out to the drive wheels. On a rear-wheel drive vehicle, there is an axle shaft that goes from the differential in the center of the axle to each rear wheels. On a front-wheel drive vehicle, the axle shafts go from the transmission to each front-wheel. All-wheel drive vehicles have axle shafts connected to all four wheels.
Axles assemblies are pretty tough parts: they transfer torque from the engine to the wheels to move the vehicle. Tough as they are, they are still subject to normal wear and tear. The axle shafts are in a sealed housing with lubricant that protects the axle shaft. When there is a leak anywhere in the axle assembly, lubricant gets out and dirt, water, and other contaminants can get in. This can greatly accelerate axle wear. If an axle assembly fails, you’re not going anywhere.
According to a recent NAPA article, a worn or damaged axle assembly on the front will make a clunking sound during low speed turns – often just when turning one way. A worn rear axle also makes noise, but may be more difficult for the driver to hear. Also, if you see any oily leaks around your wheels, have it checked out.
If you have a bad axle assembly, Westgate Auto Repair can make the repair. It is often more cost effective to replace an axle assembly than it is to take it apart and rebuilt it.
If you are hearing strange sounds coming from your front or rear wheel area, have Westgate Auto Repair inspect your vehicle. We can determine if it is an axle problem, or perhaps a worn steering, suspension, or brake component.read more
SUMMER IS NEAR, SO IS THE HEAT
When is it time to add or replace the refrigerant? You could be proactive and have it done before you experience problems.
According to Napa Service Assist, your air conditioning system uses refrigerant to create cold air. The most common reasons Rochester area drivers lose their cold air have to do with the refrigerant.
The first is not enough refrigerant. Refrigerant is a gas in the system and very small holes in a hose, seal or coupler can allow enough to leak out to prevent the creation of cold air. Another potential problem for auto owners is contamination. Over time the inside of the rubber hoses can deteriorate and little bits of rubber can clog up various filters and other parts of the vehicle A/C system, preventing proper circulation of the refrigerant. And a component could also be worn or broken. So the first step for Rochester drivers who can’t cool their vehicle is a thorough air conditioning inspection, looking for leaks and worn parts. In fact, Federal law requires an inspection before adding refrigerant. Some states do not allow topping off a leaking system.
credit: NAPA Service Assist Once any repairs are made, refrigerant is added. At the same time, special oil is added to the system. This oil cools and lubricates various components as it circulates along with the refrigerant. If you have a refrigerant leak, you also have an oil leak – and it’s that both be replenished for proper function and protection of your A/C system.
Sometimes overlooked by drivers is the fact that a worn serpentine belt (which drives the A/C compressor) leads to belt slippage which puts additional strain on the compressor. Replacing your serpentine belt and belt tensioner on schedule at Westgate Auto Repair will extend the life of your A/C compressor and other belt driven accessories.read more
AUTO REPAIR ETHICS IN ROCHESTER
We’re going to be talking about the ethics of automotive repair. Unfortunately, every profession has some bad actors that hurt the reputation of everyone else. In the automotive world, including our local Rochester automotive community, industry associations, professional licensing organizations and Westgate Auto Repair are very committed to high ethical standards.
Yet some Rochester drivers are uncomfortable with automotive service and repair. If we understand what’s recommended and the benefits of taking care of the work – and the pitfalls of putting it off – we’ll have more trust in the recommendation. So communication is key. It’s like going to your Rochester doctor. If they are using medical jargon we might have a hard time following there train of thought. It can be like that with your auto too. If you don’t understand what your doctor’s talking about: ask some questions. If you don’t understand what our automotive techs are talking about: ask some questions.
Let’s go back to those ethical standards. When we hear a repair recommendation, we always ask ourselves, “Is this really necessary?” Well, here’s the industry standard: If our Westgate auto technician tells you that a repair or replacement is required it must meet the following criteria: (1) The part no longer performs its intended purpose (2) The part does not meet a design specification (3) The part is missing
For example, it you take your vehicle in for a grinding noise when you step on the brakes, you may just think you need new brake pads. After the inspection, the technician says that you have a cracked rotor and need to replace it. If you tried to get him to just put new pads on, we would say that if you didn’t want to replace the rotor, we would ethically have to refuse the repair. To just put pads on a cracked rotor would have been very wrong. The brakes could’ve failed at any time: they needed to be repaired – not just have a band-aid slapped on them. Now, looking at something not so serious, we may suggest repair or replacement if:
(1) The part is close to the end of its useful life – just above discard specifications or likely to fail soon
(2) To address a customer need or request – like for better ride or increased performance
(3) To comply with maintenance recommended by the
(4) Based on the technician’s informed experience
Of course, the technician has the burden of making ethical recommendations and properly educating our customers. For the customer, if you are uncomfortable with a recommendation, ask some questions. More information is always a good thing.
Give us a call At Westgate Auto Repair we install quality NAPA replacement parts.read more
ALIGNMENT – DOES YOUR CAR NEED IT?
Symptoms of Bad Car Alignment Did you hit a curb or snowbank due to icy roads? Does that mess up your front end? If so, how can you tell? These are common questions we hear at Westgate Auto in Rochester, Minnesota, especially during Minnesota winters. As you slip and slide while driving – you run the risk of hitting curbs and snowbanks, especially at the bottom of hills and corners. And when you do bump against cement or solid snow, this impact can put your car alignment out-of-whack.
Signs your car is out of alignment Most Minnesota drivers notice two things that indicate your car has bad alignment (e.g. your car tires are rolling at a wrong angle). First, the vehicle pulls to one side when driving. It could be slight or pretty severe. You’ll feel it because steering and suspension components are joined together. If your car was misaligned for a while, you’ll also start to see uneven tire wear – the shoulder on either the outside or inside of the tire is worn down more than the other. Alignment is affected by general time on the road – or seasonal events like Rochester, Minnesota winter driving. Joints can loosen. You may hit a curb or snowbank. Or, you’ve put on a lot of miles and your tires are worn. To prevent unnecessary wear and tear – which costs more long-term – we recommend getting an alignment check every two years (or in the case of hitting a curb and/or snowbank).
State-of-the-art alignment system At Westgate Auto, we want your auto repair to be accurate and the best. For that reason, we now offer alignments using our NEW HawkEye Elite™ state-of-the-art alignment system, which gives us results in 90 seconds! HawkEye Elite uses four precision cameras to measure the position and orientation of targets mounted to each wheel using Hunter’s patented QuickGrip™ adaptors. QuickGrip adaptors feature spring-loaded arms that grip the tire, eliminating metal-to-metal contact and subsequent rim damage. Compared to historical alignment setups, Hunter’s HawkEye Elite is faster – saving you and us time.
Come check it out – give us a call – and get aligned.read more