Some of us just love tires. All those little rubber hairs on new tires and the smell is wonderful. We live in a great time for tires. No matter how you drive, where you want to go or the look you're after; there is a tire for you.
The same is true about wheels. The hardest part is choosing from the thousands of wheels available.
We may not be able to help with that, but we can help you get some things in mind before you consult with your Martinsburg tire professional. Let's start with function and think about how you drive.
For example, maybe you have a large SUV but you don't drive off-road, so an off-road tread isn't important. Also, because you are not out bouncing over rocks in the West Virginia backcountry, you don't need a high profile tire to protect your rims. So that means you can probably go with the low-wide look.
If you have a winter season with rain and snow or if you find you need better ice and snow performance, they make great, high-performance snow tires that won't make it look like you are driving a tractor.
There really are a lot of options for any given vehicle. You will find it very helpful to have a discussion like this with your Martinsburg tire pro when you need new tires. You can find the best solutions for your driving needs and to make improvements in ride or handling.
Picking a wheel that is the same size as what you are now running is pretty simple. But, it gets trickier if you want to upsize. Just get some help when you go bigger. All that tire and wheel still needs to fit in the available space. You do not want your tires to rub when you turn or hit a bump. You also need to make sure your brakes and suspension bits will fit with your wheel of choice. It doesn't matter how great your car looks if it's not drivable.
Taller, wider wheels and tires probably weigh more than your stock shoes. And it's "unsprung" weight - that has a big impact on brake performance. The upsized shoes increase rotational inertia - if you go too big you may need to upgrade your brakes to compensate.
Another possible problem is an inaccurate speedometer. This happens because the number of rotations can change with the new wheels. Fortunately, speedometers and odometers are all controlled by the engine computer; so it is simple to get it reprogrammed and compensate for the bigger tires.
No matter what you are after: low cost, long life, high performance, traction or stunning good looks, your wheel and tire professional at Feltner's Automotive Service in Martinsburg, West Virginia can help you identify your needs and give you a custom fit. With all the options available, you don't have to compromise. There is a tire out there with your name on it!
Posted in the Tires and Wheels category
E-85 Fuel Safety Advice From Feltner's Automotive Service
May 17, 2013 10:29 AM
Today at Feltner's Automotive Service we want to talk with you about a very important safety issue. This automotive safety warning is coming from a very unusual source: fire fighting experts. You’ve probably heard of E-85 gasoline being offered in the Martinsburg area. Some newer vehicle models are specifically built to run on E-85 – the rest are not.
Does your vehicle use E-85 gasoline? Bring it down to Feltner's Automotive Service at 3202 Winchester Ave in Martinsburg, West Virginia 25405 to find out, or give us a call to make an appointment by calling 304-264-0024.
E-85 gasoline has been developed to fight air pollution and reduce oil consumption. E-85 fuel is a mix of 85% ethanol, a grain-base alcohol, and 15% gasoline. So-called Flex-Fuel vehicles are designed to use either normal gasoline or E-85 gas. The result is lower harmful exhaust emissions to our local Martinsburg community.
All gas engines can run with up to 10% ethanol and in fact a lot of gasoline sold in the Martinsburg West Virginia area does contain some ethanol. The problem comes when well meaning people without Flex Fuel certified vehicles put E-85 into the tank.
At a 15% concentration, the potential for problems arises. Because of the chemical differences between ethanol and gasoline, special seals and gaskets are needed for Flex Fuel vehicles in Martinsburg West Virginia. In a normal engine, the ethanol in E-85 gas will eat away important seals and gaskets. This leads to gas and oil leaks.
You can imagine the fire hazard caused by leaking gasoline. Fire fighting experts caution consumers to only use E-85 if they know they vehicle is certified to handle it. They expect vehicle fires to increase because of using the wrong fuel in non-Flex Fuel vehicles.
So are people who don’t have a Flex Fuel vehicle but use E-85 to help the environment actually putting themselves at risk? Yes. In fact, service and repair centers in Martinsburg West Virginia are being warned to purchase fire extinguishers that use the special foam needed to extinguish ethanol fires as a precaution in case starting-up an ethanol damaged engine leads to a fire.
Obviously, this isn’t something you want to have in your Martinsburg West Virginia garage at home, either. If you have a Flex-Fuel certified vehicle, feel free to protect the environment by using E-85 gasoline. If not – please do not use E-85 in an engine that’s designed to run on unleaded gasoline only. At Feltner's Automotive Service we are concerned about your safety. If you have questions or want to find out how to determine if your vehicle can safely use E-85, go to www.e85fuel.com for more resources.
Working up a sweat is a great thing to do in a gym around Martinsburg, but not in your car. When your car's AC System has a problem, you'll often feel it right away. The question is, how long do you put up with it? You know, the old comfort versus cost dilemma. But a more comfortable drive around Martinsburg has a lot of benefits, and keeping the AC System well maintained can help prevent expensive repairs.
A common cause for AC failure is water and air in the system. The system does not work as well with air in it. And water can cause rust that leads to damage of the A/C components. Also refrigerant, the stuff that makes the air cold, can leak out, reducing the efficiency of the system, making it work harder to try to cool the air. That is why periodically evacuating the air conditioning system and recharging it keeps the proper amount of clean refrigerant in the system so it cools better and lasts longer.
You should also run the air conditioner regularly, even in the winter, so that it lubricates itself and keeps the seals from drying out. The seals can crack and that leads to leaks. Your owner's manual will have recommendations for how often to service your air conditioner. Some service centers also have this information as part of their computer databases. Your service advisor at Feltner's Automotive Service can give you more information.
Of course, if your AC currently isn't working right, then now is the time to get it checked. Many service centers such as Feltner's Automotive Service can inspect and test your air conditioning and offer evacuation and recharge services. This goes a long way to avoiding having to bring your air conditioner in for major repairs.
Recent environmental laws have stopped the manufacture of Freon, a refrigerant that was common in cars made before 1993. There is a very limited supply of Freon so the price is very steep. It may not be worth its weight in gold, but it probably is worth its weight in silver. If you have an older vehicle that uses Freon, you may want to consider having it retrofitted to use the new EPA-approved R134a refrigerant. It will pay for itself in the long run.
Posted in the Air Conditioning category
Budgeting for Maintenance In Martinsburg West Virginia
Everyone in Martinsburg West Virginia does our best to budget for scheduled vehicle maintenance. What's hard is unexpected repairs. The truth is that our vehicles can stay on the road longer than ever before with proper maintenance. That's because of improved vehicle design and manufacturing quality. But some of those same improvements also lead to higher repairs costs.
Let's take the fuel pump. Previous generations were often stranded by the side of the road by vapor lock. This occurred when the gas vaporized between the gas tank and the fuel pump. Fuel just stopped flowing.
You had to sit and wait until the car would start again. To alleviate the problem, fuel pumps are now located inside the gas tank. This is a great solution, but when the fuel pump fails, it's a much more expensive proposition to replace it.
Sealed wheel bearing assemblies are another example. These wheel bearings can't be serviced – you just have to replace the entire assembly when it starts to fail. That costs several times as much as service on non-sealed bearings.
So we all benefit in Martinsburg West Virginia from design improvements, but we need to plan for repairs down the road.
There's a tool that can be found on Edmunds.com that you can use to prepare your service and repair budget.
Let's suppose you have a 2003 Toyota Camry – a very popular car in Martinsburg West Virginia. It's now paid for and you'd like to keep it running for the next three years. You can go to Edmunds' True Cost to Own calculator and enter your vehicle's data. The calculator will provide estimates of what it'll cost to service and repair your vehicle over the next five years. The estimate is based on where you live in or near Martinsburg West Virginia, manufacturers' recommendations and repair experience for your particular model.
Of course these are just estimates – there's no way to predict what'll actually happen to the car in your driveway, but it's a good starting point.
The calculator also has estimates for depreciation, financing, insurance, taxes and fuel costs.
Let's focus on maintenance and repair. This table shows that the average monthly cost of maintenance and repairs is eighty-three dollars. That may sound like a lot, but compare it to a new car payment.
So if you set aside eighty-three dollars a month, you'd go a long ways towards taking care of routine maintenance and being prepared for the unexpected repairs that arise.
Of course, you can't predict when something will go wrong or what it'll cost, but at least you have a reasonable target to shoot for.
Some people around Martinsburg West Virginia are afraid of what can go wrong with their older car so they buy a new one. That's fine if you really want a new car, but if you properly maintain your older vehicle, you'll save a lot of money on new car payments and insurance. It just makes good economic sense.
Get with your Martinsburg West Virginia service advisor at Feltner's Automotive Service and work out a plan for keeping your vehicle on the road.
You can visit Feltner's Automotive Service at 3202 Winchester Ave in Martinsburg, West Virginia 25405 or just give us a call at 304-264-0024.
Posted in the Maintenance category
Tire Pressure Monitoring System
April 23, 2013 1:49 PM
We all know that under inflated tires wear out more quickly. Under-inflation is also a major cause of tire failure. More flats, blow outs, skids and longer stopping distances are all results of under-inflated tires.
It's hard to tell when a radial tire is under-inflated. If your manufacturer recommends 35 pounds of pressure, your tire is considered significantly under inflated at 26 pounds. The tire may not look low until it gets below 20 pounds.
Uncle Sam to the rescue! A new federal law requires manufacturers to include a Tire Pressure Monitoring System - or TPMS system - in all vehicles by the 2008 model year.
Some 2006 and 2007 models already have TPMS. The system is a dashboard mounted warning light that goes off if one or more of the tires falls 25 % below the manufacturer's pressure recommendations.
The law covers all passenger cars, SUVs, mini vans and pick up trucks. The system must also indicate if it has a malfunction. This technology has been used by race cars for years. They are able to head off problems from under inflation by closely monitoring tire pressure on the track. It's up to your car's manufacturer to determine which of many TPMS systems available they'll use to comply with the law.
Obviously, all of this doesn't come free. Government studies have estimated the net costs. Of course, the TPMS system itself will cost something. Maintaining the system will have a cost, replacement of worn or broken parts and tire repair cost increases. The net cost is estimated to be between $27 and $100.
The costs are partially offset by savings in fuel and tread wear. There is also a saving in property damage and travel delay. Also, the government predicts fewer fatal accidents. They estimate there will be between $3,000,000 to $9,000,000 for every life saved.
Your safety has always been a concern of your service center. They want you on the road and accident free. They've traditionally provided things like tire rotations, snow tire mounting and flat fixes at a very low cost. They've been able to quickly and cheaply provide the service, and they pass the low cost on to you as an expression of their good will. That's why they're concerned about how you'll perceive the changes that this new law will force.
Every time a tire is changed: taken off to fix a flat, a new tire installed, or a snow tire mounted, the service technician is now going to have to deal with the TPMS system. Sensors will need to be removed and reinstalled. The sensors will have to be re-activated after the change. And, unfortunately, the very act of changing the tire will damage some sensor parts from time to time - it's inevitable and can't be avoided.
Even a simple tire rotation will require that the monitor be reprogrammed to the new location of each tire. When a car battery is disconnected, the TPMS system will need to be reprogrammed. TPMS sensor batteries will need to be changed and failed parts replaced.
And the service centers themselves will need to purchase new scanning equipment to work with the TPMS sensors and to update expensive tire change equipment to better service wheels equipped with the new monitoring systems.
Service technicians will have to be trained on many systems and new tire-changing techniques. All of this adds up to significantly increased cost to the service center to perform what was once a very inexpensive service for you. So when you start so see the cost of tire changes, flat repairs and rotations going up, please keep in mind that it's because of government mandated safety equipment. Your service center just wants to keep you safely on the road - and it's committed to do so at a fair price. The effects of the new law will take some time to sort out, but it will help you avoid the most common vehicle failure, and possibly a catastrophic accident.
Posted in the Tires and Wheels category
Busted: The Maintenance-Free Myth In Inwood
April 18, 2013 10:41 AM
There’s a segment of the Inwood population that’s not committed to proper vehicle maintenance. Mistaken perceptions have crept into the West Virginia area over time. Many Inwood motorists think the root lies in the fact that modern cars are so reliable. Reliability has improved dramatically in recent years. Quality surveys report fewer problems with new cars than ever before.
Back when cars spent more time in the repair shop, Inwood drivers were more mindful of routine service. Now, it’s much easier to put it off.
Take tune-ups for example. In the days of mechanical ignition systems, an engine needed to be tuned-up every couple of years. The ignition points had to be replaced, spark plugs and coils replaced and the timing adjusted. If your engine was out of tune, you knew it. It ran poorly and got bad fuel economy.
Now, the ignition system in your SUV is electronic and controlled by the engine management computer. Spark plugs rarely get fouled and will last for as much as a hundred thousand miles. So tune-ups used to force you in to Feltner's Automotive Service for service and while you were there you just took care of whatever else was on the list.
Also, in recent years, a large percentage of new cars in Inwood have been leased. These folks plan on turning the car in after two or three years, so they haven’t focused on the maintenance that helps your car last longer.
Given all that, what’s the benefit to keeping up with factory scheduled maintenance? Well, your SUV will perform better and return better fuel economy.
Those benefits pay for themselves as they go along. The big plus is that major repairs are prevented. And these aren’t just repairs that are a long ways off. Modern SUV engines are far more sophisticated and have many parts that are in critical need of proper lubrication. Missing just one oil change can allow oil sludge to start forming. Sludge clogs small engine passages, robbing parts of the lubrication they need. An expensive failure could easily occur within two or three years.
And modern engines require more sophisticated fluids. Because of the different types of materials that are used to make auto parts, things like aluminum, plastics and steel, different types of additives are required to protect automotive components from corrosion. These additives deplete with time as well as with use.
For example, your SUV engine coolant could actually become so corrosive that it eats holes in your radiator or other cooling system parts. Of course, that could lead to massive engine damage, all for the want of replacing the coolant on schedule.
Taking care of the little things now prevents big problems later. At Feltner's Automotive Service, we have been taking care of all those little things for 16 years. Your SUV still needs to be taken care of – it’s just that some of those points of care have changed with automotive advancements. The need for proper maintenance in Inwood did not go away.
Posted in the Maintenance category
Differential Service At Feltner's Automotive Service: Vive ala Difference
April 12, 2013 10:26 AM
Every SUV on West Virginia expressways has a differential, and it is important to the proper operation of the vehicle, but most Martinsburg motorists don’t have a clue what it is.
The differential compensates for differing wheel speeds. For example, when you turn, the inside tire on the turn travels a much shorter distance than the outside wheel. So the inside wheel of the SUV must move at a slower speed than the outside wheel. Without a differential, the wheels would hop and scrape while turning.
Have you ever seen the large bugle-shaped object in the middle of the rear axle of a truck? That’s the differential. In a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the differential is located on the back axle. Four-wheel drive vehicles and SUV’s have differentials on both the front and the rear axle.
You might expect that the differential is located on the front axle of a front-wheel drive vehicle. You’d be right. But the differential is called a transaxle on a front-wheel drive vehicle because its location allows it to be combined with the transmission.
In an all-wheel drive vehicle, an additional differential or transfer case is located between the front and rear axles. Differentials are strong: They have to be because of the important job they do. But those tough parts need proper lubrication. You don’t want your differential to seize up. That results in costly damage to your SUV.
So you need to have your SUV differential serviced regularly. It’s not a complicated job. At Feltner's Automotive Service in Martinsburg we've been servicing differentials for 16 years. The used lubricating fluid is simply drained and then replaced. Some vehicles require specific additives in the differential fluid; your Martinsburg service center will ensure you are getting what your SUV needs.
The intervals in time or mileage for servicing your differential vary greatly from vehicle to vehicle. Check with your owner’s manual or Feltner's Automotive Service to find out how often your SUV differential needs to be serviced.
Generally, however, front-wheel drive vehicles need their differential serviced more often than rear-wheel drive vehicles. Also, if you spend a lot of time off-road or on Martinsburg area dirt or gravel roads, or if you drive through water, you will need to service your differential more often than the standard recommendation – check with your Great Feltner's Automotive Service tech.
Preventive maintenance for your differential is good car care that can spare you costly repair bills. Knowing what your differential is and how it operates is important and will help you understand why this is good auto advice. Remember, take care of your SUV, and it will take care of you.
Posted in the Differential Service category
Martinsburg Alignment Service
April 2, 2013 2:14 PM
Your car might have an alignment problem if: it drifts or pulls to one side, your steering wheel is off center, you have uneven tire wear or your car doesn’t feel like it handles right. When all of a vehicle’s wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Running into potholes, smacking a curb or other object are great ways to knock your car out of alignment. Then one or more of your wheels starts pulling in a slightly different direction and the problems begin.
Driving for an extended time when you're out of alignment causes your tires to wear unevenly and excessively. This can be dangerous and expensive. You'll have to replace your tires sooner, but even worse - you may cause premature wear to your suspension system, which can be really expensive.
The front wheel alignment is adjustable on all vehicles, and the back wheels are also adjustable on some cars. The adjustment can go three different ways. The first adjustment is called toe. The next adjustment is called camber. And finally, there is castor. The engineers who designed your vehicle determined the alignment settings that will give you the best handling and safety.
There are several things involved in an alignment check. First, there's an inspection of the steering and suspension - it should be checked to see if anything's bent or broken. Then the tire condition needs to be inspected. From there, the vehicle is put on an alignment rack and an initial alignment reading is taken. If all four wheels are adjustable, they are lined up perfectly parallel with the vehicle's center line. If the back wheels aren't adjustable, a technician at Feltner's Automotive Service can determine the direction they push and then aligns the front wheels to match.
Like most things, your manufacturer has suggested a mileage interval for having your alignment checked. But if you run into a curb, pothole or something else that's given you a big jolt, pay attention to whether your vehicle is pulling to one side when you drive. It's better to have your alignment checked before waiting to see if there is uneven tire tread wear - by then, the damage is done.
Getting your alignment checked when needed is a great way to extend the life of your tires and suspension parts. It also makes sure that your tire meets the road properly for maximum performance and safety.
Posted in the Alignment category
Handling Distractions While Driving Around Martinsburg
March 27, 2013 1:07 PM
We've all seen people do crazy things while driving to or from Martinsburg. A guy shaving in the rear-view mirror, a woman applying makeup, people talking on their phones, texting or drinking from an enormous coffee mug. All of these are an accident waiting to happen.
The truth is everyone in Martinsburg West Virginia is distracted when we drive. Traffic, road construction and other things outside the car are beyond our control. But the distractions inside our car are things we can often control.
Here's some things that'll give you more control in your car, and help keep your attention on the roads around Martinsburg West Virginia.
Drivers who are 16 to 20 years old tend to be more distracted by the radio, CD or MP3 player.
Drivers who are 20 to 29 are more distracted by passengers in the car, including small children.
And those over age 65 tend to be more distracted by objects or events that are outside of the vehicle.
Other factors like fatigue, stress and lack of sleep make it harder to pay attention to driving – no matter what age we are. People are also distracted by thinking about relationships, family issues, money and bills. So what can we do to manage these distractions? Well, the first thing is to eliminate as many as we can.
When you get in your car, make sure you're belted in; that the seats, steering wheel and mirrors are adjusted; and your radio or CD player is ready.
Secure any loose objects in the car that can fall on the floor and interfere with your driving.
If you have a drink, make sure it's spill-proof and put in a cup holder. Pets should also be contained.
If you're riding with kids, make sure they're wearing seat belts or secured in safety seats. You may want to give em some distractions to keep them quiet and sitting in their seats. Don't get involved in their arguments while you're driving. Pull over if you need to find a toy or break up a fight.
If you eat while driving, keep it to simple finger foods that aren't messy.
Learning your car's controls before you drive is another way to improve your safety. Know how to work the radio by touch. The same goes for heating and air conditioning controls.
If you have to use a cell phone, a hands-free system is best. But remember, the biggest cell phone distraction isn't the phone itself – it's the conversation. Keep conversations brief and light, or pull over if you can. Your reaction time is much slower when talking and driving, so allow more space between you and the car ahead of you. Know your local laws – it may be illegal to be on the phone or text in the Martinsburg West Virginia area.
And if you really think you have to shave, change your clothes or put on make-up while driving – you're wrong. Just start getting ready earlier so you have enough time to finish those things before you drive into Martinsburg West Virginia.
Remember, driving is probably the most dangerous thing you'll do all day – so don't make it any worse. Use these tips to keep you and your loved ones safer behind the wheel.
Posted in the Service Standards category
Engine Air Filter From Feltner's Automotive Service
March 22, 2013 9:29 AM
You may have found yourself in the following situation: You go to get your oil changed and the service adviser at Feltner's Automotive Service recommends you get a new engine air filter. You say yes, but because you didn't know what an air filter is or what it does, but you were too embarrassed to ask.
First of all, you did the right thing by getting a new one. And, you should never be too embarrassed to ask for more information from any of our Feltner's Automotive Service staff. It's your money and you have a right to understand what you're paying for.
Let's review what an air filter does:
Air is the focus of this discussion. What is the air like outside in Martinsburg right now? Can you see any smog? Is it full of pollen? How about dust? Anyone in West Virginia with hay fever can tell you that there's plenty in the air that you can't see. Well, it's the engine air filter's job to clean that air before it goes into your engine, to mix with the fuel and be burned. Without an engine air filter, the inside of your engine would be extremely dirty from all the gunk that was burned in the cylinders.
In fact, for every gallon of gas you burn, your engine needs 12,000 gallons of air. That little filter does a very big job. It's no wonder that the air filter gets dirty and needs to be replaced. Think about a vacuum cleaner. When the bag gets full of dust and dirt, the vacuum doesn't clean as well. It can't move enough air to create good suction. A clogged engine air filter is the same way - the engine can't get enough air to burn the fuel efficiently. That means less power and wasted gas.
That's why your manufacturer has recommended that you change your filter at regular intervals. Of course the conditions you drive in will affect how quickly the filter gets dirty. If you drive where it's very dusty or where there's lots of pollen or pollution, you may need to change the filter sooner. The filter is easy to check visually, so your service technician can quickly make the call. He might recommend immediate replacement, or simply let you know that it is getting close and that you'll need to replace it soon - like at your next oil change.
Because a severely dirty air filter hurts your fuel economy, many people find that a new air filter pays for itself in gas savings before the next oil change. They also make premium air filters that have been proven to increase your horsepower and torque. If more power is important to you, a high performance air filter is some of the cheapest horsepower you can buy.
The better your car breathes, the better it runs - kind of like people. And don't worry - if you have a question or don't understand a recommendation just ask.