When Do My Shocks Need to be Replaced?

A good suspension system gives a vehicle a smooth, even ride while providing Kalispell drivers with good handling and control. But like any system on your Subaru, essential parts of the suspension system can wear out, leading to a lower ride quality and safety concerns. So it’s a good idea for Kalispell drivers to remember a diagnostic examination of their suspension system in their schedule of an essential preventive maintenance. Springs do most of the work of the suspension system. The most common types of springs are coil and leaf, but air springs and torsion bars are becoming more common. The body of the vehicle is “suspended” by the springs.

If springs were the only working component in your suspension system, however, you’d spend your travel time bouncing up and down like a bobblehead. That’s where your shocks come in. They keep the rebound, or bounciness, of the springs under control. Shocks also keep your tires on the road, which keeps the driver in control of the Subaru. Some vehicles have struts in their suspension system. Struts are a compact combination of springs and shocks. They do the same essential job but in a single package.

Shocks wear out gradually, so it can be difficult for Kalispell auto owners to notice when they need to be replaced. There’s no definitive point when a vehicle’s ride goes from smooth and controlled to a bit imprecise. To check if your shocks or struts are worn, you should first do a visual inspection on them. If they are leaking fluid, they need to be replaced.

There are other less obvious signs that your suspension system needs critical attention. For example, an uneven, cupping wear on your tires may indicate that your shocks are worn. If your vehicle feels “floaty” when you turn, or, in other words, you don’t feel that you have full control of the vehicle, you should check your shocks. Also, if the front end of your vehicle dips noticeably when you stop, it’s time for new shocks.

Your owner’s manual gives recommendations on how often the shocks should be checked, usually between 15,000 and 30,000 miles (24,000-50,000 km). If one of your shocks does need to be replaced, you should replace all four. This will keep your suspension even and ensure good handling of your vehicle. If you carry heavy loads, tow a trailer or drive on uneven Kalispell area terrain, you might also consider upgrading to a heavy-duty shock.

Regular shocks contain hydraulic fluid. The essential fluid helps them absorb the bumps or “shocks” of the road so the impact doesn’t transfer to the Subaru’s body. Premium shocks are filled with compressed nitrogen gas, which costs more but does a better job of controlling body motions. Regular shocks can develop air bubbles that reduce their effectiveness; the premium shocks don’t have this problem. So if you want higher handling performance, if you drive off-road around MT or if you just want added comfort, you should consider upgrading to premium shocks or struts.

Replacing struts can put your Subaru out of alignment, so an alignment check should always follow this type of repair. Talk to your professional and courteous technician at Loren’s Auto Repair in Kalispell.

Viva la Differential At Loren’s Auto Repair In Kalispell

There are a lot of Kalispell people who are due for a differential service, but had never heard of a differential before. With front-wheel drive being so common in MT these days, the differential is just taken care of during a transmission service, so most Kalispell folks don’t even have to think about it. And rear-wheel drive differentials don’t need to be serviced for years, so it’s understandable that it’s not something on the top of mind. So it’s not uncommon for Kalispell people to not know they have a differential let alone know that it needs service.

To better understand what a differential does, think about a track at any MT high school. There are lanes marked off on the track. For the longer distance races, the starting lines are staggered. The starting lines for the outside lanes are ahead of the starting lines for the inside lanes. That’s to compensate for the longer length of the outside lanes. Staggering the starting lines means that each runner has the same distance to run.

The differential compensates for the difference in speeds between the inside Subaru wheel and the outside wheel in a turn, because they have to travel together through slightly different distances.

It’s a very important function. When you think of it, all the power to get a Subaru moving goes through the differential. Most cars weigh between three and six thousand pounds – trucks even more. The power from the engine goes through the transmission and then through the differential to the drive wheels.

That’s a lot of work and requires very heavy duty parts. And those parts need protection. The differential fluid lubricates the gears in the differential and keeps them cool. The fluid eventually gets dirty and worn down. Some kinds of differentials require special additives that break down over time. So manufacturers recommend intervals for when to replace your differential fluid.

Your professional and courteous Loren’s Auto Repair service technician will drain the used fluid and check it out for metal bits, which could be a sign of excessive wear on the gears. He’ll then replace the fluid and install the additives if necessary.

Your Loren’s Auto Repair service advisor can look up the Subaru manufacturer’s recommended service interval or you can check your owner’s manual.

At Loren’s Auto Repair, we’ve been providing quality automotive service for our valued Kalispell customers for 27 years. If you need to schedule differential maintenance, or any other automotive service, give us a call at 406-755-7757.

Drive Train – What You Need to Know In Kalispell

lorens auto vehicle drive train

One Kalispell automotive service issue that doesn’t get much attention is driveline service. Drive trains and drivelines don’t get talked about very much around Kalispell, but they’re vitally important important to your vehicle. First let’s define what the driveline is:

Taking a small step back, the power plant is comprised of the engine and transmission. The driveline starts there and includes all of the components that transfer power from the transmission to the wheels.

That’s not really a lot of components, but they handle the full force of the engine. Without the driveline you’re not moving. So we need to take good care of it. The driveline components differ depending on whether your vehicle has front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, all wheel drive or four wheel drive. For purposes of our discussion, we’re going to have to over simplify a bit.

Let’s start with front wheel drive. The point where the transmission stops and the driveline begins is a little blurred with front wheel drive because the transaxle houses both the transmission function and the differential function. The half shafts that send power to each front wheel, come out of the transaxle. The shaft is connected to the wheel by a constant velocity, or CV, joint. The CV joint is protected from dirt and water by an airtight, flexible rubber boot.

So, driveline service would include properly servicing the transaxle and inspecting the CV boot to see if it’s torn or loose. If it is, it needs to be replaced and the CV joint inspected for damage. Repairs may be in order. Besides visual damage to the airtight CV boot, you might hear a clicking noise when turning. Recommended maintenance for the transaxle and CV joints will be spelled out in your owner’s manual or check with your service advisor at Loren’s Auto Repair.

On to rear wheel drive. The driveline for a rear wheel drive vehicle starts with the driveshaft – that long tube that connects the transmission with the differential on the rear axle. Some vehicles in Kalispell have a two piece drive shaft. The shafts are connected to the transmission and the differential with big universal joints. You’ve probably heard the term ‘u-joints‘. These joints can wear out, just like the CV joints in front wheel drive vehicles. You may hear some clunking or feel a jolt when shifting into drive or reverse – if you do, get your driveline inspected.

The differential on the rear axle sends power out to each rear wheel through half shafts in the axle. The differential fluid needs to be drained periodically and replaced with clean fluid. When the seal on the end of the axle is damaged or leaks, the axle will need to be serviced. The routine maintenance item here is differential service. Be sure to check your owner’s manual or Kalispell service advisor for intervals.

Now let’s go on to all wheel drive. Remember that the difference between all wheel drive and four wheel drive is that an all wheel drive vehicle is essentially providing power to all of the wheels all of the time. The vehicle may be able to shift more of the power to the front or to the back depending on where you need traction. All wheel drive vehicles are designed to work well on dry pavement. Even some high-end sports cars from makers like Lamborghini and Porsche have all wheel drive.

Some all wheel drive vehicles are designed to work well off-road, but all hard-core rock crawlers are four wheel drive. These guys thrive in mud, sand, rocks and hills – but they don’t work well on dry pavement when they’re in four wheel drive. So they have the option to shift to rear wheel drive only on dry pavement.

Most all-wheel drive vehicles are very similar to front wheel drive when it comes to the front end. They also have a center differential that transfers power to the rear differential. Connecting it all is a shaft from the transaxle to the center differential and another from the center differential to the rear differential. So all of the normal front wheel drive service is required as well as service to the center and rear differentials.

Four wheel drive can be thought of as a rear wheel drive vehicle that can also send power to the front axle. There’s a transfer case in the middle of the vehicle that can be shifted to send power through a drive shaft to a differential on the front axle. So you need differential service for the front and rear differentials and for the transfer case as well.

The bottom line is that the maintenance schedules are in your owner’s manual. Your Kalispell service advisor can answer any questions you’ve got. If this is the first time you’ve heard some of this stuff – it’s time to ask someone at Loren’s Auto Repair if any of it needs to be done now.

If you are ready to have your drive train looked at, give us a call:
Loren’s Auto Repair
1309 US Hwy 2 West
Kalispell, MT 59901
Call Us at 406-755-7757

What Is A Differential And Do You Have One?

With front-wheel drive being so common these days in Kalispell, MT, the differential is just taken care of during a transmission service, so most folks in Kalispell, MT don’t even have to think about it. And rear-wheel drive differentials don’t need to be serviced for years, so it’s understandable that it’s not something on the top of mind for our Kalispell customers. So it’s not uncommon for people to not know they have a differential let alone know that it needs service.

Call Loren’s Auto Repair at 406-755-7757 for information about differential service, or stop by our Kalispell, MT auto center at 1309 US Hwy 2 West 59901.

To better understand what a differential does, think about our local Kalispell high school track. There are lanes marked off on the track. For the longer distance races, the starting lines are staggered. The starting lines for the outside lanes are ahead of the starting lines for the inside lanes. That’s to compensate for the longer length of the outside lanes. Staggering the starting lines means that each runner has the same distance to run.

The differential compensates for the difference in speeds between the inside wheel and the outside wheel in a turn, because they have to travel together through slightly different distances.

It’s a very important function. When you think of it, all the power to get a vehicle moving goes through the differential. Most cars in the Kalispell, MT area weigh between three and six thousand pounds – trucks even more. The power from the engine goes through the transmission and then through the differential to the drive wheels.

That’s a lot of work and requires very heavy duty parts. And those parts need protection. The differential fluid lubricates the gears in the differential and keeps them cool.

The fluid eventually gets dirty and worn down. Some kinds of differentials require special additives that breakdown over time. So manufacturers recommend intervals for replacing your differential fluid.

Your Kalispell, MT technician at Loren’s Auto Repair will drain the used fluid and check it out for metal bits, which could be a sign of excessive wear on the gears. Then he’ll replace the fluid and install the additives if necessary.

Your Loren’s Auto Repair service advisor can look up the manufacturer’s recommended service interval or you can check your owner’s manual. Give us a call at 406-755-7757 for more information about your differential service.

Differential Service in Kalispell MT – What You Need To Know

Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know what a differential is – you will in a moment. That fact is that if you drive a car anywhere in Kalispell MT, you have a differential. Whether your vehicle is front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, you have a differential. You might even have two or three.

As you might guess from the name, a differential’s job is to compensate for differences. Specifically the differences in wheel speed when turning. For instance, imagine taking a corner near your Kalispell MT home. Your inside wheel has a shorter distance to travel than the outside wheel as you go around the corner. That means that your outside wheel has to turn faster to keep pace with the inside wheel.

The differential allows the wheels to turn at different speeds while still providing power. Without a differential, our tires would scrub and hop along the pavement during turns.

You’ve probably noticed the big bugle in the middle of the rear axle when you’re behind a truck. That’s the differential. Rear-wheel drive vehicles have a differential in back. Most four-wheel drive trucks and SUVs will also have a similar differential on the front axle. Front-wheel drive vehicles’ differential is called a transaxle because it combines the differential and transmission in one unit. An all-wheel drive vehicle will have a differential or transfer case that adjusts for speed differences between the front and rear drive wheels.

It can seem a little complicated. But you can see that all of the engine’s power is routed through your differentials. They’re strong enough to handle the work, but they need to be properly lubricated in order to stay strong. So from time to time, you need to have your differential serviced. The used fluid is drained and replaced with clean fluid. Some differentials also require special additives to be installed.

Get your differential serviced at our Kalispell MT service center:
Loren’s Auto Repair
1309 US Hwy 2 West
Kalispell, MT 59901
406-755-7757

The rule of thumb for the time and mileage interval for servicing your differential, can vary greatly by vehicle. A front-wheel drive vehicle’s transaxle will need servicing more frequently than the rear differential on a pick-up truck, so check with your Kalispell MT service advisor or your owner’s manual for recommendations.

How and where you drive will have an impact as well. If you drive on dirt roads or through streams around Kalispell MT, you’ll need to service the differential much sooner than if you always stay on the pavement.

Differential Service: When It’s Time… It’s Time

lorens auto repair Differential Service

Here at Loren’s Auto Repair, people routinely ask us about their differential service and the recommended maintenance intervals for it. Differential service covers a lot of things, so it’s important that we first discuss the purpose of your differential.

When you make a turn in your vehicle your outside wheels and inside wheels turn at different speeds. The wheels on the outside of the turn have a greater distance to travel than the wheels on the inside. The differential ensures that the outside wheels and inside drive wheels can rotate at slightly different speeds. This prevents the tires from hopping or skipping around corners, or from loosing traction in the dirt or snow. Differentials have gears that transfer the power from the drive train to your wheels, which is why they are also referred to as gearboxes. Your gears need to be properly protected so that they can do their job—and last as long as possible.

Your differential is slightly different based on the type of vehicle you are driving. For example, the differential for a front-wheel drive vehicle is called the transaxle and it is located in the front of the vehicle. For vehicles with rear-wheel drive, the differential is in the back of the car. If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, your differential is located in the front, in the back, and in the middle of the car. The center differential adjusts for differences in speed between the front and rear wheels.

Differential fluid lubricates and cools the gears. Over time, the fluid can get dirty from bits of the ground metal and debris, because the additives that keep the fluid clean and protect the differential break down over time. That is why we recommend having your differential fluid changed at certain maintenance intervals.

Your differential, along with the gears in a manual transmission, require regular service for optimal performance. Your Kalispell automotive service advisor can give you more information about when to schedule your next differential service. You can also ask if they have a record of when the service was last completed.

As with most service intervals, if you are driving under more severe conditions, you will want to service your differential more frequently. “Severe service” conditions are defined in most owners’ manuals as frequent starts and stops, short trips, sever weather conditions, and towing. All these conditions add to the stress of the vehicle and its parts. Off-roading in Montana can be especially hard on differentials. Proper service will extend the life of your gears and keep them running smoothly. If you have never had your differential checked, visit us at https://lorensauto.com/contact-us/ for more information.

 



See Yelp Reviews

Yelp Reviews

Or Call Us At:

Steve Waatti
Steve Waatti
17:44 05 Apr 18
Best Shop in town. Very clean and well organized. No extra BS charges or anything fishy. Full vehicle inspections with oil changes. Very knowledgeable crew. I bring all my personal and company vehicles to Loren's. Highly recommended.
Ricky Chevy
Ricky Chevy
21:04 15 Jan 18
Excellent service!! We are from Wisconsin and found Loren's on the web. They were able to fly in a new front axle and get us on the road in just 3 days at a very reasonable price. A quick follow up visit for adjustments allowed us to continue our vacation as planned. Absolutely recommend them. Mark was personable and knowledgeable, they offered a shuttle service and John was a great technician for our Xterra!!
Monica Taylor
Monica Taylor
21:37 08 Nov 17
Lorens never disappoints! They continually meet above my expectations. They met competitive rates, they have been upfront with charges and even gave me a loaner vehicle while doing their repairs. I will only ever use this shop. Mark at service desk is amazing and very knowledgeable!
Erika Myhre
Erika Myhre
14:03 29 Aug 17
I'm out here in West Glacier on vacation. During the trip, we hit a pothole and the exhaust started making a loud noise. We figured a hole had rusted open or something similar. We called Loren's Auto Repair to get it checked out, and they were awesome with recommendations. They let us explain the issue and then confirmed what we thought it was. They weren't able to get us in before we left, but they were kind enough to suggest a mechanic in town that possibly could squeeze us in. This conversation was a sign of trust and good business. The prices they quoted were fair and had excellent customer service. Thanks!
Hallie K
Hallie K
02:04 06 Jan 18
This was the best car repair shop I have ever done business with. For being a young woman, who honestly doesn’t know a ton about cars, they were very thorough in explaining things and I trusted that they weren’t trying to rip me off based off my lack of knowledge or me being a young girl. Too many times have mechanics/car maintenance men try and rip me off. Once someone tried to charge me $180 for an oil change! Ridiculous. But not with these guys. They were awesome. My car broke down at a horrible time when I was busy with work and about to go on vacation. I had my car towed there and didn’t have time to stop by. They inspected it very soon after that, and got ahold of me. Then I was out of town for a couple weeks and they let me keep my car there. Even when I got back they had put it in the shop the night before so all the snow would melt. They were very friendly and even have a complimentary shuttle service when needed. I wish I could give the names of all the people who helped! Chad was awesome and answered all my questions and my dads when he called from a state away haha! The young girl who picked me up from the shuttle was super nice and has good people skills. If I ever have car problems again they will definitely be who I go to. Thanks guys!
See All Reviews