Stop It! You Need Good Brakes!

Brake Repair in Kalispell, MT.

Most drivers are not prepared to react properly if their brakes fail. If you have ever been through the terrifying experience of having your brakes go out, you know that good brakes are one of the most important parts on any vehicle, especially in the Kalispell area. The best thing you can do for your car is to keep the brakes well maintained. Today, we will discuss warning signs that your car brakes are going bad, making good brake repair choices, and knowing when it is time to bring your car into the shop for a brake job.

Listen for noises associated with worn or bad brakes. The first indication that something is wrong with the brakes is an annoying and unusual sound. An obnoxious high-pitched squeaking sound, grinding noises, or scraping sound are all pretty clear indications that something is wrong.

A high-pitched squeaking or chirping sound is an early warning indicator that your brakes need repair. Most cars are equipped with a little piece of metal or device embedded in the brake pads, which causes that squeaking sound when it touches the rotor. The idea behind this is to allow you time to make an appointment for a brake repair. Once you hear that sound, schedule an appointment at Loren's Auto Repair as soon as possible.

If you hear a chattering or chirping sound, it can indicate that something is loose. This is a little more urgent. It could mean that your brake pad or even your brake calipers are loose, and if one of those parts falls off, you will have a very difficult time stopping your vehicle. If you are experiencing this sound, it is a good idea to park the vehicle until you can get it to the auto repair shop.

Grinding or scraping sounds normally indicate that your brake pad is completely worn down, and that the metal part of your brake is rubbing against the metal brake rotor, which can cause significant damage if left untreated.

Another warning sign that indicates that you may need a brake job is when your brake pedal is difficult to press. If your brake pedal begins to feel soft and spongy or hard to push in, it is time to get your brakes checked. And of course, if you notice a dashboard brake warning light, a quick brake inspection will easily determine the cause. Worn brake pads or warped rotors can cause vibrations to occur when braking. It is never safe to ignore braking vibrations. Failures in the anti-skid braking mechanism can also create shudders.

Replacing your brake pads is a recommended part of your maintenance routine. When replacing your brake pads, you do have several options to choose from. You can purchase standard brake pads, budget brake pads, or premium brake pads.

If you opt to get the same pads that came standard with your vehicle, you can expect the same performance and durability as with the factory pads that came on the car. You can also opt for inexpensive brake pads, or a budge brake pad, if your budget demands it.

As with most low-end items, you should be aware of the trade-offs that come with lower budget brake pads. Lower grade pads are often noisier than standard or premium brake pads, and they also tend to generate more of the black brake dust that accumulates on your wheels. Budget brake pads do not last as long as standard or premium brake pads. This means that you will have to spend the money to replace them sooner. The few dollars you save when buying budget brake pads is usually not worth the compromise.

The more expensive option when choosing which type of brake pad to purchase for your vehicle is premium brake pads. With premium brake pads, you can expect quieter operation, less brake dust, and better stopping power. They perform at much higher specifications than budget or factory brake pads.

If you drive around with worn or bad brake pads, you can do significant damage to your car’s rotors. To stop your vehicle, the brake pads clamp down on discs—or rotors. If you find that your rotor is scratched, you will need to bring your car into the auto repair shop to have it resurfaced or replaced.

Resurfacing a rotor is when a thin layer of metal is shaved off the surface to make it smooth. But if the grooves are too deep or if you have already had your rotor resurfaced in the past, there will not be enough material to resurface them again. In that case, the rotor will have to be replaced.

To keep your brakes performing safely and effectively, it is important to have the brake fluid changed. Changing the brake fluid is often overlooked, but scheduling to have the system cleaned and refilled with fresh brake fluid will help to ensure your brakes are working properly for optimal performance.

It’s always a good idea to remember that if you suspect, inspect. Have your brakes inspected if you notice any of these warning signs; an adviser will help you to make the best repair decision for you and your vehicle. 

Air Conditioning Maintenance In Whitefish

Warm weather or cold, Whitefish drivers still need to think about their car's air conditioning. Most Whitefish people don’t service their air conditioning until after it fails. At Loren's Auto Repair, we can advise you on your vehicle manufacturer's preventive maintenance schedules for air conditioning service, just as we do for transmission service, oil changes and so on.

air conditioningMaintaining your air conditioning system means that you always have enough refrigerant to properly do the job. Small leaks in the air conditioning system allow the refrigerant to escape and the system can’t cool the air as well. We see that a lot at Loren's Auto Repair in Whitefish.

The refrigerant also contains a special oil that lubricates air conditioning components, and keeps the seals resilient. Low refrigerant and lubricating oil means that the air conditioning parts will wear out prematurely, and all Whitefish car owners know that air conditioning repairs can be costly. At Loren's Auto Repair, we recommended that the air conditioner be run regularly, even during winter months, to keep the parts and seals lubricated.

Corrosion is what leads to many air conditioning system failures for Whitefish motorists. The small leaks mentioned earlier also mean that air and water can leak into the air conditioning system. This can lead to rust and dirt in the internal workings of the air conditioning components. This greatly accelerates wear and, ultimately, failure.

Air conditioning service at Loren's Auto Repair starts with a visual inspection of the components for signs of damage or leaks. The compressor is driven by a belt from the engine, most often the serpentine belt, so it’s inspected for cracks or wear. The air conditioning compressor and other components are checked for proper operation. Then comes the leak test. If a leak is detected, often in a hose or connection, it’s repaired and the system is retested.

Then the old refrigerant is evacuated and the system is recharged with clean, fresh refrigerant. A final test insures that the car's air conditioner is working, and you’re on your way.

How often this should be done varies from vehicle to vehicle. Your owner’s manual will have the manufacturer’s recommendation and, of course, your Loren's Auto Repair service advisor can tell you. It’s typically every two years.

If you’re not getting enough cool air you know something’s wrong. Also, if you hear strange sounds when you turn the air on, there might be a problem with the compressor and you should get it checked out at Loren's Auto Repair. Replacing a bad A/C clutch  is cheaper than waiting for it to ruin the compressor.

Whitefish drivers need to be aware that there’s one more thing that isn’t directly related to air conditioning service, but does impact the quality of the air in your vehicle. And that’s your cabin air filter. This filter cleans dust, pollen, pollution and other impurities in the air that comes from the heater and air conditioner. The cabin air filter needs to be replaced when it’s dirty. If you don’t it’ll start to smell. Not all vehicles have one, so ask your Loren's Auto Repair service advisor to check your cabin air filter at the same time they’re doing your air conditioning service.

Air Conditioning Maintenance in Whitefish

Signs of An Alignment Problem

Signs of An Alignment Problem

When properly aligned, all of your wheels are pointed in the same direction. Your vehicle will track true and handle the way it is designed. Kalispell drivers often associate our wheels being “knocked” out of alignment with an event like an accident, hitting a pothole, curb or some other object.

While these can certainly take your wheels out of alignment, the bumps and bounces of everyday Kalispell driving take their toll on wheel alignment as well.

Moreover, your car  can lose alignment over time with just normal driving. When your wheels are out of alignment, Loren's Auto Repair in Kalispell can return your wheels to the vehicle manufacturer factory settings. Most owners’ manuals suggest an alignment check every year or two.

Loren's Auto Repair
1309 US Hwy 2 West
Kalispell, MT 59901

Can Your Car Last Another Year?

Have you checked out the price of new vehicles at Kalispell car dealers? Ouch! Add financing and insurance and - well a new ride may not seem so attractive. A lot of Kalispell, MT folks are hoping to make their cars last a lot longer.

Fortunately, with the current state of automotive engineering and manufacturing, there’s no reason a modern vehicle can’t be made to last for a 150,000 miles or more for smart Kalispell drivers.

The old adage: 'a stitch in time saves nine' is really true for Kalispell motorists when it comes to car maintenance. A great example is coolant service.

Over time, coolant becomes corrosive and actually starts to damage your radiator and other parts. Smart Kalispell car owners have their cooling system service taken care of right on schedule.

Ditto for your power steering system, brake fluid, air conditioning system, differential and transmission. Of course, oil changes should be done right on schedule to avoid the build-up of harmful oil sludge.

Don't let your brake pads go too long before they are worn to the point that your rotors are at risk. Preventative auto maintenance at Loren's Auto Repair is a great way to keep your operating costs down in Kalispell.

Replacing belts and hoses is much cheaper than repairing the costly damage that can be caused by failure.

We know that this is a lot for busy Kalispell area drivers to remember. Let the team of automotive professionals at Loren's Auto Repair keep on top of this stuff for you. We can tell you what your auto maker recommends and help you develop an affordable plan to take care of it.

Bottom line – do routine maintenance on schedule and you will reduce operating costs, prevent expensive repairs and maintain your warranty coverage. Call Loren's Auto Repair today for an appointment; you can reach us at 406-755-7757.

Let us take good care of your car at Loren's Auto Repair in Kalispell, and it’ll take good care of you.

Loren's Auto Repair
Give us a call today at 406-755-7757.
Or stop by at 1309 US Hwy 2 West, Kalispell, MT 59901

The Loren's Auto Repair Guide to Saving Fuel: Car Weight

The team at Loren's Auto Repair in Kalispell and MT car owners are all talking gas mileage right now. Better gas mileage. Fewer emissions. Kalispell car owners want to save the environment and their pocketbooks.

And we all know—or should know—that preventive maintenance will help maximize fuel efficiency. But is there something more Kalispell car owners can do? After all, some of us Kalispell folks can’t cut back on our driving, and others would like to do more to economize.

Weight is one major enemy of fuel economy. The more you lug around in your vehicle, the more fuel you have to burn to get from Kalispell to Whitefish. And that means buying more gas in Kalispell and producing more emissions.

Of course, your Subaru’s weight isn’t negotiable. And you can’t do much about the weight of your passengers. And this isn’t an article about diet and exercise.

But look around your Subaru. Are you hauling a bunch of unnecessary weight around MT? Do you really need your golf clubs every time you leave your Kalispell home? Store sports equipment in the garage. Load it when you need it and store it when you don’t. Who knows? The extra exercise just might reduce the other type of weight in your vehicle.

The same goes for anything else in your car: make-up kits, music collections, extra electronics, spare clothing; whatever your particular extras may be. Pack it when you need it; store it when you don’t.

Clean out your Kalispell. You’d be surprised how much weight you’re lugging around Kalispell in plain old junk. Toss old papers, leftover food, and regular old dirt. Even if it’s not a lot of weight, you’ll feel better when you get into your car. A good cleaning is also part of good car care.

Now, don’t toss stuff you really do need. You do need that spare tire—the one in your trunk. And a kit of emergency essentials is not a bad idea. But just carry around the day-to-day essentials. You can pack a more extensive kit and store it in your garage, then toss it in your Kalispell when you go on a longer trip, but you don’t have to lug it around all the time. After all, are you a driver? Or are you a junk chauffeur?

Lose the junk and save some money in Kalispell

Loren's Auto Repair Auto Maintenance Videos: Timing Belt Overview

In your engine, valves over each combustion chamber open to allow fresh air in, close during the combustion event, and then other valves open to let out the exhaust. All of this happens over and over thousands of times a minute. The timing belt’s critical job is to make sure that all of this happens as it should – at precisely the right time. If the timing is off, your engine won’t run efficiently or maybe not at all – so a good timing belt is essential. If it should break, you could have pricey engine damage.

Ask your professional and courteous Loren's Auto Repair tech when your timing belt is scheduled for replacement.

Give us a call

Loren's Auto Repair
1309 US Hwy 2 West
Kalispell, MT 59901

Considering an Alternative Fuel Vehicle In Kalispell?

There is a clear and vocal demand in Kalispell and nationally for a reduction in air pollution and our dependence on fossil fuels. This is what is driving the MT market for alternative fuel vehicles. There are a number of these vehicles on Kalispell area roads today, and many more being developed. Yet each of these vehicles has its own advantages and disadvantages. Kalispell auto owners should learn what these advantages and disadvantages are before running out and purchasing one of these alternative fuel vehicles at your nearest Kalispell dealership.

Kalispell motorists should carefully research the car care before buying an alternative vehicle, as it may or may not coincide with the standards for gasoline vehicles. You should look at costs and fuel economy as well: these vehicles may help save our environment here in Kalispell, but that might not represent a savings to your wallet. You’ll need to decide what you can afford, and what will work for your lifestyle. Also, your choice of vehicle may be affected by what fuels are available in your Kalispell area. Switching to an alternative fuel vehicle is not a bad decision, but it should be a carefully considered one.

Flex Fuel Vehicles
Flex fuel vehicles can run on gasoline or on a combination of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Because of the 85% ethanol content, this fuel is commonly called E85 in MT.

Ethanol is made from corn. So flex fuel vehicles lessen our dependency on fossil fuels. But they also raise the price of corn, which is a basic foodstuff in some areas of the world. Whether replacing fossil fuels with corn is a good idea is hotly contested right now.

Flex fuel vehicles do have lower harmful exhaust emissions than gasoline-powered vehicles. And in Kalispell, E85 is usually lower in cost than regular gasoline. When gasoline prices fall in MT, however, they can drop below the price of E85. This is to Kalispell drivers’ advantage, since the vehicle can run on either fuel, but it negates the benefits of lowered exhaust emissions and lower consumption of fossil fuels.

One piece of Loren's Auto Repair auto advice before we move on: do not put E85 into your Subaru unless it has an engine designed for flex fuels. Because of the high ethanol content in E85, engines need special seals and gaskets to function properly on this fuel. Running an ordinary engine with E85 can lead to gas leaks and fires.

Diesel engines are nothing new on MT expressways, and many get great fuel economy. Diesel fuel can now be made from vegetable oil and other renewable sources. A diesel fuel made from algae will soon be on the market in Kalispell.

Natural Gas

Natural gas is less expensive than gasoline in Kalispell and burns more cleanly. Also, gasoline engines can be adapted to run on compressed natural gas, and many natural gas vehicles are already on Big Fork roads. You can even install a special pump in your home gas line to use to fuel your vehicle. If you are interested in converting your gasoline engine to run on CNG in Kalispell, ask your Loren's Auto Repair service professional about it.

On the other hand, an engine running on natural gas is not as powerful as one running on gasoline, and it will get lower fuel efficiency. Also, the tank you need to store natural gas is large—it takes up nearly the entire trunk of your car. Further, refueling stations are still few and far between in some MT areas, or even unavailable, in many parts of the country.

Another alternative fuel that has enjoyed a lot of hype in Kalispell is the hydrogen cell. The natural appeal is that the only exhaust is water vapor. In other words, hydrogen represents a truly clean-burning fuel. But hydrogen vehicles won’t come into widespread use until refueling stations become widely available here in Kalispell and around the country.

Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicles were all the rage in MT some years ago. But their limitations were quickly realized by Kalispell auto owners. These vehicles won’t come into their own until we find ways to improve their batteries. Currently, the cars have a short range before their power runs out, and can only be realistically used close to home. However, they are easy to recharge, since they can be plugged in at home, and there are many researchers working on improving the battery technology in these vehicles. They may yet be the vehicles of the future.

Hybrids have been one of the most successful alternative fuel vehicles here in Kalispell and throughout the county. A hybrid gets its name because it has both a gas or diesel engine and an electric motor.

There are two types of hybrids. The full-hybrid relies on the electric motor for power, but the gas (or diesel) engine generates power for the battery. Thus, while still consuming fossil fuels, it uses less of them than a standard automobile, and also reduces harmful pollutants. Also, it overcomes the range problem of the strictly electric vehicle.

In a mild hybrid, the electric motor assists the gas or diesel engine in powering the car. Thus, it uses more gasoline or diesel than full hybrids and has higher emissions. But mild hybrids are available in larger body models like full-size pickups and SUV’s.

A Note of Caution about Hybrid and Electric Vehicles
One last note before we leave the subject of alternative fuel vehicles. The battery in an electric or hybrid vehicle is not as tame as the one in a standard vehicle. They carry enough voltage to kill you. These are not do-it-yourself vehicles when it comes to preventive maintenance or car care. Only a trained technician should work under their hoods.

Loren's Auto Repair Auto Tips and Car Care: Alignment Inspection

Uneven tire wear, the car pulling to one side or a steering wheel that is off-center are signs for Kalispell auto owners that their wheels may be out of alignment.

When doing an alignment inspection, the technician will inspect your tires for uneven wear as well as suspension and steering parts for signs of wear or damage. He’ll also compare your current alignment with the auto maker's settings.

Your vehicle owner’s manual will have a recommendation for when to check alignment. Of course, this recommendation is based on normal driving. If you have been in collision, hit a curb/pothole, frequently drive off-road around Kalispell, or notice any symptoms of misalignment, have your Loren's Auto Repair service professional carry out an essential alignment check.

Give us a call

Loren's Auto Repair
1309 US Hwy 2 West
Kalispell, MT 59901

Odometer Rollback On Your Kalispell MT Auto

How do Kalispell auto owners know if an odometer is telling the truth?

Well, back in '86, Congress passed the Truth-in-Mileage Act to protect MT consumers against mileage fraud. It says a MT seller must certify the mileage reported is the Actual Mileage.

To have your odometer checked in Kalispell MT, stop by Loren's Auto Repair:

Loren's Auto Repair
Kalispell, MT 59901 406-755-7757

If it isn't, the seller must say why; like maybe the odometer is past its mechanical limits. Some older odometers only go to 99,999 miles and then start over at 0. Or, the odometer has been tampered with, broken or replaced.

If the seller tells you the mileage isn’t accurate, there’s not much chance of putting a good number to it; And there’s the unscrupulous seller who claims the reading is true, but it’s not so. What can Kalispell motorists do?

First, you can go to, where for a small fee, they’ll give you a comprehensive vehicle history search on your Subaru, showing local Kalispell, MT ownership history, accident reports, total-loss events, manufacturer buybacks, Lemon reports and warranty status.

Kalispell motorists can get a mileage history by checking with the local MT DMV (or wherever you happen to be) and other verified sources looking for inconsistencies in the mileage reported when the car’s bought and sold. If there are signs odometer rollback, now you’ll now.

If so, proceed with caution. Or, negotiate a lower price. Or just walk away. There’s always another.

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.