Loren's Auto Repair Auto Tips and Videos: When to Replace a Damaged Tire

Repair or Replace? That’s a question Kalispell car owners ask when they have tire damage. Some punctures cannot be repaired because of their size or location. Punctures larger than a quarter of an inch are considered too large to be safely fixed. Punctures in the sidewall or near the shoulders may not be able to be repaired. And sometimes there is internal damage revealed on inspection that indicates the tire should not be repaired.

Run flat tires should not be repaired. Repairing high performance tires may make them unsuitable for motorsports. Your professional and courteous Loren's Auto Repair tech can survey your damaged tire and tell you if it can be safely fixed or if it should be replaced - and then help you get back on the road.

Give us a call

Loren's Auto Repair
406-755-7757
1309 US Hwy 2 West
Kalispell, MT 59901

Why is My Check Engine Light On?

 

The Check Engine Light strikes fear into the hearts of some Kalispell car owners and is totally ignored by just as many. Just what it means is a mystery to most of us Kalispell drivers.

Let’s get the urgency issues out of the way first. If your check engine light is flashing, that means that something is wrong that could cause critical engine damage. Naturally, you need to get that taken care of right away. If your check engine light is flashing, you shouldn’t drive at MT freeway speeds, tow or haul heavy loads. Take it easy all the way to your Kalispell service center.

Why is My Check Engine Light On?

If the light is glowing steadily, you should keep an eye on it for a day or two. If the light doesn’t go off, schedule an appointment with your professional and courteous Loren's Auto Repair technician to get it checked out.

Some more Kalispell information on how the Check Engine Light works may be informative for Kalispell drivers. Most of your engine functions are controlled by a computer, not surprisingly, called an engine control computer. The computer is able to adjust many engine parameters for environmental conditions, engine condition and even the way you drive.

In order to make these adjustments, the computer relies on a network of sensors to provide data. The computer knows the proper operating range for each sensor. When a sensor reading is out of range the computer runs some tests and may turn on the Subaru's Check Engine Light.

A simple example is a loose or missing gas cap. This may cause one of the sensors to read out of range. The computer doesn’t know if it’s a serious condition that caused the reading or just a loose gas cap, so it stores a trouble code and turns on the Check Engine Light.

Now when you tighten up the gas cap the sensor readings will be in the correct range. The computer will keep checking on the report for a day or two. Since a bad reading didn’t come up again, it turns off the Check Engine Light. The computer will also try to make adjustments to compensate for some readings. If it can do so, it’ll then turn off the Check Engine Light.

If the problem can’t be resolved then the light will remain on and you should get your Subaru looked at. Your professional and courteous Loren's Auto Repair tech will plug a scanner into the on-board diagnostic port and read the trouble code stored in the computer. The trouble code will give the technician a starting place as he diagnoses the cause of the problem.

Loren's Auto Repair Engine Air Filter Replacement

When your experienced Loren's Auto Repair service advisor technician changes your oil, he will also inspect your air filter. You shouldn’t need a new filter at every oil change, but you will need to change it regularly. Heed your service specialist’s auto advice if they tell you to change your filter. It’s not costly, and it makes a big difference to your Subaru.

An air filter does what its name implies: it filters stuff out of the air. Air is drawn into your engine through the filter because your engine needs air to burn fuel. If the filter weren’t there, a lot of dust and debris would come into the Subaru engine with the air. That dust and debris would get hot, burn, and produce all kinds of ash and gumminess that would eventually clog up your engine.

Drop in an air filter and voilá! Problem solved.

But air filters themselves get clogged up with all the junk they clean out of the Kalispell air. This doesn’t allow the junk into the Subaru engine, but it does block up the airflow. A blocked airflow will reduce engine efficiency.

An engine needs about 12,000 gallons of air to burn just one gallon of gasoline. Think of a runner. If he is breathing well, he can run well. But if he has a lung condition, he won’t be able to generate the oxygen necessary to keep his cells powered up. He won’t be able to run at peak efficiency.

Or consider a vacuum cleaner. Even without the light, you can tell when the vacuum bag is full because the machine just doesn’t clean anymore. Change the bag and its efficiency immediately improves.

So keep your Subaru breathing well by keeping its air filter clean. That’s good car care.

Kalispell auto owners who get a charge out of the feeling of power in their engine might consider upgrading their air filter. Talk to your professional and courteous Loren's Auto Repair technician. Premium air filters have been proven to increase horsepower and torque. So with the cost of a premium air filter, you can increase the horsepower in your engine — there’s no cheaper way to do that!

It’s also one of the least costly and simplest elements of important routine preventive maintenance – and protects against damage to expensive Subaru electronic systems. No Kalispell resident should have an excuse to drive around Kalispell roads and highways with a dirty air filter.

Auto Videos for Kalispell Drivers: Battery Testing

The simple fact is that 70% of car batteries fail within 4 years. They just need to be replaced when they are no longer able to hold a full charge.

Batteries are a big ticket item for most Kalispell car owners and it’s tempting to put off buying a new one as long as possible. But a battery that cannot hold a full charge requires the alternator to work extra hard, causing it to wear out prematurely.

Your Loren's Auto Repair technician can test your battery to see if it should be replaced. Testing is a good idea for MT car owners because a battery might still be good, but become dead because of a bad alternator or even a worn serpentine belt and tensioner.

Give us a call

Loren's Auto Repair
406-755-7757
1309 US Hwy 2 West
Kalispell, MT 59901

Technician Training at Loren's Auto Repair

Your car is important to you and keeping it running properly is vital to your Kalispell lifestyle. That's why you're smart to have it serviced regularly at Loren's Auto Repair in Kalispell. And even though it may just be routine maintenance, you want it done right by automotive professionals.

It's also very important to your Kalispell service center to keep you happy and on the road. You might be surprised at the amount of money our Kalispell auto service center spends annually to make sure our professional and courteous service advisors are properly trained.

  Loren's Auto Repair offers a variety of automotive services for many kinds of vehicles. We need to be current on the latest techniques and parts so that we can give you quality service. Our Kalispell centers subscribe to data services that list the high quality parts and fluids recommended by your manufacturer.

And each service has a checklist of standard procedures. Loren's Auto Repair technicians follow these procedures so they can safely deliver a consistent level of high-quality service.

Some services at Loren's Auto Repair require the use of specialized equipment. Loren's Auto Repair technicians are trained extensively on this equipment so that they can service your car quickly and efficiently.

Classroom, video and hands-on training is provided by the company and outside trainers. It's not only important that professional and courteous service advisors be able to perform a given task, they also need to be thoroughly trained in inspection and diagnostic techniques. One of the great services they perform is to detect potential problems before they become serious (and costly).

The automotive service industry has standards for classifying and communicating problems to car owners. For example, it's one thing to learn that your manufacturer recommends that you change your serpentine belt every 30,000 miles and another to learn that the belt is on the verge of failure. These standards help you understand the urgency of recommendations, letting you make better automotive service decisions.

MT folks may be interested to know that service technicians (including those at Loren's Auto Repair) are trained in compliance with federal and local Kalispell laws and regulations, including environmental regulations regarding the disposal of used parts and fluids.

It's the goal of Loren's Auto Repair to provide fast, courteous service. You should feel free to ask your professional and courteousservice specialist or one of the managers about your service or for more information about their recommendations.

At Loren's Auto Repair, well-trained service providers, established procedures, industry standards, and, of course, AutoNetTV, combine to give you the best auto service in Kalispell.

Go Big or Go Home: Upsize Your Wheels at Loren's Auto Repair

A lot of us Kalispell auto owners like our vehicles to reflect our personalities. We’re picky about color and body style. We’ll customize anything from floor mats to window tints to license plates. One popular way for MT auto owners to customize a vehicle is to get new wheels.

Wheels come in thousands of designs. Custom wheels can add personality, style or sass to a vehicle. Many of these customizations involve getting a bigger wheel.

Fifteen or sixteen-inch wheels used to be the factory standard, But today, because a lot of Kalispell car owners like the look of larger wheels, many vehicles are available with seventeen or eighteen-inch wheels. Optional wheel packages of twenty inches or more are also available in Kalispell.

If you want to upsize the wheels on your current vehicle, however, you should know it’s not a do-it-yourself project. There are essential factors involved in ensuring your wheel change doesn’t jeopardize the safety of your vehicle.

First of all, it’s vital for MT auto owners to understand rolling diameter. The rolling diameter is the overall height of a tire. If you increase the rolling diameter of your tires when you upsize your wheels, you may have to modify your suspension to make sure the larger tires fit in the space and don’t rub in turns or over bumps. If that’s more work than you’re willing to do or pay for, then you need to maintain rolling diameter when you change your wheels.

It’s not as hard for Kalispell motorists as it sounds. Imagine a doughnut. That doughnut represents rolling diameter, so you can’t make the doughnut bigger. However, you can increase the size of the doughnut hole. That gives you a bigger wheel. Tires with reduced sidewall on larger wheels will preserve your rolling diameter.

Rolling diameter is vital because your wheels and tires still need to fit inside the wheel well. Also, your speedometer, odometer and anti-lock brakes are all programmed to work with a specific rolling diameter. You’ll throw off the readings on your speedometer and odometer if you change your rolling diameter. And for your anti-lock brakes to work properly, your rolling diameter has to be within 3% of factory recommendations. While some Kalispell car owners who upsize may not be concerned about meter readings, throwing off the brake system is a serious safety hazard.

Further, many vehicles in Kalispell are now equipped with electronically controlled suspensions. Changing the rolling diameter will negatively affect this system as well, which can lead to a less smooth ride and lower handling performance as well as dangerous safety concerns.

Your professional and courteous Loren's Auto Repair tire professional may be able to reprogram your vehicle’s computer to adjust for a larger (or smaller) rolling diameter.

So to maintain rolling diameter, you’ll need tires with a shorter sidewall. These tires will be designed to give the sidewalls the strength they need to maintain ride quality. Consider that doughnut again. As the wheel (the doughnut hole) gets bigger, the sidewall of the tire (the width of remaining doughnut) gets shorter. That means the tire holds less air. The sidewalls have to be made stiffer to compensate for the decreased air capacity.

To improve their strength, the shorter tires will also be slightly wider than your previous tires. But this means you’ll have a larger contact patch, or, in other words, a larger area of tire making contact with the road. This can actually increase your handling performance and decrease braking distances. Many MT auto buffs customize their wheels just for this reason—they want the improved performance rather than looks or style. If you drive a truck or an SUV around Kalispell, you might be interested in the extra control an upsized wheel can provide.

Now, that larger contact patch still has to fit inside your wheel well without rubbing when cornering or when bouncing over bumps or potholes on Kalispell roads. This is termed fitment, and you may need a few vital adjustments so your new wheels will fit properly. You may need spacers so that your brakes will fit inside the new wheels, as well.

Loren's Auto Repair tire professionals are experts at mounting, adjusting and customizing wheels. They can give you a lot of good auto advice about wheels and tires and how they affect driving performance and car care. They can help Kalispell motorists select wheels and tires that will suit their driving needs and habits.

For example, if you drive off-road around Kalispell, you should consider a higher profile tire. This type of tire will protect your rims from pricey damage while you’re bouncing over rocks. Or, if you tow a trailer or haul heavy loads around MT, you’ll want a tire with a load rating equal to your demands. Your professional and courteous Loren's Auto Repair tire professional can help you with these types of concerns.

Once you’ve got your new wheels, have your professional and courteous Loren's Auto Repair service professional inspect to see if you need an alignment. You don’t want those new wheels and your higher performance compromised by poor alignment. Get the most out of your investment by getting the work done right at Loren's Auto Repair in Kalispell.

Last but not least, remember tire pressure. With larger wheels, your new tires will hold less air and they’ll need slightly higher pressure. You’ll need to stay on top of vital preventive maintenance and keep them properly inflated. Be sure to survey their pressure at least once a week. If you don’t keep your tires at their correct pressure, they will wear out really fast. It will also cut down your braking and handling performance.

So smile and show off your vehicle around Kalispell. Make it all yours. Bumper stickers, vanity license plates, custom wheels — strut your stuff!

Smart Kalispell Drivers Protect Against Overheating

Engines get hot when they run. This heat can build up and damage vital engine parts, so engines need a cooling system to keep them running. Cooling system failure is the most common mechanical failure in vehicles. This is unfortunate, because these failures are usually easy for Kalispell auto owners to prevent.

The radiator is the best-known and most recognizable part of the cooling system. Hoses filled with coolant (also known as antifreeze) connect the radiator to the engine. The coolant draws heat from the engine, and then flows to the radiator. Air passing through cooling fins on the radiator cools the coolant. The coolant then cycles back into the engine to start the process over again.

The most critical component of the cooling system, however, is the coolant itself. A mixture of water and coolant/antifreeze helps keep it both from freezing and from boiling away. Either can result in serious engine damage.

Different engines require different types of coolant/antifreeze. The owner’s manual will list what kind a vehicle requires. Using the wrong type or mixing different types of may void the warranty on the cooling system and may damage it as well.

Insufficient coolant can lead to engine failure. Coolant levels need to be checked regularly and topped off as necessary. If coolant levels drop quickly or consistently, the cooling system should be inspected for leaks. Coolant/antifreeze contains additives that protect the radiator and other coolant components from rust, scale and corrosion. Over time, these additives are depleted, so it is necessary for Kalispell drivers to replace coolant at specified intervals. Changing coolant should be part of routine preventive maintenance for any vehicle.

This service is often ignored, though, since old coolant still cools the engine. Vehicle owners don’t realize there is a problem until the system fails. They are left with major repairs and possibly a damaged engine, which could have been prevented with a cooling system service at Loren's Auto Repair in Kalispell.

If your Subaru sends a warning message to check its coolant or if the temperature gauge is reading in the red or hot zone, then the cooling system needs an automotive analysis. This service is critical and should not be put off since the potential for damage is high.

In an emergency situation, water or antifreeze can be added to your Subaru so that it can be driven to a service center for proper car care. For this reason, owner’s manual contains instructions for how to top off insufficient coolant – allow 45 minutes for the engine to cool before attempting to add coolant or water. However, the fluid should be added to the coolant overflow bottle, not to the radiator itself. Removing the radiator pressure cap can result in severe burns.

Topping off in an emergency, however, does not fix the problem. The vehicle should immediately be taken to your Kalispell service center or Loren's Auto Repair where they can inspect the cooling system, repair any leaks, and clean it if necessary. They can identify what caused the emergency situation in the first place and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Regular maintenance of a vehicle’s cooling system is just good auto advice for Kalispell drivers. Cooling system service is relatively inexpensive and doesn’t take long at Loren's Auto Repair. Lack of it, however, can put a vehicle in the scrap heap.

Talk to your Loren's Auto Repair service professional for more information.

Wipe Out! New Wiper Blades For Kalispell Drivers

When Kalispell car owners talk about vehicle safety, they think of tires and brakes. But do we think about our windshields? Isn’t the ability to see a prime safety factor when it comes to driving around MT? Yet we often don’t even notice our windshields until we can’t see through them, or until our wiper blades fail.

It’s estimated that around 46 million people are driving with wipers that won’t keep their windshields clear during a storm — that’s 46 million people with impaired vision during a storm. For safety’s sake, Kalispell auto owners need to change the way they think about wiper blades. Most of us, 78% in fact, only change our wiper blades after they fail. In other words, we don’t get new ones until the old ones become a dangerous safety hazard. Instead, we Kalispell auto owners need to make wiper blades an important part of our preventive maintenance routine.

Wiper blades should be changed twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. In MT areas that experience harsh winter weather, special blades are available that prevent ice and snow from collecting on the wiper. Ask your professional and courteous Loren's Auto Repair service professional about wiper blades that repel ice and snow.

No matter what blades you use on your vehicle in the winter, don’t expect them to clear the ice and snow from your windshield after your vehicle has been parked for a while. Using your wipers will shred your blades and may even damage your wiper motor. And don’t drive on Kalispell roads with a frosted windshield. That’s a serious safety hazard. It can cause accidents, and you could be held liable.

Wiper blades are subjected to harsh conditions in Kalispell. They’re out in the Kalispell sun and in the cold. Over time, they become hard and brittle and lose their flexibility. Then they start to tear. Without flexibility, wipers just can’t clear a windshield of water or snow. And torn wipers can actually scratch your windshield. Then the entire windshield has to be replaced — along with the wiper blades. It’s a prime example of how preventive maintenance could have saved you an expensive repair bill.

Kalispell car owners can purchase new wiper blades at an auto service center or at any Kalispell auto parts store. They cost about the same. But the auto service center will throw in the installation.

Once you have good wipers installed, don’t forget to top off your windshield washer fluid. If you take your vehicle in for a full-service oil change at Loren's Auto Repair in Kalispell, your washer fluid will get topped off then. But it’s good auto advice to purchase a jug of washer fluid to keep at home — just in case. And pack it in the car when you go on long trips.

While we’re on the subject, Loren's Auto Repair advises Kalispell motorists to always fill their washer fluid reservoir with window washer fluid. Don’t ever use water. Water can freeze in the reservoir, which can damage it. It can also freeze onto your windshield. Besides, plain water just can’t get a windshield clean. Think about it. Do you use plain water to clean your bathroom mirrors? And a bathroom mirror doesn’t get exposed to anything near the gunk that can end up on your windshield. Windshield washer fluid was designed to do one thing — to clean windshields. Let it do its essential job.

A clean windshield is not just good car care for Kalispell car owners — it’s an important safety feature. Let’s keep it that way.

Straight And True In Kalispell: Wheel Alignment

Most Kalispell folks worry about running out of gas or having a breakdown on the side of the road. That is why we practice preventive maintenance on our vehicles — that and to keep our repair bills down. But one important part of preventive maintenance that may get overlooked by Kalispell car owners is a periodic alignment inspection.

Poor alignment causes tires to wear rapidly, unevenly or both. This means they will have to be replaced early, and new tires are more expensive than an alignment check in Kalispell. Bad alignment can also cause damage to suspension and steering systems, which can be expensive to repair in Kalispell.

Tire wear on misaligned wheels can also lead to blowouts, which are dangerous, can lead to serious accidents, and can seriously damage your Subaru. Also, poor alignment itself can be the cause of an accident, since the Subaru may not steer properly.

One or more wheels on your Subaru can be knocked out of alignment by running over a curb or a pothole on a bumpy Kalispell street. An accident, even a minor one, that involves a wheel on your car can lead to misalignment. The small bumps and bangs of everyday Big Fork driving can also gradually put your wheels out of alignment.

If you have had wheel damage to your Subaru, or if you suspect that your wheels are out of alignment, you should get your alignment checked NOW. Any Loren's Auto Repair service specialist will give you that piece of auto advice. But good car care suggests that you also get your alignment inspected on a regular basis. At Loren's Auto Repair in Kalispell, we can take care of that for you.

Your owner’s manual or Loren's Auto Repair technician can give you a suggestion on how often your alignment should be checked. If it doesn’t, then once a year is a good rule of thumb. However, if you drive a lot and especially if you drive on rough surfaces a lot, then you may want to consider an inspection more often. Ask your professional and courteous technician for a recommendation.

If your Subaru is out of alignment, one or more of the wheels is not tracking correctly and will “pull” against the others. Thus, one sign of poor alignment is that your Subaru pulls to one side when you drive around Kalispell. Also, if you are driving a straight path and your steering wheel is off-center, that usually indicates an alignment problem.

Kalispell motorists should also check the wear on their tires. If they seem to be wearing out too quickly, or if you notice that a tire is wearing on one side more than the other, you should get your alignment checked.

When you get an automotive analysis, your vehicle will be put on a rack and all the parts of the steering and suspension systems will be inspected for wear or damage. The alignment of the tires will be charted and compared to the original factory settings. If no repairs are needed on the steering or suspension systems, the wheels will then be adjusted to bring them back into alignment.

This may seem like a lot of bother for Columbia Falls auto owners, but it’s a lot less trouble than a blowout or an accident. The old adage is good auto advice for all Kalispell residents: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

So keep on driving, and keep all four tires on the road.

What's Up With Diesels in Kalispell?

Would you be surprised to learn that about half of the passenger cars in Europe have diesel engines? You might also be surprised to learn that most auto manufacturers produce a variety of diesel-fueled cars for purchase abroad.

Diesel-fueled vehicles haven’t been as popular in the North American markets like MT. But that won’t be true for long. North Americans are seeing a lot more diesel-fueled vehicles on the road. And we’re not talking about buses and trucks. These vehicles will be passenger cars, pick-ups and SUV’s.

There are two reasons for this. The first is a recent change in environmental laws that have upgraded emissions standards for diesel fuel in North America. Diesel fuel in North America used to have higher sulfur content than European fuel, meaning that it was a dirtier fuel to burn. That was okay for larger vehicles, but the lighter-weight engines in passenger vehicles just couldn’t tolerate it.

But that high sulfur content is now a thing of the past. Fuel producers are now required to sell cleaner diesel fuel in Kalispell. That opens the North American market to more diesel-powered vehicles. The second reason we’re going to see more of these vehicles in Kalispell is that they’re more fuel-efficient than their gasoline-powered counterparts. Diesel fuel has higher energy density than gasoline. That translates to more power per barrel of fuel. In your tank, that translates to better engine performance and about 20% more miles per gallon.

Kalispell car owners may associate diesel engines with black smoke, noise and a definite “shake, rattle and roll.” That’s also a thing of the past. Modern diesel engines are smooth and quiet and produce cleaner emissions than gasoline engines. Also, forget that three-second wait behind a diesel vehicle at a stoplight. Modern diesels are just as quick to accelerate as other vehicles on Kalispell roads.

Diesel engines have other advantages over gasoline engines. Diesel engines are heavier than gasoline engines because they require more heavy-duty parts, but that means the engines are more durable and can last longer than gasoline engines. Also, diesel engines may be the engines of the future since they can burn many of the new bio-fuels.

Bio-diesel can be manufactured from vegetable oils, including used cooking oil from Kalispell restaurants. Just think, one day you could fuel your vehicle on stuff that was once considered waste—one step closer to a cleaner environment here in MT. And if you think hybrid cars are environmentally sound, consider what a diesel-electric hybrid could mean. They will soon be available for
Kalispell motorists.

Kalispell auto owners who are considering buying a diesel-fueled vehicle, should know that essential preventive maintenance and inspection schedules are different for a diesel engine than a gasoline engine. Diesel fuel is harder on emissions systems than gasoline, so the filters and other devices have to be changed and checked more often. Also, the fuel injection system operates at much higher pressures for diesel than for gasoline, so keeping it clean becomes a higher priority.

When you switch from a gas vehicle to a diesel, you’ll have to learn some new rules of car care. But you won’t be alone. Most
Kalispell service centers are aware that diesels are coming to North America and are already prepared to provide service for diesel engines. At Loren's Auto Repair, we are well-versed in diesel technology. You can rely on our team of automotive professionals to provide quality service for diesel powered vehicles.