Big Fork Drivers: Is It Time To Replace Your PCV Valve?

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Improved fuel economy has two benefits for Kalispell motorists: less fuel is necessary and fewer emissions are released. Big Fork cars and trucks run cleaner than ever. Kalispell motorists may not realize that the first federally mandated pollution control device came out almost fifty years ago.

MT car owners that were around in the early 60's may remember that the PCV Valve came out on 1964 model cars. PCV stand for Positive Crankcase Ventilation. Big Fork Drivers: Is It Time To Replace Your PCV Valve?The crankcase is the lower part of the engine where the crankshaft is housed and where the engine oil lives. The crankshaft is connected to the pistons that power the engine.

When fuel is burned in the Subaru engine, it pushes the pistons down and the crankshaft rotates and sends power to the transmission. Some of the explosive gases from combustion squeeze past the pistons and down into the crankcase.

Now this gas is about 70% unburned fuel. If it were allowed to remain in the crankcase, it would contaminate the oil and quickly turn it to dangerous sludge. Sludge is like Vaseline and clogs passages in the engine leading to damage.

Also, the pressure build up would blow out seals and gaskets. So in the old days, there was just a hose that vented the crankcase out into the air. Obviously, not good for our air quality in Kalispell.

Enter the PCV valve. It’s a small, one-way valve that lets out the 
harmful gases from the crankcase, and routes them back into the air intake system where they are re-burned in the engine. Fresh air comes into the crankcase through a breather tube. This makes for good circulation in the crankcase. And that gets the harmful air out. As you can imagine, however, the valve gets gummed up over time.

Big Fork drivers that skip oil changes now and then will notice that the PCV valve gets gummed up even faster. If the PCV valve is sticking in your Subaru, the gases won’t circulate as well, leading to increased pressure in the crankcase. That, in turn, can lead to oil leaks. Fortunately, the PCV valve is very inexpensive to replace at Loren's Auto Repair in Kalispell. Some can even be checked by your professional and courteous Loren's Auto Repair advisor.

Your Subaru auto makers usually recommend they be changed somewhere between twenty and fifty thousand miles. Unfortunately, PCV valve replacement is left out of some Subaru owner’s manuals, but at Loren's Auto Repair, we will make sure your PVC is replaced if needed.

All of us Big Fork car owners can do our part for the environment. Watch that lead foot, stay on top of our critical automotive maintenance and don’t forget to replace our PCV valve.

PCV Valve Service At Loren's Auto Repair In Kalispell

Today, we are talking about your PCV valve. The PCV Valve is a little, inexpensive part that does a big job for Kalispell drivers. PCV stands for Positive Crankcase Ventilation.

The crankcase is the bottom area of the engine that holds the oil. When the Subaru engine’s running, fuel is burned to generate power. Most of the exhaust from combustion goes out through the exhaust system. But some exhaust blows by the pistons and goes into the lower engine, or crankcase.

These hot gases are about seventy percent unburned fuel.
PCV Valve Service At Loren's Auto Repair In KalispellThis can dilute and contaminate the oil, leading to damaging engine oil sludge. It can also cause Subaru engine corrosion, something we see occasionally at Loren's Auto Repair. At high speeds on Kalispell freeways, the pressure can build up to the point that gaskets and seals start to leak.

Back in the old days, vehicle manufacturers simply installed a hose that vented these gases out into the atmosphere. But starting in the 1964 model year, environmental protection laws required that these gases be recycled back into the air intake system to be mixed with fuel and burned in the Subaru's engine.

This is much better for air quality and improves fuel efficiency also. (Budget-conscious Kalispell motorists take note!) The little valve that performs this important function is the PCV valve. The PCV valve lets gases out of the engine, but won’t let anything back in. Over time, the vented gases will gum up the PCV valve and it won’t work well. That can lead to all of the problems I’ve already described, oil leaks, excessive oil consumption and decreased gas mileage.

Fortunately, it’s very easy to test the PCV Valve at Loren's Auto Repair in Kalispell and quick and inexpensive to replace. Even so, it’s often overlooked because many Kalispell car owners don’t know about it. Check your Subaru owner’s manual or ask your Loren's Auto Repair service advisor. If this is the first time you’ve heard of a PCV valve, you might be in line for a replacement.

There’s another aspect to the PCV system. In order for the valve to work correctly, it needs a little clean air to come in. This is done through a breather tube that gets some filtered air from the engine air filter. Now some vehicles have a small separate air filter for the breather tube called the breather element. That’ll need to be replaced at Loren's Auto Repair when it gets dirty.

Please ask your professional and courteous Kalispell service advisor about your PCV valve. For the price of a couple of burger combo meals in Kalispell, you can avoid some very pricey engine repairs.

Timing Belt Replacement in Kalispell

Today we want to talk about timing belts. They’re something that many Kalispell drivers don’t know much about and yet your vehicle won’t run if it’s broken – and it could cause many thousands of dollars damage if it does break. A broken timing belt is usually a tale of woe. Even though timing belt replacement is scheduled in the owner’s manual, it’s not the kind of thing that most Kalispell car owners remember because it’s not well understood.

Let’s review what a timing belt does. As you know, the engine’s power is generated in the cylinders. A piston rides up and down in the cylinder. During the first down stroke, an intake valve at the top of the cylinder opens and air and fuel is drawn into the cylinder. Then the piston returns to the top, compressing the fuel and air mix. At the top, the spark plug fires, igniting the fuel pushing the piston down in the power stroke. As the piston once again returns up in the final stroke of the cycle, an exhaust valve opens at the top of the cylinder and the exhaust is pushed out. The timing belt is what coordinates the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves. It’s called a timing belt because the valves have to open and close at just the right time.

Now, not all Whitefish and Columbia Falls vehicles have timing belts. Some have timing chains. Like the name implies, they use a chain rather than a belt to perform the function. It used to be that most engines used timing chains, which are extremely durable. Manufacturers started using belts rather than chains to save money in the manufacturing process. So now we're left with a component that can break. They sort of shifted the problem to us. There are two broad categories of engine design: interference and non-interference. If the timing belt on a non-interference engine breaks, the engine simply stops running. That could be very dangerous depending on where you are at the time, but it causes no internal engine damage.

Interference engines, on the other hand, will get real messed up when the timing belt breaks, because the valves will actually fall down into the path of the pistons. Things get chewed up when that happens and it’ll cost thousands to repair the engine.

So, what are the warning signs? Unfortunately, there really aren’t any. There aren’t tell-tale sounds. In some vehicles, a technician from Loren's Auto Repair may be able to see part of the belt for a visual inspection, but many have a cover that’s in the way. The reality is that if the belt slips even one notch, it might as well be broken for all the damage it’ll cause. There’s no middle ground.

So how can we avoid these problems? Simply replace the timing belt when your owner’s manual calls for it. It can be 60,000 miles; it might be 90,000 or 100,000 miles. The point is, if you have 60,000 or more miles, ask your Loren's Auto Repair service advisor right away if your manufacturer requires a timing belt replacement.

Contact Loren's Auto Repair to learn more about your car's Timing Belt
You can find us at:
1309 US Hwy 2 West
Kalispell, MT 59901
Or call us at 406-755-7757

Sometimes you can go quite a while without a failure, but we’ve seen them happen within a couple of oil changes of being due. It’s not worth the risk.

What does it cost to replace a timing belt in Columbia Falls or Big Fork? Well, that really depends on what kind of car you have. I can tell you that it’s usually not very easy to get to the timing belt – you often have to remove some accessories to get at it. It isn’t a cheap procedure, but it’s a fraction of what it could cost to repair the damage caused by a failure.

At Loren's Auto Repair we’re all about trying to prevent costly repairs, keeping you and your passengers safe and increasing your driving enjoyment. Thanks to AutoNetTV for their great auto video tips.

Battery Replacement For Your Car, Truck or SUV

Modern cars and trucks in and around Kalispell and the rest of Flathead Valley run on 12 volt electrical systems. 12 volts is enough to get the job done without having so much power that there is danger of electrocution. But today's vehicles have more electrical components and do-dads than ever before. This really strains your electrical system, making it hard for the battery to keep up. Think about it: electric seats, seat heaters, power locks, windows and sun roofs. And then we have all the power outlets for our cell phones, computers, and DVD players.

We also have navigation systems and powerful stereos. Plus there are all the engine and transmission computers, traction control, stability control, anti-lock brakes, sensors and on and on. Even the security system is running off the battery while the car is turned off.

Fortunately, battery technology has given us resilient batteries that are able to meet these strenuous requirements. But the fact is, batteries just wear out over time. Eventually, every battery gets to the point where it cannot hold enough of a charge to start your car. Sometimes batteries need to be replaced because they have just worn out. Or, in other cases, they have developed a leak and need to be replaced.

Special safety precautions are taken when working with batteries in the shop at Loren's Auto Repair in Kalispell MT. These precautions also apply to anyone who is poking around the battery. Batteries contain sulfuric acid that can damage your eyes and burn your skin, so safety glasses and rubber gloves are a must. Be careful to not spill acid on your clothes or the vehicle's paint. Of course, avoid short circuiting the battery as well.

Replacement batteries come in all shapes and sizes. Some cars have limited space that requires a specially shaped battery to fit. Larger engines require more powerful batteries to get them started. If you live in a cold climate you will need a more powerful battery because engines are harder to start when it is cold.

Sometimes there is quite a price range for batteries that will work in a particular car. Think of it as "good", "better" and "best". More expensive batteries have a longer warranty and are guaranteed to last longer. As with most things, paying a little more up front saves money in the long run.

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

Serpentine Belt Replacement Near The Kalispell Area

Don't you hate it when you hear that squeal from under the hood when you're driving aroun Kalispell? It usually means there is a problem with the serpentine belt. The serpentine belt powers a lot of engine accessories. It runs the alternator-which charges the battery, the water pump-which cools the engine, the air conditioning and the power steering pump. All pretty important parts. It is called a serpentine belt because it snakes around a bunch of engine components.

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

Serpentine belts are especially tough. They can last for years and go for tens of thousands of miles. But, with time they wear out. If your belt breaks while you are driving, everything will come to a halt within minutes. You have to stop the car or it will overheat, potentially causing major engine damage. And it probably won't be at a convenient time or place. You might even need to get your car towed to a service center. That is why manufacturers recommend a belt replacement on schedule. You really should get it done on schedule because a belt failure will definitely take you off the road.

If you hear a squeal when accelerating or a slow, slapping sound at idle, you should have your serpentine belt looked at. Your Kalispell area service technician at Loren's Auto Repair will visually inspect your belt to see if it needs to be changed sooner than scheduled. If the belt has more than three or four cracks an inch, has deep cracks that penetrate half the depth of the belt, is frayed, is missing pieces or has a shiny glazed look, it needs to be replaced regardless of age or mileage.

Serpentine belt replacement is relatively inexpensive, especially compared with the cost and inconvenience of being stranded or getting a disabled vehicle back to Loren's Auto Repair for repairs.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Timing Belt Replacement

lorens auto repair Timing Belt Replacement
Your timing belt is the part of your engine that controls the timing of the engine’s valves. Some engines made by companies like Volkswagen, and Toyota, include timing gears. But most modern vehicles come with timing belts, which replaced the older style timing chains that were common until the 1980’s. Some luxury manufacturers, such as Mercedes and BMW, still use timing chains because of their increased durability.

Each cylinder in your engine has two to four valves; that means there are 12 to 24 valves for a V-6 engine, and up to 32 valves on a V-8 engine. A camshaft controls the valves as they open and close. The timing belt uses the rotation of the engine to drive the camshaft. It is called a timing belt because it has to be adjusted to rotate the camshaft and to stay in sync with the engine.

The timing belt looks like a rubber belt with teeth. Since they are not as durable as timing gears or timing chains, they can fail without any warning, which results in a breakdown. A technician can inspect your timing belt and look for cracks and frays. But getting to the belt to take a look can be almost as much work as changing it. That's why manufacturers recommend replacing the belt at certain intervals. For most vehicles, it's from 60-90 thousand miles. If your owners' manual doesn't specify an interval, ask your service advisor.

An interface engine is one where the valves and pistons are close together, which means that if the timing belt slips even a little, the pistons will slam into the open valves. A non-interference engine will just shut down if the timing belt breaks. Your vehicle will break down, but the engine will not suffer permanent damage. Even going a couple of oil changes past the recommended interval for changing the timing belt can result in serious damage or a breakdown. Replacing a timing belt is not cheap, but damage from a broken timing belt will cost much more to repair.

If your vehicle has more than a 60 thousand miles on it, you need to have your timing belt inspected as soon as possible to determine if and when it will need to be replaced. And on many cars, the timing belt drives the water pump. So, it may be a good idea to replace the water pump at the same time, because 90 percent of the work required for the new pump is already done when your belt is changed. Doing both at the same time saves you a lot of time and money.

Improving Performance: PCV Valve Replacement

Energy from exploding fuel is what powers your engine, and some of the vapors from those explosions escape into the lower part of the engine, which is called the crankcase. These gases are made up of nearly 70 percent unburned fuel. If the gases are allowed to remain in the crankcase, they can quickly contaminate the oil and turn it into sludge. Sludge is one of the biggest enemies of your engine—and it eventually leads to engine failure. The pressure build up can also cause seals and gaskets to blow, which is why the gases need proper ventilation.

Gasoline engines used to include a hose that let the poisonous fumes vent out into the air. Since 1963, the federal government has required gas engines to have a special one-way valve installed to help reduce dangerous emissions.

The positive crankcase ventilation valve routes crankcase gases through a hose and back into the air intake system where they are re-burned in the engine. Clean air is pushed into the crankcase through a breather tube. The re-circulating air removes moisture and combustion waste from the crankcase, preventing sludge. This extends not only the life of your oil, but the life of your engine too. The PCV relieves pressure in the crankcase, preventing oil leaks.

Eventually, your vehicle’s PCV valve will become gummed up. Once that happens, it can’t move enough air through the engine to keep it working efficiently. If the PCV valve is sticking enough, it will result in oil leaks, excess oil consumption, and a failing intake system. If you experience surging, hesitation, or leaking oil, it could mean that your PCV valve needs to be repaired.

Consult your owners' manual for recommended PCV replacement intervals. Most manufacturers recommend having it replaced between 20 and 50 thousand miles. However, some manufacturers don’t list intervals for PCV replacement.

Usually, we can diagnose PCV system problems with a visual inspection. Fortunately, PCV valve replacement is both quick and inexpensive. Proper oil changes will greatly extend the life of the PCV valve. Skipping a few recommended oil changes can allow varnish and gum to build up in the valve, reducing its efficiency.

If you have had your car for a while and this is the first you've ever heard of a PCV value, ask your tech to check yours out or call Loren's Auto Repair at 406-755-7757.