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Have you ever noticed that your car maker has a schedule in your owner’s manual for what is called “severe service” maintenance? Let’s define what severe driving conditions aren’t: The easiest driving a vehicle experiences is traveling on the interstate for twenty miles or more at a constant rate of 65 miles per hour in 75°F weather with only passengers on board. Change any one of those parameters and you are adding stress to your engine. Change them significantly, and you are driving under severe conditions.

Let’s look at the important parameters one a time. First, the length of the trip. Short trips around Kalispell are harder on an engine than longer ones. As your engine cools down, water in the air condenses onto the engine. When you heat the engine again, the water evaporates off. This is healthy. But on short trips, the engine doesn’t stay hot enough long enough for all of the water to evaporate so it starts to build up in the engine oil leading to sludge, which can clog up your engine and lead to serious engine damage. If most or all of your trips around Kalispell are less than four miles, you should think about using the severe service maintenance schedule. Changing your oil more frequently at Loren’s Auto Repair in Kalispell will help prevent the formation of sludge.

Each Subaru engine has a “power band,” or the range of RPM’s in which it runs most efficiently. Generally this power band falls in the range of MT highway speed driving. So if you’re driving around town in Kalispell all the time, your engine has to work harder. That’s why gas mileage ratings are so much better on the freeway than in the city. Again, this type of driving is considered severe and requires more frequent maintenance for your transmission, cooling system and brake fluid.

Most of us Kalispell drivers think of severe MT weather conditions when we think of severe driving conditions. And we’re right. Cold Kalispell area weather takes its toll on the oil in your vehicle. Remember how water has to evaporate out of the oil to keep your engine healthy? It can take up to ten miles of driving for an engine to get hot enough to get rid of moisture in the oil when the weather is cold.

Hot Kalispell weather is also detrimental for Subarus. When an engine runs, it gets hot. The longer it runs, the hotter it gets. If it gets too hot, it breaks down. So it has to be constantly cooled to keep running. Hot MT weather means your cooling system has to work harder to keep your engine from getting too hot.

Another essential element of severe driving is the conditions we drive through. Dusty, polluted Kalispell areas are dangerous to your filters. Dirt, dust and contaminants will also get into your fluids, and they’ll get dirty faster, so they’ll need to be changed more often as well. Finally, when you’re pulling a trailer around Kalispell, carrying heavy loads or using a car-top carrier, you are putting more stress on your engine. The engine, transmission and brakes are all working harder to handle the extra load.

So, in the end, most of us Kalispell drivers drive under severe conditions some of the time. Smart Kalispell drivers will ask themselves the question: “Should I follow the severe service maintenance schedule?” An honest evaluation of our driving habits is the best way to determine which schedule to follow.

Hey Kalispell Drivers, How Many Miles Are On Your Car?

Nowadays, Kalispell car owners are paying more at Kalispell gas pumps. For some families in the greater Kalispell area, it adds up to several hundred dollars every month. That’s got to come out of the budget somewhere. This is one of the reasons many MT car owners are putting off buying a new car. They plan on keeping their old vehicle for a year or two longer than before.

Even now, 2/3 of the personal vehicles on our local Kalispell, MT freeways have over 75,000 miles on them. The average age of vehicles is over nine years. And most people in Kalispell can’t afford to be stranded or inconvenienced by a break down. So following a regular maintenance schedule, like personal diet and exercise plans, is actually critical to preserving your investment.

Determining what to do for a higher-mileage vehicle can be challenging because many auto maker’s manuals don’t publish service intervals after 60,000 miles. Thus, Kalispell drivers need to be better at keeping records and planning for preventive maintenance.

You can start by figuring that services with a recommended interval should still be performed on that interval, even after you’re past the tables in your service manual. For example, a service might be recommended every 15,000 miles. Well, just keep doing it every 15,000 miles for as long as you have your car.

Now higher mileage engines operate under more stress. Some Kalispell automotive experts suggest that the severe service schedule is more appropriate and that routine service should be performed at shorter intervals. Check with your owners’ manual or service advisor at Loren’s Auto Repair to see if the severe service schedule is right for your vehicle.

And keeping current with your full-service oil change schedule is important for a couple of reasons. First, older engines have had more time to build up oil sludge. Skipping an oil change here and there can really compound the problem for your Subaru.

Another equally important reason is that your other fluids are routinely checked and topped off. Power steering fluid, brake fluid, coolant and transmission fluid can be kept at optimal levels even though the older seals and gaskets are leaking more than when they were new.

And speaking of older seals and gaskets: they start to dry out and become more brittle with age. You may want to consider using high mileage formulation oil and fluids. These products contain key additives to condition seals and gaskets to keep them from leaking. The high mileage formulations cost more than standard products, but they are well worth it in terms of preventing serious repair bills down the road.

Older vehicles in the Kalispell, MT area need repairs and replacements that newer ones don’t. Things like timing belts, radiator hoses, suspension work, anti-lock brakes, air bags, water pumps, alternators and batteries. That may seem like a lot of stuff to have done, but it works out to be cheaper than new car payments.

With a high-mileage Subaru, a couple of relationships will become pretty important to Kalispell drivers. The first is with your tech at Loren’s Auto Repair. You need someone you trust to take care of your car and be mindful of your needs. Ask for help to develop a plan to keep your vehicle road-worthy that works within your budget, and for the Kalispell, MT area driving conditions. 

The next relationship is with your vehicle itself. We’re not talking about naming your car or tucking it in at night. We just mean – pay attention and get to know your vehicle. Notice unusual sounds, smells, vibrations, etc. Then you can describe the changes to yourtech at Loren’s Auto Repair and head off problems. We can’t do anything about the price of gas, but we can properly maintain Old Faithful to keep it safely and economically on the local Kalispell, MT roads.

Take a look at the attached automotive tips video from AutoNetTV.

Recommended Kalispell Service Intervals

Everyone in Kalispell, MT knows we are advised to go to our Kalispell dentist twice a year.  Oral-conscious Kalispell residents have a teeth-cleaning and examination. Once a year, we get x-rays to look for problems that can’t be seen with the naked eye. When our dentist is done, he/she tells us what was found – “Everything’s fine, see you in six months.” Or “You’ve got a small cavity starting, let’s schedule an appointment to take care of it.” By the time you leave, you have a plan for addressing any necessary issues.

This system works so much better than waiting for a painful problem before going into the dentist. Small problems are fixed before they turn into big problems. And you avoid those huge bills.

If Kalispell folks understand the wisdom of using this system for handling dental care, why do many resist when facing the same system for our car maintenance?

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

Following the car maker’s recommended intervals can be confusing. First, there are recommendations for so many things: oil changes, transmission, coolant, air conditioning, power steering, brakes, fuel system, filters, belts, hoses, alignment, rotation, balancing …you get the point.

Every item has a recommended interval and it’s hard to keep it all straight – even if you’re part of the 1% of the MT motorists that read their owners’ manual.

And if you have more than one Subaru, the complexity is multiplied. You’d need a computer to keep track of everything. Well, that’s how your Kalispell service center does it. For example, Loren’s Auto Repair subscribes to automotive databases that have your vehicle’s recommended intervals. You may have wondered how they know what else to recommend when you take your car in for an oil change – it’s all in the database.

Well, it’s not all in the computer. There are other variables that can’t be accounted for in the schedule. Things like Kalispell weather conditions, altitude, and where and how you drive in MT. Talk about these things with your professional and courteous Loren’s Auto Repair service specialist and you may decide that the severe service schedule in your owner’s manual is more appropriate.

Since anything that’s not expressway driving in moderate Kalispell weather is considered severe, most of us do at least some of that around Kalispell, MT and it should be taken into account.

Let’s take your basic oil change as an example – what issues are involved? The oil you put in your car is a blend of base oil and special additives. There are detergents to clean the inside of your engine and corrosion inhibitors. A good quality motor oil will not only lubricate your engine, it will help it stay clean inside and run cooler.

Now, these additives deplete with use and time. That’s why most maintenance recommendations include both a time and mileage element – like 3 months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first.

It’s easy to think, “Gee, I’ve only driven 2,000 miles in the last 3 months. I can wait on that oil change.” But you need to remember that the inside of your engine is a harsh environment. The oil is contaminated with combustion by-products that starts degrading its effectiveness even when it’s just sitting there.

A lot of people in Kalispell don’t realize how harmful it is to skip an oil change. There are a lot of metal parts moving around in your engine. Small bits of metal wear off and are floating around in your oil. They can be carried to more delicate areas of the engine where they cause damage. Your oil filter is designed to trap metal particles and other dirt, but if it’s clogged up because you haven’t changed it, it can’t trap any more.

Oil sludge is another problem. Sludge is oil that has turned to a gunky jelly – think ‘Vaseline’. Obviously, sludge doesn’t lubricate. It can also clog small oil passages so that all the parts don’t get properly protected by the oil. That’ll lead to premature wear.

If you’ve missed some oil changes, don’t despair. Just talk with your service advisor at Loren’s Auto Repair. Fess up – you’ll feel better. And he can help you get back on track. Following recommended intervals is the key to keeping your car on the road and avoiding expensive repairs.

Take a look at the auto tips video in this post for more information.

Recommended Service Intervals At Loren’s Auto Repair

Most people in the Kalispell area are aware that automotive manufacturers have recommended service intervals. Following recommended service intervals is very important. The engineers that design our vehicles have tested the various systems and components to meet durability and safety standards. Some of these standards are self-imposed and others, like those for emissions components, are government mandated for the areas around Whitefish, Columbia Falls and Big Fork in MT.

The maintenance schedules are designed to achieve the standards. Think of the benefits of following recommended intervals as falling into three general categories: Protection, Efficiency and Safety.

Protection. Let’s start with motor oil. First of all, the engineers recommend a particular weight and type of motor oil for your Subaru. All of their oil change recommendations assume using the proper motor oil. Motor oil contains detergents and other additives that clean the engine and provide corrosion resistance. Over time, the additives are depleted. The oil also becomes contaminated by water, dirt and combustion gases.

Extending your interval beyond the recommendation means that your Subaru engine will be operating without the full protection of fresh motor oil. It also means that sludge can form in contaminated oil and clog up passages in the engine, starving parts from needed lubrication.

Efficiency. Some services are designed to keep automotive systems operating efficiently. For example, the fuel system gets clogged up with gum and varnish from the fuel. Fuel doesn’t flow efficiently which reduces fuel economy. A fuel system cleaning restores the fuel system’s efficiency and increases your gas mileage.

Safety. Your brakes are obviously one of the most important safety systems on your Subaru. The manufacturer has scheduled brake pad replacement as well as power brake fluid drain and replacement intervals. Because brakes are so important, a brake inspection is also on the schedule to head off problems before they result in an accident.

Check your owner’s manual for recommended service schedules or talk with your Kalispell service advisor at Loren’s Auto Repair by calling 406-755-7757. You’ll find our shop located at 1309 US Hwy 2 West in Kalispell, MT 59901.

You may be surprised to learn that various inspections may be on your list of factory recommendations for your Subaru. These inspections are usually at major intervals like fifteen or thirty thousand miles. They’re designed to uncover important parts that may be close to failing.

Your Subaru owner’s manual can tell you when to change your oil, but it can’t tell you that you have a radiator hose that’s bulging and about to burst. For that you need a trained auto technician. These scheduled inspections are in addition to the multi-point inspections done with a full-service oil change.

Is Your Kalispell Driving Severe?

People near Kalispell MT often ask Loren’s Auto Repair how often they should have a particular service done. It’s a great thing to ask. You can look at your owner’s manual, or have your Kalispell MT service advisor at Loren’s Auto Repair look up your vehicle in a service database. What you find is often a surprise to people – there are actually two service schedules.

One is the regular schedule and the other is the severe service schedule. Service intervals are shorter on the severe service schedule. When asked, most folks in Kalispell MT will say that their driving is normal and that the ‘regular’ schedule probably applies to them. ‘Severe service’ sounds pretty extreme – ‘I don’t drive like that’.

Well, here is what the manufacturers say constitutes severe driving conditions; you can draw your own conclusions.

  • Most of your trips are less than four miles.
  • Most of your trips are less than ten miles and outside temperatures are below freezing.
  • The engine is at low speed most of the time – not on the highway. You operate your vehicle in dusty areas.
  • You regularly tow a trailer or carry heavy loads.
  • Drive with a car-top carrier.
  • Stop and go driving.
  • Driving in very hot or very cold weather.

If that’s severe driving, what constitutes regular driving? Well, it would look something like this: I live somewhere with moderate temperatures all year round – I’m thinking San Diego here. And I live close to a freeway on-ramp. Everywhere I need to go is right off the freeway, at least four miles from my home. I can drive at a steady 60 miles per hour when I’m on the freeway.

I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like my normal driving. It sounds more like ideal conditions. I live where it gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I run short errands around Kalispell. Occasionally we load up for family trips.

For me, normal driving includes elements of severe service driving. So here’s what I tell people: think about how you drive, where you live, where you go and what you are expecting to with your vehicle in the near future.

Picture a line with ‘regular’ on one end and ‘severe’ on the other, and make a judgment on where you fall. If your regular oil change recommendation is 5,000 miles and the severe service recommendation is 3,000 – when should you change your oil? For me, it’s closer to 3,000 miles. For my wife, it’s closer to 5,000 miles. Your Kalispell MT auto service advisor at Loren’s Auto Repair will be happy to have this discussion with you and help you sort it out.

Just a quick word on why severe service intervals are shorter. One has to do with heat. That can either be external heat from the weather or engine and transmission heat from stop and go driving or working extra hard moving heavy loads or towing. The heat causes the fluids like oil and transmission fluid to break down more quickly and then they aren’t as effective.

Another factor is water. Moisture naturally collects in fluids as they cool. In your motor oil, for example, if you don’t drive long enough for the oil to fully heat up, the water won’t evaporate. Water in the oil can lead to the buildup of damaging sludge.

If you live where the air is dusty or polluted, fluids will become contaminated and filters will get dirtier more quickly.

So make an honest evaluation of your driving conditions. You’ve made the commitment to take care of your vehicles, so it only makes sense to follow the right schedule.

Water Pump: The Heart of Your Cooling System

Your cooling system is an important part of your engine. It circulates coolant through the radiator and engine to protect your car from overheating. There are five main components to the cooling system, the radiator, the radiator cap, the hoses, the thermostat, and the water pump.

The water pump is a small pump that is driven by the engine with a belt, chain, or gear.  The water pump only operates when the engine’s running. Water pumps can fail, usually within 100 thousand miles.  Some start failing much sooner. Consult your owners’ manual or speak with your local Kalispell service technician to figure out the recommended maintenance schedule for your cooling system.

Water pumps fail in one of two ways. The bearings fail or they begin to leak. It’s possible to have a leak from a cracked water pump, but it usually leaks at the gasket where it attaches to the engine. If you can hear a low-pitched grinding sound coming from the water pump, you know your pump is damaged. If you notice that coolant has spilled out in that area, you know you have a leak.

Most vehicles today include timing belt that drives the water pump. The water pump might be covered by plastic, which means you can’t see it. Look for coolant on the driveway. If you see some, you will need to bring it into Loren’s Auto to have it inspected and potentially replaced. Most timing belts need to be changed at 60 thousand miles. It’s a good idea to change your water pump at the same time that you have your timing belt replaced, because 90 percent of the work is already done once the timing belt is removed. If you wait to change the pump and develop a leak later, you will have to change the belt again anyway. Leaking coolant contaminates the timing belt.

You can replace your water pump with a new one or with a rebuilt pump. A rebuilt timing belt can save you a decent amount of money, but it’s a good idea to consult with your technician to see what he or she thinks. Your water pump will wear out eventually, one way or another, and with preventative maintenance you can avoid causing more damage than necessary.



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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!!
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!
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!
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