Our Current Blog Articles
May 10, 2017
Why Choose an AAA Approved Auto Repair Shop?
Why choose an AAA approved auto repair shop, like Mountain View Automotive in Thornton, over other mechanics? Well, AAA approved auto repair shops maintain performance standards and often offer members a discount on labor, even a free maintenance inspection (on a paying ticket), written estimates when requested, a warranty on their work, as well as simple dispute resolution. But what is AAA and what does it mean for you as a member?
AAA is short for the American Automobile Association, which is a motoring and leisure travel organization. It has more than 55 million members who use its travel, insurance, financial, and automotive-related services. The not-for-profit has been around since 1902, and many people know AAA as a provider of roadside assistance and automotive-related expertise, a publisher of travel information, a leisure travel agencies, an advocate for the safety and welfare of American travelers, a financial products and services organization, a leader in the life insurance industry and an approval organization for auto repair shops with high performance standards.
More than 35 years ago, the AAA created the Approved Auto Repair (AAR) program and now more than 7,100 facilities across North America participate in it. According to an IBISWorld article, there are close to 250,000 auto repair facilities in the United States. So, you can see the auto repair shops in the AAR program are an elite group of just under 3% of all shops.
According to AAA, the Approved Auto Repair program is made up of dealers, independents, and specialty repair shops. When the program first began, the AAR program only certified general mechanical repair businesses, but now it includes auto glass businesses (Approved Auto Glass), specialty auto repair (Service) facilities, and collision repair centers (Approved Auto Body).
This Approved Auto Repair (AAR) designation is an AAA member benefit that helps point a member to a reputable, pre-screened automobile repair facility that performs quality auto repairs. All of the AAR shops, including ours, sign agreements to provide reliable, high-quality service performed by ASE certified or manufacturer certified technicians. This assures that your repairs and services comply with industry standards.
AAR approval is not easy. AAA demands the highest standards and that’s why when you see our AAA sign in our window, you know we have successfully made it through the tough AAA process. If an auto repair shop wants an AAA approval designation, an AAA service specialist makes a personal visit to the shop to inspect it for cleanliness, proper tools, adequate technical training, and the appropriate technician certifications. They will make sure the shop uses the appropriate modern equipment.
The AAA person will talk to the auto repair technicians and make sure they are ASE-certified in the repairs that the shop performs. This guarantees that the mechanics are highly trained and skilled. The AAA representative will also find out if there are master technicians who are ASE certified at the shop.
The AAA service specialist will also check the shop’s reputation with government and consumer agencies, as well as their insurance and financial background. AAA’s goal is to determine if the shop carries proper liability insurance and is ethical, credible, and trustworthy.
AAA will survey some of the shop’s customers to get their opinions on how well that auto repair shop meets their automotive service needs. The auto shop must score a 94% satisfaction rating or higher.
If you can pass all of these requirements, the shop will be approved.
According to an AAA article, even after the approval, AAR shops are continually held to the same high standards. AAA representatives visit the shop four times a year and re-inspect the shop annually in order to keep the high standards. They make sure the customers are satisfied and that the shop is still in compliance with the AAA standards. The AAR approved auto repair shops are monitored through customer satisfaction review cards that are given to AAA members who use their shop. Shops have to turn in 20 cards each month and keep a 93% or higher customer satisfaction rate.
Each auto repair shop will receive AAR stickers and signage that they will prominently be displayed at the shop. This will show what year the AAR approval was complete, so customers will know if the approval is current.
When people are searching for a good auto repair shop they can look for the AAA approval to help make their decision. And if they are also AAA members, they will enjoy added benefits added by the AAR auto repair shop. According to an AAA article, this includes:
- Priority service when their car is towed in due to a breakdown
- Written estimates not to be exceeded by more than 10% without prior approval
- A 24-month/24,000-mile warranty (whichever comes first) on parts and labor under normal operating conditions
- A discount on retail price repairs
- A free maintenance inspection with other paid repairs (mechanical shops only)
- The return of replaced parts if requested in advance
- AAA assistance in resolving any repair disputes with the facility
If you are not a member of AAA, you will not get all the special benefits of AAA members, but you will know that the repair shop displaying the sign meets AAA’s tough initial standards, as well as ongoing approval from customers just like you. You can be confident that they will do a great job at a fair price.
So, why choose an AAA approved auto repair shop? When you see that we are AAA approved, you can rest assured that our ASE master certified technicians at Mountain View Automotive in Thornton know will take good care of you and your vehicle. If your car, truck or SUV needs repairs or maintenance, bring it in today. Your peace of mind starts with knowing that we are an AAA approved repair facility but go beyond that with the addition of a Better Business Bureau (BBB) accreditation with an A+ rating. We are also a Bosch Authorized Service Center and a Trusted Napa Auto Care Center with warranty.
April 14, 2017
Increase Safety and Efficiency with Fleet Maintenance
Our technicians at Mountain View Automotive in Thornton can increase safety and efficiency with fleet maintenance for your business. We understand that saving money and keeping your employees safe are important business goals. Our fleet service team can help you keep your vehicles running great and control expenses. This benefits you because you don’t have to worry about overseeing repairs and allows your drivers to stay on the road.
Your business needs to be able to budget accurately and avoid unexpected expenses. Our fleet maintenance and repair programs can easily meet your company’s needs. Our goal is to help fleet owners and managers cost-effectively maintain their vehicles so you can work at peak performance, increase high profits, and keep your fleet safely on the road. If you want an automotive center that you can trust, we’ll keep your vehicles running at high performance.
Your company’s fleet manager controls the business transportation fleet, equipment, and oversees financial responsibilities of the fleet, vehicle maintenance, safety, driver management, and overall efficiency.
In order to keep your vehicles in good shape and on the road, they will require regular fleet maintenance and repairs. A fleet manager’s focus is to make sure every vehicle is maintained with regular service and any needed repairs are addressed, as well as decide when it is no longer cost-effective to keep the vehicle.
A fleet manager also has to keep track of where your fleet vehicles are, their registration and licensing, and which employee-driver is assigned to which vehicle.
By letting us do your fleet maintenance we can track of each vehicle's maintenance schedule and make sure it is done on time and by our experienced technicians. Good consistent maintenance can save your company money and unnecessary repairs.
Preventative fleet maintenance can be affected by the driver of the fleet vehicle because they know what the vehicle has been through and how it is driving, including safety systems, drivability issues, the vehicle body, and other repairs. The fleet driver can perform regular inspections and report any concerns or problems to the fleet manager who can take action to address any issues.
Safe and Reliable Vehicle Performance
According to a Government Fleet article, paying attention to your fleet maintenance helps keep vehicles and equipment in good working order to provide efficient, safe, and reliable performance and keep them running for as long as possible. Regular maintenance should include scheduled servicing, inspections, and vehicle repairs which can be based on time, mileage, engine hours, or gallons of fuel used. Your business relies on your fleet, so your goal is to prevent breakdowns, cut down on emergency road calls, and reduce the expense of unexpected repairs.
Keeping on top of the fleet maintenance schedule will keep operators safe, increase the resale value of the vehicle and improve the company’s image with good-looking and well-run vehicles. In addition, you save the company possible litigation from negligence.
The best way to keep your fleet maintained well is to schedule preventive maintenance, planned component repairs, and driver inspections for each company vehicle.
With an effective and efficient preventative fleet maintenance program, you should consider including these services:
- Engine oil and filter changes
- Transmission fluid
- Tires, wheels, and rims
- Exhaust system
- Cooling system
- Windshield wipers
- Electrical system
- Braking system
- Engine and transmission mounts
- Driveshafts or CV joints
- Undercarriage and frame
- Exterior and interior lights
- Body, glass, and mirrors
- Horn, seat belts, and seats
- Fluid leaks
- Auxiliary systems
- Fuel system
- Hoses and belts
- Steering and suspension system
- Tires, wheels, and rims
- Exhaust system
If you want to increase safety and efficiency with fleet maintenance, your timing and frequency rely on following the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended services and the vehicle’s operating conditions. Some vehicles are towing a trailer, operate in off-road conditions, have multiple drivers, or experience highway or inner city driving and may have different maintenance needs.
Professional Automotive Technicians
We provide professional technicians to service your vehicles and equipment. We understand your goals for your fleet preventive maintenance plan and will work with your fleet manager to make sure they are carried out. The goal is to reduce breakdowns and repairs.
Preventative Maintenance Software
There are preventative maintenance and management software packages available to help you handle all the information about your company’s fleet. It may be worth the cost to reduce time and workload, even if you have a small fleet. Preventative maintenance software may be an efficient and accurate way to generate reports that can help you make fleet decisions.
This kind of software can help your company design customized maintenance schedules, create and track work orders, track accident and claims, tally fuel usage, show maintenance histories, and tire logs, and generate invoicing and stock reports.
Tracking and Reports
Track the costs of parts, labor, fuel, and collisions to determine which vehicles cost the most to operate helps your business figure out when vehicles need to be replaced. A properly maintained fleet offers lower operating costs because if a vehicle is not performing well it will suffer costly repairs and higher fuel costs. Monthly reports about vehicle repairs, maintenance, and costs can be put out by the fleet manager and given to senior management for review.
Your company can benefit from a program that will increase safety and efficiency with fleet maintenance. Our focus is to help reduce your fleet’s operating costs and breakdowns, road calls, and fleet downtime. If you are looking for a repair center to service your fleet, Mountain View Automotive in Thornton is ready to help you. We offer fleet maintenance and repair programs to fit your company's needs and our goal is always to help fleet owners and managers cost-effectively maintain their vehicles in top performance. Contact us today for information.
March 28, 2017
The Importance of Vehicle Alignment Repair
There is no question, the importance of vehicle alignment repair should be addressed as soon as possible at Mountain View Automotive in Thornton. If your wheels are out of alignment, it could affect your safety because your tires aren’t pointing in the right direction. So, don’t jeopardize steering, suspension, the life of your tires and most importantly, your own life!
When all of a vehicle’s wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. There are many reasons your wheels may be out of alignment. Then one or more of your wheels starts pulling in a slightly different direction and the problems begin. Driving for a long time if your car is out of alignment can cause your tires to wear unevenly. Sometimes the tires can be worn so badly that they will fail. So, don’t keep driving your vehicle if the alignment is off. Bring your car or truck to Mountain View Automotive for vehicle alignment in Thornton.
Causes of misalignment.
How does your car get out of alignment? Some of the most common ways are when your car or truck hits pot holes, bump curbs or concrete parking stalls. Sometimes even regular usage can cause the alignment to be off because as cars get older their rubber components can crack or lose their elasticity. Even the ball and socket joints might become loose over time. Your car has a lot of steering and suspension components joined together. Sometimes ordinary driving over time can make your car’s wheels go out of alignment because the joints have loosened up.
Problems with misalignment.
If your alignment is off, your vehicle will not handle properly and sometimes you will even have a hard time keeping control of your car. Luckily, if you have your wheels aligned regularly, you can avoid these issues. It’s sometimes recommended to have your alignment done at every other oil change or when you get new tires. It’s worth the trouble because it will extend the life of your tires, which are so expensive.
So, if your steering wheel is off center that is a sign that you may need an alignment. If your car or truck seems to be pulling to one side an alignment may be needed.
An alignment problem will diminish your driving comfort, but it can also cause trouble for your suspension system.
A slight alignment problem can cause your tires to wear unevenly. If you have driven for a while with your wheels out of alignment, you will notice uneven tire wear. Usually, either the outside or inside of the tire is noticeably worn down more than the other tires. It can compromise the entire tire and require replacement, or you may experience a blowout. It only takes a 1/8 inch of misalignment to drag the front tires sideways the equivalent of 28 feet for every mile traveled. Resetting alignment to the manufacturer’s preferred specs will usually extend tire life.
If you're experiencing any kind of steering or handling problem, you need an alignment check to see if your wheels not lined up evenly. An important aspect of aligning the wheels is performing a preliminary alignment inspection of the suspension and steering linkage. This is necessary to determine if there are any worn or damaged parts. You can’t realign worn or damaged parts so any worn or damaged parts need to be replaced before the wheels can be realigned.
Fixing an alignment problem.
It’s important that you bring your car to our professionals because the alignment specifications are different and determined by the vehicle manufacturer for every make and model. The vehicle’s size, length, weight and intended are used to help determine the correct alignment angles. So, you need someone who knows what they are doing in order to get the alignment right. We use computerized alignment machine that has your specific vehicle’s alignment requirements.
Your car's alignment, suspension, and steering components should be checked periodically to make sure they are working well. A simple alignment check can help spot problems before they become troublesome. We can make recommendations based on tire wear and the visual examination of the front end about whether you should have your alignment checked out, but usually, the alignment is measured by fractions of degrees. We need alignment technology to help us get the right alignment. Even if it is slightly off it can a big impact on your tires.
When you bring your car to our auto technicians at Mountain View Automotive in Thornton, we will test to see if your car needs an alignment. If it does, we will use advanced tools and equipment to make sure it is done correctly, bringing your wheels back into the right alignment. It will keep you safer and your tires will last longer.
With your alignment completed you will drive straight and have a smooth ride, and your tires will wear evenly and last a long time. Getting your vehicle repaired today, can prevent more expensive problems later.
Wheel alignment is also required when certain suspension and steering components are replaced. Alignment is also needed if the tie rods, steering links, control arms, tie rod ends, idler arm, or control arm bushings, steering knuckle, or steering rack have been replaced.
Another benefit of having the wheels aligned is to assure optimum handling and traction for driving safety. Tires that lean in or out, even slightly can reduce traction, cornering ability and tread life.
You need proper wheel alignment to keep your vehicle’s suspension system in the best working order. Wheel alignment affects fuel efficiency, tire wear, tire performance, vehicle handling, and maneuverability. Wheel alignment is a big factor in a vehicle's steering response.
You can’t overstate the importance of vehicle alignment repair. If you think your tires are misaligned, don’t wait to have it checked out. Bring it into our technicians at Mountain View Automotive, so we can correct any problems that might be preventing you from having a smooth and safe ride. Call or contact us today for an appointment, or simply stop by the shop and let our certified professionals return your vehicle to optimal health.
February 16, 2017
All About Your Car Engine’s Oil
Your car needs oil, but there are so many different kinds. Our auto technicians at Mountain View Automotive in Thornton can help you understand all about your car engine’s oil and change it for you. It’s important because it lubricates the metal surfaces of your vehicle’s engine and cuts friction. Without it, your car is at risk for overheating and massive engine damage.
After a while, your car’s oil gets contaminants and loses its viscosity (the ability to flow). Those contaminants cause friction when parts rub together. A lot of friction on will wear the parts out faster, and possibly cause major problems with your engine. The damage may even require an engine replacement or overhaul.
Oil also helps clean the engine and carry away harmful chemicals and contaminants that come as by-products from the combustion process. Oil helps cool the engine by transferring heat away. It improves sealing inside the engine so the components aren’t exposures to oxygen.
Some engine oil contains an additive package which counteracts the acids resulting from the combustion process. Oil manufacturers add chemicals and minerals to change how the oil works within an engine. In addition to the additive packages like anti-wear additives, there are varying viscosities, oils for high- and low-mileage vehicles, extended life and others.
But what kind of oil does your car need? An article in Auto How Stuff Works explains how you decide.
It is the cheapest but doesn’t offer much in the way of additive packages. This is a good oil for cars that get frequent oil changes and have low-mileage engines.
Premium Conventional Oil
This oil is usually used for new cars and comes in the usual viscosities. Car manufacturers usually specify 5W-20 or 5W-30 oil, though some require 10W-30.
This oil is used for vehicles that have driven more than 75,000 miles. Seal conditioners are added to the oil, both synthetic and conventional, which expands and increases the flexibility of internal engine seals. The conditioners are very precise and can benefit some engines while not affecting others.
These oils are made for high-tech engines. They have better and longer-lasting performance in all the critical areas. They flow better at low temperatures and maintain peak lubrication at high temperatures.
Synthetic oil has less evaporative loss, a higher viscosity index (resistance to thinning as temperature rise is the viscosity index), and greater resistance to oxidation thermal breakdown and sludge problems.
Synthetic oil gives better performance in extreme temperatures. Synthetic oil flows better at freezing temperatures than conventional oil. It is more chemically stable and doesn't evaporate as easily and won’t break down in the high heat from your vehicle engine. This lets it resist turning into sludge, which can cause engine problems.
Synthetic oil usually costs more than conventional oil. The synthetic oils have to go through a more involved manufacturing process, which makes the price higher, sometimes three times as expensive. So, if an oil change with conventional oil costs around $20, then your oil change with synthetic oil would cost about $80 or higher.
Some car manufacturers require full synthetic oil in their high-tech engines. If it’s recommended and you don’t use it, it can cause damage to your engine and void your vehicle’s warranty. Corvettes and some Mercedes-Benz vehicles use synthetic oil as a factory fill.
Synthetic oil may cost more but it lasts longer, so you don’t need an oil change as often. With synthetic oil, your car may be able to last up to 7,000 to 10,000 miles between oil changes.
Synthetic Blend Oil
This is a blend of synthetic and conventional oils and is between both of them in protection and price. The oil is formulated to offer better protection during heavier engine loads and the associated higher engine temperatures. If you do a lot of towing, severe use driving like in heavy traffic, or off-roading, you might want to consider using a synthetic or synthetic blend. These oils are popular with pickups and SUV drivers.
Synthetic blend oil is more slippery than conventional oil which creates less friction in your engine parts. This allows your engine to run cooler, have less wear, and last longer. It can also provide a boost in power. But if the manual doesn't call for synthetic oil, using it will only be an additional expense that may not improve the engine's performance or life.
We also recommend an oil filter specifically built for the longer lasting service life of synthetic oil.
You should always use the factory-recommended oil. To tell what kind of oil to use and when to change it, check your car manufacturer’s manual. They know what works best for your car. It will recommend an oil based on your car’s mileage, the type of driving you do, and even ambient temperatures. If you don’t have the owner’s manual that came with the car, you can find the recommendations online on the car’s manufacturer’s website.
You may hear some people recommend an oil change within a set period of time, but it’s really more complicated than that. As we mentioned, vehicles are all different, depending on the age of the vehicle, mileage, and vehicle usage. If you’d like we can help you by setting up a regular schedule for required oil changes and send reminders.
In the past, everyone got oil changes every 3,000 to 3,500 miles. But now, due to better engine mechanical parts and better oil, you can usually go twice that long between oil changes. But don’t wait until the oil light goes on to schedule your oil change, if you do, it may already be damaging your engine.
Do you start your vehicle in the cold, experience extreme heat, use your vehicle for towing, or have multiple short trips under four miles? If so, then it may shorten the oil life. Any of these driving conditions can shorten your oil change service interval by 25 to 40 percent.
Your car dash’s maintenance reminder uses the car’s computers to track mileage and time. Some maintenance reminders have an electronic sensor that measures the oil quality, but others use an algorithm based on driving metrics to determine your oil’s life. If you don’t have a dash reminder, go back to the manufacturer’s manual to help you decide or come in and we will help you.
You can also check the sticker in the corner of the windshield that reminds you when to schedule an oil change. If you bring your car to our specialists at Mountain View Automotive in Thornton we can keep track of what kind of oil your car needs and when your car needs an oil change. We understand all about your car engine’s oil, so you don’t have to.
January 23, 2017
The Basics About Car Brakes
If you know the basics about car brakes, you can be confident no matter what Colorado’s road and weather conditions throw your way. You’ll be prepared for steep mountain driving and stop-and-go city driving. You’ll be ready for weather extremes, especially since we can get sun, rain, hail and even snow and ice in a matter of just days. For added assurance, you can always bring your vehicle to Mountain View Automotive in Thornton. We’ll inspect your brakes, replace them if necessary, and get you safely back on the road.
Of course, your brakes are going to wear out over time. In fact, your vehicle’s brake pads start to wear the moment you use the brakes. That’s why it’s important to have regular inspections, particularly if you hear and see the warning signs. Before we get ahead of ourselves, let’s start with the basics about brake care.
How Brakes Work
The wheel hub keeps your wheel on the vehicle. Inside this hub, the brake disc (rotor) turns with the wheel as you drive the vehicle. Straddling the disc is the brake caliper which holds the pistons that apply pressure to your brake pads. When you step on the brake pedal, your caliper pistons push on the pads, clamping them down on the brake disc. When you take your foot off the brake, the pistons retract, removing the pads from the disc.
Brake fluid is crucial to allowing your brakes to operate properly. When pressure is generated in the brake fluid lines, energy is distributed to your car’s brake parts so they can do their job. If the brake fluid is leaking, you’ll notice that your vehicle will take longer to stop and if you completely run out of this fluid, your brakes will not work at all.
Time for New Brakes
The brake pads will eventually wear out and you will need to replace them. If you don’t, the metal parts of the brakes will grind against the rotor and carve grooves in the surface. Sometimes if that happens we can smooth it out on a lathe. But if the grooves are scratched in too deep or if the rotor gets warped or cracked, you will need to have them replaced.
Our technicians at Mountain View will examine the mechanical sliding and mounting portions of the disc brake system. If the brake pistons stick, you might have to replace them. Sometimes it’s just cheaper to replace the entire caliper than to rebuild the piston.
Check Your Brakes
You should have your brakes checked regularly so your vehicle and your passengers stay safe. Bring your car down to Mountain View Automotive and our brake experts can diagnose any problems and repair them. It’s better for your vehicle if you get the brake pads replaced on time, not only for your safety but if you have them repaired now it could save you money because no more damage will occur.
A regular brake check is on every car's maintenance schedule. If you need brake repair and disc brake maintenance, our ASE-certified technicians at Mountain View can diagnose and repair brake problems for all your foreign and domestic cars, trucks, and SUVs.
In fact, the Automotive Maintenance and Repair Association (AMRA) suggests testing brake fluid for contamination and replacing it when the copper content exceeds 200 ppm. Copper contamination will lead to iron contamination and corrosion, and that will interfere with the brake system’s performance. But how do you know if your brakes need repair?
Your car will give plenty of warning that you are having problems with your brakes. When these happen, bring your car in so we can check it out. Don’t put it off.
Here are warning signs that your car may need brake repair:
- If you can hear a squealing or grinding when you apply the brakes.
- The brake pedal feels spongy or is slow to respond.
- It takes longer to stop.
- The dashboard brake light is red, meaning there is a system imbalance.
- If the dashboard brake light is orange, it means there is a problem with your anti-lock brakes (ABS). Your vehicle’s anti-lock brake system modulates the braking action during a quick stop. This allows the wheels to not lock up and maintains the vehicle’s control and stability. If your ABS warning light goes on, you should bring it in as soon as possible, so we can check it.
Brake Repair and Maintenance
At Mountain View Automotive, we know a lot more than the basics about car brakes. Our team of experts can replace brake pads and rotors, brake shoes, brake hoses and lines, and brake fluid. We offer emergency brake service, master and slave cylinder service, ABS brake system diagnostics and repair, and brake fluid flush.
Our experienced ASE-certified technicians can help you with any brake problem, including:
- Master Cylinders, Wheel Cylinders, and Calipers: The caliper applies pressure and activates brake pads so the pads create contact with the rotors. The caliper requires brake fluid in order to function properly.
- Rotor and Drum Machining and Replacement: The rotor is directly connected to each tire. To stop your car, the rotor must stop spinning. It stops spinning by friction created by the brake pad.
- Brake Hoses and Steel Line Repair/Replacement: When you press down on your brake pedal, brake fluid travels through the brake hose to each caliper, which puts the brake pads into action.
- Brake Fluid Testing and Flushing: Brake fluid is a type of hydraulic fluid used in brake applications for automobiles and light trucks. It is used to transfer force under pressure from where it is created through hydraulic lines to the braking mechanism near the wheels. Braking applications produce a lot of heat, so brake fluid must have a high boiling point and also remain effective in freezing temperatures.
- Brake System Bleeding
- Brake Pads and Shoe Replacement: Brake pads are the parts that contact your rotors and cause friction in order to stop your car.
- Wheel Bearings and Grease Seals
- Brake Boosters and Hydro Boost Repair
Once you understand the basics about car brakes and that they are vital components of your vehicle’s safety and handling system, you can take care of them properly and drive safely. To get them inspected and repaired, Mountain View Automotive in Thornton is here to help. Our technicians are ASE-certified and will make sure your brakes are ready to perform in all types of weather and environments.