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Bear River Auto Tech Inc
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Why Is My Steering Wheel Shaking?

With lots of mountain driving in the foothills it's not uncommon over time to find your steering wheel is shaking. However it can, and often does, mean you need to get your car looked at.

Shaking vibrations coming to the steering column can mean a number of different things: first, it could mean that you have bent wheel rims, a damaged motor mount, bad CV joints, or lug nuts have come loose. However, shaking when only the brakes are applied can often mean that there is damage done to your rotors.

Rotors are a critical part of your braking system. Brake rotors (also known as brake discs) are what your brake pads squeeze down onto to stop your wheels. The rotors are often subjected to varying levels of intense heat. The harder you stop, the more intense that heat is. When the rotors are subjected to regular intense stopping such as commuter traffic and downhill driving the rotors can wear more quickly. The excess heat that they endure can cause the rotors to warp and become thinner in certain areas. Since the area the brake pads are making contact with is no longer smooth the bumpy pattern now on the rotors can cause vibrations to transmit to the steering column causing your hands to receive an unintended massage.

We always recommend having your car looked over by professional, however there are a few tips and tricks you can use to help identify the problem.

First, get your car into a position where you can get to the rotors. This will require removing the wheels either one or two at a time. This will also give you an opportunity to determine if any of your lug nuts are loose on any of the wheels. If loose lug nuts are found, tighten them down in a star pattern. Take the car for a drive around the block and see if your steering wheel continues to shudder.

If the shuddering continues when the brakes are applied, go back to the first step in and remove the tire so that you can get to the rotor. Spin each rotor by hand, looking for any wobbling and feeling for any imperfections as the rotor spins. A rotor in good order should spin all the way around with no notice of wobbling or defects. Severe damage will be very apparent, whereas light damage may only be able to be determined with a micrometer. 

To give you an idea of how important it is to maintain your rotors, replacing rotors can cost you somewhere around $250-$300. Having to replace the entire braking system could cost a few thousand. In short, if your car is shuddering don't leave it too long before you see your mechanic. Bring your car to your friendly, honest brake repair specialist at Bear River Auto Tech - 530-268-6363

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How to Fix a Flat Tire 101 

In life you can count on flat tires almost as much as taxes. Here’s a quick guide to help you turn a sticky situation into smooth sailing.  

As with any problem you’re going to need some tools to get the job done. Here's a list of what you need:

• A car tire patch kit consisting of:
          o Reamer tool
          o Vulcanizing tire adhesive such as rubber cement
          o Rasp tool
          o Tire repair plugs
• Car Jack
• Lug nut wrench
• lug nut key (if applicable)
• A pair of pliers (optional)
• Wire cutters
• Flathead screwdriver
• Water and dishwashing liquid (if needed, read more on why)

Now that you have your tools ready it’s time to change the tire. First and foremost, make sure where you're changing the tire is safe. Once you have determined it’s safe to change the tire begin by using the lug nut wrench to loosen the lug nuts while the car is still on the ground. This might require quite a bit of force. If your car requires a lug nut key, now would be a great time to check your car and locate the lug nut key. Without it, your job will be a million times harder.

Place the jack underneath the car so that it makes contact underneath the frame of the car where it won’t cause any damage.  Check your car manual for the correct spot suggested by the manufacturer.

Once the car is lifted up remove the lug nuts completely and pull off the wheel and tire. Now rotate the tire while standing up to see if you can spot where the puncture is or if there is any object stuck in the tire. If you can't see anything or hear any air escaping now is the time to mix some liquid soap and water together. Pour some of the soapy mixture over the tire and rotate the tire until you see where the mixture begins to foam. This is where your puncture is. If there is something in the tire remove the obstruction either with the pliers or wire cutters.

Once the obstruction is removed, locate the hole again. Take the reamer, that's the T-shaped tool with the file marks, and insert it into the hole. Push the tool in and out a few times while rotating the tool from side to side. Remove the reamer and get the rasp tool ready (the tool with the prong on the end).  This is done by placing the screwdriver underneath the back end of the prong and twisting gently until the prongs open enough to let you slip one of the tire plugs into position. Apply rubber cement liberally to the plug strand while it is held in the rasp tool. Insert the prong into the hole so that the two opposite ends of the plug stick out approximately 1/4”-1/2”. Remove the tool and cut the ends left sticking out with the wire cutters. Let the tire stand for five minutes to allow the glue and plug to take hold.

Place the tire back on and tighten the lug nuts in a star pattern. Fill the tire with air and take it for a test drive to warm the tire and ensure the patch has been successful. You can apply a small amount of the soapy water again over the hole to see if any air is leaking. Check the tire again the next day to affirm the puncture has been sealed. 

Congratulations! You now have a skill for life. If you found this article helpful please let us know or if you have some of your own tire changing tips feel free to add them in the comments! Think you might need car repair services in Auburn, CA area? Contact your friendly, honest auto mechanic at Bear River Auto Tech. 530-268-6363

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8 Great Car Tips from Bear River Auto Tech

If you treat your car well, it will serve you reliably for many years and thousands of enjoyable miles.  Here are some helpful tips from your friendly car repair folks at Bear River Auto Tech…

1. Change Your Oil – Read your owner’s manual or ask your mechanic what is best for your car and the type of oil you use. This is THE most important tip for the life of your engine.

2. Perform Recommended Service – Cars are a big investment and you don’t realize how you rely on them until they need service or are broken down. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for service and your car will give you many years of trouble-free service.

3. Check Your Tire Pressure – Replacing tires can be expensive. Regularly check the air pressure in the tires. Checking the pressure is best done in the morning, especially in the summer, when the tires are cold. Proper tire pressure can save you money at the pump and is the most important tip for extending the life of your tires.

4. Check your Coolant – You might think this is most important in the summer, but year-round your car needs proper levels of coolant and anti-freeze if you live in the higher elevations. Ask your mechanic what is best for your car. The right products protect your engine. A periodic radiator flush is also a good idea.

5. Don’t ignore your Check Engine Light – It may be something minor, but why take a chance. Your mechanic can hook up a diagnostic device and let you know exactly why this light is on. Get it looked at quickly before a minor repair becomes major!

6. Change your Air Filter – Besides improving your fuel economy, it’s good for you and your passengers. Breathe free with a new air filter on board.

7. Check your Wiper Blades – Before the winter rains hit California, give your wiper blades a visual inspection.  If they are worn, torn, or stuck to the windshield, consider a new pair. Don’t let the first rain of the season take you off guard.

8. Find a Mechanic you can Trust – Unless you are very mechanically inclined yourself, find someone who cares. If you don’t have a mechanic you can trust or are new to the area, come to Bear River Auto Tech. Grant and his team will take great care of your car and give you money saving service and recommendations.

www.bearriverautotech.com
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Don’t Be Shocked

You may be surprised to learn just how important automotive shocks really are. Shocks are responsible for keeping the spring in check. When you hit a bump, the springs compress to comfort the passengers and the shock, when working correctly, keeps the car from bouncing by dampening the oscillation of the springs.

The shocks work in concert with the struts to absorb the impact of the bumps in the road without any undue bouncing after the fact. 

So, how do I know when my shocks or struts need replacing?

There is no easy way to determine when your shocks or struts need replacing but there are a few signs that you should have them checked. A hard ride or a bouncy ride and be good sign that you should consider a suspension inspection. Another dangerous sign is swaying at high speeds or wallowing around corners.  Both indicate worn shocks or struts.

Be proactive and have your mechanic check your suspension on a regular basis. Bring your car to a mechanic who will give you an honest evaluation of your suspension. Visit Bear River Auto Tech for all your automotive needs.
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Don't Be Shocked

You may be surprised to learn just how important automotive shocks really are. Shocks are responsible for keeping the spring in check. When you hit a bump, the springs compress to comfort the passengers and the shock, when working correctly, keeps the car from bouncing by dampening the oscillation of the springs.

The shocks work in concert with the struts to absorb the impact of the bumps in the road without any undue bouncing after the fact. 

So, how do I know when my shocks or struts need replacing?

There is no easy way to determine when your shocks or struts need replacing but there are a few signs that you should have them checked. A hard ride or a bouncy ride and be good sign that you should consider a suspension inspection. Another dangerous sign is swaying at high speeds or wallowing around corners.  Both indicate worn shocks or struts.

Be proactive and have your mechanic check your suspension on a regular basis. Bring your car to a mechanic who will give you an honest evaluation of your suspension. Visit Bear River Auto Tech for all your automotive needs.
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The Basics on Brakes

There are 3 different types of brakes on most passenger vehicles.

Late model cars typically have disc brakes on the front wheels, and some have disc brakes on all four wheels. These brakes compose the braking system that helps you slow and stop your car. 

Many cars have drum brakes on the rear wheels and disc brakes on the front. Drum brakes have more parts than disc brakes and are generally a little more time consuming to service, but they are less expensive to manufacture. 

Drum brakes work on the same principle as disc brakes where brake shoes press against a spinning surface. In the case of disc brakes, that surface is a disc; in the case of drum brakes, that surface is a drum.

Many brakes have a ‘squealer’ plate attached to them.  This thin plate is designed to warn you when your brakes need replacing. The plate rubs against the rotor when your pads become badly worn, alerting you to replace the pad before the rotors are damaged. If you hear a squealing sound when driving and it stops when you step on the brakes, have your brakes checked before the rotors need to be resurfaced or replaced. This simple plate will save you money if you just listen up!

Emergency brakes are a secondary braking system installed in automobiles vehicles. They are also referred to as e-brakes, hand brakes and parking brakes.  Emergency brakes are not powered by hydraulics and are independent of the disc or drum brakes described above.

Take good care of your car and especially your brakes. Don’t take them for granted, take them to the folks at Bear River Auto Tech for an inspection and brake replacement if needed.
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What’s Wrong With My Car – Basic Troubleshooting

Sounds and smells are definite clues that something may be amiss with your vehicle, but there are subtle clues that also should alert you to trouble. If you are the primary driver of your car, you should be able to notice when there is a change in the behavior or feel in handling.

Car trouble doesn't always mean major repairs but don’t delay in having it looked at. Often what starts off as minor will compound if not repaired as there are many inter-working parts in an automobile. 

Here are some common causes of trouble and techniques to help you identify them so your mechanic can find and fix them promptly:

• Alternator — loose wiring can be the cause of alternator difficulties which make starting your car difficult or impossible. Belts squealing or slipping can also indicate alternator problems or cause alternator problems if they are too loose. Your mechanic should check connections and belts and perform an output test before replacing the alternator. 

• Battery — corroded or loose battery terminals can be a simple fix to what appears to be a dead battery.  Make sure you or your mechanic cleans the terminals and tests battery function before replacing the battery.

• Muffler — a loud rumbling noise under your vehicle may indicate the need for a new muffler or exhaust pipe. The cost will depend upon the extent of the muffler that must be replaced. Some mufflers are one long pipe; others are in pieces making it easy to replace just the offending section.

• Starter —a dead battery or poor connection could appear to be a problem with the starter. Again, check the simple stuff first. Clean and check all connections and test the battery before repairing the starter.

If you hear, smell, or feel a problem with your car, take it to the friendly and knowledgeable mechanics at Bear River Auto Tech. They will perform your car repair services and keep you on the road. Take good care of your car. Take it to the folks who care, Bear River Auto Tech.
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Are You Car Care Aware?

The key to keeping your car running well, both today and in the future, is routine maintenance. But what exactly does that entail?

The basics should be checked monthly and those include lights, tires, and windshield wiper fluid.

Every 3 months or 3,000 miles, you should check belts, engine oil, air and oil filters, hoses, and coolant.

Every 6 months or 6,000 miles, you should check battery & cables, exhaust, wiper blades, transmission fluid, and brakes.

Many of these items you can easily check yourself. Others are best left to the experts at Bear River Auto Tech. Bear River is your source for car repair services in Auburn, CA.  We specialize in engine diagnostics, brake replacement, and transmission services. We offer ‘while you wait’ oil change services (by appointment only).

Visit us today and keep your automobile investment in top shape!
Bear River Auto Tech            530-268-6363
Where customers send their friends !!!
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Why Should You Check Your Tire Pressure?

Changes in the temperature outside can also cause changes in a vehicle’s tire pressure.  A temperature drop of 10 degrees (F) can cause tire pressure to drop 1 or 2 pounds.

Improperly inflated tires can cause higher fuel consumption and lead to faster tire wear.  Bear River Auto Tech recommends that you check your tire pressure regularly, especially during the extreme heat of summer and in the spring and fall when daily temperatures can vary greatly.

You can improve your gas mileage by up to 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires.

Bear River Auto Tech is your source for car repair services in Auburn, CA. Visit us today and don’t forget to check those tires!
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Are you ready for the warm weather … and is your car ready?

Recharging Your Car’s Air Conditioner with Refrigerant.car repair AC service

When servicing your car’s A/C system, you have several options to recharge the system with refrigerant. One option is to top-off your car’s system with refrigerant, and another is to evacuate and recharge the system. Both of these options will provide cool air in the passenger compartment for some period of time. Neither service, however, involves permanently fixing an A/C system leaks that allowed refrigerant to escape resulting in a lack of cool air. You might therefore also choose to have any leaking components in your A/C system checked, repaired, and possibly replaced.

By stopping the leak, you will prevent refrigerant from leaking into the atmosphere. The refrigerant in older vehicles is CFC-12 (also known as Freon, a brand name), which is no longer manufactured in the United States because it depletes the ozone layer. As nationwide supplies dwindle, it is becoming increasingly expensive to purchase CFC-12, so that fixing a leak may be more economical in the long run than continuing to purchase Freon.

What’s the difference between a “top-off” and an “evacuation and recharge”? Why would I want one service or the other?

A top-off involves simply charging refrigerant into your vehicle. An evacuation and recharge service includes removing whatever remaining refrigerant is in your vehicle, removing impurities from that refrigerant using recycling equipment, recharging it into the vehicle, and adding new refrigerant to replace whatever has leaked out. The cost of both the top-off and the evacuation and recharge will usually include a performance check, and may include a test to discover the source of your leak.

Topping-off alone is less expensive than the evacuation and recharge service. So why would you consider the more expensive evacuation and recharge? The manufacturer of your vehicle has determined that a specific amount of refrigerant — 2.2 pounds, for example — is correct for your car. When you bring your vehicle into a service facility, your technician has no way of determining precisely how much refrigerant is left in your vehicle’s system, so topping off is an estimate as to how much refrigerant to add into the system. Since recent models have a feature that shuts an overcharged A/C system down in hot weather, it is important not to over charge your car.

On the other hand, during an evacuation and recharge, once the technician has extracted all remaining refrigerant from the system, he will then be able to charge the system with the precise amount of refrigerant recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer.  Some technicians may tell you that evacuation and recharge is better for the system than a mere top-off because, after the refrigerant is evacuated, it gets cleaned in the recycling equipment, and it’s a good idea to clean the refrigerant in your system. There really is no reason to clean the refrigerant in your system unless you open up the system or repair. If you request that your technician repair or replace system components in order to fix leaks in your system, then evacuation and recharge are a must.

If you have any concerns over your car’s A/C system, bring your car to Bear River Auto Tech.  The honest and friendly folks at Bear River will give you good advice, excellent service, and a cool car for summer driving.

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