What Everybody Ought to Know About Modern Car Tune Ups

Ah, the good ol’ days – back then everyone knew what a “tune up” meant: points and plugs. Fast forward a few decades and cars aren’t so simple. In fact, points have gone the way of the carburetor (that’s right, there’s no carburetor under there anymore either). Which brings about the question; just what is involved in a modern day tune up?

Back before computer controls, tune ups were performed when a car started running poorly. There were a lot of adjustments to make on old cars such as setting the timing, idle speed and fuel mixture. On modern cars, these adjustments are all controlled by the computer, with no need for periodic human interference.

West Jordan Mechanic

If for whatever reason your engine is running poorly, the computer will set what’s referred to as a diagnostic trouble code (DTC) and turn on the check engine light. Retrieving and diagnosing this code is the place to start when attempting to improve modern engine performance. More times than not, simply throwing tune up parts (plugs, wires, etc) at a vehicle will not remedy the problem. On late model vehicles, there are literally hundreds of problems – mechanical and electrical – that can cause an engine to run poorly. The only way to find the root cause of the problem is to have a professional technician, armed with specialty equipment, diagnose it.

Tune ups should no longer be treated as a go-to fix for engine performance problems, but modern vehicles do require periodic maintenance. In addition to the usual fluid and filter exchanges (engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant, gear oil, etc), there are other items like the spark plugs and fuel filter that have regular service intervals. Every vehicle is different (for example, many modern cars don’t have a serviceable fuel filter), so it’s important to consult your owner’s manual to determine what’s required for your car. Performing the manufacturer’s scheduled maintenance will improve the longevity of your vehicle and prevent unforeseen problems, such as the dreaded check engine light.

If you’re uncertain as to what your car needs, say for example, you bought the car used and don’t know what services the previous owner performed, we would be happy to take a look at it and inform you of what maintenance is due. A quick examination by a trained professional can help you stay on top of what’s going on under the hood.

In conclusion, the real answer to the question, “what’s involved in a modern day tune up” is that there is no such a thing. The tune up has been replaced with manufacturers scheduled maintenance procedures, which vary a great deal from car to car. So, the next time your engine starts running rough and the check engine light pops on, don’t go straight to replacing the plugs and wires. Save yourself some money by having the issue properly diagnosed and repaired.  We offer free diagnostic scans here.

Contact us if you have any questions about  tune ups and repair.

Top Scenic Drives In Utah

You love driving your car. You also love exploring Utah’s natural beauty; hiking the mountains, exploring the canyons and boating on the lakes. So, why not combine two of your favorite activities by taking a scenic drive? There are plenty of breathtaking road trips to be taken in our state, and we’re here to give you a list of some of the best.

Nebo Loop Byway: 35 miles, 1 hour 3 minutes.

http://www.utah.com/byways/nebo_loop.htm

This stunning drive takes your right through the Uinta National Forest. Located only a little over an hour south of Salt Lake it makes for the prefect day trip. You’ll want to take in the incredible views of the Wasatch Range and its tallest mountain, 11,929-foot Mt. Nebo. You also won’t want to miss the Devil’s Kitchen, Walker Flat and Mt. Nebo Wilderness.

 

Huntington & Eccles Canyons National Scenic Byways: 74 miles, 1 hour 53 minutes.

http://www.utah.com/byways/huntington_canyon.htm
One of the only paved roads over the Wasatch Plateau which divides the Great Basin from the Colorado Plateau, the Huntington-Eccles Canyons Scenic Byway is a drive you don’t want to miss. Known as the Energy Loop, it takes you through diverse landscape that showcases the historical past of the Native Americans, Spanish explorers and Mormon settlers that once occupied the land.

 

Flaming Gorge-Uintas Scenic Byway: 68 miles, 1 hour 33 minutes.

http://www.utah.com/byways/flaming_gorge.htm
If you’re interested in the prehistoric, this is the drive for you. The route begins in Vernal, the “dinosaur capital of the world” and takes your through the Ashley National Forest. You’ll enjoy taking in a wide range of scenery including dry deserts, aspen groves and flaming red rocks.

Logan Canyon Scenic Byway: 39 miles, 50 minutes.

http://www.utah.com/byways/logan_canyon.htm
For an amazing day trip through the through to the Wasatch-Cache National Forest, look no further than the Logan Canyon Scenic Byway. This route travels along the Logan River and through Logan Canyon, and offers outstanding views of Bear Lake. During the winter, this is also a popular destination for skiing, snowboarding and snowmobiling.

 

Colorado River Scenic Byway: 41 miles, 50 minutes.

http://www.utah.com/byways/upper_colorado.htm
Enjoy views of the Colorado River and its awe-inspiring sandstone cliffs. If you feel like making a pit stop, rafting or swimming in the warm, muddy waters of the Colorado River is a great way to spend a sunny day.

 

 Bicentennial Highway: 121 Miles, 2 hours 6 minutes.

http://www.utah.com/byways/bicentennial.htm
Bicentennial highway earned its name when it was completed in 1976, marking the 200 year anniversary of the United States. This federally designated National Scenic Byway heads through red-rock canyons, natural bridges, and the beautiful Lake Powell.

 

Zion Canyon Loop: 145 miles, 3 hours 8 minutes.

http://www.utah.com/nationalparks/grand_canyon/grand-circle-itinerary.htm
Even people who have never been to Utah know of the splendor of Zion Canyon. The scenic loop reveals some of Utah’s most amazing scenery including sandstone cliffs and monoliths that continuously change color. A bevy of carved canyons, jagged stone and raging rivers make it a drive you will never forget.

 

Monument Valley Scenic Drive: 41 miles 47 minutes.

http://www.utah.com/nationalparks/monumentvalley/visitor-center.htm

This jaunt starts out in Utah and ends up in Arizona. Along the way you will see the buttes, pinnacles and spires which form Monument Valley. Some of these rock formations have even been made famous in John Ford’s western movies.

 

Trail of the Ancients: 90 miles, 2 hours 22 minutes

http://www.utah.com/byways/bicentennial.htm
Take an exciting trip back in time on the trail of the ancients to explore civilizations of the Anasazi people from as early as 800 A.D. This route can be done by itself or combined with many of the surrounding drives. Be warned though, it does contain some dirt roads.

Don’t see your favorite drive here?  Let us know and we’ll add it!

BMW Vanos Repair

BMW Vanos Repair UtahMany newer BMWs need repair of the VANO system, this article explains what it is and symptoms of failure.  You may have heard the term ‘variable valve timing’ used in vehicle commercials and press releases. Most late-model vehicles are equipped with variable valve timing, which provides better control of the valvetrain, resulting in increased fuel economy and engine performance. VANOS is the name BMW has given its variable valve timing system.

BMW introduced the VANOS system beginning in 1992. The name comes from the German term “variable Nockenwellensteuerung”, meaning variable camshaft control. From the name, it’s easy to ascertain that the VANOS system continuously adjusts the camshaft. Depending on the speed of the engine, the position of the camshaft will be moved so that the valves can be opened either early or late. Fine tuning of valve operation is what allows the VANOS system to provide better fuel economy, lower emissions and a smoother running engine. The system uses engine oil pressure to operate and continuously adjusts as the engine runs. Double-VANOS was introduced in 1997, and is used to control the amount of exhaust gas recirculation (EGR) into the engine, for enhanced fuel economy. Read More

Subaru head gasket replacement

Subaru Head Gasket Repair in UtahSubarus are some of the most popular cars here in Utah. They are extremely reliable and great in the snow however they are very prone to head gasket failure.  We go over the ins and outs of getting your head gasket repaired in this article.

A bad gasket sounds innocent enough – gasket failures usually bring to mind leaks that can be remedied by sticking a drip pan under your car and keeping an eye on the oil level. Head gasket failures are not that simple and what’s worse, is that many Subaru vehicles suffer from such issues. Read More

How does a mechanic estimate how much a car repair will be?

Audi Repair Costs Near Salt Lake CItyHow does your mechanic decide what a head gasket replacement should cost on  a Subaru Impreza, or how much to charge for the cost of a brake repair on an Audi A4? Repair estimates are in fact, pretty straightforward. Because there are rules, regulations, and guidelines that repair shops must adhere to when creating repair estimates. To help you better understand the repair estimate (known in the industry as an R.O. or W.O.), I’ve broken it down below to illustrate just where the figures come from.

No matter what shop you visit, the repair estimate should have a breakdown of the following:

  • The parts to be used and specific prices: The price of a part is based on many factors such as where the part is coming from or whether it’s new, used or rebuilt. The most expensive parts are parts from dealers referred to as OEM parts (stands for original equipment manufacturer). An example is a new brake caliper directly from the Audi dealer.  New aftermarket parts are next on the list of most expensive parts, followed by remanufactured parts, and lastly, used parts. How much a shop charges for a part is generally set by the supplier of the part. In most cases shops will charge the same list price to the customer that is given to them by their supplier, without tacking on an additional cost.
  • Labor charges: Fortunately, there are labor guides to level the playing field. These guides specify how many hours should be allotted to each task or service. For example, a labor guide might state that a water pump replacement on a Chevy van takes 1.5 hours. That is exactly how many hours the shop charges the customer, regardless of how long the job actually takes. While adhering to labor guides is standard industry practice and required by law in many states, it is the cost per hour that is generally left up to the repair shop’s individual discretion. This is referred to as the labor rate, which will be listed on the repair order. In other words, to determine the labor cost of a particular job, the labor rate is multiplied by the number of hours allotted for the task, as determined by the labor guide.
  • Miscellaneous charges: This is where little charges, such as for shop supplies, get tagged on. After all, shop towels and degreaser don’t come for free. If repair shops had to bear the entire cost of these items, they would quickly be out of business. Miscellaneous charges are calculated as a percentage of each repair order. For example, if a shop charges 6% percent for miscellaneous, a $60 work order will have $3.60 add on.
  • Flat fees: These are repairs or maintenance-related services that are NOT broken down into parts and labor. An example is a $39.95 oil change of up to 5 quarts. 
  • Summary of the total estimate: At the bottom of an itemized repair invoice everything will be tallied up. The grand total will tell you if you want to fix your vehicle.

We hope the next time you’re in the repair shop, you’ll know exactly why it costs $425.82 to have your thingamajig and whatchamacallit replaced. And just do a little homework if you feel you aren’t getting a fair deal on the works performed on your car.  At JP Autoworks we also give free estimates on repair, however there are times that it takes many hours of diagnosis to pin point the problem.

VW and Audi Timing belt replacement- FAQ

Audi and VW engines must be timed correctly so that the opening and closing of the valves coincides with the up and down movement of the pistons. In your Audi or VW, it’s the job of the timing belt – a single piece of rubber – to make sure this happens. If the position of the timing belt is off just a single tooth, it can adversely affect engine performance. If the timing belt breaks, catastrophic engine failure can occur.
Utah & Audi Timing belt replacement

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indeed, the amount of responsibility engineers bestow upon a single strip of high-tensile fibers is dumbfounding.

Given the very nature of their construction and the role they play in engine operation, it’s not a surprise that timing belts break – often. But, what causes them to break?

Contrary to what you’d think, timing belts don’t stretch over time because they have fiberglass woven throughout. Instead, they just snap. This is because the fiberglass strands become brittle and break. When this happens your engine will inevitably stop, and if your engine is what’s referred to as an ‘interference engine” (and your Audi is) the pistons will likely make contact with the valves, causing major engine damage.

A friendly warning found in a Chilton repair manual
When to replace audi and VW timing belt
There’s only one way to protect your Audi or VW engine from a snapped t-belt: by changing it according to the manufactures recommendations. There is no way to tell whether a timing belt is worn just by looking at it. Getting a peak at it isn’t the easiest thing to do anyhow, since the timing belt is buried inside the engine and requires at least some dis assembly to view.

When To Replace Your Audi or VW Timing Belt

Audi and VW  recommend timing belt replacement every 60,000 miles. Depending on the year and model of your Audi/VW,  timing belt replacement falls somewhere between the 60,000 and 105,000 mile mark, with older models requiring more frequent belt swaps. In 2009, Audi/VW began using timing chains in some of their engines, which require no periodic maintenance.

Audi and VW Timing Belt Replacement Costs

Unfortunately, the majority of Audis cruising down the road today, including yours, still require timing belt replacement. It’s helpful to know what’s involved with the job, so you can appreciate why replacing a single belt can cost more than buying a used Honda Civic off Craigslist.

The bottom line is that timing belt replacement (Audi timing belt replacement in particular) is extremely labor intensive. The timing belt resides inside the engine, beneath the timing cover. Not only does the timing cover have to be removed to access it, but everything in front of the cover must be yanked out, too. On some older Audis, such as A4s, the entire front end of the car must be removed to access the timing belt.   This typically includes a plethora of parts including the bumper, radiator, headlights, serpentine belt and more.  So, don’t be surprised to pay anywhere between $800 and $2000 for timing belt service, depending on the model of your Aud or VW.

Audi A4 Timing Belt Replacement

Once access to the timing belt has been achieved, there is still much more work to be done. A t-belt can’t be slid off all willy-nilly like a serpentine belt. Instead, the engine must be rotated by hand so that the belt matches tiny marks, hardly visible to the naked eye, that are printed on the engine. The old belt must be removed, and the new belt must be installed, in line with the timing marks. If the alignment is off just a smidge, major engine damage can occur. In other words, the technician performing the replacement must have steady hands and nerves of steel.

Because a great portion of the timing belt R&R cost is labor dollars, it’s a good idea to replace any related parts at the same time. You should always replace the water pump while doing a timing belt job because the water pump is driven off the timing belt. The pump is a relatively inexpensive item with a high failure rate, so not replacing it during timing belt service makes about as much sense as pizza, which is round, coming in a square box (just think about it!). Replacement of the various seals behind the timing belt (camshaft(s) and crankshaft) is often advised, too.

Of course, you should always replace the timing belt tensioner, actuator and idler pulleys for proper timing belt performance. These items ensure your brand spanking new belt remains nice and taut while driving your engine, and that things don’t go ka-boom.

That’s probably more than you need, or would ever want to know, about timing belts. The moral of the story is: don’t forget about that seemingly innocent little belt hiding beneath your timing cover. It plays a big role in the longevity of your engine.

Contact us if you have any questions about replacing the timing belt on your Audi or VW. We are located close to Salt Lake City in West Jordan, UT for easy access.

Audi and VW Direct Injection Carbon Cleaning

Audi Valve Cleaning UtahEver since the internal combustion engine superseded the horse and buggy, carbon build up has been a problem. The advent of direct injection – which your late model Audi or Volkswagen  is equipped with – has made the problem even more common. This is because direct injection does exactly what it sounds like – it sprays fuel directly into the combustion chamber instead of into the cylinder head intake ports. Because fuel is no longer sprayed into the intake ports, the intake valves don’t get washed off by gasoline, or the detergents and cleaners that accompany it. This allows carbon to accumulate on the intake valves and wreak havoc on your engine. Read More

Tech Tips

banner1Here’s a list of tips to help your vehicle last longer:

  • Read your owner’s manual and follow the scheduled maintenance: there’s a lot of information packed into that tiny owner’s manual. Dig it out from beneath the heaps of napkins, pamphlets and other trash accumulated in your glove box and thumb through it. Of particular importance is the manufacture’s scheduled maintenance – it will tell you how often particular services should be performed on your vehicle.

There is a wealth of other information in your owner’s manual as well. Step by step information on how to perform most of the tips described on this page can be found there.

  •  Check and change your oil regularly: bring your vehicle to us for routine oil changes and check the oil level periodically between services.
  • Flush the cooling system on a regular basis: swapping out your vehicle’s anti-freeze on a regular basis ensures corrosion and deposits don’t build up. Plus, ensuring your anti-freeze has the correct concentration will prevent your engine from freezing up in the winter.

Also, be sure to check your coolant level between services. Do this by removing the radiator cap and checking the level inside the radiator – but only when the engine is cold. If the cap is hot to the touch, the system is under pressure and removing the cap could result in a nasty burn.

  • Change the transmission and differential fluid: servicing the transmission and differential according to the manufacturers scheduled maintenance. The fluid levels should also be checked between services. Typically, checking the levels of these fluids is a little more difficult and should be left to professionals.
  • Check the tire pressure periodically: checking your tire pressure from time to time will help you spot tire defects such as a slow leak. In addition, it will give you a chance to closely inspect the condition of your tires tread and sidewalls.
  • Bring your vehicle in for regular inspections: keeping an eye on your vehicle is essential, but it should still be brought to a professional for inspection at least twice a year. A trained technician will be able to spot potential problems you might have missed before they get too severe.