Category Archives: Parts
Don’t you hate it when you hear that squeal from under the hood when you’re zipping down a busy Des Moines interstate? It usually means there is a problem with the serpentine belt. The serpentine belt powers a lot of engine accessories. It runs the alternator – which charges the battery; the water pump – which cools the engine; the air conditioning and the power steering pump. All pretty important parts. It is called a serpentine belt because it snakes around a bunch of engine components.
Serpentine belts are amazingly tough. They can last for years and go for tens of thousands of miles. Like all important moving parts, however, they eventually wear out. If your belt breaks while you are driving around Des Moines, everything will come to a halt within minutes. You need to stop the minivan immediately or it will overheat, potentially causing costly engine damage. You can be sure that it won’t happen at a convenient time or place. (As if there was a convenient time or place!) You might even need to get your minivan towed to Des Moine BDG. It’s no wonder that auto manufacturers recommend a belt replacement on schedule. It’s one of those “have-to’s.”
Des Moines car owners who hear a squeal when accelerating or a slow, slapping sound at idle, should have their serpentine belt looked at. Your tech at Des Moine BDG in Des Moines will visually inspect your belt to see if it needs to be changed sooner than scheduled. If the belt has more than three or four cracks an inch, has deep cracks that penetrate half the depth of the belt, is frayed, is missing pieces or has a shiny glazed look, it needs to be replaced regardless of age or mileage.
Serpentine belt replacement is relatively inexpensive, especially compared with the cost and inconvenience of being stranded or getting a disabled minivan back to Des Moine BDG for critical repairs.
You’re mom was right: an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.
Des Moine BDG
2222 East Douglas Ave
Des Moines, IA 50313
Modern cars and trucks in and around Des Moines run on 12 volt electrical systems. 12 volts is enough to get the job done for Des Moines car owners without having so much power that there is danger of electrocution. But today’s vehicles have more electrical components and do-dads than ever before. This really strains your electrical system, making it hard for the battery to keep up. Think about it: electric seats, seat heaters, power locks, windows and sun roofs. And then us IA motorists have all the power outlets for our cell phones, computers, and DVD players.
We also have navigation systems and powerful stereos. Plus there are all the engine and transmission computers, traction control, stability control, anti-lock brakes, sensors and on and on. Even the security system is running off the battery while the car is turned off.
Fortunately, battery technology has given Des Moines drivers resilient batteries that are able to meet these strenuous requirements. But the fact is, batteries just wear out over time. Eventually, every battery gets to the point where it cannot hold enough of a charge to start your minivan. Sometimes batteries need to be replaced because they have just worn out. Or, in other cases, they have developed a leak which makes it even more essential to get it replaced.
Special safety precautions are taken when working with batteries in the shop at Des Moine BDG in Des Moines, IA. These precautions also apply to anyone who is poking around the battery. Batteries contain sulfuric acid that can damage your eyes and burn your skin, so safety glasses and rubber gloves are a must for any Des Moines car owners working with their battery. Be careful to not spill acid on your clothes or the minivan’s paint. Of course, avoid short circuiting the battery as well.
Replacement car batteries come in all shapes and sizes. Some cars have limited space that requires a specially shaped battery to fit. Larger engines require more powerful batteries to get them started. If you live where it gets cold in IA you will need a more powerful battery because engines are harder to start when it is cold.
Sometimes there is quite a price range in Des Moines auto part stores for batteries that will work in a particular car. Think of it as “good”, “better” and “best”. More expensive batteries have a longer warranty and are guaranteed to last longer. As with most things, paying a little more up front saves bucks in the long run for Des Moines drivers.
Des Moine BDG
2222 East Douglas Ave
Des Moines, IA 50313
Today we want to talk to Des Moines car owners about timing belts. They’re something that many Des Moines drivers don’t know much about and yet your vehicle won’t run if it’s broken – and it could cause many thousands of dollars damage if it does break. A broken timing belt is usually a tale of woe. Even though timing belt replacement is scheduled in the owner’s manual, it’s not the kind of thing that most Altoona drivers remember because it’s not well understood.
Let’s review what a timing belt does. As most Des Moines drivers know, the engine’s power is generated in the cylinders. A piston rides up and down in the cylinder. During the first down stroke, an intake valve at the top of the cylinder opens and air and fuel is drawn into the cylinder. Then the piston returns to the top, compressing the fuel and air mix. At the top, the spark plug fires, igniting the fuel pushing the piston down in the power stroke. As the piston once again returns up in the final stroke of the cycle, an exhaust valve opens at the top of the cylinder and the exhaust is pushed out. The timing belt is what coordinates the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves. It’s called a timing belt because the valves have to open and close at just the right time.
Now, not all Ankeny and Berwick vehicles have timing belts. Some have timing chains. Like the name implies, they use a chain rather than a belt to perform the function. It used to be that most engines used timing chains, which are extremely durable. The leading auto makers started using belts rather than chains to save money in the manufacturing process. So now Des Moines drivers and Des Moine BDG service specialists are left with a component that can break. They sort of shifted the problem to us. There are two broad categories of auto manufacturer engine design: interference and non-interference. If the timing belt on a non-interference engine breaks, the engine simply stops running. That could be very dangerous for motorists depending on where they are at the time, but it causes no internal engine damage.
Interference minivan engines, on the other hand, will get real messed up when the timing belt breaks, because the valves will actually fall down into the path of the pistons. Things get chewed up when that happens and it’ll cost a chunk of money to repair the minivan engine.
So, what are the warning signs? Unfortunately, there really aren’t any. There aren’t tell-tale sounds. In some vehicles, a technician from Des Moine BDG may be able to see part of the belt for a visual inspection, but many have a cover that’s in the way. The reality is that if the belt slips even one notch, it might as well be broken for all the expensive damage it’ll cause. There’s no middle ground.
So how can we avoid these problems? Simply replace the timing belt when your owner’s manual calls for it. It can be 60,000 miles; it might be 90,000 or 100,000 miles. The point is, if you have 60,000 or more miles, ask your Des Moine BDG service advisor right away if your auto maker requires a timing belt replacement.
Contact Des Moine BDG to learn more about your car’s Timing Belt
You can find us at:
2222 East Douglas Ave
Des Moines, IA 50313
Or call us at 1.800.LET.NAPA
Sometimes Des Moines car owners can go quite a while without a failure, but we’ve seen them happen within a couple of oil changes of being due. It’s not worth the risk.
What does it cost to replace a timing belt in Des Moines or Grimes? Well, that really depends on what kind of car you have. I can tell you that it’s usually not very easy to get to the timing belt – you often have to remove some accessories to get at it. It isn’t a cheap procedure, but it’s a fraction of what it could cost to repair the pricey damage caused by a failure.
At Des Moine BDG in Des Moines we’re all about trying to prevent pricey repairs, keeping you and your passengers safe and increasing your driving enjoyment. Thanks to AutoNetTV for their great auto video tips.
Improved fuel economy has two benefits: less fuel is necessary and fewer emissions are released. Grimes cars and trucks run cleaner than ever. Grimes auto owners may not realize that the first federally mandated pollution control device came out almost fifty years ago.
IA drivers that were around in the early 60’s may remember that the PCV valve came out on 1964 model cars. PCV stand for Positive Crankcase Ventilation. The crankcase is the lower part of the engine where the crankshaft is housed and where the engine oil lives. The crankshaft is connected to the pistons that power the engine.
When fuel is burned in the minivan engine, it pushes the pistons down and the crankshaft rotates and sends power to the transmission. Some of the explosive gases from combustion squeeze past the pistons and down into the crankcase.
Now this gas is about 70% unburned fuel. If it were allowed to remain in the crankcase, it would contaminate the oil and quickly turn it to sludge. Sludge is like Vaseline and clogs passages in the engine leading to damage.
Also, the pressure build up would blow out seals and gaskets. So in the old days, there was just a hose that vented the crankcase out into the air. Obviously, not good for our air quality in Des Moines.
Enter the PCV valve. It’s a small, one-way valve that lets out the gases from the crankcase, and routes them back into the air intake system where they are re-burned in the engine. Fresh air comes into the crankcase through a breather tube. This makes for good circulation in the crankcase. And that gets the bad air out. As you can imagine, however, the valve gets gummed up over time.
Grimes drivers that skip oil changes now and then will notice that the PCV valve gets gummed up even faster. If the PCV valve is sticking in your minivan, the gases won’t circulate as well, leading to increased pressure in the crankcase. That, in turn, can lead to oil leaks. Fortunately, the PCV valve is very inexpensive to replace at Des Moine BDG in Des Moines. Some can even be checked by your helpful Des Moine BDG advisor.
Your minivan auto makers usually recommend they be changed somewhere between twenty and fifty thousand miles. Unfortunately, PCV valve replacement is left out of some minivan owner’s manuals, but at Des Moine BDG, we will make sure your PVC is replaced if needed.
All of us Grimes car owners can do our part for the environment. Watch that lead foot, stay on top of our automotive maintenance and don’t forget to replace our PCV valve.
Hello Des Moines auto owners, let’s talk about your often-unnoticed but extremely important PCV valve. The energy from exploding fuel is what powers your engine. But some of the vapors from the explosions escape into the lower part of the engine, called the crankcase. The crankcase is where your engine oil hangs out. These gases are about 70% unburned fuel. If the gases were allowed to stay in the crankcase, they would quickly contaminate the oil and turn it to sludge. Altoona folks know that sludge is one of the biggest enemies of your engine, clogging it up, eventually leading to expensive failures. Also, the pressure build up would cause seals and gaskets to blow out. Therefore, these gases need to be vented out.
Pre-1963, gasoline engines had a hose that let the poisonous fumes vent out into the air. In 1963, the federal government required gas engines to have a special one-way valve installed to help reduce dangerous emissions. (Can you imagine how polluted our Altoona air would be if every car had been releasing those poisonous fumes for the last fifty years?) Diesel engines are not required to have these valves.
The positive crankcase ventilation, or PCV, valve routes crankcase gases through a hose and back into the air intake system where they are re-burned in the engine. Fresh, clean air is brought into the crankcase through a breather tube. It’s really a pretty simple system, but it does the job. The re-circulating air removes moisture and combustion waste from the crankcase, preventing sludge. This extends not only the life of your oil, but the engine as well. The PCV relieves pressure in the crankcase, preventing oil leaks.
Eventually, the PCV valve can get gummed up. Then it can’t move enough air through the engine to keep it working properly. If the PCV valve is sticking enough, you could have oil leaks, excess oil consumption and a fouled intake system. If you experience hesitation or surging or an oil leak, it may be a sign of PCV valve problems. Your owners’ manual may give a recommendation for when the PCV valve should be replaced – usually between 20,000 mi/32,000 km and 50,000 mi/80,000 km. Unfortunately, some vehicle manufacturers don’t list a recommendation in the manual, so it can be easy to overlook.
Many PCV system problems can be diagnosed with an automotive analysis by your helpful Des Moine BDG service advisor. Fortunately, PCV valve replacement is both quick and inexpensive at Des Moine BDG. Proper oil changes will greatly extend the life of the PCV valve. Skipping a few recommended oil changes can allow varnish and gum to build up in the valve, reducing its efficiency. So now when your Des Moines service technician tells you its time to replace your PCV valve, you will know what he’s talking about. If you have had your car for a while and this is the first you’ve ever heard of a PCV value, ask your service advisor to check yours out or call Des Moine BDG at 1.800.LET.NAPA.