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Archive for December 2021

Have a Ball! Know your Ball Joints (Ball Joints)

Posted December 26, 2021 11:12 AM

We all have joints in our own skeletal system, but did you know your vehicle has some joints of its own? One of the most important is called a ball joint.

One of the interesting things is that it's somewhat similar to the ball and socket joints we have in our hips and shoulders.  A ball joint allows two parts it joins together to move in more than one direction at the same time.

Think about your wheels.  They have to move up and down when there are bumps in the road but in sideways directions when you are making a turn. As you can see, the ball joints are important for your steering and handling to work correctly.

Since ball joints do so much, they can wear out and become loose.  When the ball wears down or the socket gets worn, there can be too much play in them.  It can get so bad that the ball can come out of the socket and your wheel can fall off, a dangerous situation.  Ball joints can also seize up.  Some of them are sealed and never require maintenance; others require periodic lubrication.

Here are some signs that your ball joints are going bad:

  • Your vehicle pulls to one side
  • You can hear a clunking noise coming from a wheel area
  • Your tires are wearing unevenly, especially on the inside

The earlier a failing ball joint is discovered, the better. The best way is to have regular inspections by a technician.  Your service facility will periodically check ball joints at intervals recommended by the manufacturer. The cost to replace them can vary widely depending on whether you have a vehicle with a 2-ball or 4-ball configuration.  Also, sometimes just the joints can be replaced, but other times they are part of a larger control arm assembly that has to have all the parts replaced at the same time. 

Your vehicle's proper steering, handling and tire wear all contribute to a better, safer driving experience.  Make sure your ball joints are up to the job.

Folsom Autotech
1126 A Sibley St
Folsom, California 95630
(916) 985-0274



Don't Neglect Your Spare (Spare Tire Care)

Posted December 19, 2021 11:29 AM

If you've ever had a flat tire, then you know welcome it is to have a spare tire that is properly inflated, in good shape and easy to get to.  Problem is many of us don't even give our spare tire (if we even have one) a second thought.

If you have an SUV or truck with a spare, it may be mounted outside the vehicle, such as on the tailgate or underneath the vehicle.  All of them, especially those underneath, take the brunt of debris, moisture, salt and dirt from the road surface, a potpourri of corrosion potential.  The hardware that holds these on can rust into a solid mess, making it hard for you or even a roadside assistance service to get off. 

If you have one of those, have it checked and maintained at your vehicle repair facility on a regular basis.  They should be lubricated and cleaned periodically, and some recommend doing this service every time you have your tires rotated.  If the spare is the same size as the tires on the vehicle, it may be a good idea to have it rotated with the others. 

Some vehicles have compact spares that are in a small well in the trunk or some other spot. Most drivers don't pay any attention to them.  Over time, air leaks out of those spares, leaving them flat when you most need them.  When you have your vehicle in for service or routine maintenance, ask your service advisor for his or her advice on making sure the spare is inflated properly and cleaned, usually at least twice a year.

You may not know it, but your vehicle may not have any spare at all.  Instead, it may have an inflator kit that you are supposed to use to inflate and seal a flat tire.  That sealant has a limited life span and should be replaced every few years.  Check with your service advisor to make sure the kit is up to date and will do the job when called upon.

Manufacturers know a flat tire's always a possibility.  No matter what contingency solution they've included with your vehicle, keep it in shape and in good working order.  When you need it, you'll be very glad you did.

Folsom Autotech
1126 A Sibley St
Folsom, California 95630
(916) 985-0274



For 4x4s (Maintenance of 4x4 Vehicles)

Posted December 12, 2021 12:19 PM

Some people love 4x4 vehicles, the true 4-wheel drive works of engineering like Jeeps and 4x4 pickups that allow you to seemingly go anywhere on the planet. You can climb up a 40-degree rock trail with some planning and skill (always careful to protect the environment, of course), or you can get through the deepest snow.

But with that added capability comes additional complexity, drive-train components and other systems that less capable vehicles don't have.  And that is why when it comes to 4x4s, you have to maintain them a little differently from those vehicles that spend their lives on pavement.  Here are some of the key things to keep an eye on:

  • Transfer case—This transfers power from the engine to the wheels.  A transfer case has fluid in it that needs to be changed at intervals recommended by the manufacturer.  Your service advisor will let you know how often that is and will keep track of your service dates.  You will need to make sure the transfer case seal is working properly.  Otherwise, transmission fluid could get in and cause damage that is costly to fix.  Some transfer cases have an electric motor that shifts it through gears, and its connections are often exposed to the elements, making them vulnerable to damage and corrosion.  Proper maintenance will keep those connections working like they should
  • Front and rear differentials—These also have to have the right amount of fluid and should be checked regularly.  Your service advisor can let you know when you need that fluid changed as the owner's manual recommends.  It's important the service is performed correctly with the proper lubricant so it will work the way it is designed to.
  • Brake lines—Those 4x4s practically beg to go into wet spots. They also are great machines to conquer snow: road salt, brine and all.  Moisture, salt and brake lines are a recipe for corrosion, so brake lines need to be inspected regularly.  There are anti-corrosion sprays or white lithium grease that can retard corrosion.  Remember, getting there is half the fun, but not being able to stop is no fun at all.

So enjoy your 4x4 and what it can do that other vehicles can't.  Just remember that even though it's tough on the outside, it needs special care to keep it going.  Oh, and remember to take care of the environment when you go off-roading, too. 

Folsom Autotech
1126 A Sibley St
Folsom, California 95630
(916) 985-0274



Keeping Your Cool (Coolant leak repair)

Posted December 5, 2021 9:55 AM

If there’s one thing you should pay attention to with your vehicle, it’s the temperature gauge. It’s the one that may say C---H (that means “cold---hot”).  Or maybe yours has a picture of a thermometer on it and a blue and red zone.  If you see the needle heading farther to the “H” or red area, that means your vehicle’s engine is running hotter than it normally does.

One of the most common causes of an engine running hot is a leak in your cooling system.  Maybe you’ve seen puddles of coolant under your vehicle, or you’ve smelled the coolant, either inside or outside your vehicle (it has a sort of “sweet” or fruity smell). That’s your engine giving you a warning signal that it’s time to head over to your repair facility to find out what’s going on.

Your vehicle’s coolant can leak for several reasons.  You may have hoses that are deteriorating (heat and age take their toll). It’s possible the pump that circulates coolant has developed a problem (seals and bearings can fail from heat and wear).  You may have something as simple as a bad radiator cap.  Or your radiator or heater core may have holes in it. 

If your coolant is leaking out, this can cause serious damage to your engine if you just let it go.  Your engine could get so hot that some of the metal parts start to warp.  Sometimes, your coolant can start mixing in with your engine oil.  That can result in a very expensive repair if it gets to that stage, so have it checked out before that happens.

A technician will visually inspect your coolant system, including the reservoir tank, check hoses and fittings, test the water pump, and also may pressure test the radiator.  When the problem or problems are found, they will replace the necessary parts and get you back on the road. 

When it comes to a coolant leak, finding the cause can be tricky.  But it’s important to catch a cooling system issue in time—before your engine sustains more serious damage.  Now, that’s pretty cool.

Folsom Autotech
1126 A Sibley St
Folsom, California 95630
(916) 985-0274



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We have established longterm and stable partnerships with various clients thanks to our excellence in solving their automotive needs!

These mechanics fix your vehicle and stand behind their work. They bent over backwards to accommodate me and my schedule. They are located on an easily accessible corner with plenty of parking. The manager, Ron, and owner, Jim, were professional and courteous at all times with such great smiles and information as well as many years of experience and knowledge. A real find and I will continue to use them for my mechanical needs. quotes-image
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