We Recently Asked One Of Our Customers

Posted by & filed under Customers.

We recently asked one of our customers, Lori S. What she looks for when she’s choosing an automotive repair shop for her vehicles. Here’s what she had to say:

“When I take my vehicle in for repairs, I want to know that I am not being taken advantage of because I am a woman and may “not know anything about cars.” I am looking for a business that places integrity, honesty, and full communication over making a quick buck. I want to know that my car is getting everything that it needs, and nothing that it doesn’t, and that it will leave the shop running at full performance capacity. When I choose a mechanic, I want someone who has both experience and strong communication skills. I want to be included in the process of what is going to be done to my car so I need a mechanic who can talk me through the process, tell me the reasons why my car is acting up, what I need to do to prevent future problems, and do so with honesty and respect”.

At Central Automotive, we put people over profits. As a family-owned business, we understand that you rely on your vehicle not only to drive to work and back, but also to take your kids to soccer practice, music recitals, road trips, and so much more. It has always been our goal to provide excellent communication and transparency. Now this is easier than ever with our digital inspection reports. When you bring in your vehicle to our shop, we take pictures, and write out descriptions of the condition of your vehicle. This way when we describe what is going on with your vehicle, you can see it for yourself with our thorough digital inspection report. If there is more than one item, our friendly service advisors are happy to prioritize them for you by what services need to be completed now, and which can wait until the next appointment. We’re happy to answer any and all questions you have and ensure you and your vehicle are prepared for safe and reliable travels ahead. Plus, all our repairs are backed by a 3 year/36,000-mile warranty. Rest assured your vehicle is in the hands of the best automotive technicians in the industry. 

We understand vehicle repair can be inconvenient. This is why we offer a complimentary shuttle service to and from work within our service area. For larger repairs we also offer loaner vehicles to our customers. Give us a call today to schedule an appointment. We look forward to seeing you soon! 

Rats Help You Go Wireless

Posted by & filed under Tips.

Traitor. Double-Crosser. Snitch. Rats get a bad rap—these are just some of the personality types associated with rats that appear to be more human than rodent. But maybe, just maybe, rats deserve some grief. When you go out to start your car, get nothing but a click, and find out rats ate through your wires? Yeah, you might just call out rats for being socially unenlightened.

We regularly see this issue and want to make you aware of it. We’ll even provide some preventive tips!

Our most recent case was a customer that we built a high-performance Jeep Wrangler for. The car was not a “daily driver,” the kind of vehicle you use to get you where you need to go every day. But it ran beautifully when he did use it until one day it didn’t. When we took a look, we discovered a rodent’s nest and exposed wires that had been chewed through. This wasn’t the first time we’ve seen this.

What is that rats like about car wires? And why did this client’s vehicle look like a hotel with a 24/7 smorgasbord? Rats need shelter, especially during colder months. The engine compartment of a vehicle that isn’t a “daily driver,” such as our client’s brawny off-roader, looks pretty darn inviting. Once rodents make a nest, they need food and wires look like food. In fact, in a bid to make parts more animal-friendly and biodegradable, some manufacturers use soy-based wire coverings, making wires a five-star meal. Bon appétit!   

Looking for ways to make your car less appealing to rodents? Make sure you pick up pet waste, keep garbage locked down in cans that have tight lids, remove unneeded organic material such as wood and ivy from near walls, secure pet food, and seal off any small openings to your property. A hole in a garage wall, for example, might as well have a blinking neon “Rooms Available” sign.

Rodents can damage everything from headlights to engines. The symptoms you run into might be a check engine light, the vehicle running poorly or not starting. It might take weeks or even months for a gnawed-upon wire problem to become noticeable. That’s why it’s good to have the ASE Certified Technicians like those at Central Avenue Automotive on your side. Our staff is eager to learn, listen, and assist you at all times—that’s how we’ve earned an A+ from the Better Business Bureau. Give us a call at 253-854-6762 or request an appointment online.

Posted by & filed under Automotive News, Diagnostics.

What is a Walnut Blasting service, and why is it important? Do not literally put walnuts in your intake, but keep reading to learn more about this service recommended for BMW and MINI owners every 30,000 miles. It is especially recommended to do this before you tune or modify your vehicle.

All direct injection BMW engines suffer from excessive carbon build up on the vehicle’s intake valves to some degree. Not to worry as this is a common issue. As carbon levels increase though, the following issues will slowly become more prominent. BMW Walnut Blasting Service

  • Poor throttle response
  • Engine Misfiring
  • Loss of fuel economy
  • Cold start idle issues
  • Flat spots in the vehicle’s power band
  • Lack of Engine Power

I am sure you are wondering why this happens to your BMW. The most common reason for the carbon build up is due to contaminants in the air that pass across the engine’s intake valves. In a multi-port injection engine, fuel is injected prior to the intake valves, which allows the fuel to clean the buildup that accumulates on the intake ports and valves. Contaminants in the air mixture are then carried into the cylinder with the fuel to be burnt.

In BMW’s direct injection engine, fuel is injected directly into the cylinder. This causes the oil and carbon contaminants to collect on the valve. Over time, the engine is slowly restricted of useable air, which is why this service is necessary. Central Avenue Automotive provides BMW cleaning services for all Direct Injection engines. The service is completed with the use of our BMW factory approved tooling, and approved crushed walnut shell media. Our service removes excess carbon build up, and will save you significantly more money than if your cylinder head was removed for cleaning.

IS THERE A LONG TERM SOLUTION?

Unfortunately there is no simple solution to prevent carbon buildup of BMW direct injection engines. Some solutions may post-pone the problem or even extend the period between services, but they will not eliminate it fully. Our Service Team will help to educate our BMW and MINI Drivers about performing this cleaning as part of a regularly scheduled maintenance program we recommend every 30,000 miles.

BMW INTAKE VALVE CARBON CLEANING – KING COUNTY’S BMW SPECIALIST

Central Avenue Automotive is located in Kent Washington.  Our Team of Expert BMW Technicians offer complete BMW and Mini cooper Intake Valve Cleaning services, as well as BMW and Mini Cooper Repair, Factory Scheduled Maintenance, Tuning, and Performance Upgrades for BMW and MINI coopers.

Posted by & filed under Automotive News.

Have you thought about how much your vehicle really costs you? We have! Fortunately, we’re happy to share our knowledge.

Let’s consider the True Cost to Own (TCO) your car. Here’s a handy calculator that will tell you the TCO for your vehicle. Does the number surprise you?

Now that you have a number, let’s breakdown what the number means and where the costs come from. There are several factors to that go into the cost of your car. It isn’t just your monthly payment. It can include gas, insurance, and the silent punch – depreciation. Here’s a list of all the costs you need to consider when it comes to TCO.

For cars driven 15,000 miles in 2017, the average cost of ownership was almost $8,500. Yikes! Many drivers have no idea their vehicles are costing so much.

Thankfully, your car gets less expensive the longer you own it. While this seem counterintuitive, it’s true. The largest part, 40%, of your yearly car cost comes from the loss of value due to depreciation. This is a massive blow in the beginning of car ownership, but decreases more and more over time. This isn’t a cost you can see (which is why we call it the silent punch) but it does affect your resale value.

Compared to the cost of a new car, and the price of depreciation, service and repair costs aren’t actually that much in the grand scheme of things. Although a repair bill can seem like a big chunk of change at the time, it’s definitely more cost-effective to keep up with your maintenance and repairs than to lease or buy a new car every few years. Or, to deal with car payments and the depreciation hit all over again.

We offer estimates on repairs that help you determine whether it’s more cost-efficient to fix the vehicle or get rid of it. Because of the cost of buying a new car – it’s almost always worth it to fix! Do you have questions about the True Cost to Own your vehicle? Central Avenue Automotive is happy to help!

Posted by & filed under Engine, Maintenance.

Blown Car MotorYou may have seen a car smoking on the side of the road and heard, “oh, the motor is blown”. Or your own vehicle may have broken down and are now fearing that your engine is blown. What does it mean when a motor is blown? Let’s explain.

There are several things that can happen to an engine that can lead to the statement, “the motor is blown”. There is no one way to blow an engine, but it refers to a motor that has suffered catastrophic internal mechanical damage. An engine doesn’t actually blow up, even though there may be smoke, steam, or rarely even fire. The damage is so extensive that it affects the majority of the engine parts. There can be several issues including a cracked block, destroyed pistons, or busted intake and exhaust valves. Sometimes a valve breaks and punches through the top of a piston. The broken valve will cause incredibly hot, pressurized oil and smoke to shoot out of the top of the engine. This requires a complete engine replacement.

A blown engine can be expensive and in many cases necessitates a complete engine replacement. In the case of an older vehicle, this could be more than the value of the car itself. It’s important to take good care of your car, specifically your engine, to prevent the motor blowing.

Proper maintenance of your vehicle is critical for preventing a blown engine. Regular oil changes are critical to keeping your engine well lubricated and running smoothly. Extended periods of high speed driving and pushing your vehicle past recommended RPM levels are detrimental to your engine, and aftermarket turbo charging kits when used incorrectly can lead to issues. It’s important to use maintain and drive your vehicle according to the manufacturer’s recommendations in the manual.

If you are experiencing any early symptoms of engine problems, it’s important to consult a mechanic as soon as possible. Some signs may be uncommon engine knocks, low oil pressure, your car frequently overheating, or your vehicle is hard to start. If you car has any of these issues, or you need regular auto maintenance, let Central Avenue Automotive help. Call us today!

Posted by & filed under Auto Repair, Maintenance.

Auto MaintenanceIf you’re a car owner, it’s critical to know the difference between auto maintenance and auto repair. Both of these things are important to the overall performance, but they have different functions.

Maintenance is regular service that is required for your vehicle while auto repairs are performed when your vehicle is not functioning properly. Your owner’s manual will have a list of maintenance schedules with recommendations on what needs to be done and when. The most common regular maintenance, that everyone has heard of, is oil changes. Yet that’s not the only service that’s crucial for your car’s performance. Here’s a list of common auto maintenance needed to keep your car in tip-top shape:

  • Oil Change
  • Battery
  • Brakes
  • Tires
  • Power-Steering Fluid
  • Fuel Filter
  • Coolant
  • Engine Belts & Timing Belts
  • Spark Plugs

Auto RepairThat’s quite a list! It seems like a lot of things you need to manage, but many of these services are simple procedures that your auto repair facility can complete that day or with an appointment. Many customers delay maintenance for various reasons. They may think it’s unnecessary, they may be too busy to bring their vehicle in, they may want to delay paying for auto services, or they might not realize that doing maintenance now can save money in the long run by avoiding repairs. It’s OK if you don’t know the difference between a spark plug and an oil cap – as long as you bring your vehicle to a reputable shop for regular maintenance. In a nutshell: performing regular auto maintenance helps keep your ride running smoothly and can prevent costly repairs down the road.

Maintenance is regular service that will help prolong the life of your vehicle, while auto repair is when a part or fluid is not performing and needs to be fixed.

Without proper maintenance, pricey repairs might be needed. For example, changing a timing belt is a straightforward procedure that is usually done around 60,000 miles. If you don’t replace your timing belt, it may break at the worst time, leaving you stranded at the side of the road. Even worse, it can do hundreds of dollars of damage to your engine. One way to avoid an expensive repair bill is to keep up on scheduled maintenance. Of course, even with regular maintenance, your car might need repairs at some point in its lifetime.

Whether your car is running properly and needs routine auto maintenance, or your car is malfunctioning and needs repairs, Central Avenue Automotive can help. Our goal is to provide high quality workmanship on all auto maintenance and repairs so that your vehicle is running smoothly for years to come. Call us to schedule your appointment today!

Posted by & filed under Auto Repair.

Auto Repair Versus Buying a New CarWhen your car needs repairs, it’s always tempting to consider purchasing a new vehicle. It’s tough to pay money to fix your older model, leaving you wondering – is it better to spend less money more often on repairs over time, or spend lots of money all at once on a new car? Well, it’s more complicated than that. Every situation is different, and your particular answer will depend on a number of factors that are unique to you and your car. In general, it’s almost always better for your budget to repair your existing vehicle rather than buy a new one. It’s very unlikely that the price of repairs will outstrip the cost of a new car, unless your current ride is very old and/or very run down. We’ll go into more detail about the breakdown of auto repair versus buying a new car below.

The cost of repairs is less than a new vehicle.

Scheduled maintenance is a necessary service needed on any vehicle, and won’t go away when you purchase a new vehicle. For bigger repairs, it can be shocking to get a repair quote in the thousands, but repairs of that scale don’t happen very often and they are still just a fraction of the cost of a new car. You could make the argument that you could use that money as a down payment on a new car, but that doesn’t cover the entire cost. You would still have to sign up for a monthly payment until you can buy the car outright. If your current car is paid off and still functional, it’s more cost-effective to get it fixed.

New cars incur higher insurance and registration costs.

New cars are exciting, but the cost to insure and register them is higher. That’s just a fact. This is an additional cost you need to factor in when buying a car. You may not see it on the price tag, but it will raise the overall cost of owning and operating your vehicle. It’s something to consider before purchasing.

Your new car will immediately depreciate.

From the moment you take your shiny new ride home, it starts to depreciate in value. In the first year alone, most cars lose over 20% of their value. All cars depreciate as time goes on, but depreciation is especially painful on new cars – lowering the resale value and making the car worth significantly less than you paid for it immediately.

Keeping your older vehicle is more cost-effective than trading up for a newer model.

This may seem obvious, but it seems that car commercials expect us to trade in our car for a newer version every few years. This is expensive! Driving your car for longer, like 6 years or more, before getting a new one means you’re getting more value out of the vehicle and you have time to pay off the car in full. You can even start saving for the next one while you still drive your functional car. Instead of being beholden to a car payment every month, you can use that extra cash for savings, or anything else!

Sometimes there are compelling reasons to sell or trade your older vehicle and get a new one. Many people upgrade from a tiny commuter car to a more kid-friendly vehicle when their family expands. If your current car is a safety hazard, it may be time to upgrade to a newer and safer model. And in rare cases, where the price of necessary auto repairs actually exceed the value of your car, you may consider purchasing a new one. Since every car and car owner is unique, there’s no hard and fast rule for auto repairs versus buying a new car. After taking the above factors into consideration, you need to make a decision that’s right for you.

Central Avenue Automotive is always here to answer your questions and help see whether repairs are better for your budget. Give us a call!

Posted by & filed under Engine.

Low-Speed Pre-IgnitionA recent survey of auto technicians and shop owners has shown that 58% are aware of a problem with the low-speed pre-ignition events in car models with turbocharged gasoline direct-injection engines, such as those made by Kia, Hyundai, Volkswagen, and Buick. The issue is that engine oil is causing the engine to be more sensitive to low-speed pre-ignition events. If you’re unfamiliar with these events (also known as LSPI events), it means there’s an early ignition of the main fuel charge, which can cause high-pressure spikes or even catastrophic engine damage.

These events result in poor engine performance at low engine speeds, loss of compression in one or more cylinders, and internal damage to pistons, connecting rods, and the crankshaft. As you can probably see, these problems can mean serious problems for car owners, even including major engine repairs. Even though more than half of surveyed auto technicians and shop owners are aware the problem exists, only 37% can identify the engines that have LSPI problems. Thankfully, those of us here at Central Avenue Automotive are both aware of the issue and doing the necessary research to identify which cars are susceptible to this issue.

Once we understand the problem, the fix is simple enough — simply install oil with an additive package designed to prevent low-speed pre-ignition events. The engine may need to be reflashed with the latest calibrations, and the oil should meet the GF-5/SN Plus standard or the manufacturer’s recommendation. The key is in going to an auto repair shop that understands the issue and can properly diagnose it.

If you’re concerned that your car may be subject to these LSPI issues, please don’t hesitate to give us a call and set up an appointment to have us check it out. We should be able to tell you right away whether your car has a turbocharged gasoline direct-injection engine, and if so, we can easily change out the oil to make sure you’re not at risk of an LSPI event and potential engine damage. It’s always better to be safe than sorry, so don’t wait until it’s too late! These vents are uncommon, but they do happen.

Posted by & filed under Diagnostics.

vehicle inspectionWe often receive calls from customers looking for an estimate. They are concerned about a fee to test why their vehicle’s check engine light came on, especially when the car is running fine. Their neighbor or Dad or Grandpa came over and offered advice and a diagnosis of what he thought it might be.

Back in the good ole days this was usually effective. Cars did not have a so many parts. Friends, neighbors, and tow truck drivers helped try to figure out what the problem was, and many times they were right. However with today’s vehicles and the technological advances of computers in cars, vehicles have become incredibly complicated. To put this into perspective, Facebook runs on 62 million lines of code. Modern vehicles, especially the ones with infotainment systems, use 100 million lines of code. Today’s diagnostics are not really even done by a mechanic. With the amount of training that our technicians receive to deal with the complexity of vehicles, they are really a diagnostic engineer. With the growing cost of vehicles and the expense of individual parts, it is critical to have testing and diagnostics done by a master automobile technician or a diagnostic engineer.

We hear often “can you just plug in that box that tells you what’s wrong with the car?” The TV commercials that show this magic box are just selling you parts unfortunately. You may or may not need the part, but once it is installed you have paid for and own it. If that magic box was available, I would buy several! We would be able to still have grease monkeys, not diagnostic engineers with years of experience and training, not to mention $200,000 or more worth of tools and equipment. Then everyone would hire cheaper labor to replace the parts the magic box identified as bad. I wish auto repair was that easy.

There is no magic box. There is multiple different scan tools depending on the manufacturer of the vehicle. A scan tool, typically a custom Laptop or tablet, gathers information and data to point the technician in a direction to test the circuits and components that may have failed. But this is not the parts store tool that they do for free to sell you parts you may not need. A good scan tool typically costs $3,000 to $20,000 depending on car model. The parts store tool only scans 1 computer; most cars have 10 to 30 individual computers. The diagnostic scan tools we use at Central Avenue Automotive are complex and require extensive training to understand the data they are giving you, much the same way that a radiologist interprets X-rays and MRI scans.

What has happened over the years is many inexperienced shops or mechanics plug in the scan tool, and retrieve the code (a code is what points you in the direction of the items to test). For example, one code is PO300. This means a random misfire has occurred in the engine. With this code alone many shops will sell you spark plugs, clear the code, and hope it is fixed without any testing fee. Sometimes you get lucky and it fixes the code, other times the light returns in a few days and they sell you more parts.

Our diagnostic engineers at Central Avenue Automotive in Kent have the latest in diagnostic tools. At last count 18 scan tools and dozens of different types of testing equipment are used in our facility. Once testing is complete, an accurate repair can be performed. This process saves you time and money because the concern is fixed the first time; there’s no need to return for more parts.

As cars become more computerized, the systems are more difficult to test. Beware of anyone that will just replace parts and not test to identify the concern. Let the experts at Central Avenue Automotive use the latest technology, coupled with our rigorous training, to fix your car.

Posted by & filed under Cooling System.

Other things that need to be inspected:

Visually check the hoses and belts related to the cooling system. Look for hoses that are too hard or too soft, or that have cracks in the rubber. Make sure that the hose clamps are tight, and check to see that the belts have the proper amount of tension, and are not cracked or worn. To check the tension, push down on the belt. It should deflect about 1/2 inch. On some cars and trucks, mostly older ones, they have a belt that turns the fan. On other cars, the cooling fan is electric.

car cooling system

All cars should be using antifreeze in the radiator, even in the summer. Why? Antifreeze contains corrosion inhibitors, and actually has a higher boiling point than water. If you remember high-school chemistry, when two chemicals are mixed together, you end up with a boiling point that’s higher than either one of them separately. Water boils at around 200 degrees depending on elevation. Modern cars of today typically have normal operating temps of 200 to 230 degrees. If your coolant/antifreeze is not up to par, your vehicle will be boiling down the road.

Should you change your coolant before the summer hits? Most coolant these days is what’s called “lifetime” coolant, which means it’s good for 60,000 to 100,000 miles before it needs to be changed. Our experience has shown us that this is too long, and its long enough to be outside of most manufacturer’s warranty. We recommend that you have the cooling system inspected at each oil change, and have the coolant replaced every 2 to 3 years.

Another thing to consider is your vehicles thermostat. If you haven’t had your thermostat replaced, and your car is a few years old, we recommend to our customers that they get a new one when they’re having any cooling system repair done. A stuck thermostat is a common cause of engine overheating. Replacing the thermostat is relatively affordable, especially when you compare it to the cost of an engine. Replacing the thermostat could save you a breakdown somewhere between Seattle and Yellowstone. Trust me when I tell you that sitting on the side of I 90 in the middle of Montana is a miserable experience.