Posted by & filed under Driving, Tips.

As we get into the summer season, temperatures soar, and so do the miles we put on our cars. One of the great American traditions is the family road trip. There are a few simple steps you can take to ensure that when you’re driving up the North Cascades highway, or you’re on your way to Yellowstone to see Old Faithful, your vehicle does not overheat. If your vehicle has cooling system issues you will see a geyser, just not the one that you had planned on. The good news is this can all be avoided.

First, make sure that the radiator is in good shape. Rust and corrosion can cause the radiator to rot away from the inside out. Even though the radiator may not be leaking now, it will be leaking soon, which leads to overheating of the engine. When your engine isn’t cooled properly, it can easily blow a head gasket. When your engine isn’t cooled properly a cylinder head can crack or warp. Engine cooling system failure is one of the leading causes of major engine damage.

You might ask, what is a radiator? It is shaped like a small door with an opening on the top and bottom for hoses to connect to, and has another opening to add or replace its fluid. The radiator has little tubes through which the coolant flows, so that it can get cooled by the air flowing past it. This is how the engine is cooled.

It takes some experience to recognize potential upcoming cooling system problems. Fortunately, our Master Technicians at Central Automotive have years of experience with cooling systems, and can detect most cooling system failures. Our technicians here at Central Automotive will visually inspect the cooling system, and touch it to see how hard it is, to get it to crumble. They will also perform a pressure test and a chemical test on the cooling system. Unfortunately, sometimes this testing can be destructive. If the cooling system is going bad it will start to leak. But it’s much better that it happens in the shop than on the highway, right?

Another common radiator problem is a radiator that is plugged, blocking coolant from flowing through it. If this happens, you’ll notice that your engine is running hot when you’re driving up a mountain pass, or when you are in stop and go traffic, or when you turn on your AC.

A plugged radiator can be the kiss of death for your car or trucks engine. How do radiators get plugged? Rust corrosion from the engine, and deposits from water over time, will plug the small tubes just like water will plug a shower head over time. If you haven’t had your cooling system serviced every few years it’s likely that many of the little cooling tubes within the radiator core are clogged with rust. Those cooling tubes are crucial to the success of the radiator. That is how the radiator cools the engine, by passing the coolant through those channels and blowing cool air across them. So, if your radiator is plugged, it will still work, but not as well.

You’re most likely to notice the problem when the car is under the greatest demand, such as going up Snoqualmie pass with the kids in the back seat, luggage in the trunk, and maybe like the Griswold’s, your mother in law strapped to the roof of your car. If your engine ran even a little hot on the last 80 or 90-degree day, have one of our Master Technicians find the cause of it right now before it’s too late.

Posted by & filed under Brakes, Maintenance, Tips.

Picture this: It’s raining. You’re driving down Kent Kangley and the car in front of you decides at the last minute to turn into the Starbucks (you know the one, right there on East Hill, next to Kent Meridian High School) and your life flashes before your eyes; you realize just how important your brakes are. If you’ve ever had your brakes go out while you’re driving down Highway 18 into Auburn, you know just how terrifying it can be! We want to make sure you and your family stay safe, so we’ve put together this handy guide to help you understand when you have a brake problem and how to make informed decisions about the repairs.

Often times, the first indication that something is wrong with the brakes is an unusual sound like a squeal, chatter, or grinding noise. If the sound is coming from your brakes, it’s possible that your brake rotors and/or the calipers may be damaged; this may be especially true if you drive a Ford that does not have wear indicators on their pads.

Most cars’ brake pads are embedded with a little piece of metal that will make an annoying squealing sound once the brake pads have been worn down to the point that they need to be replaced. Once you hear that sound, it’s time to have your brakes inspected right away at Central Avenue Automotive; brakes are one item on the car the longer you wait the worse it gets.

Some sounds are more urgent than others. A chattering sound usually indicates that something is loose, like the brake hardware. It could be a defective brake pad or a defective brake caliper. If one of those parts fails, you could have some serious trouble stopping the vehicle. 

A grinding noise is typically is an indication that the brake pad is completely worn away and the metal back of the brake pad is now rubbing directly on the brake rotor. That means the rotor is being damaged and will most likely need to be replaced. Other warning signs that your brakes may be having issues are if the pedal feels soft and spongy; this is an indication that you are having hydraulics issues, or something is leaking. Or, it may feel very hard to push the pedal down, which is an indication that your power assist is starting to fail. Either one could mean trouble. And of course, if you are driving a newer vehicle like a Chevy Silverado or a Range Rover, you may get a dashboard brake warning light.

When it comes time for your technician at Central Ave Auto to replace the brake pads on your vehicle, you can choose which type of replacement pads you’d like to get. If you choose the same pads that came standard on your vehicle, you can expect the same performance and durability as with the pads that came on the car from the factory. In a lot of cases, many of these standard products don’t last as long as you’d think or fall under the warranty parameters that you’d expect; this tends to be the case with models like Ford E 250, Dodge Caravans or many Chrysler products. We’ve worked on a lot of 1-year-old vehicles with less than 20,000 miles and the brakes are worn out.

Some of our customers insist on more economical, lower-cost pads. No problem! At Central Avenue Automotive we’re happy to help our customers within their budget, which is why we offer a Good, Better, and Best Brake Pad Service. Each service is equal to or better than the original parts that came on the car. Despite this, there are some brake pads that we don’t offer. Lower grade pads are usually noisier, so you’ll have to live with more noise when you apply the brakes; your friends and neighbors will always know when you are close by – so if you are trying to sneak up to the soccer game that you’re late to at Tahoma High School, good luck! They also tend to generate a lot more of that nasty black brake dust that accumulates on your wheels and typically won’t last as long. In our opinion, that’s a lot of compromise for just a few dollars in savings.

Our Premium Brake Pads perform at higher specifications than the factory pads; if you choose to purchase, you’ll find you’ll get quieter operation, less brake dust, and better stopping power.

If you have any of these warning signs we’ve mentioned, don’t wait to have Central Avenue Automotive in Kent perform your free brake inspection today! Coming in soon for oil service? We’ll inspect your brakes at the same time, as well as perform a complete vehicle inspection and tire rotation. Our friendly and knowledgeable service advisors are always happy to help you make the repair decision that’s right for you.

Central Avenue Automotive
1514 Central Avenue South Ste. A
Kent, WA 98032

Posted by & filed under Maintenance, Tips.

When you bring your vehicle into Central Avenue Automotive in Kent, we don’t just poke around under your hood each vehicle receives a thorough comprehensive inspection by an ASE master technician. Central Avenue Automotive technicians have lists and procedures they follow for different types of vehicles.  We use a state of the Art electronic inspection and documentation process with pictures and video tailored to your make and model of vehicle.  At our Kent service center we will note the mileage on your vehicle. Then we check to see what inspections and services the OE manufacturer recommends for a vehicle of your make, model and mileage but since every vehicle’s lifestyle is different  for example we might have a Honda odyssey that drives the kids to soccer practice at starfire in Tukwila and another Odyssey that is used as a plumbers van and is loaded with tools and materials even though these were identical vehicles when they were built they both have very different needs and that’s the difference that you will find at Central Automotive in Kent  We follow the manufacturer’s service schedule and then our expert technicians perform the vehicle inspection and will tailor the service needs to your vehicle.

For our regular customers we will have documentation of all vehicle needs in the future as well as thorough record of the vehicles past supported with photos and a digital inspection this allows us to drill down the service process to the customer’s needs.

Our typical inspections will, that we do while we are servicing your vehicle the master technicians at Central Ave Auto will check belts, hoses, brakes, filters, fluids we will also inspect your engine computer for fault codes We also inspect your tires steering and suspension all of you lighting we even check your windshield wipers for wear.  Then our highly skilled service advisers will help you develop a vehicle life plan so you know if there’s an urgent problem that needs taken care of, get it taken care of and will know about problems that might be developing in the future, and with our digital inspection our customers will have online access to their digital inspection records whether you live in Kent, Auburn or Maple Valley or Covington whether you drive a BMW or a Mini cooper we will have you covered. We have more than 200 years of combined automotive service experience and have helped thousands of our customers develop  services are in order, you are given options based on driving needs and budget.

An easy way to think about it can think of it like a trip to the dentist for a check-up. The dentist will do a thorough exam and take x-rays. Then the hygienist will clean your teeth and check your gums. At the end, the dentist comes in and inspects your teeth. You’ll be told if you need any work done, about problems that are developing, and if anything is urgent.  You will be presented with different care options and recommendations.
This helps you make sure your teeth are in good working order just like your car.  At Central Avenue Automotive in Kent we do it the same the same way. We want  our clients to have worry free driving  and to be able to make informed decisions about their vehicles because none of us want to be one of those blocking disabled vehicles on I405 or HWY 167 on your way home to Auburn.

Preventative maintenance is a lot like dental check-ups, as well. Small problems can develop into big ones. A cavity becomes a root canal. A dirty filter becomes engine damage. Skipping regular inspections or “check up’s” for either your teeth or your vehicle can lead to costly repairs.
We are always hear to help call us any time 253-854-6762 or visit us at 1514 s central in Kent or on the web at

Posted by & filed under Inspection, Tips.

Your vehicle’s car care provider take the safety of your vehicle very seriously. You have chosen your car care professional because you trust them and look on them as the experts in their chosen career.  These professionals know you can get your oil changed in about ten minutes at a local quickie lube. The difference is the young person working there is not a technician.  The majority is working their way through college and the automotive field is not their chosen major. When you choose a shop with certified technicians and certified master technicians you get experts.  These dedicated professionals are educated in the field of vehicle inspections.  They spend money each year on continuing education so they are always up to date on the latest in vehicle service and repair.

Their vehicle inspections reflect this.  They usually come in two varieties…the Courtesy Inspection and the Bumper-to-Bumper Inspection.  They may have different titles depending on the shop, but whatever they call it, here is the difference!  I think you will get the idea.

vehicle inspection

The Courtesy Inspection is a “visual” inspection and takes a few minutes to perform.  The technician will look for obvious problems such as tires that look low in air, leaks, frayed wiper blades, corroded battery terminals, a dirty air filter and a few more items.  If something is obviously wrong they will of course tell you about it so you can make an informed decision on fixing it now or later.

The Bumper to Bumper Inspection is “hands on” and takes about an hour to perform.   This is a very thorough inspection.  An inspection every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, depending on your vehicle and your driving habits, keeps your car reliable.

Your car is the patient of an automotive shop.  It is treated much like your doctor or dentist treats you and your health needs or the vet treats your pet’s needs. A good shop will always let you know what can wait, what should be done but isn’t critical to your vehicle’s operation at this time and which item(s) should be serviced or repaired right now.

Hopefully this helps you understand more fully the difference between a courtesy and a bumper-to-bumper inspection.


Posted by & filed under Maintenance, Tips.

DOES SOMETHING SMELL FUNNY TO YOU? Funny Smells From Your Car Explained
We get frequent complaints that “my car smells funny.”  This is just another way that your vehicle is trying to tell you something.  Here are a few examples that you may find useful when your car smells like:

Rotten Egg – This is caused by hydrogen sulfide in the exhaust.  This is caused by a fuel-injection problem or a failed catalytic converter.

Burnt Carpet – The brake pads are overheated or you left the handbrake on.

Gym Locker – Mildew in your air-conditioning evaporator.

Gas – Leak in fuel injection line or a fuel-tank vent hose.

Sulfur – Gear lube is leaking from the manual transmission, transfer case or differential housing.

Hot Oil – Oil is leaking onto the hot exhaust manifold.

Burnt Newspaper – When the clutch slips, the clutch facing is burning off.

Maple Syrup – Coolant is leaking or you have a bad heater core.

Some of the symptoms are serious, some not.  The best course of action is to have it checked out so it can be determined if it is something you can live with, if you choose, or something that needs to be taken care of as soon as possible.

Please call us with any questions at 253-854-6762 or visit our website at
Happy Motoring!

Posted by & filed under Alignment.

Our roads in South King County are some of the worst in the country.  Yesterday I was on my way to Kent from Auburn driving down Central Avenue south and when I got to the stop light at 272 I hit a pot hole so big It bounced the coffee right out of my cup holder. Later that day I was on my way going up 256th on East Hill  and I noticed that my car was now pulling to the right!  That pot hole knocked my car out of alignment. It’s fairly easy to see if you have an alignment problem. If your car drifts or pulls to one side, the steering wheel is “off center”, or if you notice uneven tire wear or the car doesn’t feel like it handles right as you drive around South King County.  If you are on one the freeway a good one would be Hwy 167 between Kent and Renton if you loosely hold your steering wheel your car should track straight.

When the wheels on your vehicle are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Running into potholes, smacking a curb or other objects in the roads around Kent, Washington are great ways to knock a car out of alignment. If one or more of your wheels starts pulling in a different direction is the sign that you have a vehicle that is out of alignment.

The team of trained automotive technicians at Central Avenue Automotive in Kent wants to warn you that driving for a extended time when your car is out of alignment will cause your tires to wear unevenly and excessively.
At the very least, drivers with wheels out of alignment will have to replace the tires on their cars more often. You will end up with premature wear to your suspension system.
The front wheel alignment is adjustable on all vehicles, and the back wheels are also adjustable on some cars.

Now, let’s talk about some alignment basics.
Wheels are adjustable for toe, caster and camber. The perfect alignment for your car was designed by its engineers.

So what’s involved when you schedule an alignment check at Central Avenue Automotive in Kent?

  1. We complete a thorough inspection of the steering and suspension to see if anything loose bent or broken Tire condition will also be inspected.
  2. The next thing we do is install our state of the art Hoffman alignment machine and we take digital measurement of the vehicles alignment.
  3. If all four wheels are adjustable, they are lined up perfectly parallel with the vehicle’s center-line.
  4. If the back wheels aren’t adjustable, the direction they push is determined and the front wheels are aligned to match.

Like most things on your Vehicle manufactures have a recommended mileage interval for having alignment checked.
But if you run into a curb, pothole or something else that’s given you a big jolt, pay attention to whether your vehicle is pulling to one side when you drive around the Auburn and Kent area traffic on HWY 18 on your way to Maple Valley or Covington or if you are going south to Federal Way can be very scary with all of the road construction the roads are so narrow you want your vehicle to hold the line that you chose your life may depend on it.

Vehicle owners should have their Alignment checked at least 2 times a year as part of your scheduled maintenance.  Better to check it out before you wear out a set of tires!

Getting your alignment checked at Central Avenue Automotive when you are having your oil changed  is a great way to extend the life of your tires and suspension parts increase fuel mileage and enhance your driving experience . It also makes sure that your tire meets the road properly for maximum performance and safety as you travel  around the Seattle area.
Come see us at for more information about your tire alignment or any of your vehicle needs whether its lifted our lowered we have the team and the technology to handle anything from a BMW to a Ford F-350. We look forward to serving you.

Central Avenue Automotive
1514 Central Avenue South Ste. A
Kent, WA 98032

Posted by & filed under Fuel System, Maintenance.

Fuel Filter ReplacementThe function of the fuel filter is pretty self-explanatory: it filters your fuel. The fuel filter is in the fuel line somewhere between the fuel tank and the engine. Both gas and diesel vehicles use fuel filters.

Generally speaking, there’s not a lot of dirt in our Kent WA auto fuel supply, but there is enough that you want to screen it out. The problem actually gets worse the older your vehicle becomes. That’s because dirt, rust, and other contaminants will settle out of the fuel and onto the bottom of the fuel tank. After your SUV is five years or older, it can actually have a fair amount of sediment built up.

That just means that the fuel filter has to work harder as your SUV ages. It’ll get clogged sooner and need to be replaced more often.

Fuel Filter Replacement

A symptom of a clogged fuel filter is that the engine sputters at highway speeds or under hard acceleration. That’s because enough fuel is getting through around town, but when you need more fuel for speed, enough just can’t get through the filter. Obviously, that could be dangerous if your car or truck can’t get enough power to get you out of harm’s way.

For just that reason, fuel filters have a bypass valve. When the filter is severely clogged, some fuel can bypass the filter all together. Of course that means that dirty, unfiltered fuel is getting through to be burned in the engine.

This dirt can then clog and damage your fuel injectors. Now injectors are not cheap to replace, so you don’t want to cause them damage just because you didn’t spend a few bucks to replace a fuel filter.

You know, in a way, the fuel filter can be the poster child for preventive maintenance. It’s a little part, it’s simple, and it’s cheap to take care of. But if it’s neglected, it could lead to thousands of dollars of repair bills.

Those auto service schedules in your owner’s manual are there for a reason. If ever you don’t understand a recommended service, just ask your service adviser at Central Avenue Automotive. We’ll be happy to explain. For more information about maintenance recommendations, come by our shop located at 1514 Central Ave S Ste A in Kent, WA 98032. Please call 253.854.6762 to make an appointment.

Posted by & filed under Maintenance.

Changing an Oil FilterThe oil filter is one of the most important parts of the engine. Its job is to filter out any contaminates created by the normal wear and heat of the engine. When your car has the oil changed, most likely the oil filter is also changed, at least I hope so.

Years ago, we all knew that the oil and filter was changed at 3,000 miles, it was just the way it was. Enter the new age of cars, oils and filters; especially synthetic oils which last much longer as stated in some of my previous articles. Many oil changes can last 5,000 to 10,000 miles depending on the type of car, type of oil and how many quarts of oil are in the oil pan.

Back in the day when we recommended the 3,000-mile service, any oil filter would easily protect the engine for that mileage, but not many oil filters would protect your car for more than 5,000 miles. If you are driving longer than 5,000 miles between oil changes and using a low cost oil change shop, you may be damaging the engine and not even know it.

Let me explain. Oil filters all look the same on the outside, but are very different on the inside. The difference lies in the amount of filtering material used and type of drain back valve used inside each filter. Less expensive filters, as you would suspect, have less filtering material and a less reliable drain back valve.

Hazards of a Cheap Oil ChangeThis may seem insignificant, but the results can be catastrophic. When you drive longer than 5,000 miles on one of the low cost filters, the filter starts to lose the ability to keep the contaminates contained and they slip into the engine bearings, causing premature wear. The eventual outcome is engine failure. It does not pay to have an inexpensive oil change and an inexpensive oil filter put on your newer model car.

Currently, there is not a standard or law that says what part or quality of part, needs to be put on your car. If you have an engine failure that should be covered by a warranty, and you have been using cheap oil/filter, this is not only scary for you, the consumer, but it could get downright ugly as the manufacturer may deny the claim. Ultimately, the consumer should be aware of what is going on with the car and use a service center you trust.

A cheap oil change may save you money short term, but will not save you money in the long run.

Posted by & filed under Alignment.

Vehicle alignments helps your tires last longer, can help improve gas mileage and provides tighter handling to give you and your passengers a better ride and safer ride. A alignment inspection and service can keep you worry free and your vehicle on the road longer.

Is Your Vehicle Pulling left or right? Your vehicle is Telling You Something

Tire AlignmentRough roads, potholes we all know how bar the roads are in Kent or anywhere in the Seattle area and the occasional smacking of a curb don’t just make for an uncomfortable ride; they can knock your wheels out of alignment. Misaligned wheels can pull your vehicle to one side and cause you to constantly correct your steering. If your vehicle pulls to one side consistently when you apply your brakes, it could be an alignment issue. As regular maintenance you should align your vehicle once a year. Without proper alignment can also cause a “shimmy” or vibration in your steering wheel when your wheel is shaking every part between your steering wheel and your tires is also shaking. Wheels that are out of alignment can also cause uneven tire wear and can do severe damage to your tires quickly. Uneven tires wear out more quickly and don’t grip the road properly; especially in bad weather and with the amount of rain that we get in Western Washington you need all of the traction you can get. A vehicle that is out of alignment will cost you time and money.

Straight Talk and Straighter Wheels

The highly trained technicians at Central Avenue Automotive are the best in the area when it comes to your car . After a quick discussion with your service adviser our ASE master technicians will conduct wheel angle measurements using our state of the art Hoffman digital alignment system. These wheel angle measurements will show quickly whether your wheels are within the alignment settings specified by your vehicle manufacturer. If they don’t match the recommendations your technician will quickly perform adjustments to all 4 wheels to get thing set straight. Whether you are driving a BMW or a Lifted F-250 or a slammed Subaru Central Avenue Automotive has you covered.

How Often Should I Check my Alignment?

Wheel AlignmentMany vehicle manufacturers now recommend Alignments as part of your regular scheduled maintenance but one thing is for sure our roads in Kent and Auburn even Covington are so rough and poorly maintained that we suggest that you have your Alignment check at least once a year, This is a quick service that can be done at the same time you get your oil changed and tires rotated. But because alignment issues are often a result of a incident, like a falling hard in to a pothole or hitting a curb or debris in the road this will knock your car or truck out of alignment. You should have your alignment checked.

Signs you may need an alignment

  1. Your car pulls to either side
  2. Steering wheel is not straight
  3. You have a vibration
  4. Your tires are wearing unevenly
  5. Your fuel mileage has dropped

If you have any questions, please call or schedule your appointment at Central Avenue Automotive today at 253-854-6762 or book your appointment online.

Posted by & filed under Maintenance, Parts, timing belt, Tips.

What is a timing belt? A timing belt is a cogged rubber belt that connects the camshaft and crankshaft of an engine. The crankshaft is spun by the pistons via connecting rods, sort of like the crank on a bicycle is spun by your legs. The camshaft must open valves at certain points in the pistons’ travel, so the camshafts’ rotation must be synchronized to the crankshaft’s rotation. This is why the timing belt has cogs. The bumps in the timing belt fit into cogs in the cam and crank sprockets to prevent slippage.

Do all cars have timing belts? No. Some cars have a timing chain that connects the cam and crank sprockets and others have timing gears that connect directly.

When should I replace my timing belt? The manufacturer usually publishes a mileage/time interval for timing belt replacement, however, for some makes and models it’s not always clear, logical, or the best time.

Some examples:
Not clear: When the Acura was introduced there was no mileage or time interval published. (Later Acura recommended a 90K mi. 7.5-year interval)
Not logical: Some Mazda cars have a 105K mile interval for federal cars, but a 60K interval for California cars, even though the engine design and the timing belt part number are the same.
Not the best time: Most pre-1998 Toyota cars have a 60K mi. interval, yet the timing belts will easily last until 80K.

So, when should you replace your belt? When in doubt, use the published interval (if there is one). Give us a call with the year and model of your Acura, Honda, Mazda, Nissan, or Toyota, Audi, Hyundai, Subaru or Kia and we’ll be happy to let you know the manufacturer’s specifications or give you our opinion based on our past experience with your vehicle’s model.  

Should I replace the water pump with the timing belt? Maybe. There are a lot of variables  involved! The right time to replace the pump depends on your individual vehicle – the make, model, and how many miles are on it. It also depends on the type of water pump your car uses and whether it’s rotated by the timing belt; if it is, then it’s definitely a good time to do it, plus having it done now can save you money in the long-run. If the water pump is blocked by the timing belt (in other words — you must remove the timing belt to remove the water pump), then yes; it will save you money, time, and hassle. If the water pump can be replaced without removing the timing belt, then it’s not necessary to replace the water pump unless it’s worn or leaking. If the water pump is easier to replace when the timing belt is off, then you may want to consider replacing it since your vehicle is already in the shop. There’s also the question of cost; can you afford to do it now, while your vehicle is already in the shop, or would it be easier on your budget to come back in six months or so?

Should I replace the cam seal / crank seal / oil pump seal / oil pump O-ring? If the seals are leaking at all, then it’s a perfect time to replace them. They’re much easier to get to while we’re working on the timing belt, and it’s less expensive for you. Getting the leaking seals replaced will also prevent the possibility of needing to replace the timing belt again in the near future.

Should I replace the timing belt tensioner / idler? If either of them is damaged or worn down, then they should be replaced to prevent any damage to your new timing belt. Depending on the mileage of your vehicle or the condition of the belt tensioner/idler, you may want to have them replaced as preventive care since there’s no additional labor charge when they’re replaced along with the timing belt. It’s a convenient time to change them, however, it may not be necessary.

Should I replace the accessory drive belts? If the belts are worn down or cracked, then yes. If they’re still in good shape, they can be replaced at any time without removing the timing belt.

Does it make a difference what brand of part I use? Not necessarily. We work closely with our customers and always give them a choice on the parts used. We’ll explain the pros and cons of the different brands so you can make the most informed decision possible. We use quality parts, regardless of brand, and will always offer the best solution to fit your needs and budget. We provide a 3 year/36,000 mile warranty on all parts and labor, so no matter which part you choose, you can always feel confident in the quality of our repairs and part selection. If you have any questions or would like to schedule an appointment, give us a call at 253-854-6762. We’re always happy to help!