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  • Why a Trip Inspection Is a Good Idea

    May 15, 2022

    At Affordable Transmissions we get a lot of PRINCETON drivers asking about vehicle trip preparation. That's a big deal. You could be driving through mountains and deserts in some pretty lonely areas around MN, so it's important to know that the vehicle is up to the task and won't leave you stranded.

    Smart PRINCETON drivers plan ahead for a major road trip – and there are a lot of things to get ready. Where should you start? You could start with the tires. Look them over for tread wear and check to see that they are properly inflated. Take a quick test drive around PRINCETON to see if you can feel any vibrations: Are the wheels in balance? Is the car tracking straight? Is the alignment ok? Come to Affordable Transmissions for a peace-of-mind trip inspection.

    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com

    The next thing is a full service oil change to make sure all of your fluids are topped off and you have fresh oil for the trip. And if your car has over 75,000 miles/120,000 km, you may consider putting in the high-mileage formulation to clean harmful sludge deposits in the engine. 

    How about your transmission and brakes? Have you had your transmission and brakes inspected in the last six months?

    How are your wiper blades? There's nothing like not being able to get rid of the bug juice on a long road trip away from PRINCETON.

    Check your owner's manual for any other recommended services, and have Affordable Transmissions in PRINCETON do the multi-point inspection before you head out on your trip.

    Consider also having the coolant system serviced at Affordable Transmissions – you want to stay within the vehicle manufacture’s recommendations. If you're towing a trailer around MN you'll want to be keep in mind that you'll be going a long way under severe conditions.

    A lot of PRINCETON drivers overlook severe conditions like towing, MN summer heat or driving on dirt roads. Plan ahead for your next road trip – Affordable Transmissions wants you to get there and back.




    Serpentine Belt Service at Affordable Transmissions in PRINCETON

    May 8, 2022

    If you've ever heard a squealing sound under your vehicle hood, chances are it was your serpentine belt. More importantly, the belt powers the alternator. The alternator creates electricity that's used by your vehicle's electrical systems and also charges the battery. Without the alternator, the battery will go dead after a short distance.

    The serpentine belt may also run the pumps for both the power steering (some are electric) and power brakes (some use vacuum boost).

    And, on most vehicles, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine to keep it within optimal operating temperatures. On some PRINCETON vehicles, the water pump is powered by the timing belt instead of the serpentine belt.

    When they understand what it does, PRINCETON drivers realize that if it breaks, it affects a lot of systems. That's why vehicle manufacturers outline recommended replacement guidelines in the owner’s manuals. If this important maintenance component is not included in your owner’s manual, come see us at Affordable Transmissions.

    At Affordable Transmissions in PRINCETON, your professional technician can perform a visual inspection of the belt to see if it has any cracks that signal the belt could fail soon. If the belt has more than three or four cracks every inch or couple of centimeters, 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.

    If it has lost a significant amount of thickness, it also needs to be replaced. Talk to your service advisor at Affordable Transmissions. There's a special spring-loaded pulley attached to the engine called the tensioner pulley. Its job is to make sure there's a constant tension on the serpentine belt so that it doesn't slip. The spring can become worn and no longer provide the necessary pressure to keep the belt tight. At Affordable Transmissions, we recommend that the tensioner be replaced at the same time as the serpentine belt.

    As mentioned, a squealing sound could alert you that the serpentine belt needs to be replaced. It may be loose if you hear a slow, slapping sound when idling your vehicle.

    All in all, the serpentine belt is very important to the operation of your vehicle. And it's not that expensive to replace at Affordable Transmissions – so it's good to do so before it fails.

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    Don't Miss a Beat (Importance of Regular Maintenance)

    Feb 20, 2022

    In many places, license plates have to be renewed every year or else you can't drive your vehicle legally.  Usually, you'll get a reminder from the agency that issues the plates.

    That kind of regular attention needs to be paid to your vehicle as well.  Its manufacturer has determined a schedule of service items that need to be done regularly, just like renewing your plates.

    Some depend on time, others depend on distance.  A perfect example is oil changes.  It's the most important scheduled maintenance you can have done to give your engine its longest life possible.  The manufacturer recommends the oil filter be changed at the same time.

    Here are some more items.  Your engine air filter gets dirty and needs adequate air to run most efficiently.  The manufacturer recommends an interval for replacing that.  Also tires, brake pads, timing belt, oxygen sensor and other items require regular replacement. 

    This is one of the reasons to find a service facility that you like and keep going there.  Many will keep records of what's been done to your vehicle and send you reminders of when it's time to schedule service items.  Some do it by mail, others by email.  Still others might text you or give you a phone call.  Remember, they base those reminders on the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations. 

    We all have a lot going on in our lives, so these reminders can help you avoid missing important service items that are important to your vehicle's durability and safety.  So if you move or change phone numbers or email addresses, make sure your vehicle service facility gets the word.  Otherwise you won't get the reminders and your service advisor will wonder what's happened to you!

    At the same time, you might want to let your vehicle manufacturer know when you've changed your address, phone number or email address.  If there is a safety recall or your manufacturer is offering an extended warranty on some of your vehicle's systems, they'll need to reach you.   


    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    Synthetic Oil for PRINCETON Autos

    Jan 9, 2022

    If you are a driver in PRINCETON and you aren't currently using synthetic motor oil in your vehicle, maybe now's the time to consider it. Need more information? Well, synthetic motor oil is a substitute for petroleum based oil.

    Synthetic oil doesn't gel or gum-up like petroleum based oil and it doesn't vaporize as easily. It protects better in severe driving conditions like stop and go driving around PRINCETON, as well as in very hot or very cold conditions. More and more new vehicles are being delivered with full synthetic motor oil, with the recommendation to use synthetic for the life of the vehicle.

    Why is this? Synthetic motor oil maximizes engine power and fuel economy. To see why, we'd need a microscope, so we'll have to settle for using our imaginations.

    The molecules of conventional motor oil are long hydrocarbon chains. Synthetic motor oil, on the other hand, has uniform, round molecules. Which is more slippery, a pile of pencils or a pile of marbles?

    Synthetic motor oil lubricates better because there's less friction. That means better wear protection, cooler operating temperatures, more power and better fuel economy. And synthetic oil doesn't sludge up like conventional oil, so it prevents those small oil passages from clogging up.

    Some manufacturers are extending oil change intervals. The added protection of synthetic oil covers you for these longer intervals. Talk with your service advisor about how you drive and see if he thinks you can benefit from synthetic oil. Also ask about the appropriate oil change interval for synthetic, because it may very well be longer than for conventional oil.

    Most of us here in PRINCETON have a busy life and might occasionally miss an oil change; go ahead, admit it. Since we're not perfect, doesn't it make sense to use a motor oil that's got your back?

    Now synthetic oil costs more. But it lasts longer, protects better and increases fuel economy. You'll likely save money in the long run. If you're serious about making your car last longer, start using synthetic motor oil right away.

    Give us a call to schedule an oil change, or visit us at our Affordable Transmissions website.

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    Affordable Transmissions and the Maintenance Mindset

    Nov 28, 2021

    When it comes to their vehicles, some PRINCETON residents don't have a maintenance mindset. They know they need to take care of their cars, but it just seems really hard to get them to remember to do it. PRINCETON drivers generally accept that many things in life require regular maintenance but just may not have applied it to their vehicles.

    Here's something that will help: The key to good vehicle maintenance starts with the oil change. Think about it – when you go in for a full-service oil change, your friendly and knowledgeable Affordable Transmissions service advisor will check all your fluids. If one of them is low, he can look for the reason. If your serpentine belt is cracked, he'll see it and let you know. Corroded battery cable – they've got you covered. And at Affordable Transmissions, we check to see if your vehicle manufacturer has recommended any services at your current mileage.

    The oil change becomes kind of a focal point, a way to check in to see what needs to be done. The fact is that vehicle inspection surveys consistently reveal that over 80% of vehicles have one or more unperformed repair or maintenance service. Vehicles are generally very reliable and can take a lot of abuse and neglect. But, you have to remember that vehicles are complicated machines. There are parts and fluids that are critical to their operation. Without them, the vehicle won't run at all.

    So when you come in to Affordable Transmissions for an oil change, you get advice from your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor and a reminder for recommended services so you can avoid a total failure. And remember that your friendly and knowledgeable Affordable Transmissions service advisor can help you work out a maintenance and repair plan, prioritizing and scheduling the work to make sure you and your family are safe, and helping you avoid expensive breakdowns.

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    Let Affordable Transmissions Help You Keep Your Vehicle Another Couple of Years

    Oct 31, 2021

    PRINCETON area residents may remember when the U.S. government's “Cash for Clunkers” program made a splash on the news scene. People were offered incentives to trade in old vehicles for new, in the interest of better and improved air quality from reduced emissions.

    But a lot of PRINCETON drivers want to hang onto their old clunkers. They're dependable and they're paid for. Owners would love to see the odometers on those vehicles turn past 200,000 miles (320,000 km), as long as the repair bills don't get too expensive.

    There are a lot of vehicles on MN roads that have run past the 200,000 mile (320,000 km) odometer reading. Is there something that their owners are doing that keeps these vehicles on the road? Or did they just win the “lemon lottery,” and luck out by getting a particularly good vehicle? Not surprisingly, most of these owners have something in common. They never skip an oil change. Can keeping a vehicle on the road for 200,000 miles (320,000 km) really be that easy for PRINCETON drivers?

    Actually, it makes sense. Oil is the lifeblood of a vehicle. Clean oil ensures that the engine will run efficiently and staves off the build-up of sludge that can eventually damage engine parts. Oil changes remove dirty oil and replace dirty oil filters, keeping an engine clean and running smoothly, just like eating right keeps our hearts healthy by preventing build-up in our arteries.

    But there's another reason why not skipping an oil change can result in a longer life for your car. When you bring your car in to Affordable Transmissions for an oil change, all of the fluid levels are checked and topped off. If these fluids are depleted, dirty or low, they can damage the engine.

    If a fluid is significantly low, it usually indicates a leak somewhere, leading to an inspection of relevant parts. This inspection and the replacement of the worn part can prevent repair bills and maintain the health of the engine.

    At an oil change, your technician at Affordable Transmissions will also do a quick check for worn belts or hoses, uneven tread wear, leaking shock absorbers and other signs of wear and tear. This advance notice allows the owner to replace parts before they break down and possibly damage your vehicle.

    The oil change is also a good time to review any other service that the vehicle might need. Many car owners rely on their pros at Affordable Transmissions for good auto advice on check-ups and follow-up vehicle care that will keep older cars running well.

    Parts wear out on older vehicles. There's no avoiding it. As the odometer chugs upward toward 200,000 miles (320,000 km), the vehicle will need several batteries, a couple of alternators and water pumps, a new set of shocks and possibly some brake rotors. But these items—all together—add up to far less than the cost of a new vehicle.

    Good vehicle care and preventive maintenance are the hallmark of PRINCETON drivers who have kept their vehicles on the road and running past the age when most of us have given up and headed back to a car lot. We can learn from their wisdom.

    So treat your car right: Take good care of it and don't skip the check-ups at Affordable Transmissions in PRINCETON. 

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    Affordable Transmissions Maintenance Tips: The Belt Goes On

    Jul 25, 2021

    drive All PRINCETON service advisors know that without the alternator, the battery will go dead in a few miles.

    The serpentine belt may also run the pumps for both the power steering and power brakes. And on many vehicles, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine to keep it within normal operating temperatures. (On some vehicles, the water pump is powered by the timing belt instead of the serpentine belt.)

    So you can see the serpentine belt does a lot of work. And it if breaks, it affects a lot of systems. That's why your vehicle manufacturer and your service advisor at Affordable Transmissions have recommended that it be changed every so often so that it doesn't fail.

    Your friendly and knowledgeable Affordable Transmissions service advisor can perform a visual inspection of the belt to see if it has any cracks that signal the belt could fail soon and will measure the amount of belt material to make sure there is enough.

    Your serpentine belt works in tandem with a spring loaded pulley attached to the engine called the tensioner pulley. Its job is to make sure there's a constant tension on the serpentine belt so that it doesn't slip. The spring can become worn and no longer provide the necessary pressure to keep the belt tight. At Affordable Transmissions in PRINCETON, we recommend that the tensioner be replaced at the same time as the serpentine belt.

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    Regular Schedule or Severe Service Schedule at Affordable Transmissions?

    Jul 4, 2021

    Today's Affordable Transmissions article focuses on severe service maintenance. Many PRINCETON drivers are not aware of them and yet there are also very vocal advocates in MN who think that severe service schedules apply to everyone. Somewhere between a complete lack of awareness and the dire blanket statements lies a reasonable approach to severe service maintenance at Affordable Transmissions.

    To back up a little, vehicle owner's manuals have schedules for preventive maintenance: things like oil changes, transmission service and so on. They say you should change your oil after a certain distanced traveled or after so many months. PRINCETON drivers understand this very well. What they may not know is that there are actually two service schedules: the regular schedule and the severe service schedule. The mileage and time intervals are lower on the severe service schedule.

    Now when you hear 'severe service,' you may think it doesn't apply to you because you don't feel your driving conditions are severe or extreme – it's just normal everyday driving in the PRINCETON area. So let's list some of the conditions that classify as severe so that you can make the judgment on your own driving.

    Before we start the list, here's a point of contrast that definitely is not severe driving. Driving down your nearest MN interstate at the highway speed limit on a 75 degree F/24 degree C day loaded only with your passengers. This is an easy trip for your vehicle: your engine is loafing along at low RPMs, no heavy loads to pull and moderate PRINCETON temperatures. Now let's look at some severe service driving conditions.

    Most trips around PRINCETON are less than four miles/six and a half kilometers. When your vehicle engine cools down, moisture condenses in the engine. This water in the oil doesn't get a chance to evaporate on short trips because the oil doesn't get hot enough. A lot of short trips in your vehicle means a lot of water build up. And water in the oil leads to the creation of sludge which can damage the engine. Changing the oil more frequently keeps sludge from building up. By contrast, highway driving warms the engine up and gets the water burned off.

    Here's another example. Most trips around PRINCETON are less than 10 miles/16 km and outside temperatures are below freezing. This is the same reasoning, but in very cold MN weather it takes even longer for the oil to get hot enough to evaporate the water, hence 10  miles/16 km as opposed to 4 miles/6.4 km.

    Next, you drive in very hot MN weather. The hotter it is outside, the more cooling the engine, transmission, brake fluid and so on becomes. The environment in which the fluids reside is more hostile, and the fluids simply break down faster. Therefore, the lower change interval.

    Another: driving at low speed most of the time. Every vehicle engine has what's called its power band. This is a range of RPMs in which it's most efficient. Low speed driving doesn't keep the engine in its power band so it's working harder. This is one of the reasons that ratings are worse in downtown than on the highway.

    Stop and go driving in PRINCETON is another severe service condition. You're always accelerating, which works the vehicle engine and transmission harder. Then you're stopping, which works the brake fluid harder, causing it to get very hot. Highway driving, on the other hand, requires far less horsepower to maintain its speed than getting a stationary vehicle from a stop light up to 25 mph/40 kph. A lot of this and you'll need to follow the severe service schedule.

    Also on the list is operating your vehicle in dusty, polluted or muddy conditions. Obviously, your engine air filter and cabin air will get dirty faster and need to be changed more frequently as will your breather element. Some of this dust and dirt will make its way into your fluids. They will simple get dirty faster and won't protect the components as well as fresh fluids.

    Finally, you're driving under severe conditions in PRINCETON when you tow a trailer, regularly carry heavy loads or carry a car-top carrier. This is pretty obvious. You'll spend more time in lower gears so the engine and transmission work much harder and create more heat. Brakes will be more stressed stopping the heavier loads.

    Sounds like most of us in PRINCETON operate under severe driving conditions at least some of the time. How can PRINCETON drivers know which schedule to follow?

    Think of it as a spectrum with "always driving under severe conditions" on one end and "never driving under severe conditions" on the other end. Some will be at one extreme or the other, but most of us will fall somewhere in between.

    Carefully think about your driving conditions and decide if you should do your preventive maintenance closer to the severe service recommendation or the regular recommendation. Of course, your Affordable Transmissions service advisor can help you with your decision.

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    Can Your Car Last Another Year?

    Apr 18, 2021

    Have you checked out the price of new vehicles at PRINCETON car dealers? Ouch! Add financing and insurance and a new ride may not seem so attractive. A lot of PRINCETON, MN, folks are hoping to make their cars last a lot longer.

    Fortunately, with the current state of automotive engineering and manufacturing, there's no reason a modern vehicle can't be made to last for a 150,000 miles (250,000 kilometers) or more for smart PRINCETON drivers.

    The old adage: 'a stitch in time saves nine' is really true for PRINCETON residents when it comes to car maintenance. A great example is coolant service.

    Over time, coolant becomes corrosive and actually starts to damage your radiator and other parts. Smart PRINCETON drivers have their cooling system service taken care of right on schedule at Affordable Transmissions.

    Ditto for your power steering system, brake fluid, air conditioning system, differential and transmission. Of course, oil changes should be done right on schedule to avoid the build-up of harmful oil sludge.

    Don't let your brake pads go too long before they are worn to the point that your rotors are at risk. Preventative auto maintenance at Affordable Transmissions is a great way to keep your operating costs down.

    Replacing belts and hoses is much cheaper than repairing the damage that can be caused by failure.

    We know that this is a lot for busy PRINCETON area drivers to remember. Let the team of automotive professionals at Affordable Transmissions keep on top of this stuff for you. We can tell you what your vehicle manufacturer recommends and help you develop an affordable plan to take care of it.

    Bottom line – do routine maintenance on schedule and you will reduce operating costs, prevent repairs and maintain your warranty coverage.

    Let us take good care of your car at Affordable Transmissions in PRINCETON, and it'll take good care of you.

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com