Clean Air for Your Engine: Engine Air Filters In Las Vegas and Henderson

Every Las Vegas and Henderson car owner who has taken their car in for an oil change has been told that their engine air filter’s dirty.

Here’s what goes into the determination of when to change the filter: First, your Mercedes-Benz owner’s manual will have a recommendation of when to change the filter. Second, a visual inspection by your Las Vegas and Henderson technician may determine that your filter it is visibly dirty and needs to be changed.

Clean Air for Your Engine Las Vegas and Henderson Engine Air Filter

So between your owner’s manual and your Las Vegas technician’s inspection there’s really no guesswork involved for Las Vegas and Henderson motorists.

Now, most air filters purchased in Las Vegas and Henderson, Boulder City , North Las Vegas, or Lake Las Vegas don’t cost a lot to replace. It’s just that Nevada people hate getting caught with an unexpected expense. On the plus side, though, changing a dirty air filter at Frank’s European Service can often save enough on gas to pay for itself before your next oil change in Las Vegas and Henderson.

Think about a dirty furnace filter in your Las Vegas and Henderson home. When it’s all clogged up, enough clean air can’t get through. In your Mercedes-Benz, that means that your engine can’t get as much air as it needs to burn the fuel efficiently. So it makes do with less air and has to use more pricey Nevada gas to move your vehicle around Las Vegas roads.

Your Mercedes-Benz actually needs about 12,000 gallons of air for every gallon of gas it burns. Engine air filters don’t cost much in Las Vegas and Henderson at Frank’s European Service . When it’s time to change yours, just get it done. You’ll get better fuel economy, have better performance and protect your Mercedes-Benz engine.

Are there new trends in 2015 for maintenance?

With more and more hybrid vehicles, some changes that we see are some of the extended service intervals.

A lot of the hybrids plug in. Whether it’s hybrid or not, brakes tend to last a very long time because the electric motor does some of the braking. So there are different brake services on those kinds of vehicles.

I think there are 70 some-odd hybrid vehicles being sold this model year, and that number is going to continue to climb. Hydrogen vehicles are starting to hit the market. You can buy a Toyota hydrogen vehicle right now. So there’s going to be different service needs coming up in the future.

Here’s where it is very important now that we’re dealing with high voltage electricity: under no circumstance should anyone touch one of these cars who has not been trained in specifically addressing hybrid systems. It can be very dangerous if something is done incorrectly — not only for the service tech, but it could cause an unsafe condition for the customer if something is done wrong. You have to make sure that your service provider is hybrid certified to work on these vehicles. We are going to see some very different maintenance feats coming up.

A hybrid certified provider should have a certificate on the wall from a reputable company showing his certification and his training. When I say reputable, you can look up the company and check out their credentials.

Frank’s European Services is hybrid certified.

Fall and Spring Checkup In Las Vegas and Henderson

When I was a kid in Las Vegas and Henderson, my dad always made sure he took the cars in for Spring and Fall checkups. I was telling a friend that it’s about time to get into Frank’s European Service for my checkup and he said that he read on the internet that modern cars don’t need seasonal service.

My friend is (technically) right about some things, but from a practical standpoint, a seasonal check up still makes sense.

Back when my dad was teaching me about how to take care of the family Mercedes-Benz, most cars used a different weight of oil in the winter and in the summer. But most of today’s modern engines run the same oil year round. High-tech engines and high-tech motor oils are better able to handle the seasonal changes.

Your owner’s manual or Las Vegas and Henderson service advisor at Frank’s European Service can tell you the right oil to use.

Of course, you’re concerned about the coolant or antifreeze. You don’t want to overheat in the Nevada summer or freeze up in the winter. Your engine cooling system protects against both of these things. And modern coolant, or as it’s sometimes called; ‘antifreeze’, is up to doing both very well. It’s designed to last for more miles than most people drive in a year or two.

So how does a Spring and Fall check-up fit in? Let’s start with Spring. Summer is coming. That means heat, more miles driven and road trips. It just makes sense to check your fluid levels and do a visual inspection to see that everything is up to snuff.

You may not be scheduled to drain and replace the coolant for some time, but you need to make sure you have enough coolant, and that you don’t have any leaks or hoses that are about to fail.

That’s pretty practical; a check-up to see if there are any problems or emerging conditions that could later become a problem, like a cracked belt.

And the same principle applies for getting ready for winter. Cold weather means lots of failed batteries. It takes more power to crank up a cold engine, and cold also decreases the available cranking power the battery has available.

So a battery test in the Fall could tell you if you’ve got a battery that is running on its last legs. And of course, if you live where winter temperatures get below 45 degrees or you have ice and snow, you’ll want to consider changing to winter tires.

So Spring and Fall auto checkups at Frank’s European Service are practical reminders to get ready for the demands of the hot and cold seasons to come.

And odds are that you have one or more routine services that are due anyway. Like a transmission service, brake or power steering fluid, differential service – stuff like that. Are your wiper blades still good? Are your headlamps starting to dim?

So Spring and Fall: change your clocks, replace the batteries in your smoke detectors – and get a check-up for your cars.

See, dad was right again.

Come and see us at Frank’s European Service for your Spring and Fall automotive checkup.
Frank’s European Service
1931 N. Rainbow Boulevard
Las Vegas and Henderson, Nevada 89108

How do European brakes perform in wet conditions?

Some European vehicles actually have sensors on the vehicle.

The computer knows the humidity content will lightly apply the brakes to keep them dry — believe it or not, the computers are that sophisticated. Most of the Mercedes models are equipped that way right now.

Some people think that European brakes are more expensive to replace. That’s only partly true. The brake pads and the brake rotors are not, but some of the electronics that monitor and activate that system can be, because you don’t know what’s happening while you’re driving. You don’t feel the car slowing down. It’s all computer controlled, so that portion of the system can be expensive. But your regular brake pads and brake rotors and the normal service items don’t tend to be more expensive on those cars.

How are brakes affected by moisture and rain?

A lot of people don’t realize that when a little bit of mist and water gets on brake rotors you actually have to apply the brakes a little bit to heat them up enough to burn that water off. So, it is very common for people to say, “Oh my brakes don’t feel right,” because they are expecting them to be normal — get water on the brakes. That’s why we talk about backing down your speeds, give yourself plenty of room, gently apply the brakes. These are the little things that people don’t even realize why recommendations are made by a lot of safety advocates. Gently braking can get the water and moisture off the brakes. Moisture doesn’t really hurt the brakes, but it can initially give you the sense of lower brake efficiency. So you do want to be careful; slow down and give yourself plenty of room to the car in front of you.

Tire traction is also critical for braking because you can have the best brakes in the world but if the tires don’t have good grip you’re not going to be able to have effective braking. The actual brake efficiency, the way the brakes grab in wet weather are two very different things that can cause a slide and cause an accident if you’re not careful.

How Much is Enough for Las Vegas Auto Owners? Tire Tread Depth

Most Las Vegas auto owners know that tires wear out and that the wear has to do with tread depth. Most of us have heard that “bald” tires are dangerous, but most of us picture a tire with no tread at all when we think of a bald tire. And when we take our vehicles in for preventive maintenance, the technician tells us they’re need to be replaced long before all the tread is worn off. Just how much tire tread wear is too much? And how can you tell? Tires are costly and their condition is important to the safe handling of a vehicle, so it’s vital for Las Vegas auto owners to know the answers to these questions.

First of all, it’s critical to understand that there may be a legal limit to tread wear. If your tires are worn past this limit, you have to replace them to be in compliance with Nevada auto safety laws. That’s why measuring your tread wear is part of a vehicle safety inspection.

In some jurisdictions, tread must be at least 1.6 millimeters or 2/32 of an inch thick. This standard has been in effect since 1968. But this standard has recently been called into question, and some Las Vegas and Henderson drivers are arguing that it be changed.

The safety issue that has brought this standard under scrutiny is the ability of a vehicle to stop on a wet surface. When a vehicle has trouble stopping, most Las Vegas and Henderson motorists immediately look at the brakes as the source of the problem. But tires are crucial to safe stopping distances because they provide the traction required in a stop.

A tire’s contact with the road surface creates traction, which allows for effective braking. On a wet surface, a tire only has traction if it can get to the road’s surface. So tire tread is designed to channel water out from under the tire to allow it to stay in contact with the road. If the tire can’t shift the water, then it starts to “float.” This condition is called hydroplaning. It is very dangerous for Las Vegas and Henderson car owners since the vehicle won’t stop no matter how hard the driver presses the brakes. Steering control is also lost.

A recent study tested the stopping ability of a passenger car and a full-sized pick-up on a road surface covered with only a dime’s depth of water (less than a millimeter). The vehicles were traveling at 70 mph (112 kph) when they stopped on the wet surface. At 2/32 tread depth, the stopping distance was double that of a new tire. The passenger car was still traveling at 55 mph when it reached the stopping distance it experienced with new tires.

Let’s suppose that you’re on a busy Las Vegas expressway in a light drizzle and a vehicle stops suddenly in front of you. You just bought new tires and you brake hard, missing the vehicle with only inches to spare. If you hadn’t bought those new tires, you would have crashed into that vehicle at 55 mph. That is a major difference.

What if your tires had a tread depth of 4/32? You would have crashed into that vehicle at 45 mph. Still not a good situation. But it’s better.

Now what if you were driving that pick-up truck? You wouldn’t have missed that vehicle in the first place, and you would have crashed at higher rates of speed in both of the other scenarios. The heavier your vehicle, the longer its stopping distance. It’s a matter of physics.

The results of this test has led Consumer Reports and others to ask that the standard for tread wear from 2/32 to 4/32. The increased standard will improve safety on the road and save lives here in Nevada and nationally.

Of course, until the standard changes, you’ll have to decide whether you’ll be willing to replace your tires a little sooner.

You can use a quarter to tell if your tread wear is down to 4/32. Place the quarter into the tread with George’s head toward the tire and his neck toward you. If the tread doesn’t cover George’s hairline, you’re under 4/32. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the digits of the year.

You can measure the 2/32 tread wear with a penny. If the tread touches the top of Abe’s head, it’s at 2/32. Tires are a significant item for Las Vegas and Henderson auto owners when it comes to car care. But their condition has a major impact on safety. We need to decide whether to sacrifice safety for economy. Keeping our tread wear above 4/32 is good auto advice.

Is it necessary to have different tires for different seasons?

It is not necessary to have two different sets of tires for different times of the year. Most tires we buy today are all-season tires, which means that for our climate in Las Vegas they are perfectly adequate to use all year long. Even on those rare occasions where we may get a dusting of snow and the whole city shuts down you really don’t need to worry about driving in snow. As long as you stay away from the mountains, your normal all-season tires will be fine.

Now in the mountains, we get a lot of snow up on Mt. Charleston and some of the ski areas nearby, so those roads are different. If you are going to go up there you will need snow tires or chains. A lot of times when the snow is actively falling the highway patrol will actually turn people away if they don’t have the proper equipment. But, if you are in the valley, for the most part, your all-season tires all year long will be fine.

What causes cracking in tires?

Cracking in tires can be caused by age, and the dry climate and high temperatures in Las Vegas. Believe it or not, we really don’t put a lot of miles on our cars in Las Vegas. I think we’re a little below the national average of about 15,000 miles a year — most of the cars we see are somewhere between 10,000 and 11,000 and some are even less. So we’re not driving our cars enough to actually wear them out; they actually “age out” before they wear out.

An easy visual inspection will show the condition of the tire. An aged tire will show what looks like spider web cracking between the treads and sometimes on the sidewall. When they are allowed to age like that they lose ride quality because the tires actually get harder. I refer to it as driving on cinder blocks because it’s very much like that. Older tires don’t have the same traction they did when they were newer and kind of sticking to the road.

I think a lot of the tires that fail on the freeway are aged out because that’s the most high-demanding circumstance you can put your tires under — higher speed and temperatures build up. I think we see a lot of tire failures that can be avoided by tires that are old but not worn out.

I would recommend having a professional show you what they are looking at and then you’ll be able to keep an eye on your tires yourself. Don’t look for it the first time because it may not be real obvious. So take the tires to a tire professional or your service professional — someone who is familiar with thorough inspections on a vehicle. They can show you exactly what they are looking for and where they are looking so that you can keep an eye on them yourself. It’s something you can learn that is very easy to do.

Hitting The Brakes In Las Vegas and Henderson

Safety should always be a key element of your car care. So even if you don’t care about how your car looks, you should practice preventive maintenance to protect yourself — and other Las Vegas and Henderson motorists — on the road. And good safety starts with good brakes.

Brakes need a regular inspection. There are essential parts that wear out or wear down, and it’s best to replace them before you have issues.

Of course, if you are having trouble with your brakes, NOW is the time to fix them. If your brake warning light is on, that’s a good sign that you need your brakes checked. Las Vegas and Henderson car owners can also tell something is wrong with their brakes by the feel of the pedal or unusual sounds while braking. If the brake pedal is low, feels spongy when you press it or is hard to push, that indicates a problem with your brakes. If you hear squealing, grinding or clunking noises when you brake, that can also indicate troubles. If vibrations accompany braking, then it is essential to get your brakes checked.

Brakes come in two basic types. With disk brakes, a rotor is attached to the axle of the vehicle. Padded calipers straddle the rotor, which close when the brakes are applied. The resulting friction causes the rotor — and the axle — to stop turning. With drum brakes, brake pads (also called shoes) press against the inside of a drum to create friction and stop the drum, and hence the Mercedes-Benz’s wheels, from turning.

When Frank’s European Service services your brake system, your professional technician checks all of the brake pads for wear. If they are too thin, they need to be replaced. This is an inexpensive repair at Frank’s European Service compared to what procrastination will cost you. If pads wear away completely, then the rotors and drums can be damaged. They will have to be either resurfaced or replaced, and that can be pricey. But if your Mercedes-Benz brake pads are worn out, then your brakes are compromised and your stopping power is greatly reduced. You could easily wind up in an accident.

Brake pads come in several different grades such as regular, metallic and ceramic. The higher grades are more costly in Las Vegas and Henderson, but they also work better. Nevada car owners who want better and smoother braking, should consider upgrading. However, Las Vegas drivers should NEVER use a brake pad that is lower than your automobile manufacturer’s recommendation.

After you your brake pads are checked at Frank’s European Service , it’s essential to have your brake fluid checked. This is a critical element in your brake system. When you press your brake pedal, you are compressing the brake fluid, creating pressure that activates the brake pads. If your fluid pressure is low, it will reduce your braking power. The pads just won’t be able to press hard enough against the rotor or drum to stop your Mercedes-Benz. Just as with worn pads, insufficient brake fluid can lead to a detrimental and pricey accident in Las Vegas and Henderson.

Water can build up in your brake fluid, which can cause harmful corrosion in your braking system. Eventually this can cause your brake fluid to leak. So Las Vegas and Henderson motorists should also change their brake fluid periodically. Your Mercedes-Benz owner’s manual will have guidelines on how often it should be replaced or ask a professional technician at Frank’s European Service . We have been servicing brake systems in Las Vegas and Henderson for 13 years. 

Remember, Las Vegas folks, safety first. It’s important auto advice for all Las Vegas and Henderson drivers on the road. You’re not just protecting others; you’re protecting yourself.

How do wet roads and moisture affect tires?

Because we get such infrequent rains, maybe four inches a year on average, the oils that normally get washed away on the roadway come to the surface so tires don’t have the same traction that they do on a dry road. A lot of people aren’t prepared for that. People who are new in town and even people who’ve been here a while tend to forget the roads get very slippery on the first rainfall.

If your tires have started to age — if they are four, five or six years old — there’s an additional traction loss that compounds the problem. It’s always a good idea to make sure your tires are checked not just for tread depth because they look good but to make sure that the tires aren’t starting to age and crack which could definitely affect traction in wet weather.