How to Buy a Hybrid Car

How to Buy a Hybrid CarAt All Around Auto Care in Westminster, customers often want to know more about how to buy a hybrid car before they purchase one. Maybe you’re considering one because it will save you money on gas or, maybe you want one because it is better for the environment. Whatever your motivation, buying a hybrid car might be the perfect step for you, but there is more information you might want to consider first.

As you likely know, hybrid cars have become a staple in the American mass market for cars. Though they have become more popular and visible, people can still be hesitant when it comes to purchasing one. Let’s break down everything you need to know.

How Does a Hybrid Car Work?

Hybrid cars are generally cars that use more than one form of power for both propulsion and energy. The majority of hybrid cars use an internal combustion engine and a battery power motor. Usually, a hybrid car primarily uses the electric system. This is what gives hybrid cars better gas mileage than a standard gas-powered vehicle. When the vehicle is accelerating, the batteries discharge extra power and it recharges the power while the car decelerates or stops.

Why Does a Hybrid Need a Gas-Powered Engine?

Hybrid cars use the gas-powered engine as a generator for recharging the batteries. The gas-powered engine also helps power the car as it’s accelerating and also helps it maintain cruising speed. Not every hybrid is calibrated exactly the same, so there are actually several classifications that differentiate the different calibrations.

Hybrid Car Types

  • Mini hybrid: This type of car is also called an “eAssist system” and is not often marketed as a hybrid because it only uses a little bit of electricity to help the car stop and start.
  • Mild hybrid: This hybrid only uses the electric system when the car needs more power such as during acceleration. This means the car mainly uses its gas-powered engine.
  • Strong hybrid: This type of hybrid is also referred to as a pure hybrid. This system works as generally explained originally above and is one of the systems that saves more fuel.
  • Plug-in hybrid: This type of hybrid runs mostly on electricity. The gas-powered engine can be accessed for longer drives, giving it a longer available distance. Generally, this is the kind of hybrid that will save you the most in fuel costs.

How Does a Hybrid Car Battery Charge?

In a hybrid, there is a generator, which is powered by the engine. The hybrid car battery gets its energy both from this generator and from the brake system, which is regenerative. Generally, as the car’s brakes are applied, electricity is generated by friction. When the car is coasting, such as when it travels downhill, the process captures some of the energy produced by the momentum.

Will I Need to Replace the Battery Frequently?

Generally, a hybrid car battery should last for at least 80,000 miles and many will last for over 100,000 miles.

Will I Have to Plug in My Car?

Unless your hybrid is a plug-in model, you will not have to plug in your car.

Are Hybrid MPGs the Same for City and Highway Driving?

Typically, the MPG for hybrids vary, by make and model. The EPA indicates that overall, a hybrid will get better MPG in the city, than it will on the highway. The frequent stop and start driving that occurs in the city is the primary reason that the gas mileage is better than on the highway. Additionally, hybrid cars use their electricity more at slower driving speeds, which occurs more often in city driving.

Are Hybrids Only Available in a Few Models?

When it comes to how to buy a hybrid car, here’s where things parallel standard cars the most. Hybrid cars are available in compact cars, sedans, coupes, sport utility vehicles (SUVs), and even trucks. With every passing year, the options for hybrids expand further allowing drivers to choose the kind of hybrid that fits their needs and style.

Hybrid Car Benefits

The best benefit to a hybrid car is it fuel efficiency. Hybrids can get up to 50 MPG and that is a huge advantage both your bank account and the environment. Speaking of environment, the hybrid car produces fewer emission and fewer greenhouse gases (though hybrids are not without environmental concerns). Hybrid cars also offer a better resale value than gas-only cars. They can be hard to find as a used vehicle because they have great reliability over time, which increases their used-car value.

Hybrid Car Disadvantages

No car is perfect, not even a hybrid. One of the frequent complaints about a hybrid is that there is not as much room available. The larger battery packs require more space, cutting into the available internal space as well as limiting the trunk space. Another disadvantage is that most hybrid cars ride lower to the ground and this can be problematic if you frequent dirt roads or live in an area with infrequent road maintenance.

Plus, hybrids can be a little more expensive to repair since they sometimes require specialized parts, and you can’t just go to any mechanic. You’ll need to bring your hybrid to your dealership or find a certified shop specializing in hybrid and electric vehicles. Luckily, All Around Auto Care in Westminster is conveniently located and experienced in all things hybrid.

What to Choose

If you want a hybrid, consider the differences in the available types to figure out which hybrid would serve your needs best. Be aware of the overall advantages and disadvantages while you are searching. Aside from that, choosing a hybrid is not that much different than selecting a gas-powered model. Look at any available reports on the hybrid car you are considering. As with any car, the more you know, the better armed you will be when you visit a dealer.

At All Around Auto Care in Westminster, we want you to know more about how to buy a hybrid car before you purchase one to make your selection process a little easier. We hope this helps you choose the perfect fit, whether that’s a Prius, Camry hybrid, Chevy Volt or other vehicle.

If You’re Looking for a Hybrid Repair Shop

If you’re looking for a hybrid repair shopIf you’re looking for a hybrid repair shop, All Around Auto Care in Westminster wants you to find the right team for your car’s needs. Because hybrids are new, some owners assume that going to the dealership is their only option. Your hybrid car dealer is often a perfectly acceptable choice for repair, but there are other alternatives that will likely save you money and give you the same or better quality of workmanship.

Let’s get to a few tips that can help you find the right hybrid repair shop for you and your car.

First, and foremost, it is important to know that most components in a hybrid car do not require specialized training to be repaired and getting them fixed at an independent shop will usually not void your warranty. As for repairs, owners should pay special attention if work is needed on the electrical system, the drive train, and the brakes. These components of hybrid cars require specific, additional training.

Also, owners should know that one of the most expensive hybrid components to fix is the battery. Such a repair can cost $3,000 to $5,000 through a dealership. Though the battery does involve the electrical system, it is something that can be accomplished with a reconditioned battery for far less and often can be done by an independent technician with the right training. Here at All Around Auto Care in Westminster, our technicians achieve rigorous and detailed training to handle all of your hybrid vehicle needs and we offer reconditioned batteries should you be faced with such a situation.

Second, if you’re looking for a hybrid repair shop, it is important to find an appropriately trained technician in advance of needing repairs, particularly for those sensitive hybrid components. Compare the level of certification that a technician has. All technicians should be ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certified but should have additional hybrid specific training. Some independent shops may not have the same level of training that the dealership has.

At All Around Auto Care, we to make sure our technicians have completed the specialized training needed to complete all hybrid repairs with the highest quality and commitment. We pride ourselves on being the only certified independent dealership alternative for hybrid and electric vehicle drivers in Westminster and the Denver metro areas.

Finally, like any other car, routine maintenance is a must for your hybrid. It will lengthen the life of many vehicle components and will often save you time and costly last minute repairs in the long run. Additionally, it will preserve the overall value of your car. Be sure to rotate your tires regularly, charge your battery properly (if your hybrid is a plug-in), and stay on top of warranty requirements specified by your vehicle’s manufacturer.

If you’re looking for a hybrid repair shop, feel free to contact us here at All Around Auto Care in Westminster for any of your hybrid needs. We can help keep your hybrid running smooth and safe on the road. Request an appointment, or feel free to stop by!

The Importance of Check Engine Light Repair

check engine light repairAt All Around Auto Care in Westminster know the importance of check engine light repair. The light could mean something simple, like the need to replace a gas cap or it could be an indicator of something far more serious, such as a problem with your catalytic converter. Because there are hundreds of potential problems, the check engine light should prompt immediate attention to avoid incurring higher repair costs that can come from ignoring some of the more serious problems that could be involved.

Common Reasons for the Check Engine Light

One of the most common reasons the check engine light comes on is very simple and the fix can be free. Often, the gas cap was not put back on securely or in some instances, it has been forgotten entirely. The lack of a tight seal causes the check engine light to illuminate.

First, remove the gas cap and then put it back on securely. You will need to start and drive the car up to several times for the light to turn off. Don’t drive very far though—just in case the problem is not so simple. If the light remains on, replace the gas cap with a new one and start and drive the car (up to several times again) to see if this will turn the light off.  If the light remains on, you could call us here at All Around Auto Care in Westminster and we will get your car in to run a diagnostic and get a clear picture of what your light means.

Another frequent reason for check engine light repair turns on is a faulty oxygen sensor. Your car needs a certain oxygen to fuel ratio to run properly. If there is not enough oxygen, there will be fuel left over in the combustion process. If there is too much oxygen, you may notice poor engine performance that can do serious damage to your engine if left unchecked. The oxygen sensor is responsible for regulating and adjusting the air/fuel ratio. If this is the reason for your light, the oxygen sensor will need to be replaced. If this problem is ignored you could experience a loss of engine power and the catalytic converter could be damaged as a result.

When the check engine light comes on, you may notice some jolting or hesitation when you accelerate. This can be a sign that your spark plugs and wires may be worn out and need to be replaced. At All Around Auto Care, we recommend replacing them at the mileage listed in your owner’s manual as part of the routine care for your car.

The mass airflow sensor is also a common cause for your check engine light to turn on. This sensor measures the amount of air flowing through the air filter. It communicates with your car’s computer to adjust and regulate this flow. If the sensor is faulty or damaged, your gas mileage will decline and your vehicle may even stall as a result. Left uncorrected, this can damage the oxygen sensor, the spark plugs, and even the catalytic converter (which is very costly to replace).

If your check engine light comes on and you have eliminated the gas cap as a potential cause, contact us here at All Around Auto Care in Westminster. We understand the importance of check engine light repair and will take excellent care of your vehicle.

How to Find a Quality Auto Repair Shop

How to Find a Quality Auto Repair ShopOur technicians at All Around Auto Care in Westminster understand that knowing how to find a quality auto repair shop is important. An article from The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), the non-profit organization that tests and certifies the competence of individual automotive repair technicians, gives advice on the best way to select a repair facility.

Knowing how to find a quality auto repair shop will ensure that you only work with mechanics that you can trust with the maintenance and repair of your vehicle. The ASE experts set out some guidelines to help find a shop that fits your needs. At All Around Auto Care, we strive to meet and exceed these ASE guidelines:

  • Do your research and select the shop before you need repairs so you can make an informed decision.
  • Ask people you know for recommendations.
  • Consult local consumer organizations, like the Better Business Bureau (BBB) about the reputation and any complaints against the shop.
  • Use the internet to search for business reviews and visit the shop’s Facebook page or website.
  • Look for a tidy, well-organized facility, with modern equipment in the service bays, and professionalism from the employees.
  • Look beyond just the location convenience.
  • Find out if the shop works on your type of vehicle (car, truck, SUV, hybrid) and performs the kinds of repairs you need.
  • Check out the competence of the technicians by the displayed diplomas, certificates, and ASE certifications.
  • Ask about service awards, plaques for civic involvement, customer service awards, membership in the Better Business Bureau and other consumer groups as examples of their community involvement.
  • Talk to the staff and see if they respond politely and professionally to your questions.
  • Make sure their labor rates, fees for testing and diagnostic work, guarantees, and methods of payment are posted.
  • Get some references of previous customers and call them to ask about their experiences with the shop.
  • Take your car in first for a small or minor job, such as an oil change or tire rotation and see how you like it.

ASE Blue Seal

A shop can receive the ASE Blue Seal of Excellence which recognizes the best automotive repair shops. In order to get the Blue Seal, 75 percent of the employees at the automotive repair shop must be ASE certified. We are proud to have earned the ASE Blue Seal of Excellence.

All Around Auto Care has been serving Westminster and the surrounding communities of Denver, Arvada, Thornton, Northglenn, Broomfield, Brighton, and Wheatridge for more than 20 years. That shows our commitment to our customers and our communities.

Our qualified technicians at All Around Auto Care in Westminster recognize it’s important to know how to find a quality auto repair shop. We welcome you to stop by and talk to our staff. We are happy to answer any questions you have about our service, qualifications, training, and pricing. Our goal is to provide you with quality customer service so that we will be your first and only choice when it comes to caring for your vehicle. We’ve been awarded both an A+ rating and Gold Star recognition from the Better Business Bureau, which reflects our dedication to the satisfaction of our customers. Contact us today for an appointment!

Basics of Vehicle Repair, Troubleshooting Transmissions

Basics of Vehicle Repair, Troubleshooting TransmissionsToday, our auto technicians at All Around Auto Care in Westminster want to share the basics of vehicle repair, troubleshooting transmissions. Your vehicle’s transmission is an important and complicated system of hydraulics and computer controlled components that change the gears. And if your transmission has a problem, your car stops working. That’s why it’s so important to take care of your transmission and bring it to our experts at the first sign of trouble.

Your transmission is comprised of numerous interconnected parts that are constantly moving, rubbing, heating up and operating in conjunction with other internal and external components. Because these transmission parts are continually exposed to friction and heat, they naturally experience a lot of wear and tear, eventually leading to issues that require troubleshooting.

At All Around Auto Care, we’ll look for warning signs of a failing transmission so you can avoid a dangerous situation and more expensive repair bills. We always start with the manufacturer’s service information program and any technical service bulletins or service news articles dealing with the transmission for your make and model. Next, we will investigate and inspect your vehicle to determine the exact cause of the failure. Here are some things we look for:

Warning Lights

Newer cars have high-tech computer systems with sensors that will automatically notify you if your transmission is having problems. One dashboard light is for the transmission temperature which indicates that the fluid is hot. If this goes on, you should check the fluid and your engine coolant immediately.

Smells

The transmission fluid has a sweet or tart odor. If you notice a burning smell, check your transmission because it could mean your transmission is burning and you need to get it taken care of it right away. Transmission fluid keeps the transmission parts lubricated and stops the unit from burning up.

Sounds

Noises like grinding, whining, buzzing or humming could be signs of transmission problems. With a manual transmission, you may hear a very sudden grinding sound after fully engaging your clutch. With an automatic transmission, you may feel the car shimmy into gear instead of the normal smooth shifting.

Leaks

If you notice your car is leaking transmission fluid, you probably have transmission problems. This is a closed system that shouldn’t be leaking, and your car needs transmission fluid in order to shift gears. If you find leaked fluid that’s a bright red color and has a sweet or tart smell, it’s more than likely from your transmission.

Some reasons for the leak may include, worn seals or gaskets, damaged bell housings, drive shaft out of balance, worn axles, or worn engine and transmission mounts. Losing transmission fluid can cause damage. Checking your transmission fluid regularly in order to spot a problem with the transmission will help you avoid a worse situation.

Delayed Response

If your vehicle doesn’t respond or has a delayed response, it could be a signal that you have transmission trouble. Transmissions help find the correct gear, so if it’s hesitating, something is probably wrong.

Now that you know the basics of vehicle repair, troubleshooting transmissions, give All Around Auto Care in Westminster a call or stop by the shop if you notice any of these warning signs. Remember, fixing your transmission early can keep your car running safely and help you avoid an even more expensive repair job. We look forward to serving you.

The Preventative Maintenance You Need to Do on Your Car (and When)

The Preventative Maintenance You Need to Do on Your Car (and When)All Around Auto Care in Westminster knows that if you do the preventative maintenance you need to do on your car (and when), you can avoid having your car break down and reduce your repair costs. Because no one likes to pay for car repairs that could have been avoided. Our highly-trained technicians at All Around Auto Care in Westminster can help you determine your maintenance plan, basing it on manufacturer’s suggestions, the mileage of your car, what kind of driving you do, and an inspection of the current condition of your vehicle.

According to a Life Hacker article, keeping your car maintained will keep your car running longer. You should inspect your vehicle periodically so that you know what needs to be fixed or changed before they become big problems. Here are some suggestions of things you may want to include in your maintenance plan.

You should always read your vehicle’s owner’s manual. It has important information specifically for your car. It will tell you how often you should change your car’s filters, oil, and timing belts, as well as other repairs. It will also suggest maintenance schedules and what kind of fuel to use. If you can’t find your owner’s manual, you can search for it online and print it out.

If you replace your car’s cabin air filter periodically it won’t make your car run better but you will enjoy driving it with clean air. But replacing your car’s engine air filter will increase your car’s performance and is something you should consider doing on a regular basis, especially if you drive in heavy traffic or drive a lot, the filter can get dirty fast.

It’s a small thing, but it’s very important to check the air pressure in your tires. If it’s not at the manufacturer’s recommended amount, it should be fixed. Keeping the air pressure at the right amount will aid your car in getting better mileage and saving gas.

What about your tire treads. Without good treads, it makes your car harder to handle. Don’t forget to rotate, balance and align your tires if they need it. This can help the tires to wear evenly, last longer, and offers a smoother ride.

Turn on your lights and check to make sure they are working properly. Don’t forget to check your antifreeze, power steering, coolant, or wiper fluid and fill it up if it’s low or change it, depending on its condition. If you see a fluid leak of any kind, bring your vehicle into us right away. If any of your fluids drain completely dry, you could be in for some major problems.

Your timing and serpentine belts may need to be replaced as well. Our technicians can inspect your belts and look for signs of wear. Replacing a belt is not very expensive and planning ahead is much better than having to deal with your car breaking down and causing more damage.

Talk about an inexpensive fix that can save you from a dangerous situation— replace your windshield wipers if you have wiper streaks. Being able to see out of your windshield when it rains or snows is crucial.

We all know to check the oil level, but we often put it off. Put your oil change on your maintenance plan, so you don’t forget. Your car manufacturer will specify which oil should be used and when it should be changed.

Your battery should be checked periodically and its contacts cleaned if there is mineral or other buildup. A leaking battery is a problem that need attention. Bring it in to us, right away. But for those emergencies, we always recommend that you keep jumper cables in your trunk.

The spark plugs can become covered in buildup or just wear out. If this happens, it can reduce your engine’s efficiency, increase fuel costs, and can contribute to your car’s breakdown. It’s easy for us to replace your spark plugs.

Our technicians at All Around Auto Care in Westminster can help you plan the preventative maintenance you need to do on your car (and when), because if you don’t, it can lead to increased repairs and a possible breakdown and tow. We’re here to help you avoid any issues, so set up an appointment or swing by the shop today.

What Does a Check Engine Light Mean?

What Does a Check Engine Light Mean?It’s telling you something, but what does a check engine light mean? If you ask All Around Auto Care in Westminster, our experts will tell you that the engine symbol on your dashboard will light up and either blink or remain constant, depending on the problem. But either way, it’s telling you it’s time to bring your car to us because the check engine light coming on means that your car may have a problem that could affect its emissions systems. 

An article in Motorist explains some of the reasons the check engine light may be on. 

Solid Engine Light

If the check engine light is solid, your car’s trouble is not an emergency but you should still bring your car into All Around Auto Care as soon as you can so our technicians inspect it and find out what’s wrong. 

The first thing we always suggest is to tighten your gas cap. If you’re lucky, sometimes it’s a simple fix. If it is the gas cap, get a new one as the old seal may not be tight. 

If your check engine light comes on, take a look at the other dashboard gauges and lights because it could be that the oil pressure is low or the car may be overheating. If this is what’s going on, you should pull the car over to some place safe and turn the engine off. 

Sometimes when the engine symbol lights up and there’s a problem, you might not even notice any change in your driving performance because the computer is trying to compensate for the trouble despite the fact that your car may be emitting a high level of hydrocarbons and your mileage is reduced. So just because you don’t notice reduced performance, doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem. 

Blinking Engine Light

A blinking check engine light means there may be a severe engine misfire and that could mean unburned fuel is being dumped into your exhaust system. If that happens it can raise the temperature of the catalytic converter and cause damage. That can mean an expensive repair. We strongly suggest reducing the power and bringing your car in immediately so we can check it over and find the problem. 

If your check engine lights blink or you feel a loss of power or other problem when you are driving, you should immediately slow down. If you are pulling a trailer, lighten the load on the engine by taking it off. Reacting quickly when the check engine light comes on can help avoid expensive repairs or breakdowns. 

Codes

The article in Motorist explains how your car’s computer produces codes to identify what is misfiring in the engine. One of our trained technicians at All Around Auto Care can help locate which system or circuit to test in order to find the trouble with your car. We will perform the test steps in the correct order that provides exact measurements, like temperature, voltage, resistance, or time specifications. This will point us to the problem so we can fix it. 

People sometimes mix up the maintenance service light for the check engine light. But they are not the same. The maintenance service light turns on when routine service is needed. It requires your attention but not immediately. On the other hand, what does a check engine light mean? It means your car has a problem that needs immediate attention and could cause damage. If you respond quickly and bring it to All Around Auto Care in Westminster, it could save you costly repairs.

How Do Hybrid Vehicles Work?

How Do Hybrid Vehicles Work?Hybrid cars are very popular. But how do hybrid vehicles work? They actually have more than one means of propulsion. According to our experts at All Around Auto Care in Westminster, hybrid cars combine a regular gas (or diesel) engine with an electric motor and battery. A hybrid can be partially or wholly powered by electricity. Hybrid cars create fewer emissions and use less gas, which helps your budget and the environment.

Not all hybrids are the same. There are conventional hybrids. A What Car? article gives the Toyota Prius as an example of a conventional hybrid. The power sources of the Toyota Prius can work together or drive the car separately.

So, here’s how it works: at low speeds, the engine turns off and the car is only driven by the electric motor. But when you want maximum acceleration, both the engine and the motor work together. During the in-between stages, any excess power from the engine recharges the batteries that power the electric motor. The hybrid’s battery is large enough for the electric motor to power the car for up to 1.25 miles.

Toyota also uses this hybrid system in the Yaris and Auris hatchbacks and Prius+ MPV hybrids. Hybrid cars from Audi, BMW, Citroen, Land Rover, Lexus, Peugeot, Porsche, Mercedes, and Volkswagen also work in the same way.

The article describes the Honda Insight and Jazz as a little bit different. With these Honda cars, there is a relatively small conventional engine that uses an electric motor to provide extra help when it needs it. But the electric motor cannot power the car by itself.

There is also another kind of hybrid called a plug-in hybrid. Plug-in hybrid vehicles combine a gas engine with an electric motor and battery. These vehicles are plugged into an electric outlet so the batteries can recharge. They also recharge as the car is moving.

The plug-in hybrids have a regular gas engine but they also have bigger batteries. The larger batteries allow them to go longer distances on electric power alone. It’s possible to drive up to 30 miles on electric power.

Toyota also makes a plug-in version of the Prius. However, Volvo has a diesel-hybrid V60, but Mitsubishi’s petrol-powered Outlander PHEV is a plug-in SUV. The Vauxhall Ampera and the Chevrolet Volt work just a little bit differently. These vehicles drive on the electric motor, the gas engine is used as a generator to charge the battery pack when it starts running out.

According to a Fuel Economy article, plug-in hybrids, sometimes referred to as Plug-in Hybrid-Electric Vehicles (PHEVs), are hybrid cars with high-capacity batteries. After charging, the batteries hold enough electricity from the power grid to drastically reduce their petroleum consumption under normal driving conditions.

A Union of Concerned Scientists article explains that the plug-in hybrids, have larger batteries that can be recharged from an outlet which lets them drive extended distances on electricity before switching to gasoline or diesel.

Plug-in hybrids are configured in two ways. In parallel or blended plug-in hybrids, the engine and electric motor are mechanically connected to the wheels of the car, and both propel the car under usual driving conditions. The electric-only propulsion for these cars usually occurs just at low speeds.

In series plug-in hybrids, also called extended-range electric vehicles (EREVs), the electric motor turns the wheels and the gasoline engine is used to generate the electricity. Series plug-ins can only run on electricity until the battery needs to be recharged. The gasoline engine then creates electricity to power the electric motor. For example, for shorter trips, the series plug-in hybrids may use no gasoline at all.

Plug-in hybrid cars can have different battery capacities, which gives some cars the ability to travel farther on electricity than others. Their fuel economy depends on driving style, driving conditions, and accessory use.

The advantage to plug-in hybrids is that they use between 30% to 60% less gas than conventional cars. Plug-in hybrids reduce oil dependence and are good on your personal budget.

Plug-in hybrids also emit less greenhouse gas than conventional vehicles.

A plug-in hybrid can cost between $4,000 to $8,000 more than a non-plug-in hybrid. But since electricity is usually cheaper than using gasoline, the fuel savings will often offset the higher vehicle cost. But this often will depend on the type of vehicle purchased, the number of miles operating on electricity, how much fuel costs, and how long the owner keeps the car. There are also up to $7,500 worth of federal tax incentives available for qualifying plug-ins. (http://www.fueleconomy.gov/feg/phevtech.shtml)

The website fueleconomy.gov points out that re-charging the battery of a plug-in hybrid using a 120-volt household outlet can take several hours. If you use a 240-volt home or public charger to recharge, it can take roughly 1 to 4 hours. However, a “fast charge” to 80% capacity can take as little as 30 minutes. A plug-in hybrid doesn’t have to be plugged in since it can use only gas, but it won’t get the maximum range or fuel economy without charging.

A Union of Concerned Scientists article explains some of the benefits of the hybrid design. For example, regenerative braking is another fuel-saving feature. Conventional cars use friction brakes to slow down, dissipating the vehicle’s kinetic energy as heat. Regenerative braking lets some of that energy to be captured, turned into electricity, and stored in the batteries. This electricity can later be used to run the vehicle.

Having an electric motor is a more efficient engine design. This power assist feature reduces the demand on a hybrid’s gasoline engine. The hybrid’s gasoline engine produces less power, but when it is combined with electric motors, the system’s total power can go beyond a conventional vehicle.

The most efficient hybrids utilize an electric-only drive which allows the vehicle to drive entirely on electricity and use less fuel. In hybrids that can’t be plugged-in, the electric-only drive is typically only used at lower speeds and startup, and the gas or diesel-powered engine usually operates at higher speeds, where it’s the most efficient. Because plug-in hybrids have larger batteries and motors they can drive entirely on electricity at relatively high speeds for extended distances, usually from 10 to 30 miles.

Hybrid cars may be the cars of the future, combining a gas engine with an electric motor and battery. But we often get asked how do hybrid vehicles work? Our auto technicians at All Around Auto Care in Westminster can explain it to you. We are the only certified independent hybrid repair shop in the Denver metro area, so we know all about hybrids. If you choose to buy one of these vehicles, we can provide all the maintenance and repairs you need.

What is Vehicle Fleet Maintenance?

What is Vehicle Fleet Maintenance?In today’s business world, it’s important to know what is vehicle fleet maintenance and how our fleet service team at All Around Auto Care in Westminster can assist. By coming to the experts, we can help you keep your costs down and employees safe by properly maintaining your fleet and addressing minor repairs before they become major issues.

Maintaining your fleet and keeping all vehicles in good shape for employees is one of the most important jobs you can take. Your role is vital to ensuring that your company can work at peak performance, your fleet can operate safely, and the bottom line can see increased profitability.

To avoid safety issues and keep your fleet running efficiently at all times, you first need to find an automotive center that you can trust. At All Around Auto Care, our specialized team of fleet technicians can help you control expenses without having to worry about managing repairs in-house. This also allows your drivers to focus on the road and the job at hand.

Our fleet maintenance and car repair programs can be designed fit your company’s needs and our goal is to always help fleet owners and managers cost-effectively maintain their vehicles for top performance. You’ll be able to budget accurately and avoid any unexpected expenses.

So, what is vehicle fleet maintenance and how can it work to your company’s advantage? Let’s take a look at an eHow article that breaks things down a bit.

Preventative Maintenance

Fleet maintenance means keeping track of each vehicle’s routine maintenance schedule and making sure it is done on time and by experienced technicians. Good consistent maintenance can save your company unnecessary repairs and expenses.

Fleet Managers

A company’s fleet manager is in charge of a company’s transportation fleet and equipment and oversees financial responsibilities pertaining to the fleet, vehicle maintenance and safety, driver management, and overall efficiency. 

Hiring a well-trained, experienced, and committed fleet manager can lead your preventative maintenance program to success. In order to keep your fleet vehicles in good shape and on the road, they will require regular maintenance and will eventually need repairs. A fleet manager’s goal is to determine when it is no longer cost-effective to keep the vehicle, but until that point, the manager will make sure every vehicle is maintained with regular service and any needed repairs are addressed quickly.

A fleet manager keeps track of where the fleet vehicles are, their registration and licensing, and which employee is assigned to which vehicle. 

Safe and Reliable Vehicle Performance

Complete and regular fleet maintenance helps keep vehicles and equipment in good working order to provide efficient, safe, and reliable performance and keep them running for as long as possible. Fleet maintenance should consist of scheduled servicing, inspections and vehicle repairs which can be based on time, mileage, engine hours or gallons of fuel used. When your business relies on your fleet, your goal is to prevent breakdowns, cut down on emergency road calls, and reduce the expense of unexpected repairs.

Fleet maintenance will keep operators safe, increase the resale value of the vehicle and improve the company’s image with good-looking and well-run vehicles. In addition, when you maintain your fleet, you save the company possible litigation from negligence.

The best way to keep your fleet maintained is to schedule preventive maintenance, planned component repairs, and driver inspections. An effective and efficient preventative fleet maintenance program should involve these services and vehicle checks.

  • Engine oil and filter changes
  • Transmission fluid
  • Undercarriage and frame
  • Exterior and interior lights
  • Body, glass, and mirrors
  • Horn, seat belts, and seats
  • Fluid leaks
  • Auxiliary systems
  • Fuel system
  • Cooling system
  • Windshield wipers
  • Tune-ups
  • Electrical system
  • Braking system
  • Engine and transmission mounts
  • Drive shafts or CV joints
  • Hoses and belts
  • Steering and suspension system
  • Tires, wheels, and rims
  • Exhaust system

The timing and frequency of preventative fleet maintenance depend on the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended services and the vehicle’s operating conditions. Some vehicles are towing a trailer, operate in off-road conditions, have multiple drivers, or experience highway or inner city driving.

Fleet Vehicle Operators

Preventative maintenance begins with the operator of the fleet vehicle. They know best what the vehicle has been through and how it is driving, including safety systems, drivability issues, the vehicle body, and other repairs. The fleet operator must perform regular inspections and report any concerns or problems to the fleet manager

Professional Automotive Technicians

Your vehicles and equipment should be serviced by professional automotive technicians, understand your fleet preventive maintenance plan and work with your fleet manager. The fleet certified technicians must be proactive in servicing the fleet with the goal of reducing breakdowns and repairs. No shortcuts should be allowed.

Scheduling and Record-Keeping Software

You may want to consider a preventative maintenance and management software package to help you handle information about your company’s fleet. It may be worth the investment to reduce time and workload for even a small fleet. Preventative maintenance software offers an efficient and accurate way to generate reports that can help you make fleet decisions.

This can help your company design customized maintenance schedules, create and track work orders, track accident and claims, tally fuel usage, show maintenance histories and tire logs, and generate invoicing and stock reports.

Tracking and Reports

It’s important to track the costs of parts, labor, fuel, and collisions to determine which vehicles cost the most to operate. This helps the company to figure out a vehicle efficiency and need for replacement. A properly maintained fleet offers the lowest operating costs because if a vehicle is not performing well it will suffer costly repairs and higher fuel costs.

Reports about vehicle repairs, maintenance, and costs can be produced monthly by the fleet manager and given to senior management for review.

A company needs a detailed plan about what is vehicle fleet maintenance and how it can keep the operators safe and the vehicles working great. Our focus is to help reduce your fleet’s operating costs and breakdowns, road calls, and fleet downtime. All Around Auto Care in Westminster’s experienced ASE-certified fleet technicians can keep your company’s vehicles stay well-maintained and running smoothly, which will save you time and money.

Toyota to Enter Electric Car Market With New Safer Battery

Toyota to Enter Electric Car Market With New Safer BatteryElectric car technology keeps improving with companies like Nissan and Tesla leading the way. Our auto technicians at All Around Auto Care in Westminster are excited to hear that with new technology Toyota to enter the electric car market with a new safer battery.

A Better, Safer Battery

According to an Institution of Engineering and Technology article, a new and more powerful lithium-ion battery with features to avoid short circuits has been developed by Toyota engineers. This will allow the auto manufacturer to enter the all-electric car market.

Toyota’s new battery has the capacity of 8.8-kilowatt hours which is double the amount of previous batteries in Toyota’s hybrid vehicles. Their engineers were able to get this increased capacity while only increasing the size of the battery pack by around two-thirds and its weight by a half.

The engineers accomplished this by reducing the distance between the anode and the cathode, where active ions travel when charging and discharging. The advanced control technology of the new battery also precisely monitors the temperature and condition of the battery pack’s 95 individual cells.

The battery will power the new Prius Prime hybrid vehicle which will be able to drive 37 miles on the battery before needing its gas engine. According to Toyota’s Prius chief engineer, they double-braced and triple-braced the battery pack to make sure it is reliable and aligns with their focus on safety.

The Lithium-Ion Battery Hurdle

Toyota has been reluctant to enter into the plug-in electrical vehicle market led by Tesla and Nissan because of their concerns with the battery. They chose instead to opt for hybrid technology. In fact, their Prius, which was introduced in 1997, was the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle.

Toyota’s concerns over lithium-ion batteries are certainly justified. In other industries, problems are legendary. The exploding batteries of the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 smartphone and the grounding of Boeing’s Dreamliner passenger jets from overheating lithium-ion batteries are just two examples of the real dangers they present.

These batteries use a chemical combination of nickel, cobalt, and manganese which store more energy, take a shorter time to charge, and are considered safer than other Li-ion technologies. But they are still capable of overheating and catching fire if not properly designed, manufactured, and controlled.

Overcoming potential safety issues has been Toyota’s biggest challenge. And now, this new lithium-ion battery for both hybrids and plug-ins will enable Toyota to also produce all-electric cars in the future.

Ensuring safety started with Toyota engineers tightly controlling manufacturing and assembly to avoid contamination. A near clean room environment keeps even minuscule metal particles and impurities out of the battery mix to eliminate the threat of short circuits, overheating and potential explosions.

Because the prices of lithium-ion batteries have fallen by about 60% due to large-scale production, Toyota was also able to invest in a smart control system that identifies the signs of any potential short-circuits in individual cells. The system will prevent it from spreading or shut down the battery entirely.

While other automakers and industries sped ahead with lithium-ion batteries, Toyota seems to have really focused on safety first. Preventing issues during manufacturing and being able to recognize and address potential short-circuits after installation will allow Toyota to enter the electric car market with a new safer battery. As fans of all car types, including hybrids, plug-in hybrids and electric, our techs at All Around Auto Care in Westminster are excited to see what’s next from Toyota.

Of course, whether you drive a gas, hybrid or alternative fuel vehicle, feel free to contact us for repairs or maintenance. We’re here to keep you safely on the road.