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March 15, 2017

You Can't Buy a Car on Amazon – But You Can Research One

You Can't Buy a Car on Amazon – But You Can Research OneAt Bowers Automotive, we know that many people find it easier to make purchases online. However, you can't buy a car on Amazon – but you can research one. Yes, the world’s largest online retailer can now give you insight into the vehicle you want to purchase. Feel free to shop for clothes, home electronics and groceries, then swing by Amazon Vehicles to research the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V you’ve been going back and forth about buying. You can even do it all in your pajamas, nobody’s looking!

What Is Amazon Vehicles?

In August of last year, Amazon launched a new extension of their website entirely dedicated to vehicles. Their idea was to create an online automotive community, an interactive hub, with the capacity to do everything except to purchase a car.

This new site, Amazon Vehicles, allows users to purchase car parts, accessories, and exchange reviews of cars. The site also provides many resources to help customers research both old and new models. Just find the vehicle you’re interested in learning more about, and check out its listing, including detailed specifications, multiple images, and video content. And don’t forget those user-generated reviews.

What some don’t know is that this new venture is simply an extension of Amazon’s auto parts section of the website. For many years, consumers have been able to shop for and buy replacement parts for many different vehicle models. Some speculate that savvy customers may have already been using this site to predict potential issues with cars. You can see which replacement parts are most popular and reviews often specify details on why they were needed. For the eagle-eyed consumer, this was a way of spotting weaknesses in vehicles on the market. This is the sort of information that is hard to access through usual consumer channels.

Buying Cars is More Complicated

Unfortunately, Amazon hasn't yet made the leap to online shopping for actual vehicles. The fact is that many states are limited by franchise laws that protect car dealerships, making it difficult for auto manufacturers or online businesses to sell directly to the consumer. Amazon's new foray into the automotive world can be seen as a step in the right direction. It is putting more power in the hands of the consumer and even offers recommended pricing from manufacturers.

Up until now, local car dealerships were the primary source of information on new vehicles. Some car enthusiasts may have used auto magazines or websites to help make their decisions, but most would trust the opinion of car salespeople when making a purchase. With Amazon's new tools at their fingertips, consumers can get their information, brake pad specs to potential engine issues, from an unbiased source and learn from the experience of other car owners.

For now, you can't buy a car on Amazon – but you can research one thoroughly! Getting your car serviced and repaired is another task that has to be done in person. For all your vehicle maintenance needs in Colorado Springs, Bowers Automotive is here to help! We offer the highest quality auto repair and maintenance work for a fair price. For more information, feel free to contact us or stop by our auto shop to talk to us in person.

March 3, 2017

Problems with the Ford F150 Truck

Problems with the Ford F150 TruckToday from our experts at Bowers Automotive, we’re going to explore some problems with the Ford F150 truck. We are always on the lookout for new technology and trends, as well as potential issues in the auto industry. We feel it is important for our customers to be fully informed on the pros and cons of a vehicle before making a purchase. Keep reading to get a bit of insight.

Choosing to drive a truck usually means you are interested in three things: extra space, a good tow rating, and payload. A truck typically weighs 12-15% more than comparable vehicles that don't have a large payload and off-road potential. Large, powerful, heavy trucks with these capabilities have a tendency to consume gas quickly. In an effort to combat this problem and to stay within new emissions and fuel economy regulations, Ford has made some drastic modifications to their F-150 line of trucks.

With a lighter steel frame, an all-aluminum body and a smaller turbocharged engine, the Ford F150 is now leading the way regarding fuel economy for similar sized trucks. Stricter EPA regulations on carbon emissions and more demanding mile per gallon standards on fuel mean that auto manufacturers are coming up with innovations in order to comply. The new F150 is certainly lighter and more economical to drive, but are consumers convinced by this overhaul on one of their favorite models?

The choice of an all-aluminum body has indeed brought up some concerns. One advantage of driving a truck is the feeling of security afforded to the driver and their passengers. Trucks are bigger, higher up on their oversized tires and usually made to be reasonably indestructible. Of course, if you want to reduce the overall weight of the vehicle without impacting the power, a lightweight material for the body makes sense. All vehicles undergo strict safety testing, so we know that the new F-150 must be resilient enough to withstand impact and protect its passengers.

Despite the F-Series being an American best-seller, Ford has reason to worry about sales on this new model. Sales of the F150 dropped sharply in 2016. Interestingly, the problem may not be closely related to Ford's revolutionary modifications of their trucks. Across the board from General Motors and Ford to Fiat and Toyota, auto sales have been steadily decreasing this year.

An increase in average cost could be a reason for such dramatic losses in sales. Between 2011 and 2016 the cost of full-size pickup trucks rose by 24%. The trend towards greener cars and hybrids could be another reason for the decline of the popular truck, although according to this Bloomberg report, Ford CEO Mark Fields has stated that Ford is set to produce its first hybrid by 2020.

Perhaps Ford is making a mistake in taking such drastic measures to change a tried and tested product, or perhaps they are ahead of the time and setting the trends for others to follow. Whichever way you see it, knowing the facts about potential problems with the Ford F150 truck makes it easier for you to shop with confidence. For more details on technical aspects of truck repair, do not hesitate to contact Bowers Automotive, your local experts on truck repairs.

February 17, 2017

Alternator Problems and Repair

Alternator Problems and RepairKeeping your vehicle in good condition is the best way to avoid emergency breakdowns and reduce your yearly auto maintenance costs. Drivers should pay attention to their dashboard warning lights and keep up with factory scheduled maintenance. One component of your vehicle that you should be familiar with is the alternator or generator. Almost all vehicles encounter an issue with their alternator at some point. Bowers Automotive is here to give you some useful insights into alternator problems and repair.

What does the alternator do?

Before we get into the potential faults and defects of an alternator, we need to know what its function is. Your car is full of electrical components. Your lights, windshield wipers, sensors, ignition, AC, and radio all need electricity to work. A standard battery would quickly drain if it had to power all of these components simultaneously. This is where the alternator comes in.

The alternator converts mechanical energy from the engine into electrical energy which is stored in the car's battery. The serpentine belt, also known as the engine drive belt, is the key piece of machinery needed to convert this energy. While the car's engine is running, your battery is continuously charged by the alternator. This alternator or generator is responsible for keeping your car's battery running.

How do I recognize a problem with my alternator?

When an issue with your car's electrical system arises, it can be difficult to identify the source of the problem. If just one electrical component is failing, such as a single turn signal, or the windshield wipers, you probably don't need to look any further than that particular part. However, if all of your electrical systems fail simultaneously, it means you have an issue with the battery or the alternator.

Some classic signs of a fault in your alternator to watch out for include a squealing noise made by the serpentine belt or a noticeably loose belt. In order to efficiently convert energy, this belt must be properly adjusted to handle an enormous amount of tension and friction. If it is too taut, it can snap as it wears out. If too loose, it can flip or twist and fail to run smoothly. A quick visual inspection can be enough to notice an obvious problem with the serpentine belt.

Another clear sign of something wrong with the alternator is when your dashboard warning light for the alternator or battery illuminates. This alternator light is usually represented by three letters ALT or GEN, whereas a dedicated battery light will be the symbol of a battery with positive and negative terminals. If you notice either of these lights on, it is important to get your vehicle to a qualified mechanic without delay. Ignoring these lights means you will probably soon end up with a dead battery. In this case, you can ask another driver for a jump start, then get to your mechanic as soon as possible.

Other warning signs of trouble with your alternator are weaknesses in electrical systems. Dim or flickering lights can signal low battery power. If you cannot get your car to start, this could be because the battery has no power and is often due to a fault in the alternator. Of course, if you have left your car parked for a long time without turning the engine on, it is possible that the battery has simply drained.

Remember, your car's battery charges from the energy produced by your engine, and the battery doesn't store that energy forever. Complete draining of your battery can happen quickly if you accidently leave the lights or radio on while your car is parked. If you find yourself with a dead battery, you can try jump starting the battery with help from another driver. If the problem is just a drained battery, this will be enough to get you going and give the alternator a chance to start charging the battery again.

Diagnosing an alternator problem

It is possible for drivers to run some basic diagnostics on their battery and alternator before bringing it to a professional. To check the level of voltage your alternator is producing, you will need a digital volt-ohmmeter or multimeter. These are available online and from most large hardware stores. The first step is to test the voltage of your battery while the engine is off.

Take the red lead from your multimeter and place it on the positive terminal of your battery. Place the black lead on the negative terminal of the battery and set your multimeter to read DC volts. A fully charged battery will read above 12.65 volts. If your battery reads below this level, you may have a faulty battery or a problem with your alternator, and you should take your vehicle to a certified technician for further diagnosis.

If your battery reads above 12.65 volts, then continue to the next step. Remove the leads from the battery and turn on your engine. Carefully replace the red lead on the positive terminal and the black lead on the negative terminal of your battery. With the engine on and the alternator running, you should see a higher output of voltage from your battery. Typically, it will read between 13.5 and 14.5 volts.

If your reading is within the normal range, this indicates that the alternator is doing its job. Your vehicle's electrical failures may be due to a fault in the battery. If the reading shows the same voltage as the first test, then your alternator is not functioning as it should. Either way, you should take your car to an ASE certified technician for a professional diagnosis and repair.

Repairing your alternator

Alternator repairs often involve a simple replacement of the serpentine belt. The cost of this repair can vary between $60 and $200. While the replacement part itself is relatively inexpensive, most of the cost is due to labor. Replacing the belt involves disconnecting the battery, removing the belt, unbolting the alternator and removing the wire connectors. This can be a time-consuming process, and some models are more complex than others.

To ensure a quality alternator repair and a fair price, bring your vehicle to Bowers Automotive in Colorado Springs. Our technicians have over 26 years of experience in dealing with alternator problems and repair. When you entrust your vehicle to us, you can expect the highest standards and responsible workmanship. Our auto shop is fully stocked with the latest diagnostic tools and sensors for working on electrical systems. Ignition systems, batteries, alternators, and computer sensors in all makes and models of vehicles routinely repaired here. For more information and to schedule an appointment, visit our website today.

January 30, 2017

Radiator Flush Helps Engine's Cooling System

Radiator Flush Helps Engine's Cooling System If you have ever heard your mechanic recommending a radiator flush and wondered how a radiator flush helps your engine’s cooling system? At Bowers Automotive we love when our customers ask questions. We think every driver should have a basic understanding of their vehicle, but we know that some are too busy or embarrassed to ask us for thorough explanations of every service we offer. Here, we explain what you need to know about radiator flushes and how often it should be done.

Combustion engines, like those found in most vehicles driven today, need to burn fuel to produce energy and power the vehicle. In doing this, they produce more heat than is necessary. If the engine parts are exposed to an excess of heat, they can quickly become damaged and stop functioning. This is where your car cooling system comes in. A liquid coolant circulates around the engine and through the radiator, allowing excess heat to escape and preventing your engine from overheating.

The liquid coolant is made up of a mixture of water and antifreeze. Over time this coolant breaks down and becomes acidic. If not regularly changed, it can corrode the inside of the cooling system, causing permanent damage. A radiator flush involves removing the old coolant and replacing it with a fresh batch. Additionally, your mechanic may also use chemicals to clean out the build-up of waste and scale deposits from inside of the radiator and cooling system.

Regularly having the radiator flushed will ensure that the engine is kept cool. A failing cooling system can allow the engine to overheat, warping delicate components and causing your car to break down. Fresh liquid coolant contains the lubricants and additives needed to keep the entire cooling system running efficiently. A regularly scheduled radiator flush will maintain the water pump and radiator in good condition, thus extending the life of your engine's cooling system.

It is recommended to have your radiator flushed every 30,000 - 60,000 miles, however, check your owner's manual for specific guidelines. If the cooling system undergoes a major repair job, it is a good idea to have the whole system flushed to extend the lifetime of replacement parts. If you think your engine is running hotter than normal, or you notice any unusual smells or fluid leakages coming from the engine, this may indicate a problem with your cooling system.

If in doubt, do not hesitate to bring your vehicle in for diagnostics at Bowers Automotive. Our ASE certified technicians use modern diagnostic tools to pinpoint faults and quickly repair them. Hopefully, now you understand better how a radiator flush helps your engine's cooling system and why it is important to have it done regularly. Keeping your cooling system in a pristine state means you are less likely to break down and incur expensive repair costs down the road. If you have any inquiries about maintaining your vehicle in good condition, simply call us today!

January 15, 2017

Taking Care of Your Car's Engine

Taking Care of Your Car's EngineThe engine is the most critical component of your vehicle, which is why Bowers Automotive is happy to share some tips on taking care of your car's engine. We know that when it fails, you must spend an immense amount of money to fix it – if it can be fixed at all. Many car owners simply do not realize that they can easily keep their engine in good condition with some simple maintenance and by not putting off taking their car to a qualified mechanic when the check engine light starts flashing.

Keeping your vehicle's engine in top condition is as easy as applying a degreaser and engine protector twice per year. This requires a minimal investment of money and time spent, but it makes a huge difference to the efficiency of your vehicle. A clean and protected engine will run cooler and be much more resistant to wear and tear. For newer engines with less than 75,000 miles, foamy engine cleaner is recommended. Older cars with more miles on them should be treated using original engine degreaser.

Cleaning Your Engine

Before you begin the cleaning process, shut off your engine and wait until it has completely cooled. Cover the engine’s electrical components with plastic bags. If your car engine has not been cleaned in a long time or looks particularly dirt-encrusted, start cleaning by using a hand-held vacuum to dislodge dust, dirt, and debris. You can also use compressed air for this task. Take your chosen engine cleaner and thoroughly spray the engine, ensuring you get it into all the nooks and crannies. Leave this to sit for around 30 minutes.

Protecting Your Engine

Once your engine has been treated with a degreaser for 30 minutes, spray the engine with water to rinse off the residue. Remember to keep the sensitive electrical components from getting wet. Once your engine is clean and dry, it’s ready to be treated with engine protector. Simply spray an even layer of the aerosol engine protector across all surfaces of the engine and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Use a towel to wipe down your engine, and you’re done. Taking care of your car’s engine is that easy.

This simple process will make your car's engine more resistant to damage from everyday exposure to sand, dirt, snow, tar, and salt. The products you need can be found readily in large supermarkets, hardware stores and automotive supply stores. For best results, clean and degrease your engine twice per year. If you can do it before bringing it into the car repair shop for diagnostics or repair, it will make things easier for your mechanic. And if you are planning on selling your car, a sparkling engine will impress picky potential buyers.

Gradual wear and tear is inevitable, but the process can be slowed significantly by taking care of your car’s engine regularly. For more tips on keeping your vehicle in pristine condition, talk to the qualified experts at Bowers Automotive today. If you don't have time to regularly clean and protect your car's engine, don't worry! We can take care of this for you, as well as provide any repairs you might need.

 

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