Author Archive for Auto Shop in Alamogordo

Driveline Service Information You Can Benefit From Today

If your Tierra del Automotive Service Advisor has ever advised you that one or more of your driveline components needed servicing or it’s been recommended to have a driveline service performed, you may have wondered, “What is a driveline service and why does it need servicing”?

Well, keep reading and we’ll clarify what these services are and exactly how they aid in extending the longevity of your vehicle’s driveline components.

BG Driveline icon

“Too often overlooked in maintenance programs, driveline products and equipment contribute meaningfully contribute to the overall economy and efficiency of your vehicle’s operation.”

BG Products

What is a driveline service and why does it need servicing?

Let’s take a look at what most vehicle driveline components are. A vehicle’s driveline component list can include, but not be limited to,

  • Front &/or Rear Differential(s)
  • Transfer Case
  • Axles
  • Driveshafts
  • Driveshafts

Each of these components require lubrication to keep them performing optimally.

The most common regular maintenance concern for these items is a fluid exchange. New fluid in these components begins to degrade or breakdown immediately as your car is placed into gear and driven down the road. Just like engine oil, these fluids need to be replaced periodically as all fluids wear with usage.

Benefits to changing these fluids are:

  • Replaces worn out fluid.
  • New fluid cleans bearings and gears.
  • Removes contaminants.
  • Softens and conditions seals.
  • Quieter operation, smoother gear shifting & longer component life.

3 Facts You Need to Know About Driveline Service

Driveline Fluid Exchange Equipment
  1. Most driveline components consist of gears that mesh with one another and the fluid helps to lubricate and cool these components as they heat up from constant contact and engagement. The heat generated by these gears is transferred into the fluids.
  2. A driveline fluid will function properly for thousands of driving miles. However, repeated heating and cooling of this fluid starts a process of degradation and oxidation that eventually breaks down and no longer provides the protection necessary to protect the metal components within.
  3. The end result is noise, heat and smells that trigger the driver into having the vehicle serviced.

Of course, you don’t want to wait until one of these events occur to have your vehicle serviced.

In most cases, metal to metal damage and fatigue will result in expensive components wearing beyond specifications requiring replacement. When it gets to this point, a simple fluid exchange is no longer viable and parts replacement is necessary.

Had the vehicle owner changed the fluids in accordance with the manufacturers recommended change interval, a costly replacement expense might have been altogether avoided.

Common (But Not Always) Driveline Practices

Most driveshaft equipped vehicles are lubricated during your oil change intervals as many are equipped with grease fittings and get lubed every 5,000 miles.

Most front wheel drive vehicles are fitted with a transaxle that has an integral differential and that fluid gets changed regularly with a transmission fluid exchange, normally every 30,000 miles. It is important to know that some front wheel drive vehicles such as Subaru have a separate front differential and that fluid is not the same as the transaxle fluid and requires a separate maintenance interval.

Tierra del Sol Automotive Has What It Takes to Complete a Successful Driveline Service

To understand exactly what driveline components are equipped with your vehicle, please call Tierra del Sol Automotive at 575-443-1880 or stop by and schedule a free fluid inspection. Our friendly Service Advisors will gladly advise you which components you have and what fluids need changing. You can even ask us for a printout of your recommended services by mileage for your particular vehicle.

Don’t forget – Tierra del Sol Automotive is a BG Products Service Center, and for qualifying vehicles, can offer you the BG Lifetime Protection Plan to safeguard your vehicle. Ask one of our friendly Service Advisors about the details and lets get you on the road to savings!

Call Tierra del Sol Automotive in Alamogordo for your FREE Fluid Inspection – 575-443-1880

How often should I change transmission fluid?

Your vehicle has a regularly scheduled maintenance interval for your fluids, and you should ensure these fluid exchanges occur within the timeframes specified. By adhering to a routine maintenance schedule, you will most likely extend the life of your transmission and avoid extensive transmission repair work.

Your transmission is most likely the second most expensive component in your vehicle (sometimes even more expensive than an engine) and simple fluid maintenance can aid in its longevity. One of the least expensive and best possible services you can perform on your transmission is to replace the fluid every 30,000 miles.

One of the least expensive and best possible services you can perform on your transmission is to replace the fluid every 30,000 miles. #TDSAuto Click To Tweet

Many manufacturers state that your fluid is a “lifetime fluid”, or fluid can “last 100,000 miles” or more before changing. Realize that the manufacturers main objective is to get you through their warranty period. Most manufacturers offer a 3 year /36-month powertrain warranty. Aside from engine oil, most fluids can run that duration with little to no side effect. Mileage beyond that is when the problems likely begin.

We at Tierra Del Sol Automotive want to help you keep that automobile performing in tip-top condition so it may last you many more years. We believe it is cheaper to maintain your vehicle regularly than “run it until it breaks, then, trade it in”. Now is a great time to come to Tierra Del Sol Automotive and have your transmission fluid inspected for you.

Is it really necessary to change the ATF every 30,000 miles?

You may have heard that an auto repair shop will only recommend transmission services to make money, however, the benefits of more regular transfusions are in the results. 

We believe in the 30,000-mile change recommendation and here’s why: During a Transmission Service at Tierra Del Sol Automotive, we add a cleaner to your dirty transmission fluid at the start of each service. The cleaner will dissolve and suspend deposits that have formed in all parts of your transmission during the service.

Then, we perform a fluid transfusion which forces out the old fluid holding the contaminants and deposits in suspension, and replaces it with clean and fresh ATF that is fortified with seal conditioners, oxidation inhibitors and shift improvers.

BG Products - Quality Auto Repair PartsThis results in no deposit formation, a restored transmission performance, and a potentially longer transmission life. Additionally, because Tierra del Sol Automotive uses BG Products, and if you have your vehicle first serviced prior to reaching 100,000 miles, you’ll be backed by the Lifetime BG Protection Plan.

Why does transmission fluid need to be changed?

Daily driving places high demands on your Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF). ATF, unlike engine oil, is used not only as a lubricant but also as hydraulic fluid capable of propelling your vehicle forward and reward.

ATF is put under very high pressures, created by your transmission oil pump, in order to squeeze or press plates known as clutches, together creating friction thereby spinning different components. Likewise, those same packs of clutches have bands around them, that when squeezed by hydraulic pressure, prevents them from spinning or turning.

In order to apply this degree of force to rapidly spinning components, the oil pump converts low-pressure fluid to high-pressure fluid which flows through the valve body to engage or disengage these components. As a result of all these processes, the ATF transforms it’s liquid energy into mechanical energy. This results in the ATF getting hot, creating a need for a process to cool it back down. Hot ATF is routed to and runs through a cooler located near your car’s radiator and then returns to the transmission where the cycle begins yet again.

As a result of these continual processes, your transmission fluid will break down, or deteriorate over time.  As the fluid degrades, it thins and loses its viscosity. The detergents in your transmission fluid also degrade over time as well. Automotive technicians often use the color fluid in a vehicle compared to new fluids to assist them in determining the condition of a vehicle’s ATF. Deteriorating fluids are thinner, much darker, and can easily be recognized visually.

Old and New Transmission Fluid

Deteriorating transmission fluids are thinner and much darker when compared to fresh and clean ATF

When one, or all of these degradations occur, your automobile may begin to show symptoms indicating the fluid needs servicing or worse yet, result in major repair expenses.

What are the symptoms of failing transmission fluid?

Symptoms of a failing transmission might include

  • slipping
  • hard shifting

Slipping is a condition where vehicle forward progress slows down even though you’re pressing harder on the accelerator pedal. A quick look at the tachometer confirms the engine is “racing at higher RPM’s” and the car is not reacting accordingly.

Hard shifting is another concern. Does it feel like each shift “bangs” or “slam’s” into or out of gear?

Changing automatic transmission fluid is best left to an auto technician equipped with fluid exchanging equipment which uses the vehicle’s transmission pump to replace the fluid more thoroughly than the “do it yourself” drain and fill method. Give Tierra del Sol Automotive a call today and schedule your complimentary Transmission Fluid inspection. 

When do I need a Coolant Flush?

CoolantAt Tierra del Sol we are often asked. “when do I need a coolant flush”? The simple answer is that any time is at least a good time to consider a coolant flush.

How Do I Know When I need a Coolant Flush?

During the summer months, we rarely think about the coolant in our automobile unless we encounter some sort of problem. Perhaps the temperatures have started to cool and we are starting to need a little heat inside of our vehicle. When you realize that the heater is not blowing as hot as it did in years past or in some cases, you may not have any heat blowing at all – it’s time to consider a coolant flush service.

No heat is an indication there might be a problem in your cooling system. During summer months, we do not open the heater control valve, which is simply an on/off mechanical valve that allows coolant flow through the heater core inside the dash panel of your car. However, coolant still flows through the remaining parts of the coolant system. Due to the fact that coolant no longer flows through the heater hoses, loose dirt and corrosion from within the system tend to migrate to those areas of low flow or activity. Think of it as being similar to a sink drain. Eventually, any contaminants create a partial blockage, total block of that water passage. The result is “no heat” because the coolant isn’t able to move freely through the heater core.

Another important consideration is that coolant, over time, loses its chemical additives and weakens in strength. Many of the chemicals in the coolant are present to help keep the boiling point of the coolant at a strength that provides optimum engine cooling. As leaks develop, a common practice is to “top-off” our coolant level using tap water which in itself, has minerals that actually lead to the deterioration of vital engine components. Adding tap water also dilutes the original formulation and increases development of corrosive acids that eat away at metal parts of the system. Also, over time and under daily usage the corrosion inhibitors within the coolant are depleted.

How to Keep Your Vehicle in Tip-top Cooling Shape

Engine components such as water pumps, radiators, heater cores, water control valves, etc…. are very expensive to replace. A regularly scheduled coolant flush helps keep those components from premature corrosive wear and tear. This ensures you’ll remain warm during cold winter months and the engine will remain cool during the hot summer months.

A Tierra del Sol Automotive cooling system flush provides you with the peace of mind in knowing your vehicle’s cooling system is being maintained at the highest level of performance. Our automotive technicians will use a “BG Products” cooling system chemical package that is included in the price of your vehicle cooling system service.

Before your cooling system is flushed, our technicians add a system cleaning chemical. Next, the vehicle is brought up to operating temperature and allowed to run to give the chemical time to clean the system thoroughly. This cleaner suspends all contaminants in the fluid.

Then, technicians transfuse the system, using pressure, to force the old and dirty fluid from the system and replace the old coolant with new coolant.

Coolant Flush Transfusion

Finally, additional chemicals are added to the system.

Have you ever noticed those tiny annoying leaks that leave a drop or two of coolant on your garage floor monthly? Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for coolant hoses to weep at a clamp around the radiator or thermostat area. 

  • A “SYSTEM SEALER” to aid in the prevention of leaks.

This “SYSTEM SEALER” additive helps to keep the coolant at bay, within the system, and not on your floor.

  • A “SUPER-COOL” additive that prolongs the corrosion inhibitors in the system and keeping operating temperatures at a lower temperature.

Adding the Coolant Sealers and Inhibitor Additives

Tierra del Sol Recommends…

The best way to keep a healthy cooling system is to replace your coolant at regularly scheduled maintenance intervals. Many coolant manufacturers boast their coolant as lasting “150,000 miles”. This may be true, mileage wise, however, Tierra del Sol recommends that the depleted corrosion inhibitors be replenished more frequently – every 30,000 to 60,000 miles.

Stop by Tierra del Sol Automotive or contact one of our friendly Service Advisors and inquire about our cooling system service. Your automobile will “Thank You” for it!

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What Every Driver Ought To Know About Their Vehicle’s Battery

Patrons of Tierra Del Sol Automotive know that car batteries wear out just like any other battery and need to be replaced. But a dead battery doesn’t always mean that your vehicle’s battery needs to be replaced.

A dead battery can be the result of any number of things besides the battery itself – like a worn serpentine belt, a worn belt tensioner, or a bad alternator.

If you don’t check the serpentine belt, belt tensioner, and alternator, you may just end up replacing batteries that are still good.

Even knowing this, the logical place to start is to test the battery first to see if it’s actually bad. The problem could be that your battery is not being properly charged or able to maintain a charge due to a parasitic drain or a bad alternator.

An interesting side note here is that there is a surprisingly high percentage of requests for new alternators brought into Tierra Del Sol Automotive that result in the alternator working as designed. The real culprit of the problem turns out to be a worn serpentine belt and/or belt tensioner. If the belt is slipping, it’s not spinning the alternator properly so it can’t fully charge your battery.

Let’s get back to the battery.

How does a car battery work?

Lead Acid BatteryIt’s all about the flow of electrical power.

Your battery is discharged each time you start your vehicle and then, it is recharged by the alternator as you drive.

When you start your vehicle, the battery uses power to get your engine running. As your engine runs, your alternator generates electricity to run all your electrical systems:

  • lights,
  • a half dozen computers,
  • anti-lock brake system,
  • traction control,
  • power windows,
  • electronic fuel injectors,
  • stability control,
  • air conditioning,
  • transmission servos – the list goes on.

Any leftover electricity goes to recharge your vehicle battery.

As any normal driver would, you turn on your radio, your seat heaters/coolers, maybe plug in your cell phone or the kids start watching their DVD and pretty soon, and unbeknownst to you, there isn’t much extra electricity to go back into the battery.

Keep in mind, if you were on a long New Mexico road trip you’d have plenty of time to fully recharge your battery. But not if you’re making frequent stops around Alamogordo while running errands. If all you make are short trips around town, it may mean that your battery never actually has the time to fully recharge.

Every time you start your vehicle engine, your battery is completely discharged. Multiple starts – multiple discharges. By the time you get home, you can have less than a fully charged battery.

When the battery is continuously in a discharged state, it loses its ability to fully recharge. Parts of the battery harden. As these parts harden they are no longer able to function properly and are unable to build up and store electricity. As this continues over time, more and more of your battery is hardened. Eventually, your battery simply doesn’t have enough charge to supply the power needed to start your vehicle and you end up with a dead battery.

This repetitive cycle of not fully recharging your battery starts a downward spiral in your battery’s life. This demand for power that is needed for your vehicle to start and run, ends up placing additional strain on your alternator. Your alternator works overtime trying to keep your battery charged – which causes the alternator to wear out prematurely.

Most standard batteries are “wet-cell,” meaning they are filled with liquid battery acid. There’s a chemical cycle that takes place inside your vehicle’s battery.

New Absorbed Gas Mat (AGM) batteries are “non-spillable” which makes them safer for the environment as well as vehicle operators in Alamogordo. They also have a longer lifespan and greater cycle life than wet-cell batteries.

An example of a "non-spillable" auto battery.

Off-roaders like the AGM batteries because their performance is not affected by steep inclines and odd angles. They are also well suited for RV and boat owners.

Overall, batteries last longer in cooler climates but wear out faster in extreme cold or hot climates. On average, 70% of batteries fail within four years and the average life expectancy of a battery ranges from 3-5 years. Even if your battery hasn’t failed after 5 years, many experienced Alamogordo technicians will suggest replacing your battery as a maintenance item to extend the life of your alternator.

4 Battery Life Extending Maintenance Tips

Eventually, your car battery will fail and you will need to replace it. However, there are some things Alamogordo drivers can do to make their batteries last longer.

Extend Your Battery Life

Keep Your Battery Clean

Check your battery and its connections to ensuring that the connections are secure. Be sure to remove anything that might be mucking things up, like corrosion, dust, dirt, and grime.

Reduce Battery Power Usage During Startup

Turn off any accessories before starting your vehicle, particularly in cold weather. If you can control your car remotely, ensure the accessories are off before starting it.

Use a Battery Charger

By using a battery charger once a month in the summer and every three months in winter you can ensure your vehicle’s battery has a full charge. You can do this less often in the winter because the electrochemical process slows down when it’s colder and less damage is done when your battery is weak. Computerized battery chargers are really easy to use. They will also monitor and control the charging rate to keep the battery from overheating while it’s charging.

Test Your Battery Routinely

We recommend that you ask the professionals at Tierra Del Sol Automotive to test your charging system. They will perform a load test on the system that will provide you with the State of Charge (SOC) of your battery, the output of your Alternator in volts and amps, the condition of the battery terminals, cable ends, and of any deterioration of the batteries cables – both power and ground.

If the battery tests good but requires a maintenance service, they’ll clean any corrosion, or electrolyte (battery acid) spillage on the battery case, as well as the battery terminals. They’ll ensure the connections and cables are in secure working order and corrosion free. Finally, an application of anti-corrosion sealant is applied to aid in the prevention of further corrosion.

Should the battery fail the load test, they’ll select the proper battery, that’s correct for your vehicle, install it, then retest the charging system to verify all is in proper working order.

What should I look for in a new car battery?

Owner's Manual

Tierra del Sol Automotive recommends you first, get a replacement battery that meets or exceeds your vehicle’s specifications. But, that may not always be the case. You may have some special needs. When manufacturers first put the battery into your vehicle at the factory, they had no idea where it would end up over its life or how YOU would use it when you drive in New Mexico. That battery was chosen to meet the needs of a wide range of motorists.

Determining your recommended battery replacement interval is a great conversation to have with your Tierra Del Sol Auto service advisor. Share with them how you use your vehicle so you can be assured to get the correct battery for your specific needs.

In general, the experts at Tierra Del Sol Automotive recommend replacing your battery every five years. Changing your battery every five years can reduce your chances of being stranded on a local street with a dead battery – as well as prevent undue wear on your alternator.

Other than knowing when to check and change your battery, there are a couple of things you should pay particular attention to when you are choosing a new battery. One is cold cranking amps and the other is reserve capacity.

Cold Cranking Amps

Cold cranking amps can be thought of as the power used to start a cold engine. The colder an engine is, the more power will be needed to start the vehicle. The number of cold cranking amps you need is determined by two main factors – the type of vehicle you drive and the temperatures the battery is starting from.

Cold outside temperatures affect the way the battery can perform with the systems in your vehicle.

  • Fluids, like oil, inside the engine are thicker and don’t flow easily.
  • The chemical reaction that creates the electrical energy within the battery itself is less efficient in cold temperatures.
  • Cold temperatures tend to drain any power the battery has stored.

Essentially, cold reduces the available battery power so, less power is available when more power is needed.

Understanding how cold temperatures affect your battery can help you to decide which type of battery specifications are the best for your driving environment. If you live (or drive) where it is cold, a battery that provides more cold cranking amps is needed than if you are living in mild or hot driving conditions.

When purchasing a new battery, be sure that your new battery meets your vehicle’s recommended cold cranking amps. Consider a higher cold cranking amp battery if you live up in Cloudcroft where the temperatures can be colder.

Batteries often list or label their cold cranking amps as a number, so when comparing batteries, you can use the cold cranking amps numbers (CA or CCA).

The Cold Crank Amp Rating on an Auto Battery

This battery has a CCA of 775 amps and a reserve charge of 120 amps.

Interestingly, living in Alamogordo and the Tularosa Basin presents another challenge for our car batteries because heat is the real enemy of a long battery life. More often than not, the damage that is done during our hot summer months, rears its ugly head in winter as our weather gets cold.

Extremely hot weather is a primary reason for shortened battery life. The heat during our hot summer months causes the liquid that is contained in our batteries to evaporate. And, low fluid levels damage the internal structure of the battery.

Southern New Mexico vehicle batteries are especially challenged between the summer’s damage and the winter’s increased demand for power.

Reserve Capacity

Reserve capacity is the number of minutes of stored power that the battery has at a particular load. Reserve capacity is more important in modern cars than in days gone by. This is due to what is referred to as a parasitic drain. Parasitic drain is the energy that is still needed for use when your vehicle is NOT running. Even though your vehicle is not running, power is still needed by some of your vehicle’s accessories – especially when it comes to memory.

Modern vehicles have a lot of “always-on” systems that draw power from the battery:

  • Vehicle security system
  • Remote start systems
  • Different vehicle computers
  • Radio and audio systems
  • Bluetooth
  • Seat positions
  • Heated/Cooled seats
  • Phone and device chargers
  • Clock

Remember, you are often using reserve power when you are only making those short trips and running errands around Alamogordo because you are not driving long enough to recover the power you used simply by starting the car.

Service WriterWhen it comes time to purchase a new battery for your vehicle, your service advisor at Tierra Del Sol Automotive can give you advice on what you might need and any options you might have with your new battery purchase.

Premium batteries typically come with a longer warranty. Warranties vary from full-replacement – where the battery is replaced if it fails within the warranty period to pro-rated – where you are given a partial credit for the failed battery depending on how much of the warranty period has passed.

It is also nice to be aware that when the battery in a newer vehicle is replaced, your auto technician at Tierra Del Sol Automotive may need to register the battery into the engine computer or make some calibrations for some accessories such as power windows and sunroofs.

Your service advisor at Tierra Del Sol Automotive will be able to advise whether or not you may need more from your battery and require a high capacity battery, help you know how to decide which battery is right for you and your vehicle, and provide you with any warranty information. Call Tierra Del Sol Automotive today and schedule an appointment.

What You Need to Know about Your Serpentine Belt

We all have those days when we have a bunch of errands that we may need to run all around Cloudcroft, Alamogordo, and the Tularosa Basin to complete.

  1. picking up the kids from school or the movies
  2. getting gas
  3. stopping at the ATM
  4. shopping for groceries 

You could make 3 or 4 individual trips to accomplish all of your errands, but that would be a waste of time and money – totally inefficient. Instead, you organize a single trip and do things in the most expeditious manner possible, saving you both time and money.

Errand Map

For example, first, you head off to the ATM so you have the cash to pay for the gas and groceries. Then, so you don’t run out of gas on your way to the grocery store, you get some gas. Next, you stop at the supermarket for your groceries. You closely monitor your money to stay on budget, and your time so as to ensure you’ll be able to pick up the kids without having your groceries spoil. You shop, pay, load your car and finally proceed to pick up the kids on the way home. This is a much better use of your time.

How Organization Relates to Your Serpentine Belt

You may wonder what this has to do with your vehicle. Well, not so long ago, each of your engine’s accessories, like the alternator and air conditioner, were powered by separate belts. A vehicle might have 3 or 4 belts. Just like completing our 3 or 4 errands individually, it’s not a great example of efficiency.

Vehicle engineers came up with a more efficient organization of engine parts and began to equip vehicles with a single belt, called a serpentine belt, to run all the accessories. You might recognize it. It’s called the serpentine belt because it snakes around the front of your engine efficiently connecting the accessories – working similarly to organizing your errands.

The Serpentine Belt

Examples of Serpentine Belt Integrations

Alamogordo drivers should be aware that there’s a special, spring-loaded pulley attached to the engine called the tensioner pulley and sometimes an extra pulley call the idler pulley. Their job is to make sure there is constant tension on the serpentine belt, to apply pressure on the belt and keep it tight so that it doesn’t slip.

This pulley is mounted to the engine block with a spring-loaded arm. The vehicle engine crankshaft provides the power to turn the serpentine belt. The belt may provide the power for the power steering pump, which makes it easier to steer your vehicle. Next comes the alternator which generates electricity to run the vehicle’s electrical system and charge the battery. On to the air conditioning compressor. This helps make cold air to keep you comfortable all summer long in Alamogordo.

On some vehicles, the water pump or radiator fan or the power brakes are also run by the serpentine belt. Some even have more than one serpentine belt.

It sounds like a lot of important stuff, doesn’t it? The bottom line is that your serpentine belt has a lot of responsibility when it comes to the ideal operation of your vehicle. No matter how your engine is arranged, you aren’t going far without a serpentine belt.

As you can imagine, it’s important to ensure your serpentine belt remains intact and the tensioner pulley on your engine to remain at the right tension to keep the serpentine belt tight.

Desert Road

If your serpentine belt were to break on one of our desert southwest roads, your battery would die in just a short distance. If it runs your fan or water pump, your engine could overheat. Your steering and braking could also be affected.

But just how long will a serpentine belt last? That will vary for each individual car or truck.

Serpentine belts do a lot of work, they’re tough and can last for thousands of miles. Inevitably, the belt and the tensioner will wear out over time. The spring on the tensioner can also become worn and would no longer provide the necessary pressure to keep the belt tight.

A worn belt can slip or be misaligned, and can stress your vehicle engine’s expensive accessories and will cause them to wear prematurely. The good news is that an inspection can reveal a belt that’s worn.

Your vehicle has a recommended interval for inspecting and replacing your serpentine belt. It’s often recommended that the tensioner, and the idler pulley if so equipped, be replaced at the same time as the serpentine belt.

What Your Serpentine Belt Inspection May NOT Tell You.

Owner's Manual

You may have been told by your service advisor to look for cracks in your belt to see if it needs to be replaced. The old style belts would crack, and chunks would fall off so you could easily see when you needed a new one. Several years ago, manufacturers started making serpentine belts out of a new material. It’s much more durable, but it’s harder to tell when the belt needs to be replaced.

Modern belt material doesn’t crack as often as old belts did, however, living here in Alamogordo with all the hot dry weather, cracked and glazed serpentine belts are quite common.

The new style serpentine belts are now manufactured with ribs incorporated right into the belt’s material. So, in addition to inspecting for cracks, the depth of the belt’s ribs need to be inspected and measured to determine wear.

Even though your vehicle’s owner manual will have a recommendation for when it should be changed, more frequent inspections can reveal if it should need to be replaced sooner.

In addition to looking for wear, you can listen for warning signs that may indicate there’s a problem with the serpentine belt. You may hear a squealing sound from under the hood when accelerating. Or, you might even hear a slow, slapping sound if you have a loose belt.

Service Writer

Serpentine Belt Inspections You Want

If you suspect a serpentine belt problem, or if it’s just been a while since it was last checked, ask your friendly and knowledgeable Tierra Del Sol Automotive service advisor to schedule an appointment and have a technician perform an inspection.

Your Tierra Del Sol Automotive technician will inspect the belt and other mechanical systems in your vehicle to see if there are any impending or potential signs of trouble. They will inspect your serpentine belt for damage or wear and perform a visual inspection of the belt to see if it has any cracks that signal the belt could fail soon.

They’ll measure the depth of the grooves in the belt with a special gauge to determine if there is enough amount of belt material remaining. The results are used to establish when the belt is worn and should be replaced. If the ribs wear too deep, it’s time to replace.

Tierra Del Sol Automotive Logo

The serpentine belt is an important part for the function of your vehicle. And compared to the accessories that the belt effects, it is not an expensive part replace – so it’s a good idea to replace a serpentine belt before it fails.

Consider having the tensioner pulley that keeps the belt at the proper tension replaced along with the serpentine belt.

Replacing a worn belt will extend the life of your accessories and prevent future breakdowns. So, change your serpentine belt and belt tensioner as recommended by your owner’s manual or your friendly and knowledgeable auto pros at Tierra Del Sol Automotive.

Why isn’t my air conditioner blowing cold air?

Vehicle Air Conditioner Vent Most of us don’t even think about an air conditioning service for our vehicles – as long as our air conditioners are blowing cold air. But your air conditioning system is a complex and expensive system that all drivers should think about before it starts blowing hot air, especially here in Alamogordo and all the driving we do in the desert southwest.

Tierra del Sol Automotive performs air conditioning service year round because temperatures in Southern New Mexico are never too cold and during our summer months it can be downright hot.

As our temperatures rise in the early summer months each year, we notice that there is a significant increase in vehicles that require A/C repair work at the auto shop here in Alamogordo.

The most common air conditioning (A/C) service and repair issues that Tierra del Sol Automotive encounters when drivers report the loss of cold air blowing from their A/C systems can be directly related to refrigerant and leaks.

Other contributing factors might include contamination, worn out, or broken parts.


A vehicle’s air conditioning system uses refrigerant, a gas in the system, to create cold air.

Clean and fresh A/C fluids will protect the air conditioning components in your A/C system and keep the system operating at peak efficiency so it doesn’t have to work as hard to keep you cool.

As refrigerant ages, it tends to gather moisture and become corrosive. Corrosion leads to leaks in your A/C system.

Air Conditioning Service Equipment


Leaks in your A/C system allow the refrigerant to escape. When there is not enough refrigerant in an A/C system the system can’t cool the air well.

Even minuscule holes in a hose, seal or coupler can allow enough refrigerant to leak out and prevent the creation of cold air.

When refrigerant leaks out, your air conditioner may still cool the air in the air conditioning system, however, this can create another common leak problem with A/C units in vehicles.

The refrigerant in the air conditioner also contains a special oil.

A/C Lubrication

Vehicle A/C units use a special oil that circulates throughout the A/C system with the refrigerant. The oil lubricates the parts, keeps the seals of your vehicle’s air conditioning system resilient, and cools the air conditioning components.

So, in addition to refrigerant escaping, your A/C system parts may not have enough oil to protect them if your system has a leak.

Lack of sufficient refrigerant and/or oil means that the air conditioning parts will end up wearing out faster than they should and that can lead to some costly auto repair.


Over time the inside of the rubber hoses can deteriorate, and little bits of rubber can clog up various filters and other parts of the vehicle A/C system, preventing proper circulation of the refrigerant.

Serpentine BeltA/C Parts Simply Wear Out

Even with regular service, A/C parts can just wear out. Normal vehicle wear and tear affects all moving parts.

Any of the many A/C system components can wear out or even break.

Compressor Clutch

Another common A/C system failure is the clutch that turns the air conditioning compressor on and off.

Addressing problems as soon as they are noticeable is always a good idea because it can help you to avoid more extensive repairs resulting from auto repair delays. The A/C compressor clutch is a perfect example.

Replacing a  bad A/C clutch when you first start noticing problems, may allow you to be able to save the compressor. But if you postpone repairs for too long, both the clutch and the compressor will need to be replaced.

Serpentine Belt

Sometimes, drivers overlook a worn serpentine belt. Your serpentine belt drives the A/C compressor and worn serpentine belt leads to belt slippage. A slipping belt will place additional strain on the compressor. Replacing your serpentine belt and belt tensioner routinely will extend the life of your A/C compressor as well as other belt driven accessories.

Tierra Del Sol Automotive Air Conditioning Service

Preventative Maintenance

Maintaining your vehicle air conditioning system means that you always have enough refrigerant to properly cool your air.

The first step to take when your vehicle’s A/C system is not cooling air is a thorough air conditioning inspection.

The inspection should include looking for leaks and worn parts.

Don’t skip the inspection step because Federal law requires an inspection before adding refrigerant. Many states won’t allow topping off a leaking system.

Once the inspection is completed and any repairs are made, the refrigerant is added. At the same time, the special oil is added to the system. Remember, this oil helps to cool and lubricate as it circulates through your A/C system with the refrigerant.

If you have a leak, it’s important that both the refrigerant and oil be replenished for proper function and protection of your A/C system.

So, if you’re hearing strange sounds when your air conditioning turns on, or if it just isn’t as cold as it used to be, have Tierra del Sol Automotive in Alamogordo give it the once over and see what it’ll take to keep you cool.

Replenishing the A/C Refrigerant and OilTierra Del Sol Automotive Air Conditioning Service

Air conditioning service at Tierra Del Sol Automotive in Alamogordo starts with a visual inspection of the components for signs of damage or leaks. The belt that drives the compressor is inspected for cracks or wear.

The air conditioning compressor and other components are checked for proper operation. Then comes the leak test. If a leak is detected, often in a hose or connection, it’s repaired and the vehicle system is retested. Your Tierra Del Sol Automotive technician will also perform a temperature drop test.

If needed, the old refrigerant is evacuated and the system is recharged with clean, fresh refrigerant. A final test ensures that the air conditioner is working, and you’re on your way.

Regularly Scheduled A/C Service

How often your air conditioning system needs to be serviced varies from vehicle to vehicle, but it’s typically every two years.

Your vehicle owner’s manual will have the manufacturer’s recommendation and, of course, your friendly and knowledgeable Tierra Del Sol Automotive service advisor can also access that information for you.

Check your owner’s manual or ask your Alamogordo service advisor at Tierra Del Sol Automotive for service recommendations.

A/C systems can be expensive to repair, however, if you service the air conditioner as recommended by your vehicle’s owner manual you are much more likely to avoid those costly air conditioning system repairs.

5 Minute Spark Plugs Tutorial

Whether you live in Alamogordo, New Mexico, the United States, or practically anywhere in the world, in today’s day and age, motorists replacing their spark plugs every couple of years is simply a thing of the past.

Back in the day, spark plugs really did wear out that often. The materials used to make the spark plugs would wear down or break in a relatively short amount of time. But, it was also more than just the materials being used for parts. Spark plugs in our older vehicles were riddled with carbon deposits that built up because of the inefficient burning of the fuel during the combustion process.

There are a couple of reasons why the spark plugs of today are lasting much longer. As our understanding and experience with building engines and optimizing our systems and processes grew, our automobiles and other vehicles – and everything that allows them to do the things they do, evolved and became better.

First, technology has been able to improve materials used in the manufacturing of spark plugs. The improved materials coupled with an overall better design, allows the spark plugs to last longer.

The second reason is that modern engine management controls have been able to reduce the amount of carbon deposit that gets left behind. The engine control computers are so accurate they are able to precisely time when the fuel is injected into the engine and when spark plugs fire. We haven’t completely eliminated carbon build up, but there has been a significant improvement. In today’s vehicles, unless something’s wrong, the spark plugs just don’t gunk up like they used to.

How Spark Plugs Work

So, just how does a spark plug work? Mechanics will tell you the bottom line is that it is nothing more than a good current. Here’s what happens.

Electricity is generated from the battery. From the battery, this electricity travels to a coil that allows current to build up. The amount of current varies anywhere from 12,000 to 45,000 volts, depending on the vehicle. In today’s vehicles, this is where the engine management computer comes in. The engine management computer tells the coil when to release the built up current. When timing is just right the current is released. The current leaves the coil and goes to the distributor. The distributor distributes the current to the appropriate alternating spark plugs through a wire. Then the wire delivers the current to the spark plug. The end of the spark plug contains two electrodes. The current travels through the spark plug to the tip and between the two electrodes. The current traveling through the electrodes produces a spark which then ignites the gas in the combustion chamber.

How a Spark Plug Can Spark

Modern engines used around Alamogordo are delivering more power and better fuel economy all the time. Thanks to technology, we are able to continually improve our engine control computers, advanced sensors, electronic ignition and even the common spark plug. There is no doubt that it be interesting to see where the future takes us with vehicle development.

But that doesn’t mean that your auto repair and maintenance can be ignored. Spark plug wires can wear out and will need to be replaced. It’s also important to understand that when your spark plugs need to be replaced, you need to have the right type of spark plug for your vehicle. Each vehicle’s engine is designed slightly differently when it comes to internal temperatures. Different spark plugs are designed to work optimally based on particular temperatures. Additionally, some vehicle engines have more than one coil. Coils will also occasionally need to be replaced.

Your Alamogordo, New Mexico, service advisor at Tierra Del Sol Automotive will be able to get the right plugs for your vehicle. And they’ll be able to advise you on any needed auto repair or maintenance as well. Contact Tierra Del Sol Automotive today to schedule your next appointment.

What You Need to Do To Travel Safe in New Mexico

Driving around town to run errands and being out and about in our vehicles is an everyday occurrence. Our weekend road trips and occasional vacations are always a fun and exciting adventure. We don’t really think much about our vehicles as we live our regular lives – right up until the unexpected roadside emergency interferes with our routine or our fun.

Images & Attributions

Alamogordo driver in snow ditchThe emergencies that Alamogordo drivers may encounter can range from a flat tire while driving in town to being stranded in a snowy ravine on the way back from a winter drive to Cloudcroft. So, you may want to consider a basic car emergency kit to keep in your vehicle at all times and a travel kit you can tailor for specific trips.

Your close-to-home in Alamogordo kit should have some basic items to work on your car.

Everything You Need in a Basic Car Emergency Kit

Your basic car emergency kit should contain anything you might need in a roadside emergency.

  • a spare tire,
  • car jack,
  • lug wrench,
  • flashlight with working batteries,
  • road flares,
  • reflective triangles,
  • gloves,
  • wheel wedges,
  • can of tire inflator,
  • a couple quarts of oil,
  • antifreeze,
  • extra windshield washer fluid,
  • water,
  • jumper cables or a booster box.

Hand ToolsYour spare tire is usually located under the floor mat in the trunk. You should check it regularly to ensure that it is properly inflated. That way, when you need it, it will perform ideally for you.

The can of tire inflator is a great temporary fix for minor flats. They typically contain a single-use supply of sealant that seals a puncture and then reinflates the tire with pressurized gas. This provides enough pressure to allow the vehicle to be driven for a short period and at a low speed to reach the auto repair shop.

Additionally, you may wish to include some additional basic hand tools to cover other types of unforeseen fixes.

First Aid Kit / Survival Essentials

For comfort and safety during your travels, keep a first aid kit and some basic survival items in your car as well.

Be sure that your first aid kit includes drinkable water – this is especially important in the Tularosa basin desert climate.

Other items to keep stocked in your first aid kit should be a high-calorie food (like energy bars or trail mix), blankets, a towel, hat, extra shoes, and toilet paper.

Be sure to remember your cell phone, emergency cash, credit card, or at least some spare change.

If you are traveling to areas with frequent severe weather advisories, it’s a great idea to increase your provisions to sustain you for a longer period of time.

For road trips away from Alamogordo, consider the weather and the New Mexico geography as you assemble your emergency auto supplies. Take into consideration your source of light, heat, and protection against the elements. Plan to have adequate food and water for everyone in the car.

It’s always a good idea to tell someone where you are going and have a plan for checking in along your way. Then, if you do run into car trouble or a more drastic emergency, your contact can report your demise sooner rather than later and help can be sent on its way. This also aids in any rescue efforts to be able to narrow any potential search area.

The key to safe travel in New Mexico is to keep your vehicle properly maintained, plan ahead, and let others know your itinerary.

Call Tierra del Sol Automotive for assistance in helping you prepare for your travels.