Our Current Blog Articles
April 24, 2017
Hybrid Vehicle Repairs Don’t Have to be Done at a Dealership
Did you know that hybrid vehicle repairs don’t have to be done at a dealership? Instead, you can bring them to our technicians at Dakota Ridge Automotive in Littleton and we can do it all, from general maintenance to in-depth repairs.
You know us and trust us. Dakota Ridge is locally owned and part of your Littleton community. We always strive to be a friendly, honest, dependable auto shop, like the kind you grew up expecting. We focus on providing good, quality work at a very fair rate. So, if you’ve got a hybrid and it is still under warranty, you don’t have to take it to a dealership like many people think. You know we will take care of you and your hybrid. It’s what we’re all about.
Your basic hybrid warranty should cover everything for about eight years or 100,000 miles. If you bought a used hybrid the vehicle may almost be out of warranty. But that’s okay, we can provide the maintenance and repair that can keep your car running well. If you are interested, there is a certified used vehicle warranty from Toyota available that is extension coverage of the vehicle’s original factory warranty. It can protect you against mechanical failures and breakdowns.
If your car has problems, contact Dakota Ridge Automotive and our technicians can figure out what’s wrong and get it fixed quickly, with or without a warranty. We are conveniently located right here in Littleton. Not everyone can service hybrids, but we can. Hybrids have complex systems that need specialized experience, training, and expertise. Our certified technicians have been servicing hybrids since 2000. We offer bumper-to-bumper maintenance, diagnostics, and repairs to maximize efficiency and keep your hybrid safely on the road.
The Federal Trade Commission, our country’s consumer protection agency, says a dealer must honor the warranty that came with your new car even if someone else does the routine maintenance or repairs. A dealer can’t deny your warranty coverage because you had routine maintenance or repairs performed by another auto shop. In fact, that’s illegal.
One caution about hybrid service is be prepared for battery issues. Hybrids use a 12V battery like other cars and a costly Lithium-Ion or Nickel-Metal Hydride (NiMH) battery that can degrade over time. If you have a hybrid car and notice a loss of performance, come to our experts for hybrid battery reconditioning before spending thousands on a complete replacement that dealers often recommend.
Thinking about buying a hybrid? Let us inspect it first and provide you with peace of mind.
Hybrid cars are expensive to buy. New or used, these cars will cost you more upfront but in the long run you’ll save on gas, possibly vehicle insurance, taxes, and more.
So now you know that hybrid vehicle repairs don’t have to be done at a dealership. Our auto technicians at Dakota Ridge Automotive in Littleton can help you with any repairs or maintenance, with or without a warranty. Bring your car by the shop or make an appointment. Our team of professionals are right here in your neighborhood.
April 11, 2017
The Real Costs of Owning a Hybrid Vehicle
Today, our auto experts at Dakota Ridge Automotive in Littleton break down the real costs of owning a hybrid vehicle. You’ve probably heard by now that hybrids can save you money, but we want to show you the benefits and typical expenses in a little more detail.
Let’s take a look at how hybrids work and the cost savings to run it and to maintain it. A hybrid can be partially or wholly powered by electricity. Hybrid cars release fewer emissions and use less gas. This can be an advantage to the environment and your budget.
There are different kinds of hybrids.
There are conventional hybrids like the Toyota Prius with power sources that can work together or drive the car separately.
At low speeds, the engine turns off and the hybrid is only driven by the car’s electric motor. When you want higher speeds, both the engine and the motor work together. But what about the in-between stages? The excess power from the engine recharges the batteries that power the electric motor. 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. With the 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 doesn’t power the car by itself.
There is a different kind of hybrid called a plug-in hybrid. The plug-in hybrid vehicles combine an electric motor and battery with a gas engine. This kind of vehicle is plugged into an electric outlet so the batteries recharge and it can also recharge when 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.
No matter what kind of hybrid you decide to drive, the engine and electric motor components require the same maintenance.
According to a Driverside article, your hybrid will require basic maintenance on the internal combustion engine just like a regular car. Your vehicle will still need oil changes and other routine maintenance. However, the good news is that you won’t need any service on your electric engine until about 80,000 miles or 4-5 years, longer than any standard car.
Because it is a hybrid, some maintenance and repairs are going to be more expensive. But will it be enough to make a real difference?
Did you know that a mechanic can only work on your hybrid if they have special training? It’s true and there aren’t many mechanics or auto shops that have the training and can provide hybrid maintenance. We do. Our auto technicians are hybrid trained.
Okay, so what about the hybrid’s cooling system? It is much more technical than a regular cooling system and it takes more time and training to replace. That’s going to mean a higher cost. On the good side, it won’t have to happen until you reach about 100,000 miles.
On the hybrid’s side, the regenerative braking system, which uses the electric motor to assist in stopping the car will last a long time before maintenance and repairs are needed. Hopefully, this will help you save money.
So, there are some differences in the expense for maintenance and repairs for hybrids. But when you get down to the real costs of owning a hybrid vehicle you can see overall the hybrid’s maintenance doesn’t seem that much more expensive because you get some reduced costs like in the regenerative braking and daily gas savings. You’re also in luck because our auto technicians at Dakota Ridge Automotive in Littleton are trained to maintain and repair your hybrid. Simply bring it in for expert maintenance and repairs.
March 28, 2017
The Preventative Maintenance You Need to Do on Your Car (and When)
Our technicians at Dakota Ridge Automotive in Littleton know that you should pay attention to the preventative maintenance you need to do on your car (and when). This is very crucial if you want your car to perform well and last a long time. By taking good care of your car now, it can help you reduce your repair costs. We can even help you plan any preventative maintenance that’s needed for your car or truck, complete with reminders.
When it comes to preventative maintenance, you should start by checking out your vehicle’s owner’s manual which will tell you how often you should change your car’s oil, filters, and timing belts and other maintenance schedules. It will also advise you about what kind of fuel to use. If you’ve lost your owner’s manual, you can usually find it online.
According to a Life Hacker article, maintaining your car will benefit you in the long run. The first thing to do is inspect your vehicle. Checking your car periodically allows you to find any concerns before they become big problems.
Your car’s cabin air filter should also be replaced periodically. It will allow you to enjoy being in the car. Consider replacing your car’s engine air filter to enhance your car’s performance, especially if you are in heavy traffic or sustained driving, the filter can get dirty quickly.
Checking your tire’s air pressure in your tires and fixing it if it is not correct, helps your car get better mileage and saves gas. Take a look your tire's treads. Without good tire treads, your car may be harder to handle. Your tires may need to be rotated and balanced and your alignment checked which will allow your tires to wear evenly, last longer, and give you a smooth ride.
From time to time, check your lights to make sure they are working. Make sure you regularly check your antifreeze, power steering, coolant, or wiper fluid and fill it if is running low or you might need to get it changed. If you notice a fluid leak, bring your vehicle in to us right away.
We can also schedule when you should replace the timing and serpentine belts. We will inspect your belts and if they show signs of wear, we can replace them for you. Replacing a belt is not very expensive and if you risk it, a bad belt can cause your car to break down and create additional damage.
Have you ever been in a rain storm and you turn on your wipers and you still can’t see? It can be very dangerous. Replace your windshield wipers if you have wiper streaks. It can save you in a very hazardous situation.
Checking your car’s oil level and the color of the oil is important. Your car manufacturer will recommend when the oil should be changed. Your battery should be checked and the battery contacts cleaned if there is mineral or other buildup. If your battery is leaking, let us know right away. We always recommend that you keep a set of jumper cables in your car.
The article in Life Hacker suggests checking your spark plugs if they become covered in buildup or just wear out. This can reduce your engine’s efficiency, increases fuel costs, and can lead to your car’s breakdown. We can help you replace your spark plugs.
These are some ways our technicians at Dakota Ridge Automotive in Littleton can help you decide the preventative maintenance you need to do on your car (and when) because if you don’t, it can lead to costly repairs that could’ve been avoided. We’re here to take great care of your car, so call or come by our location for better vehicle health and longevity.
March 14, 2017
What Does a Check Engine Light Mean?
It’s telling you something, but what does a check engine light mean? At Dakota Ridge Auto, we know that the engine symbol on your dashboard will light up and either blink or remain constant, depending on the problem. Either way, it’s telling you it’s time to bring your car to our experts here in Littleton because a check engine light means your car may have a problem that could affect your car’s emissions systems.
According to a Motorist article, if the check engine light stays on, the vehicle’s problem is not an emergency but you should still bring your car in as soon as you can so our professionals can look it over.
You might want to try to tighten your gas cap first. Sometimes, this can fix the problem that is activating your engine light. You may need to try to get a new gas cap because the seal may be old and in need of replacement.
If your check engine light comes on, you should check the other dashboard gauges and lights because you could have low oil pressure or the car may be overheating. If this is the case, you need to stop driving as soon you can pull it over to some place safe and turn your engine off.
Sometimes when the engine light goes on, you might not even notice a change in your car’s driving because the car’s computer is trying to compensate for the problem despite the fact that your car is emitting a high level of hydrocarbons and your mileage is reduced.
If you check engine light blinks or you feel a loss of power while you are driving, you should slow down and if you are pulling a trailer, lighten the load on the engine by unhooking it. Reacting quickly when the check engine light comes on can help you prevent expensive repairs.
But if the check engine light is blinking, that means there may be a severe engine misfire and that could mean unburned fuel is being dumped into your exhaust system. If that occurs, it can increase the temperature of the catalytic converter and cause damage and that can mean an expensive repair that you weren’t expecting. We strongly suggest reducing the power and bring your car in immediately so we can check it and find the problem.
The article in Motorist explains how your car’s computer gives codes to identify what is wrong with the engine. One of our qualified professional technicians at Dakota Ridge Automotive can help locate which system or circuit to test in order to find the problem with your car by performing the test steps in the correct order 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 have different purposes. The maintenance service light illuminates 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 to be addressed. If you respond quickly and bring it to Dakota Ridge Automotive in Littleton, it could save you costly repairs.
January 22, 2017
Simple Answers from Dakota Ridge Auto for LITTLETON: Battery Replacement
When do I need to replace my battery?
Dakota Ridge Auto Answer:
That's a good question for LITTLETON drivers. All batteries wear out and need to be replaced – but some are replaced before their time.
Look, if your battery is dying and you need a jump-start, it could very well be that you have a bad battery. But LITTLETON drivers should have Dakota Ridge Auto test the battery first to see if it's actually bad. The problem could be parasitic drain or a bad alternator that's not properly charging your battery.
And LITTLETON drivers in this situation also need to have their service advisor their alternator and have it tested. A surprisingly high percentage of “bad” alternators brought into Dakota Ridge Auto in LITTLETON are actually just fine: the problem is 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 the battery.
Hopefully, LITTLETON drivers can see that a dead battery can be the result of a chain of events: a worn serpentine belt, a worn belt tensioner, a bad alternator or a bad battery. If you don't check the belt, tensioner and alternator you can just end up replacing batteries that are still good. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Dakota Ridge Auto .
That brings us back full circle to when batteries do fail. There's a chemical cycle that takes place inside your battery: the battery is discharged when you start the vehicle and is recharged by the alternator when you drive. Short trips around the Englewood area with frequent stops and starts may mean that your battery is never fully recharged. When a battery isn't fully charged parts of the battery harden and are no longer available to “store” electricity. Over time, your battery just can't hold enough charge for the needs of your vehicle. This is to your alternator as it tries to keep up, causing it to wear out prematurely.
Batteries last longer in colder climates and wear out faster in warmer CO climates. We want to remind LITTLETON drivers that, on average, 70% of batteries fail within four years. Many CO automotive experts recommend replacing your battery every five years. This will the chances of being stranded on a local with a dead battery as well as prevent undue wear on your alternator.