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Monthly Archives: January 2012

Your Four Wheel Drive Vehicle Requires Special Attention

Four wheel drive is used on all types of vehicles from those solely designed for recreation to those used for work or just getting around safely in adverse weather. The 4WD system provides power to all four wheels of a vehicle to give better control on many surfaces. Torque is the force the twisting force the engine produces, but the maximum amount of torque that can be created is determined by the amount of traction you are getting. Traction is only created for each wheel that has power; the others are just going along for the ride. 4WD allows you to utilize the traction of all four wheels by independently applying additional power to those wheels as needed.

Your four wheel drive vehicle is great for getting you where you need to go on rough or slick terrain, but in order to keep it running at peak performance, it is necessary to perform regular maintenance, especially for rugged off-road driving or towing. In North Idaho, having a 4WD or all wheel drive vehicle is a necessity for many people.

The main parts of any 4WD system are the front and rear differentials, and the transfer case. In addition, part-time 4×4 systems have locking hubs. Most vehicles, both full-time and part-time, likely have advanced electronics to make better use of the traction system. When you go around a turn the differentials enable the speed difference between the inside and outside wheels. In all wheel drive the speed difference between front and rear wheels is handled by the transfer case which splits power between the front and rear axles.

One of four types of lubricant is used in all four wheel drive systems, depending on the manufacturer. These are Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF), 30W motor oil, 90W gear oil, or synthetic lubricant. ATF and 30W should be changed every 50,000 miles, and 90W should be changed at 80,000 miles. Synthetic lubricants need to be changed at recommended manufacturer’s intervals. Proper maintenance of your 4WD is critical, so it is recommended to have a mechanic check the system every two years or 24,000 miles. Your mechanic will check the fluids for proper levels, presence of moisture, and wear particles from metal or friction material. Snow, ice, water, salt, and mud easily find their way into your 4×4 system and can turn your four wheel drive useless at the worst possible moment. Keeping up on maintenance minimizes your expense and downtime.

Image provided by 29K Productions

During regular maintenance, four wheel drive technicians will check your fluids for level, proper color, and consistency. If any problems are found they will drain and refill the transfer case and differentials with fresh clean fluids, and perform a transmission flush and fluid exchange when needed. The mechanic will also disassemble, clean, and perform a thorough inspection for any leaks, mechanical wear, or grime in the 4WD system.

Scheduling regular professional maintenance of your 4WD vehicle will give it a long life of getting where you need to go, through any extreme driving conditions the Inland Northwest offers.

Silverlake Automotive, based in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho is your local 4×4 specialist. An ASE Certified technician is ready to inspect and repair your four wheel drive vehicle. Whether you have an all wheel drive car, four wheel drive truck or SUV we have the knowledge and expertise to perform the proper maintenance and repairs for you. Give us a call at 208-772-6081, contact us through the website, or stop by to schedule an appointment.

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Nitrogen Filled Tires are a Good Choice for the Inland Northwest

Correct tire inflation is vital to your safety on the road. Low tire pressure causes your tires to undergo excessive flexing in the sidewalls and increases tread wear, shortening tire life. This can lead to dangerous conditions of tire breakdown. Keeping your tires properly inflated will give them longer life and improve your fuel economy, saving you money and giving you peace of mind that your tires will not fail prematurely.

Filling tires with conventional air introduces high levels of oxygen. The air around us contains about 21% oxygen and filling your tires from a traditional air compressor introduces whatever humidity is in the air into your tires as well. Oxygen is highly reactive, expanding when heated, contracting when cooled. It also seeps easily through tire rubber, oxidizing your tires and causing premature aging—especially around weaker points of the tire such as the valve stem. The oxygen and humidity from traditional air also reacts with metal from rims and wheels, causing corrosion. It can even cause the steel cords in your tires to rust.

With the harsh weather and rapid temperature turns in the Pacific Northwest it is difficult to keep tires at their optimal pressure using traditional air, as air expands and contracts with temperature fluctuations. The oxygen in air also passes through tire rubber, oxidizing it and causing premature aging. This is why it has become standard practice for the military, aviation industry, car racing, and even NASA to use nitrogen filled tires.

Nitrogen is not as susceptible to temperature fluctuations as air, and it will not oxidize rubber or cause corrosion to wheels or rims. Since your tires are not breaking down from oxidation and remain at a more constant PSI in extreme temperatures, they can last up to 25% longer compared to using air. Nitrogen-filled tires can take as long as six months to lose two PSI, whereas air can easily lose two PSI per month due to the oxygen seeping through the tires. Since nitrogen does not expand or contract as much as oxygen from temperature, tires filled with it will not gain and lose PSI due to hot or cold temperatures. By using nitrogen in your tires you will extend your tire life and ensure your tires are always inflated properly for any conditions North Idaho’s roads throw at you.

It is important to have your tires filled with nitrogen by a qualified professional. While no one can boast a 100% nitrogen fill, a professional will be able to get a fill of about 95% dry nitrogen, which is enough to significantly boost your tire life and performance. A study released by Drexan Corp. reported up to a 6% improvement in fuel efficiency for nitrogen tire inflation compared to a fleet of trucks with no tire pressure management, and an average tread life improvement of 86% for tires using nitrogen when compared to a fleet of trucks using air inflation and tire pressure maintenance.

Using nitrogen in your tires keeps them in good condition longer and improves your gas mileage, saving you money. It also gives you peace of mind knowing your tires will always be properly inflated for safety whether you are headed out camping on the hottest day of the summer or taking the kids to school on the coldest day of winter.

Silverlake Automotive is a certified nitrogen filling station. We will happily fill your tires with nitrogen and assist you in extending the life of your tires. Give us a call, email us, or stop by to schedule your nitrogen fill.

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All Season, Siped, Snow, or Studded Tires

Image provided by 29K Productions

Which Tire is Best for My Vehicle?

In North Idaho, your choice of tires can make a world of difference in the winter. In Coeur d’Alene alone there were more than 25 snow-related car accidents and slide offs reported police in the first 24 hours after the first snow of January 2012. Keeping you and your family safe on snowy roads is important, and one of the most vital components of safety, after good driving habits, is your choice of winter tires. There are four basic types winter tires: all season tires, snow tires, siped tires, and studded tires.

All season tires are a compromise for many different road conditions you can expect to face during both summer and winter. They are designed to provide extended mileage and durability under any weather conditions. Because all season tires are expected to get more mileage, they use a denser rubber compound than snow tires. The dense rubber allows you to get many more miles on all season tires than are possible on winter tires. The tread on all seasons is less aggressive than most winter tires, for a more comfortable, smoother ride.

Snow tires are made of a softer rubber compound with micro pores to provide better grip in snow and ice. These tires include deeper tread with special grooves to improve traction, drain water, and expel snow, reducing the risk of sliding or hydroplaning. They also feature small-tread areas on the main tread of the tire, increasing traction on slick roads. In 2009 Susan McGinnis of CPS did a winter accident avoidance test on “The Early Show”. Driving one SUV with snow tires and one without, she described the difference as “amazing.” The SUV with snow tires performed much better on curves and stopping times than the one with regular all season tires.

Siping is a method for giving all season or snow tires a better grip to the winter road surface. Siping creates hundreds of small slits in the tire’s tread to help cut through water and slush so the tire makes better contact with the road. Using a laser or heated knife, a tire professional burns tiny lines through the tread. The lines are shallow and will not harm a new or fairly new tire. Siping is a low-cost way to get better winter traction on your all season tires without harming their summer performance. In fact, siping increases the flexibility of the tire’s surface giving it better ability to respond to uneven road surfaces.

Studded tires are winter tires with small metal studs in the tread designed to increase friction between icy roads and the soft rubber of snow tires. The noisiest of all winter tire options – studs offer great advantages for winter driving conditions. Studs bite into ice and packed snow, improving traction. This makes handling and braking on ice easier, reducing the risk of a slide off or accident. Studded tires are often considered the next best traction alternative to chains for extreme winter road conditions, however handling can be more difficult on dry pavement with studded tires because there is less rubber in contact with the road.

In the Coeur d’Alene and Post Falls area driving conditions vary widely during the winter, as do the routes you take to get where you need to go. Your choice of tires will be dictated by your driving habits and the road conditions you expect to face. Fortunately there are many options available for winter traction from the economical all season and siped tires to specially engineered snow and studded tires.

Silverlake Automotive offers you a variety of tire options for your car, truck, or SUV. Not sure which type of tire is right for your situation? Give us a call or stop in and see us – we would be thrilled to discuss the tire options that are available to you.

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Winter Weather Driving Tips for the Inland Northwest

At Silverlake Automotive we enjoy servicing our customer’s vehicles. We not only care about your vehicles, but we want to make sure that you and your passengers are safe out on the road all year long. As a AAA approved auto repair facility, we want to join them by passing along important driving safety reminders and tips to our great customers. The following is a list of winter weather driving tips created by AAA. These tips are very applicable to all of us here in the Inland Northwest. Regardless of whether you’re just traveling across town or you’re heading out on an extended road trip, it’s imperative to be prepared. We hope that these tips will be useful to you as you gear up for the winter season that is upon us.

AAA recommends the following winter driving tips:

  • Avoid driving while you’re fatigued. Getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.
  • Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
  • Make certain your tires are properly inflated.
  • Never mix radial tires with other tire types.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
  • If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy, and snowy weather.
  • Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).
  • Always look and steer where you want to go.
  • Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.

Tips for long-distance winter trips:

  • Watch weather reports prior to a long-distance drive or before driving in isolated areas. Delay trips when especially bad weather is expected. If you must leave, let others know your route, destination, and estimated time of arrival.
  • Always make sure your vehicle is in peak operating condition by having it inspected by a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility (such as Silverlake Tire & Auto).
  • Keep at least half a tank of gasoline in your vehicle at all times.
  • Pack a cellular telephone with your local AAA’s telephone number, plus blankets, gloves, hats, food, water, and any needed medication in your vehicle.
  • If you become snow-bound, stay with your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Don’t try to walk in a severe storm. It’s easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
  • Don’t over exert yourself if you try to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow.
  • Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
  • Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice, or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running.
  • Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps.
  • If possible run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill and to conserve gasoline.

Tips for driving in the snow:

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
  • Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible.
  • Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
  • Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from the comfort of your home.

Let’s be careful out there!

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Anti-freeze Tips for Winter Weather

Is Antifreeze a Concern in the Winter?

In spite of the temperature outside antifreeze keeps your car engine running smoothly and at the proper temperature. When you start your vehicle’s engine, coolant is pumped throughout it to either warm it up or cool it down. In addition to its primary job of maintaining your vehicle’s ideal operating temperature, many antifreeze products on the market today also contain extra additives to help prevent corrosion and expensive engine breakdowns.

Because it’s an important part to keeping your engine running smoothly, it’s essential to take care of your antifreeze. It’s not too difficult a task and you can even save a few bucks by doing it yourself.

“Cooling system failure is the leading cause of engine-related breakdowns, which can cost thousands of dollars and leave you and your family stranded at the worst possible time.” – Rich White, Car Care Council (

Antifreeze also works to prevent the evaporation of vital fluids – even during the winter. As you know, water evaporates quickly, but antifreeze does not. Antifreeze also acts as an important lubricant too. The hoses and other important parts of your vehicle’s engine rely on the proper circulation of antifreeze to keep them in good shape. Cold weather is hard on your car and all of its moving parts. Maintaining the proper mix of antifreeze within the cooling system is critical for maximizing the longevity of your vehicle.

One of the most overlooked, yet critical uses of antifreeze is to provide a comfortable environment for you and your passengers while operating your vehicle during cold weather. That’s right – antifreeze keeps the heat circulating through your interior vents and defrosters. Without the proper levels of antifreeze in your vehicle’s system, your heating system won’t maintain adequate temperatures to keep you warm on those chilly days and nights when you’re out and about traveling.

Winter is just now making its presence known here in Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls, Hayden, and throughout all of the Inland Northwest. It’s a good idea to have your cooling system inspected to ensure it’s operating properly. Feel free to give us a call at 208-772-6081 to schedule an appointment for your cooling system inspection. Not only will we test your anti-freeze, but we’ll also check all of your hoses, clamps, heater core, thermostats, and the rest of the entire system to ensure it’s all working properly and efficiently.

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What is Oil Viscosity and Is It Important in Cold Weather?

Viscosity – “The property of a fluid that resists the force tending to cause the fluid to flow.” – Unabridged, based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2011.

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between 10w-40, 5w-40, and 40wt motor oil? Motor oil viscosity is expressed as a number. Motor oils that are thicker have a higher viscosity number. Thinner motor oils have a lower number. Multiple viscosity oils carry with them a range of numbers, such as 10w–40. In this case the 10 is a representation of the motor oil’s viscosity when cold and is determined from tests conducted at temperatures below zero degrees Fahrenheit. The ‘W’ stands for Winter. The 40 indicates the viscosity of the oil when tested at an engine operating temperature of 212 degrees Fahrenheit.

Single grade motor oil, such as 40wt, has only one number to represent its viscosity. Single viscosity motor oils are rarely used in today’s modern engines. Polymers are added to single viscosity oil to make one oil behave like many. In this way a 0W–30 motor oil will flow like a 0W viscosity oil when cold and a 30 viscosity oil when hot.

Automobile manufacturers have focused on using lower viscosity oils to improve fuel efficiency. Thicker or higher viscosity oils require more energy to move throughout an engine than thinner oils.

Seasonal temperatures are important factors to consider when choosing the right motor oil. Cold winter temperatures and summer heat affect the rate at which motor oil flows. The measure of this flow is the viscosity rating you see displayed on containers of motor oil.

Cold weather viscosity is crucial to the health and survival of an automobile engine during the first few seconds of extreme cold weather operation. You’ve heard the saying “slower than molasses”, right? This definitely applies to motor oil. Engine damage may occur if motor oil is too thick due to cold temperatures and is unable to flow in-between engine parts – especially during cold weather startups.

The best resource for deciding which oil viscosity to use during the year may be found in the vehicle owner’s manual. Switching from a 10W–30 to a 5W–30 during the winter months might be a great choice for a vehicle operated in an area that typically sees the thermometer dip below the zero mark. In the Inland Northwest, our winters can be pretty brutal. If your vehicle’s manual suggests switching oil types, we strongly suggest that you follow their recommendations.

With the correct viscosity determined the next choice in motor oil is type. The best strategy is to again follow what the vehicle owner’s manual recommends. Higher mileage blends can benefit engines over 75K miles. Synthetic blends and full synthetics can bring additional protection and often flow more easily during severe cold then conventional oils. Don’t forget that stop–and–start driving during winter or summer months is considered severe duty in most manufacturer maintenance schedules. Changing the oil and filter according to this schedule can save expensive engine repairs and extend the life of your vehicle.

Silverlake Tire & Auto is a full service auto repair business. We are the only ASE Blue Seal of Excellence service facility within 100 miles of Coeur d’Alene. We’re also an AAA approved auto repair facility. If you have any questions regarding what type of oil to use in your vehicle, please feel free to call us at 208-772-6081. We would be happy to discuss all of the available options for your vehicle and we would count it a privilege to service your vehicle.

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Winter Vehicle Safety Checklist

The leaves have fallen from the trees and the mountains already have a healthy coating of snow. That’s right – winter is quickly making its presence known throughout the Inland Northwest. In addition to getting your sprinklers blown out, your boat and/or RV ‘winterized’, and putting away the patio furniture have you readied your vehicles for the long winter months? If you haven’t yet, then we urge you to get it done quickly. We’ve had one decent snowstorm and we’re sure to get another very soon.

You may not need to travel far distances this winter, but it’s still wise to have your vehicle checked out to ensure it performs safely for you in any situation that may present itself this winter. Silverlake Tire & Auto has taken suggestions from The National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) and the Automobile Association of America (AAA) along with our own expertise and created the following Winter Check List. According to officials at ASE, “Cold weather will only make existing problems worse. A breakdown, while never pleasant, can be deadly in the winter.”

Engine Performance: If you’re experiencing any minor issues with your vehicle such as hard starts, rough idling, stalling, diminished power, etc., we urge you to give us a call today so we can correct those problems for you. Cold weather makes existing problems worse. We also recommend that you replace dirty filters (air, fuel, PCV, etc) at this time.

Transmission: It’s a good idea to check over the transmission regardless of whether your vehicle is two wheel drive, all wheel drive, or four wheel drive. Inspection of all components is recommended to ensure proper function and longevity during the cold winter months.

Fuel: Most people already know that their fuel economy suffers during the winter due to less efficient fuel formulas that are used. But, did you know that additional electrical loads (heater, windshield wipers, heated seats, etc.) affect fuel economy? Also, if your tires are below their recommended pressure setting, you increase the rolling resistance your vehicle has to overcome too. It’s also a good idea to use a fuel deicer during cold winter months to keep moisture from freezing in your fuel lines. Keeping your fuel tank filled eliminates moisture from forming too.

Oil: Change your oil and oil filter as specified in your manual more frequently (every 3,000 miles or so) if your driving consists mostly of local, stop and go trips. Also, check to see if you should switch oil types during the colder winter months. For example, switching from a 10W–30 to a 5W–30 during the winter months might be required if your vehicle is operated in an area that typically sees the thermometer dip below the zero mark. We often experience several weeks of brutally cold temperatures here in the Coeur d’Alene, ID area.

Cooling System: Most people are only concerned about their cooling system in the hotter months of the year. But, cold weather is brutal on your car and all of its moving parts—including passengers. This is perhaps the most crucial job of antifreeze in the winter – to keep the heat in your vehicle running. Without this precious liquid cycling properly in your car’s system, you won’t have any heat to stay warm when temperatures are frosty. We recommend that you have your coolant tested during your next appointment to ensure that it’s in good shape for the winter. If necessary the cooling system should be flushed and refilled as recommended. We will also inspect your vehicle’s radiator, all of the clamps, and coolant hoses at the same time in order to eliminate any potential problems.

Heater/Defroster: Have you run your heater and defroster? Is everything working right? The heater and defroster should be in good working condition for passenger comfort and driver visibility. If you’re experiencing any problems with these items, please call us today to set up an appointment.

Windshield Wipers: Don’t wait until you’re in the middle of the next snow or ice storm to realize that your vehicle’s wiper blades are in bad shape. Just ask us to replace your wipers during your vehicle’s winter checkup. We will also top off your windshield washer solvent too. It’s a good idea to carry an extra container of washer fluid with you if you’re going on a longer road trip. You’ll be surprised how much you use. Make sure you have a good ice-scraper in your vehicle as well for those frosty mornings.

Battery: Cold weather is brutal on batteries. The only accurate way to detect a weak battery is with professional equipment. Let one of Silverlake Auto’s ASE certified technicians test, clean, and inspect your battery and the rest of your vehicle’s charging system.

Lights: It gets dark in North Idaho at 4pm during the winter. Also, during storms visibility is severely reduced. In order to maintain safety for you, your passengers, and other motorists it’s imperative to have all of your vehicle’s lights in good working order.

Exhaust System: Your vehicle should be placed on a lift and the exhaust system examined for leaks. The trunk and floorboards should be inspected for small holes. Exhaust fumes can be deadly—especially during the winter months.

Brakes: Your vehicle should have good brake lining and discs that are not cracked, pitted, or grooved. An inspection of the brake calipers is also important. Due to slippery conditions that are present on many Inland Northwest roads during the winter, it’s also a good idea to have the entire ABS system inspected to make sure it’s working properly.

Tires: Most people in the Inland Northwest choose to install studded tires or designated winter tires on their vehicles from October through the end of April. Using tires specifically designed for winter driving situations is an excellent choice. Silverlake Tire & Auto carries a wide variety of studded tires and designated snow tires.

This checklist addresses the major components of your vehicle to ensure its safe operation during the winter months. Feel free to give us a call today at 208-772-6081 to schedule your vehicle’s winter safety check up.

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