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Choosing the Right Brake Pads

August 15, 2016

So you’ve found out that your brake pads are wearing out, and it’s time for a replacement. But did you know that there are multiple types of brake pads, made from different materials and suited to the different needs of cars and driving styles? Our team at Aspen Hill Exxon in Silver Spring, MD can help get the brake pads that best fit your car. Here’s a quick guide to help you select the right brake pads for you.

Semi Metallic Brake Pads

Semi Metallic pads can be made from anywhere from 30% to 65% metal, from copper, wire, steel wool and other metal materials. Semi Metallic pads wear out the least quickly of all brake pads, but they also tend to wear out the brake rotors faster.

Low-Metallic

These pads are made from a special formula using about 10% to 30% copper or steel. Low-metallic brake pads are optimal for high heat and friction braking, and ideal for high speed braking. These types of pads are less clean than others, though. Low metallic pads produce a lot of dust and can be pretty noisy.

Non-Asbestos, Organic/NAO

Non-Asbestos, Organic brake pads are made from materials like fiber, glass and even rubber. They’re a lot softer than other types of pads, so they don’t make as much noise. However, NAO brake pads wear out faster and produce more dust than other types of pads.

Ceramic

Ceramic brake pads are some of the most expensive types of brake pads on the market today. Not without reason though. Ceramic pads are generally a superior product. Here are some of the pros of getting ceramic brake pads:

  • Produce a lot less noise than other types of pads
  • Less wear on brake rotors
  • Cleaner than other pads
  • Smooth, efficient braking

There you have it! These are the most common types of brake pads on the market today, and all are suitable for use in commercial passenger vehicles. For more advice on the brake pad requirements of your particular vehicle and driving style, visit Aspen Hill Exxon in Silver Spring, MD, Maryland .

Warning Lights On

July 15, 2016

Dashboard Warning Lights – The Check Engine Light

It’s a busy weekday morning. You barely get out the door in time, and when you get to the car, start the ignition, and a dashboard warning light comes on- the check engine light.

Uh-oh.

The check engine light is probably every driver’s most hated warning light. It gives no details about what’s wrong, and the list of potential problems goes on and on, ranging from minor malfunctions to costly problems.

NOTE: If your check engine light comes on and is flashing, this indicates a serious problem and you should get to the nearest auto repair facility immediately.

Top 3 Most Common Causes of the Check Engine Light

  1. Oxygen Sensor : The oxygen sensors in your car helps determine how much fuel you burn. A defective oxygen sensor effects mileage calculation and leads to a decrease in fuel economy.

While oxygen sensors are a relatively easy and inexpensive part to replace, failing to replace them in time can eventually destroy your catalytic converter. And depending on the car, a catalytic converter is thousands of dollars to replace.

  1. Gas Cap : It might seem silly that something as small as a gas cap can trigger your warning light, but the gas cap keeps fuel from evaporating, keeping your emissions and gas mileage low.

Check to see if your gas cap is loose before you leave the driveway. Turn off your engine, and replace the gas cap tightly before turning your car back on. It may take a while for the light to go off, even if the gas cap is the culprit. If the light doesn’t go off within the next couple of days, take your car to your mechanic.

  1. Catalytic Converter : A dying catalytic converter leads to lower gas mileage, and makes it difficult for your engine to accelerate. If you notice any of these problems, take your car to your mechanic as soon as possible to fix it.

Regardless of whether the problem is minor, like a loose gas cap, or major, like a catalytic converter failure, you risk serious damage to your car and the safety of yourself and others on the road when you continue to drive with your check engine light on.

The first thing you should do is bring your vehicle to an experienced, certified mechanic like our team at Aspen Hill Exxon. They will be able to diagnose the problem and give you an estimate on how much it will cost you.

If your check engine light, or any other of your dashboard warning lights, has come on and you don’t know why, contact Aspen Hill Exxon in Silver Spring, MD, Maryland to figure out the problem and get an estimate of your repair cost. Don’t wait- you save money and lives when you act early!

Replacing the Air Filter

June 15, 2016

We all fear that time of spring when everything turns yellow in color and everyone we know seems to come down with hay fever. The effects of pollen on air quality during spring are obvious in indoor and outdoor settings, but it’s really important not to neglect the effects of pollen on your car.

When you think about it, our cars are on the front lines of the war on pollen. Imagine if you went out for a jog one spring day, but you magically acquired a new super power that enabled you to run at 50 miles per hour. It’d be a total blast at first, but after the first few blocks you’d be wheezing and sneezing from all the pollen suddenly rushing into your face and lungs.

Why are air filters so important?

We tend to think of our cars as solid, and totally protected from the elements like rain and wind. But lots of air flows through our vehicles when we drive, both into the interior cabin of the car where we sit, and under the hood into the engine and machinery. That’s why there are a number of different air filters to protect you and your car from the elements, and keep out large particles of dust and dirt that build up with frequent driving.

When your filter is dirty, and trust me, we see it all the time, your car’s performance really suffers.

Side effects of a dirty filter:

  • A dirty, over saturated filter lets in less air, so your engine has to work twice as hard to burn fuel and get the job done.
  • A dirty filter is a less-effective filter. Too much dust and dirt can wear it down, and let in more dirt, pollen and you-name-it into your engine, leading to inefficiency and possible long-term damage.
  • A dirty cabin filter negatively affects your heating and air-conditioning, and in some cases will produce some terrible smells.
  • A dirty engine air filter lowers your fuel economy!

Now that pollen season is just around the corner, it’s time to check on your filters, and get them replaced as a preventative measure. The longer you wait between each engine filter replacement, the more damage and wear you can expect to see in your vehicle. Stop by Aspen Hill Exxon in Silver Spring, MD, Maryland to hear how our team of experts can assist you with your air filters.

Air Filters and Your Vehicle’s Performance

A lot of people are surprised to hear that regular maintenance and replacement of air filters in your car increases your fuel economy! Your engine needs clean and pure air to function efficiently, and gas mileage is one of the first things to be affected by a dirty filter.

Air filters are important for fuel economy!

The average family car needs about 12 thousand gallons of air to burn just one gallon of gas! That’s a LOT of air!

Engine air filters are necessary because they prevent fine particles like dirt and dust from getting inside your engine and causing damage to the walls, pistons and piston rings. Air filters are your main line of defense from the hazards of daily driving.

Many drivers neglect to change air filters regularly, thinking that a dirty filter is better than no filter at all. A dirty, clogged filter starves your engine of the air it needs to work properly and causes stress on the engine- making it work harder and significantly raising the overall fuel economy of the vehicle.

With an old, dirty filter, your engine will burn much more fuel to compensate for the lack of air flow. Your mechanic isn’t just trying to sell you another part, he’s trying to help you save some of that gas money.

High pollen counts have a very negative effect on the overall performance of your engine. That’s why it’s really important to check and replace your car air filters during the spring months.

There are a number of air filters that go into your car.

  • Cabin air filters – protects and cleans the air that flows into where you sit. If you or someone in your family suffers from allergies, high performance filters and regular replacements are a must. Cabin filters should be replaced every year, or every 12,000 miles.
  • Engine filters – these protect the flow of clean air into your engine. During pollen season, it’s best that you replace your air filter more often than the manufacturer’s 15,000 mile recommendation.

Air Filters- Your Main Line of Defense against Pollen

Spring into early summer are prime months for pollen season. Last year, pollen counts broke records with over 8,000 particles per square meter. Technically, a “high” pollen count on the scale is 120 particles per square meter.

To make matters worse, pollen counts ebb and flow as different species of plants bloom and release their pollen. The overall count and increase and decrease over the course of spring as different trees, weeds and flowers come into bloom. Pine pollen is generally the culprit behind massive pollen counts – just think about all the pine trees in your neighborhood!

While it’s important to keep you and your family safe and healthy during the miserable pollen season, don’t forget that your family vehicle is also a prime location for pollen saturation. As your car drives along during the day, plant particles in the air are drawn into the engine and ventilation system by the tens of thousands.

So how can you combat this massive assault of pollen during the spring?

The first place to start is to maintain a clean filtration system. Just like the air filters in your home ventilation system, or air purifier, cabin air filters in your car block harmful particles from getting into the passenger area of your car. A high quality cabin air filter will block almost all of the harmful pollen in the air, only if it’s replaced regularly.

Cabin air filters protect and clean the air that flows into where you sit. If you or someone in your family suffers from allergies, high performance filters and regular replacements are a must. Cabin filters should be replaced every year, or every 12,000 miles.

Replace Your Air Filters Before Spring Comes

Be sure to check and replace both your engine air and cabin air filters before the pollen surge hits. A dirty cabin air filter will quickly become a health hazard once pollen counts reach extreme levels again.

Stop by our Aspen Hill Exxon in Silver Spring, MD, Maryland to get one of these filters for your vehicle. We look forward to seeing you!

Seasonal Tire Pressure

April 15, 2016

Having the correct tire pressure is an important part of regular maintenance of your car, and it’s also a necessity for being a good driver. The amount of air pressure in your tires has an immediate effect on the quality of your driving, especially when braking and turning. Aside from these concerns, seasonal temperature changes can also effect the performance of your tires, and the overall pressure within them.

Let’s start with the basics, of tire pressure.

Like most maintenance suggestions and requirements, always check the user manual and manufacturer’s schedule for when to have certain repairs and what is required. Your car’s user manual and maintenance handbook will also tell you the exact psi requirements for your tires, and you can also find this information on the tires themselves.

Always check the psi in your tires regularly, during scheduled maintenance and tune-ups (your mechanic should always do this for you), and it’s a good idea to go it before going on long car trips too. If your tires are under-inflated, or have a low psi, this can create unnecessary drag on the car and can cause decreased fuel efficiency.

How does weather affect my tires?

When the seasons change and temperatures begin to rise and fall, so does the air pressure in your tires. Because air that is colder contracts, the air pressure inside your tires falls and the tire may become under inflated. In the summer, the reverse is true. When air starts to get warmer, the volume of the air expands, so for air trapped inside the tires, it begins to expand and increases the overall pressure and potentially causing the tire to become over inflated.

In extreme cases, this can damage the tires and cars if not taken care of. It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on your tires and check the pressure when the temperature starts to rise and fall dramatically like in summer and winter.

Winter tires, tires designed especially to deal with winter weather precipitation like snow and ice, may have their own specific psi requirements that differ from the average tire. Be sure to check these when getting new winter tires, and check regularly to make sure that the correct psi is maintained throughout the season to deal with fluctuating weather and temperatures. This is especially important when driving in adverse weather conditions, so you always want to make sure you are fully prepared to drive in anything!

Having trouble with your tires? Feel free to stop by Aspen Hill Exxon to talk to a mechanic about your car’s tires and get everything checked out!

Top Advantages of Using Mobile Jupmstarts

March 15, 2016

Nearly always unexpected, a dead battery presents a number of frustrations and delays. Usually it happens when we are already late for a full day of work or in a place without anyone to help. Rather than waiting for help, there are a number of important reasons why calling for a mobile jumpstart service is an advantage.

1. Ready Assistance

We can’t always count on help to come when we need it. That’s one reason why calling your local auto shop for mobile jumpstarts is an advantage. Technicians at the auto shop are ready to come to your assistance with the right equipment without delay.

2. Auto Technicians are Trained in Jumpstart Procedures

Jump starting a vehicle might seem like a simple procedure, but that’s not always the case. Newer vehicles are equipped with sensitive electronics which could be damaged by incorrect procedures. Automotive professionals are trained in the correct procedures and can perform a general inspection of the battery, alerting you to a need for replacement or if there are another issues that may lead to future battery problems.

3. Mobile Jumpstart Services Come Equipped

Many people do not know that not all vehicles have the same jumpstart needs. Hybrid vehicles for example, do not have the same voltage requirements as other vehicles, and require alternative equipment in jumpstarting. In some vehicles, not using the correct equipment can cause extensive damage to sensitive electrical components and cause additional expenses. Additional equipment can provide diagnostic information such as exactly how much battery life you have left so you know what to expect further down the road.

4. Mobile Jumpstarts can Help Even When There’s Restricted Access

In some situations, simply getting close enough to the vehicle to give it a jump is a problem, such as when your car is surrounded by unattended vehicles. Mobile jumpstart services have the equipment necessary to get in to tight spots and get the job done without delay or hassle.

5. Modern Batteries and Jumpstarting are not Foolproof

Believe it or not, there’s a lot to know about jump starting a car. Do it wrong and you risk short-circuiting your on board computers, blowing up the battery, or even getting injured. You even risk ruining any electronics you might have plugged in to your car, such as phones and tablets. Having the right expertise matters– a lot.

You might not be likely to cross your positive and negative cables, but without the right experience even something as seemingly simple as a jump start can lead to problems. To avoid any issues, one of the best solutions is to call your auto shop and get a little quick assistance.

How to Get Honest Auto Repairs

December 15, 2015

When you take your car in to the auto shop for servicing, you have every reason to expect to be treated with honesty and integrity. However, it’s pretty hard to know when you are lied to, over charged, or taken advantage of, when automotive care is not your expertise. So how do you know when you are getting honest auto repairs? It all boils down to the details.

What You Should Expect With Routine Maintenance

Taking your car into the auto shop for routine maintenance is always a good idea. It prolongs the car’s useful life, prevents larger repair bills, and it prevents you from having to deal with unexpected problems and expenses, or wondering whether or not you really need this repair. When you take your vehicle into the auto shop, the technician should tell you what services will be performed, how long it will take, and the cost. Honest auto shops want you to know these details and strive to perform the work as described.

What About Repairs?

Routine maintenance will extend the life of the vehicle, but like any other machine, eventually parts will fail and you will need repairs. An honest auto shop will provide a diagnosis of the problem, a description of the parts or services necessary to fix the problem, and an estimate of the time and cost. They shouldn’t start work without your authorization, and shouldn’t do anything outside of the scope of the agreement without your consent. Auto shops that deal with integrity will not have any problem being upfront and transparent in their dealings with you, and would be willing to show you broken and replaced parts, for example.

What About Additional Work?

When you bring your vehicle in for work, it’s not unusual to expect the technician to find additional problems. After all, the parts all work together to perform a task, so if one is broken or malfunctioning it will likely cause stress on another. Your repair technician should tell you what needs to be done, and it’s urgency. Some repairs might need to be done as part of regular maintenance and could be delayed, others might need immediate attention.

Bringing up needed repairs isn’t necessarily a sign that a repair shop is somehow dishonest. In fact, it may be just the opposite! A technician may bring up a needed repair because they have the necessary area accessible and a repair now can save you on labor. Another reason they may bring up needed repairs is that not having some things fixed could lead to unsafe driving conditions and they may be required to tell you of the danger. Other times, they may suggest repairs that could be of benefit to you such as ones that would provide better gas mileage or a smoother and safer ride.

In most cases, a shop will demonstrate honesty and integrity through their willingness to communicate and provide documentation about the work. It also takes a certain amount of trust from the vehicle owner, understanding the process and why a technician would make a recommendation.

Tires

November 15, 2015

Sometimes tires don’t get the time and consideration they deserve. We just buy them and count on them to serve us for a certain amount of miles. They deserve a lot more of our respect though; tries are one of the vehicle’s most important safety features and everything from the type to tread matters in the tire’s performance, and ultimately your safety. That’s why it makes sense to get help from automotive professionals when choosing tires.

There are Many Types of Tires

There are many types of tires. That’s great, right? It is if you know what tires are the right size and type for your car and driving considerations. Tires are more than a flexible rubber container for air. They actually have between 19 and 25 different components that make them well suited to a particular purpose and vehicle. You’ll need to match the tire’s attributes to your type of vehicle, load, driving conditions, driving style, and weather conditions to find one most suited to your needs.

What to consider in Tire Size

Buying the right size can also get a bit tricky. Whatever the tire quality you buy, it still must be able to carry the weight of your vehicle. Otherwise the tire is overworked and you risk a blowout. Never undersizes a tire.

Next, you need to consider the diameter of the tire. It’s especially important to take your vehicle in to the auto shop and talk to a qualified technician about which tire sizes will work on your vehicle. Newer vehicles have sensitive computer systems that depend on the tire size for accurate readings and responses.

What About Sets?

If you’re not getting a set of four new tires, talk to a capable mechanic for help in matching the new tires as closely as possible to the old ones. When you have the mechanic install them on the vehicle, ask them to find the reason one set wore out so much more quickly than the other. Worn tires can alert you to other problems that may need attention.

Driving Conditions and Driving Style

Another excellent reason to take your vehicle in to the auto shop when you need new tires is that your service technician not only knows the vehicle and driving conditions, they’re also familiar with your driving style. The technician can help choose the most appropriate tire for the particular stresses it will endure, which translates as better mileage, longer lasting tires, and better performance.

It’s pretty hard for most people to find the “perfect” tire because so many different elements are involved. Fortunately, making a great and economical decision is as as close as your nearest qualified technician!

Top Signs You Need Engine Repair

October 15, 2015

Vehicles are extremely complicated machines, and any number of parts can malfunction. In a society that relies so heavily on their vehicles for work and recreation, an unexpected breakdown can spell disaster. However, increasing numbers of car owners are neglecting routine maintenance and ignoring the common signs of a need for engine repair that could leave them stranded and with huge repair bills.

Getting the most out of your vehicle means keeping it in the best shape possible, and that requires knowing and acting on important warning signs that your vehicle needs engine repair or maintenance. If you want to avoid the inconvenience of a breakdown, take your vehicle in to your auto repair shop when you notice any of these signs of engine problems.

Warning Lights

That pesky “check engine” light is hard to miss, but many people do not take it as seriously as they should, especially if the light is not identifying a specific problem. Warning lights are connected to a sensitive computer with sensors monitoring important engine processes. Warning lights can signify problems that range form the relatively minor to very serious, and ignoring the light will only lead to greater problems.

Tapping, Clicking, Clunking Sounds

If your engine starts making loud and unfamiliar noises, it could be a sign of significant engine problems. Clunking sounds may indicate loose or broken parts, popping noises might signify premature detonation of fuel in the combustion chamber, and grinding might mean transmission trouble, for example. When you hear strange noises, it’s always best to let your repair shop track down the problem as soon as possible.

Jerking, Surging, Stalling

Driving should be smooth and free of lurching and stalling. If your vehicle is responding strangely, it’s a pretty strong sign that you have engine problems. Whether it’s due to clogged fuel lines, fouled spark plugs or any of a number of other problems, ignoring the issue can put you in the danger zone.

Bad or Unusual Smells

All vehicles emit smells, but when the smells are unusual or make it into the passenger compartment, it’s an important sign you need some sort of engine repair. Sometimes it might be something as minor as worn or loose belts. Other times it could be exhaust that contains dangerous gases such as carbon monoxide. Don’t take any chances and get your vehicle checked out by a technician immediately.

Even if you believe your engine is in relatively good shape, ignoring these signs of problems can lead to even more costly engine repairs. Have your automotive shop take a look and keep your car fit for the road.

Preventative Maintenance

September 15, 2015

Auto Repair Shop Aspen Hill Exxon in Silver Spring

As a car owner, there are many things that you can do to extend the life of your vehicle. These forms of preventative maintenance can include changing your oil, checking your tire pressure, and getting regular check ups. Preventative maintenance saves you money and helps you catch small issues before they become a big problem. Just like performing routine activities like going to the gym or taking a shower, maintaining your car takes time and effort but will ultimately benefit the health of your vehicle. For your convenience, every time you visit Aspen Hill Exxon, in Spring, MD, Maryland we will check under the hood to make sure all of your vehicle’s vital fluids are in proper condition. We will then make recommendations based on these observations.

Make sure you check your owners manual for an appropriate maintenance schedule for your specific vehicle, this will help you know when you need to bring your car in. Here at Aspen Hill Exxon we can help you keep your car running smoothly and safely.

Aspen Hill Exxon Launches NEW Website!

November 9, 2014

We got a new look! Aspen Hill Exxon of Silver Spring, MD, has launched a new website. We understand that the web is taking over how our customers are looking for businesses and services. Our goal is to make sure that our quality auto repair services can be easily found on the web!
Feel free to browse around our new website and let us know what you think. Please come back frequently to check out the latest news, photos, advice & promotions.
By taking your vehicle to a NAPA AutoCare Center, you’re getting the best of both worlds. All AutoCare Centers are independently owned shops that take pride in their communities and customers while still being backed up by a national warranty and the trusted NAPA brand.