Beach Benz

Servicing Mercedes Benz Exclusively for over 20 years

Go Big or Go Home: Upsize Your Wheels at Beach Benz

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A lot of us Huntington Beach car owners like our vehicles to reflect our personalities. We’re picky about color and body style. We’ll customize anything from floor mats to window tints to license plates. One popular way for California car owners to customize a vehicle is to get new wheels.

Wheels come in thousands of designs. Custom wheels can add personality, style or sass to a vehicle. Many of these customizations involve getting a bigger wheel.

Fifteen or sixteen-inch wheels used to be the factory standard, But today, because a lot of Huntington Beach car owners like the look of larger wheels, many vehicles are available with seventeen or eighteen-inch wheels. Optional wheel packages of twenty inches or more are also available in Huntington Beach.

If you want to upsize the wheels on your current vehicle, however, you should know it’s not a do-it-yourself project. There are essential factors involved in ensuring your wheel change doesn’t jeopardize the safety of your vehicle.

First of all, it’s critical for California auto owners to understand rolling diameter. The rolling diameter is the overall height of a tire. If you increase the rolling diameter of your tires when you upsize your wheels, you may have to modify your suspension to make sure the larger tires fit in the space and don’t rub in turns or over bumps. If that’s more work than you’re willing to do or pay for, then you need to maintain rolling diameter when you change your wheels.

It’s not as hard for Huntington Beach car owners as it sounds. Imagine a doughnut. That doughnut represents rolling diameter, so you can’t make the doughnut bigger. However, you can increase the size of the doughnut hole. That gives you a bigger wheel. Tires with reduced sidewall on larger wheels will preserve your rolling diameter.

Rolling diameter is vital because your wheels and tires still need to fit inside the wheel well. Also, your speedometer, odometer and anti-lock brakes are all programmed to work with a specific rolling diameter. You’ll throw off the readings on your speedometer and odometer if you change your rolling diameter. And for your anti-lock brakes to work properly, your rolling diameter has to be within 3% of factory recommendations. While some Huntington Beach drivers who upsize may not be concerned about meter readings, throwing off the brake system is a serious safety hazard.

Further, many vehicles in Huntington Beach are now equipped with electronically controlled suspensions. Changing the rolling diameter will negatively affect this system as well, which can lead to a less smooth ride and lower handling performance as well as detrimental safety concerns.

Your friendly Beach Benz tire professional may be able to reprogram your vehicle’s computer to adjust for a larger (or smaller) rolling diameter.

So to maintain rolling diameter, you’ll need tires with a shorter sidewall. These tires will be designed to give the sidewalls the strength they need to maintain ride quality. Consider that doughnut again. As the wheel (the doughnut hole) gets bigger, the sidewall of the tire (the width of remaining doughnut) gets shorter. That means the tire holds less air. The sidewalls have to be made stiffer to compensate for the decreased air capacity.

To improve their strength, the shorter tires will also be slightly wider than your previous tires. But this means you’ll have a larger contact patch, or, in other words, a larger area of tire making contact with the road. This can actually increase your handling performance and decrease braking distances. Many California auto buffs customize their wheels just for this reason—they want the improved performance rather than looks or style. If you drive a truck or an SUV around Huntington Beach, you might be interested in the extra control an upsized wheel can provide.

Now, that larger contact patch still has to fit inside your wheel well without rubbing when cornering or when bouncing over bumps or potholes on Huntington Beach roads. This is termed fitment, and you may need a few critical adjustments so your new wheels will fit properly. You may need spacers so that your brakes will fit inside the new wheels, as well.

Beach Benz tire professionals are experts at mounting, adjusting and customizing wheels. They can give you a lot of good auto advice about wheels and tires and how they affect driving performance and car care. They can help Huntington Beach motorists select wheels and tires that will suit their driving needs and habits.

For example, if you drive off-road around Fountain Valley, you should consider a higher profile tire. This type of tire will protect your rims from costly damage while you’re bouncing over rocks. Or, if you tow a trailer or haul heavy loads around California, you’ll want a tire with a load rating equal to your demands. Your friendly Beach Benz tire professional can help you with these types of concerns.

Once you’ve got your new wheels, have your friendly Beach Benz technician review to see if you need an alignment. You don’t want those new wheels and your higher performance compromised by poor alignment. Get the most out of your investment by getting the work done right at Beach Benz in Huntington Beach.

Last but not least, remember tire pressure. With larger wheels, your new tires will hold less air and they’ll need slightly higher pressure. You’ll need to stay on top of important preventive maintenance and keep them properly inflated. Be sure to review their pressure at least once a week. If you don’t keep your tires at their correct pressure, they will wear out really fast. It will also curtail your braking and handling performance.

So smile and show off your vehicle around Fountain Valley. Make it all yours. Bumper stickers, vanity license plates, custom wheels — strut your stuff!

Timing Belt

Ever heard the sad tale of a staggeringly expensive repair bill from a broken timing belt? Bad news. Let’s Huntington Beach car owners take a lesson from their woes and remember to think about our important timing belt.

First, let’s review what a timing belt does. The top part of the engine, over the cylinders is called the cylinder head. The head contains the valves. There’s at least one valve that lets the fresh air into the cylinder. This air, mixed with fuel, burns to create power. Then another valve or two open to allow the exhaust out of the engine. Each cylinder has 2 to 4 valves – that’s 12 to 24 valves for a V-6, up to 32 values on a V-8. The opening and closing of the valves is done by a camshaft. The timing belt uses the rotation of the engine to drive the camshaft which opens and close the valves. It’s called a timing belt because it has to be adjusted to rotate the camshaft to keep proper time with the engine so that everything’s in sync.

The timing belt is a toothed rubber belt . But some cars use a timing chain or timing gears instead of a belt. Timing chains and gears are much more durable, but car makers are using belts more because they are quieter – and cheaper. If you have a small or mid-sized passenger car, crossover or mini-van, chances are you have a timing belt.

Unfortunately, timing belts fail without any warning. That shuts Huntington Beach car owners down right away. Your Beach Benz service advisor can inspect your timing belt and look for cracks and looseness. But getting to the belt to take a look can be almost as much work as changing it on some cars. That’s why automobile manufacturers recommend replacing the belt from time to time. For most vehicles it’s from 60,000 to 90,000 miles or 95,000 to a 145,000 kilometers. If your owners’ manual doesn’t specify an interval ask your friendly Beach Benz service specialist.

One AutoNetTV producer has had two timing belts fail. The first was while he was waiting at a stop light – that costly repair cost several thousand dollars. The second was while driving on the highway – that one cost more than twice as much. Both had the cars out in the shop for three weeks. His cars had what we call “interference engines”, meaning that the valves and pistons are very close to each other. If the timing belt slips even one notch, the pistons will slam into the open valves. That’s why our friend’s highway failure was so much more expensive – his engine was traveling so fast that the valves were smashed and they chewed up the cylinder head.

A non-interference engine will just shut down if the timing belt breaks. You’re stranded, but the engine doesn’t suffer permanent damage. In both cases, our hapless friend was just a couple oil changes past the recommended interval for changing the timing belt. This is one of those things that Huntington Beach auto owners just cannot put off. Now replacing a timing belt is not cheap – but repairs for a broken belt can be far more pricey.

The team at Beach Benz recommends Huntington Beach car owners check their owners’ manual ASAP – especially if you have more than a 60,000 miles or 95,000 kilometers. You may need to get that belt replaced right away. And on many cars, the timing belt drives the water pump. So, it may be a good idea to replace the water pump while you’re at it because 90% of the work required for the new pump is already done with the belt change. Doing both at the same time saves you a lot of bucks because as they say, “timing’s everything”.

Automotive Detective Work In Huntington Beach

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There’s a reason we use the word “diagnose” when we talk about fixing cars in Huntington Beach. Figuring out what’s wrong with your sedan has a lot of similarities to figuring out what’s wrong with someone who is ill. Vehicles are a mass of complex systems that can produce a variety of symptoms when something goes wrong. As with human diagnoses, a specific symptom may be indicative of a number of problems, and figuring out the specific cause takes training and experience.

Sometimes the diagnosis of your sedan’s trouble comes down to a matter of trial-and-error. This can be frustrating for Huntington Beach car owners because time and money are on the line. You may feel you should only be paying for repair work. Of course, you only want to pay for the right repair – and a proper diagnosis is part of getting it right. Like at the Huntington Beach doctor’s office — some of what you pay for is the doctor’s time and effort to figure out what’s wrong with you, not for the actual cure.

The good news is that Huntington Beach motorists can do a lot to help out their friendly Beach Benz service advisor in figuring out what’s wrong with their sedan. Again, the medical office is a good analogy. The more information you can give your doctor about where it hurts, when it hurts and how it hurts, the more quickly he will be able to help you. In the same way, the more you can tell your Huntington Beach service technician about when the problem occurs, what is sounds like, how often it occurs, where it occurs, etc., the more efficiently he will be able to get you back on the road.

Good auto advice: learn how to talk to your Huntington Beach tech.

If fluid is leaking from your sedan, you should note the color of the fluid, where under the car the puddles form, and when they form (e.g. only when it’s parked for a while, only if the engine’s hot, when the weather turns cold, etc.). For example, if your sedan is making an unusual sound, you should indicate where the sound is coming from, what kind of sound it is, and when you hear it (again, be very specific). The more details you can give, the more helpful you will be. “I hear the sound when I turn left” is more helpful than “I hear the sound when I turn.” After a few conversations with your Beach Benz technician, you should get a feel for the kind of information he needs.

If you drop your car off, leave a detailed note describing information about your sedan’s problem. A quickly scrawled “Making a funny noise” will only lead to frustration for both your technician and for you. Good communication leads to better car care for Huntington Beach car owners.

If your sedan is occasionally stalling or sputtering, you may need a little more patience than with other types of car trouble because these types of problems are intermittent. In order to fix the trouble, your service professional often finds it helpful to reproduce the symptoms. And if the problem is intermittent, it may take a while to do so.

In these cases, specific information can be invaluable, as it can significantly reduce the time it takes for your friendly technician to get your sedan to misbehave. For example, if you can tell your technician that the vehicle only acts up after it’s been driven for 20 minutes and over 50 mph, it will allow him to quickly reproduce your problem, greatly reducing the time it will take for a car diagnosis in Huntington Beach and then get it repaired.

Good preventive maintenance goes a long way to keeping your car out of the Fountain Valley repair shop, but if you need to get it corrected, good communication will get you back on the road quickly.

Are Modern Vehicles Maintenance Free?

In our auto video today we’ll be talking with Alan Peterson about myths surrounding automotive maintenance. You can lump these myths into the statement that “modern cars are so reliable, they are virtually maintenance free”.

Any good myth has some elements of truth. No offense to Huntington Beach Bigfoot fans, but this maintenance-free myth has more evidence than most. If we look at some isolated areas of auto maintenance, we could conclude that maintenance isn’t so important. But other areas would just as easily lead you to believe that maintenance is more important than ever.

Here are some examples for our friends in Huntington Beach.

  • Some cars in Huntington Beach no longer require chassis lubrication. They’re made with self-lubricating materials and have sealed joints. There’s literally is no way to grease those joints.

-Chalk one up for the myth.

On the other side, some vehicles come with sophisticated variable valve timing. A lot of complicated parts up in the valve train that didn’t even exist not that many years ago. These parts are very vulnerable to oil sludge.

  • So, skipping an oil change here and there could lead to very expensive damage.

-A point to maintenance.

  • Electronic ignition has eliminated replacing points.

-Myth gets a point.

  • Fuel injectors on direct injection engines are very expensive to replace so one must be sure to get a fuel system cleaning on schedule.

-Point for maintenance.

I think you get the picture. As automotive technology advances, it eliminates or reduces some maintenance requirements. And maintenance becomes more critical for some items. Most others remain very similar to what they’ve always been.

So the maintenance mindset is still important for car owners in Huntington Beach if we want our vehicles to last a long time. The checklist may change over time, but there’ll always be a check list.

Let me mention a couple of items on modern vehicles that folks need to be aware of. One of the most of the most important is timing belt replacement. Used to be that all engines had timing chains – you know, metal chains. They rarely broke.

It’s cheaper to make engines with timing belts rather than chains, so replacing the timing belt is on most engines’ maintenance list. The money the manufacturer saves by using a belt is more than off-set by what the vehicle owner has to pay to replace the belt. And it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of repairing the damage if the timing belt breaks.

So make sure you know when your timing belt needs to be replaced. You don’t want to miss that. If you have 60,000 miles or more, break out your owner’s manual or ask your Huntington Beach service advisor at Beach Benz to check on the recommendation right away.

Another is sealed wheel bearing assemblies on some vehicles. As you might have guessed, it’s cheaper to make a sealed unit than one that has access to inspect or service the wheel bearings. The problem is that when the bearings fail, you have to replace the entire unit, not just the bearings. That’ll cost 5 or 6 times as much.

For our friends in Huntington Beach, we hope this has underscored the importance of knowing and following your maintenance schedule. Come in and see us at Beach Benz. You’ll find us at 7492 Slater Ave in Huntington Beach, California 92647. Just give us a call at 714 842-9816.