December 9, 2023

Automotive Breakdown… by Denny Mandeville, Owner/Canyon Automotive, Sedona


Summer is coming, and, historically, the last weekend in May gives rise to the dreaded triple digit temperatures (at least in the lower elevations). We may be smug with our 90’s temperatures, but even those temperatures are hard on your car. And the triple digits will come to beautiful Sedona before anyone is truly ready. Just as summer is coming so is the time to prepare for your summer traveling even if the expected extent of your journey is Phoenix.

If your excursion plans include San Diego or Rocky Point, a little more preparation would be wise. Did you know that under-hood temperatures can exceed 400F? Did it occur to you the convection oven you drive over, commonly called “the road” radiates heat upward? So, while you are traveling in your climate controlled interior, your car is a big Idaho potato being baked.

First, and foremost, is your air conditioning. As the age of your car creeps up most cars will require a recharge once a year.  A recharge by guess and by golly isn’t going to get it, a recharge requires the system be recharged to a specific weight, or amount, for the most efficient cooling. It is also the time to inspect for seaweed and dead frogs between the condenser and radiator, to make sure the cooling fans work, and check the condition of the drive belt.

It is also a great time to spray a mold killer into the air intake for the air conditioning. Many, if not most, newer cars also have a filter inside the car designed to trap pollen, insects and other nasty stuff you would otherwise breath- and just like the furnace filter in your house, it needs to be replaced for the same reasons .

At our shop inspecting this filter is a standard part of our oil change service. An un-maintained filter can actually burn up the blower motor for your air conditioning/heater by making it work too hard causing unnecessary expense. If you don’t know whether you have a cabin filter, or haven’t replaced it in recent memory- have it checked out.

There is the old standby- having the cooling system inspected and flushed every third year regardless of mileage driven. The components that make up antifreeze break down over time and can leave the aluminum components of the engine/cooling system susceptible to damage. Radiator failure, or, worse, head gasket failures can make that skipped cooling system flush not seem like such a bargain.  Cooling system hoses are made of better material than year’s past- but still need inspection.

Not to be overlooked, but often is, is the belt that drives all the accessories on the engine. The word “belt’ was written singular because it is, often, singular- one belt. One belt is driving all the critical accessories, if that one belt fails you can be left stranded on the side of the road enjoying the Arizona summer up close, and personally while you wait for the tow truck to arrive.

Tires with great looking tread but may be a blowout waiting to happen. Have the date of the tire manufacture checked by your repair facility; any tire older than four years old is recommended to be replaced before any summer interstate traveling regardless of tread condition. Pay close attention to the sidewalls of the tire, especially next to the rim and where the sidewall and tread meet. Any cracking seen here is an early warning sign of a possible blowout.

And, last, but not least, make sure your AAA PLUS, or, PLATINUM is current, because when you break down nothing, in Arizona, is within the 5 miles your standard AAA membership covers.  AAA is still the best bargain when your car will not start or stops running- highly recommended, and this is a free plug. I carry my AAA card everywhere I go.

Our shop is one of 55 ASA-AZ shops that are listed as “Green” by Arizona Department of  Environmental Quality. We control our waste stream; we re-claim and re-cycle antifreeze, waste oil, refrigerant, plastics, paper, and most metals. Our floors are not washed into the sewer system, and we control our drain water quality through the use of hydro-carbon socks. We have installed low energy fluorescent lighting and use low energy computer systems. Our outdoor lighting, for night time security, is low density and meets dark sky recommendations. Additionally, we purchase products in bulk (eliminating plastic bottles) wherever practical. Our chemicals are chlorine free. Being green is not always cheap, or easy- but it is the right thing to do, and good for Sedona.

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