Category Archives: How To

Mini Cooper Repair: How to Replace the Side Mirror of a 2001-2006 Model

MiniCooper hood emblem -- how to repair the side mirror

This repair takes about 10-20 minutes. It is not very complicated and does not need much in the way of tools.

Tools you need for this Mini Cooper repair are:

  • Allen wrenches
  • Small flat head screwdriver (optional).

Note: The repair steps are provided in three groups, a, b, and c, depending how much of the mirror you want to replace. You can jump down to the b or c sections if you just want to switch out the cap or the mirror glass.

a. How to replace your complete Mini Cooper’s side mirror

1.) Take the current side mirror off your car. To do so, you want to expose three Allen screws that connect the door and mirror, which you can achieve by rotating the base of the mirror’s assembly. Using an Allen wrench, unscrew the three screws and detach the mirror from the car. Be sure you leave behind the rubber gasket, though. You will also need to remove the connectors that go to heated or power mirrors from the old mirror and the door.

2.) Put your new side mirror onto the car. Attach the new side mirror to your Mini Cooper’s wire connector. The connector runs into a plastic tab within the door. Be certain the tab is positioned in the direction of the car’s exterior. Uncover the Mini Cooper’s screw holes by pivoting the mirror at its base. Place the mirror so that it is covering the rubber seal. Grab the three Allen screws again. Screw them in. Finally, rotate the mirror back into its final position.

b. How to change only the glass of your side mirror

You can just use your hands, with no need for additional tools, if you only want to switch out the glass; however, a small flathead screwdriver can sometimes make the process easier. To proceed, press on your Mini Cooper’s mirror at its upper edge, applying significant pressure. Put your fingers beneath the mirror’s lower edge, which now protrudes. Pull toward you until you can feel the release of the clips. When you only need to change the glass, you can detach the heated mirror from the electrical connector, and the new glass should snap into position. When you are also changing the Mini Cooper’s cap, put this glass in a safe place so that it does not get broken.

c. How to replace just the caps of your Mini Cooper’s side mirror

To change the outside caps of your Mini Cooper’s side mirror, you just need to disconnect them from the five clips that hold the caps to the mirror assembly. You want to start with the bottom two clips, using two fingers to release them. Then you want to release the top three. You should now be able to release the cap. As indicated by Brett Foote of North American Motoring, you can use a knife or other small tool if you are having difficulty getting the cap to release. “[B]ut be very careful because they are very fragile and prone to breaking,” she added. When you have the old cover removed, position the new cover, verifying that all five clips snap into position. Finally, push back on the glass of the mirror until it snaps into its position as well.

Mini Cooper News

Now that we have completed the technical discussion of the repair, we can turn to trendier business, recent news items related to the carmaker that might interest you as a Mini Cooper owner:

  • One-of-a-kind Mini Cooper stars at royal wedding
  • Portugal gathering of Mini lovers will mark four decades of the event

One-of-a-kind Mini Cooper stars at royal wedding

The Mini Cooper can be more than just a car to help you get around town. It is also stylish enough that it can serve as a fashionable gift, even to royalty – as indicated by the Mini that was given to Meghan Markle and Prince Harry. The unique automobile did not appear at the couple’s reception, though. Rather, it was sent to a nonprofit selected by the couple; that organization will, in turn, sell it at auction.

The standard Mini Cooper 2-Door was taken by the designers at the automaker and adapted. They added a bespoke interior and roof graphic, highlights of which were specially chosen embroidery and 3D-printed features. The concept that inspired the manually applied roof graphic is a blend of the Stars & Stripes and the Union Jack – mixing the national backgrounds of the bride and groom. Additionally, “Just Married” is projected onto the ground from the car when the doors are opened. The side scuttles, chrome finish, and other granular aspects of the car’s detailing are custom-designed for this special moment as well.

The “satellite grey” leather interior is another key feature that contrasts nicely with the “crystal white” color of the car’s main body paint. A slender strip provides the date of the wedding, as well as the names of the bride and groom. The door cards contain accents that harmonize with the hues of the graphic on the Mini Cooper’s roof. This particular car will only be made by Mini Cooper once, but you can customize your own vehicle to resemble the royal wedding car using the official customization platform, Mini Yours. You can include 3D-printed components with that design if you want.

As noted above, the car is being handed off by the marrying couple to a cause: the Children’s HIV Association, where it will be sent after the couple’s wedding on May 19. Assumedly the car will get a great price at auction given the amount of publicity this regifting has produced.

Portugal gathering of Mini lovers will mark four decades of the event

Portugal hosted hundreds of Mini lovers from around the world when lovers of the automaker held the 40th yearly International Mini Meeting (IMM) there. This year was the first time the event has taken place in the European nation. Slotted for the 17th through the 21st of May by the Clube Mini de Portuga, the IMM was held on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, approximately 62 miles south of Porto in Praia de Mira.

Each day of the IMM was focused on one of the cars made by the automaker. One car that was spotlighted was the Mini Moke, for instance. The Mini Van and Mini Clubman were also given their own dedicated days.

Another car that was given special attention was the Mini Cooper S, which is a performance-driven version of the car that has been around for 55 years. When this version of the car was introduced, it both increased the quality of the brakes and gave the car twice the power.

Honest Mini Cooper repair in Boulder

Mini Cooper has proven that it has the refined approach to appear in the headlines with the royal couple, and the International Mini Meetings continue to draw attention. The Mini Cooper is about substance of course, not just style – and its incredible drivability must be safeguarded. At Independent Motors, we believe great service starts with honest communication, and we want your business for the long haul. See Our Mini Cooper Repair philosophy.

How to Change Your BMW Hood Ornament (aka Roundel Emblem)

shot of BMW emblem in rain on car

One of the defining features of a BMW is its roundel emblems, on its hood and trunk. These ornaments are eye-catching when the car is first purchased new. However, they will wear over time, fading and potentially cracking – in large part because of long-term exposure to the UV rays of the sun. Getting a replacement emblem is certainly affordable compared to many other car parts, showing up on eBay and other online stores for $5 to $35. Once you have a new emblem in-hand, removing the old one and replacing it with a new one can be performed in a total of 10 to 15 minutes.

Caution: While an 82mm diameter is standard, BMWs DO NOT always have the same size ornament. You can use a resource such as RealOEM to verify the part that you need. If you cannot figure out what part you need, the last-ditch possibility is to take off the current emblem and look on the back for the OEM part number. That way, whether you purchase an OEM or aftermarket part, you will know exactly what you need.

You will have to get both the emblem and two mounting grommets. Once you have the parts, you are ready to gather your tools and move forward with this BMW repair.

Tools:

  • Needle nose pliers
  • Masking tape
  • Thin flat-head screwdriver
  • Plastic pry tool

Step 1 – To safeguard your BMW’s paint as you take the emblem off the car, it is a good idea to tape the area around it. You can also keep from scratching your car by placing a cloth beneath the pry tool as you work. Be careful in your choice of pry tool, since it will greatly impact how simple the replacement process is; it should be as thin as possible. If you decide to use a flat-head screwdriver, it is important to use masking tape on it as well – again, to keep the paint from scratching.

Step 2 – Once you have your tools at your side and have everything protected, begin to use the prying tool to remove the ornament that is currently on your car. Move around the emblem so that it stays relatively flat as you loosen it. After you have mostly freed it, you can finish the removal with your fingers.

Step 3 – On the back of the ornament are a couple of tabs that fit into grommets for mounting. It is a good idea to go ahead and put in new grommets when you replace the emblem. The grommets, which are made of plastic, will naturally start to wear and crack as they age, threatening the stability of the ornament – sometimes even resulting in it breaking off the vehicle while you are on the road (which is dangerous, although not as bad as a poorly secured tree flying off it).

Step 4 – Use your needle nose pliers to take the grommets off your BMW. At this point you should have both the grommets and ornament removed. It is an ideal time to clean, since it is likely that dirt or other debris has become stuck under the emblem over time.

Step 5 – With everything cleared away, you can now take your replacement grommets and simply press them into position. Line up the emblem so that you can fit its tabs to the grommets. Be sure that it is tight, without any space between the ornament and the hood.

Step 6 – Drive to a friend’s house and show off your BMW repair.

BMW News & Information

Now that you know how to replace the emblem, we can switch gears to trending news items that may interest you as a BMW owner:

  • BMW electrified car sales pass a quarter million
  • First Chinese self-driving license for global automaker goes to BMW
  • BMW to introduce wireless charging for electric vehicles

BMW electrified car sales pass a quarter million

On May 15, BMW announced that it had achieved a milestone with its electrified car sales, surpassing 250,000 vehicles.

In the press release outlining this news, Pieter Nota, a BMW boardmember, said that the sales of these cars had risen significantly during the beginning of 2018, allowing the carmaker to roll past the quarter-million mark. The sales of electrified models – including Mini Electric, BMW iPerformance, and BMW i, hit 9,831 during April, representing a 52% increase. BMW’s goal at the beginning of 2018 was to sell 140,000 electrified cars, and Nota said that projection is well within reach given this strong start.

First Chinese self-driving license for global automaker goes to BMW

The Shanghai Intelligent Connected Autonomous Driving Test License is a highly valuable prize for the self-driving car market in China. On May 14, BMW became the first carmaker to receive this license, which means that they will soon be able to test their driverless cars on China’s roads. The awarding of this license is a big step forward for BMW in its efforts to dominate the self-driving market in the key nation.

BMW will start to use the permit in Shanghai at a future point that is not yet known. However, it already has a group of five dozen self-driving specialists, so they will be ready once the automaker is free to move forward. What this testing will involve is building machine learning algorithms based on data from real-world traffic patterns.

Testing will initially be within a contained area – not out on the streets of Shanghai. The track that will be used for the autonomous research will be 3.5 miles long. Two cars, both BMW 7 Series, will be used in the closed facility. By the end of 2018, there will be a total of nine cars involved in the testing.

BMW to introduce wireless charging for electric vehicles

Smartphones are now increasingly being charged wirelessly. With an inductive charging system for electric cars, BMW is bringing this same approach to the automobile.

Many of BMW’s plug-in hybrid electric cars will eventually be able to use this wireless charging pad. The 530e iPerformance is the initial model that will be outfitted to work with the technology.

BMW car owners in Europe will be the first to get access to wireless charging when it is released in the next few months. A limited number of drivers in the United States – via a California pilot project – will also get access to this convenient feature.

The system will be made up of a main coil and charging pad that could be set up either outside or within a garage. Beneath the car is an additional coil.

The charge rate will be as high as 3.2kW via power sent through an alternating magnetic field extending from one coil to the other. Charging the car completely will take about 3 1/2 hours, making it much more convenient to own an electric car.

Honest Boulder BMW repair

BMW’s commitment to sustainability, as exhibited by its investment in and rising sales of electric car technology, shows an alignment with values we hold dear in Boulder. The carmaker also is cutting edge in its global embrace of autonomous driving. The above process will allow you to remove and replace your BMW roundel emblem; however, if you would rather have the repair performed by an honest and experienced mechanic, we can help. See our BMW repair philosophy.

Toyota Camry Repair: How to Change Your Radiator

Toyota car grill -- brand logo - Toyota repair - radiator

Note: These repair steps apply specifically to older Toyota Camry model years, 1997 through 2001.

A Toyota Camry can often live to an old age and continue to be reliable. You will help the car make it farther along the rode by performing routine maintenance. One key maintenance element is to repair a radiator that is worn by corrosion or otherwise becomes damaged. When you have a Toyota Camry from 1997-2001, below are the steps to replace the radiator.

Caution: You want to make certain that engine coolant is kept safely away from your children and pets, within a resealable container. Also take care of any spills right away. It can kill a person or animal to eat antifreeze – and to make matters worse, it has a sweet taste. For the same concern related to the toxicity of the substance, you want to protect yourself when you perform this Toyota repair by putting on protective eyewear, gloves, and clothing. Finally, you could get badly burned performing this work on your Camry; stay safe by not opening your radiator cap if the antifreeze temperature is 100 °F or greater.

Step 1 – Gather these items to complete your repair:

  • New radiator
  • Resealable container
  • Engine coolant
  • Distilled water.

Step 2 – Once you have your supplies ready at your side, you want to unhook the negative battery cable. At the bottom of the radiator is a drain plug. Loosen it. Now let the engine coolant flow into the resealable container. You can increase the rate at which the fluid runs by loosening the radiator cap.

Step 3 – Disconnect the outlet hoses and inlet hose on your radiator. Unhook the outlet hoses and inlet hose on the oil cooler as well. You will see clamps on the wire harness that is attached to the fan shroud. Unhook those, as well as the fan motor’s connector.

Step 4 – Take out the bolts on the fan mount, along with the fan itself and the motor. Reach into the engine compartment and remove your radiator assembly. Your fan is currently connected to the old radiator. Disconnect it and attach it to the replacement radiator.

Step 5 – Now gradually, conscientiously push your replacement radiator into the engine compartment. Tighten your radiator and fan bolts and clamps.

Step 6 – Returning to the wire harness on the fan shroud, reattach its clamps. Rehook the fan motor’s connector. Reinstall the inlet and outlet hoses on the oil cooler, and reinstall the inlet and outlet hoses on the radiator. Grab your reverse battery connector and reattach it.

Step 7 – Using a mixture of 1-part distilled water and 1-part engine coolant (half each), fill the radiator. Note: Pour coolant into your radiator gradually so that there are no air pockets created.

Step 8 – Go ahead and start your car. You want to actually warm up the engine so that any excess air can escape from the vehicle. Shut off the car again. Bring your coolant back up to the top.

Sustainability Tip: As long as your engine coolant is not contaminated and is relatively fresh, you can reuse it – which is the environmentally friendly way to go. “If you choose not to reuse it,” suggested It Still Runs, “take it to a garage or hazardous waste facility where it can be disposed of properly.”

To take that advice locally here in Boulder, the Boulder Hazardous Materials Management Facility (West of Boulder County Recycling Center / 1901 63rd St. / Boulder, CO 80301; 720-564-2251) accepts coolant and a litany of other household wastes for disposal, as described on the Boulder County website.

Toyota News & Information

Your radiator fix should now be complete. Having finished that Toyota repair, we can now turn to a lighter subject – interesting stories in the news that might interest you as a Toyota owner. Here are a couple of notable reports:

  • Toyota gets 4 of top 10 for longevity
  • Battery exchange explored to keep EVs going

Toyota gets 4 of top 10 for longevity

We should all be concerned about sustainability, and the choices we make related to transportation heavily impact our carbon footprints. That said, there is a strong argument for the full-sized SUV in a new study of automotive longevity. The research, conducted by used car site iSeeCars.com, found that full-size SUVs are the likeliest model to achieve 200,000 miles or more. The data used for the study is from 13.5 million used cars (1981 to 2017 model-years) that changed hands during 2017.

The Toyota Sequoia is the number-one most likely car to make it to 200,000 miles, although only a fraction make it: 6.6%. Two other full-size SUVs rounded out the top three: the Ford Expedition (at 5.4%) and Chevrolet Suburban (at 5.2%).

The reason that large SUVs last so long in comparison to other types of cars is that they are built for “truck-like durability” with a body-on-frame design, noted iSeeCars CEO Phong Ly, who added that “[t]hese vehicles can also be easier to repair than smaller SUVs, which can contribute to their longevity.”

Ly’s comments directly tie into the issue of gaz-guzzling that is so central to the SUV: body-on-frame construction is bad for fuel efficiency because of its hefty weight –significantly outdone by unibody, in which the body and chassis are basically a single component.

Setting aside that issue, let’s look at the top 10 models in terms of getting to the 200,000-mile mark:

1.) 6.6% of Toyota Sequoias

2.) 5.4% of Ford Expeditions

3.) 5.2% of Chevrolet Suburbans

4.) 4.2% of Toyota 4Runners

5.) 3.9% of GMC Yukons

6.) 3.8% of Chevrolet Tahoes

7.) 2.8% of GMC Yukons

8.) 2.6% of Toyota Tacomas

9.) 2.4% of Toyota Avalons

10.) 2.4% of Honday Odysseys.

The road lives of these models are much better than average; among all car models, just 1.2% hit 200,000 miles, per this analysis.

Also note that the first two models that are not large SUVs are both Toyota, the Tacoma midsize pickup and the Avalon full-size sedan.

Battery exchange explored to keep EVs going

A sore point related to electric cars is that you must recharge them by hooking them up to electrical power. Even if a fast charging system is used, it will often take about an hour to get an electric vehicle (EV) completely recharged.

To address this pain-point, a battery exchange system is under development at Toyota for smaller electric vehicles, according to the Japanese site NHK. Although this system would be established just in Japan at this stage, it is still interesting in terms of the carmaker’s direction. The project would place stations throughout Japan that would allow car owners to easily exchange their batteries and stay on the road. Stations to allow for battery exchange would also be implemented at Toyota dealerships – where owners would be able to hand over a depleted battery in exchange for one that is 100% charged. This process could take just a few minutes, a similar amount of time to traditional refueling at the pump.

Honest Toyota repair in Boulder

Toyota increasingly has more sustainable car options, but it also has some of the most well-built cars on the road – with its durability proven by how the longevity of its models compare to other brands. Part of getting that great longevity out of a car is by taking car of it, as with replacing the radiator when needed. Do you need help with your radiator or with any other Toyota repair or maintenance? At Independent Motors, we like the Toyota brand so much that many of our employees own and drive them, including our owner Bill, who has driven a Toyota Prius since 2006. See our Toyota repair philosophy.

VW Repair: How to Change Your Serpentine Belt

Volkswagen - VW Repair - Quick Steps to Change Your Serpentine Belt

The alternator, air conditioning compressor, and other engine accessories in your Volkswagen are provided power by a v-ribbed belt or serpentine belt. The good news is that you will not need special tools in order to replace this part. You will not always be able to access the serpentine belt immediately, though: in the Jetta and Golf, you will have to remove an auxiliary v-belt first.

No matter what type of VW model you own, you can use the below steps for replacement – skipping over the v-belt sections as applicable.

Caution: Before you start this Volkswagen repair, you want the car to sit for 2-3 hours so the engine can cool. If you do not allow ample time for cooling, you could get burned.

Removing your VW auxiliary v-belt

  1. Make sure the ground is level. Activate the parking brake.
  2. Lock your steering wheel by turning it all the way to the right.
  3. Look for the ground cable attached to the negative battery terminal, and disconnect it. Apply a wrench to the retaining bolt, loosening it. Remove the clamp from the terminal.
  4. Get a pad and paper. Create a rough diagram of how the belts are arranged around the engine pulleys, so that you can later install them in the exact same way.
  5. Grab a socket and loosen the mounting bolts on the power steering pump. Let the pump slide in the direction of your engine.
  6. Take the v-belt from the engine pulleys, and pull it out of the car.

Replacing your VW serpentine belt

  1. If you have not already done so (#4 above), grab a piece of paper, and make a drawing of the path of your serpentine belt around the engine pulleys.
  2. To release the belt’s tension, manually rotate the tensioner pulley – which you can find right beneath your alternator – away from the belt.
  3. Using your hand, remove the old serpentine belt from the engine.
  4. Look at your diagram of how the pulleys were arranged within the car. Place the new serpentine belt so that it matches the drawing.
  5. Take the serpentine belt, and situate it through the pulleys using the diagram you sketched.
  6. Get the belt tight again by releasing the tensioner pulley.

Installing your auxiliary v-belt

  1. Check the v-belt to ensure that it is not degraded and does not have a crack in it; if it does, you want to replace it.
  2. Thread the v-belt through the pulleys, as indicated by your drawing.
  3. Make sure you have lain the v-belt properly in the engine pulleys so that it is seated correctly.
  4. Move the power steering pump out of the way of the engine, and use your socket to tighten the mounting bolts.

Measuring your v-belt’s deflection

  1. At the longest stretch of the v-belt, put a straight edge on top of the two pulleys.
  2. Use a finger to press in the middle of the belt.
  3. Grab a ruler, and measure how far it is from the belt to the straight edge. The maximum separation you want is 13/64-inch.
  4. Take your socket, and loosen the mounting bolts on the power steering pump until the v-belt is sufficiently tight. Again, move the power steering pump out of the way of the engine. Tighten the bolts again.
  5. Reestablish the connection between your negative battery terminal and the ground cable. Put the clamp back on the terminal, and use a wrench to retighten your retaining bolt.

All steps of this Volkswagen repair are now complete. Your new serpentine belt will keep your car continuing to operate smoothly so that you can get where you need to go.

Note: Beyond replacing serpentine belts as needed, it is also smart to buy a backup belt and keep it in your trunk, as indicated by Jeffrey Caldwell in It Still Runs. “That way if the drive belt breaks while you’re on the road,” he said, “you will not be stranded.”

Volkswagen news & information

With the serpentine belt project finished, we can now take a look at recent Volkswagen news that might be of interest:

  • Two-motored VW racecar to run Pikes Peak
  • Ashton Kutcher’s VW could break world record

Two-motored VW racecar to run Pikes Peak

It is a commonly accepted notion within the automaking industry that racing can be helpful in the development of stronger cars. Prior to starting production of a car, you will often not be able to see its vulnerabilities until you test it at high speeds on a track. Carmakers are also able to bring more people into their dealerships from victory in races or even just the publicity surrounding them. Given these different general reasons to race, a Volkswagen prototype racecar will make its way to Colorado to take on Pikes Peak in a few months.

Volkswagen has another reason to race, related to the sustainable design of the car it is using. At a time when electric cars are increasingly becoming a serious alternative to internal-combustion cars, Volkswagen and its competitors are leveraging racing to show off their technology and make electric car ownership more attractive. Since traditional car racing is on the decline, noted Steve Hanley in CleanTechnica, the electric vehicle racing series Formula E is drawing the attention of many carmakers. The Jaguar I-Pace and Tesla Model S sedans are example cars that will be featured in racing series.

As a dive into electric racing, Volkswagen is traveling to Pikes Peak with an electric racer featuring dual motors in June. The hill climb that take place there on the 24th is the only race of its type on the planet. The stretch of road runs 12.4 miles, increasing from an elevation of 9,390 feet to 14,110 feet above sea level. Electric cars are actually well-designed for this competition. “Internal combustion engines lose power at higher elevations,” noted Hanley, “but electric motors are unaffected by altitude changes.”

Ashton Kutcher’s VW could break world record

The world record for the sale of a Volkswagen at auction may be broken on April 14, when the VW Microbus or Samba bus from That 70s Show is offered at Barrett-Jackson’s Palm Beach Auction.

No other VW Samba Van, or Microbus, with provenance has ever appeared in an auction, which makes people think that this one could be a record. It is worth noting that when That 70s Show was on the air, the bus was auctioned. It was sold for $28,000 at that point, but that was before the Microbus was a point of focus for collectors. Between that initial sale and today, numerous Samba vans have sold for greater than $100,000, and the collectible car industry has surged incredibly.

Mike Hanlan of New Atlas explains another reason why this car is expected to draw a huge price tag: it celebrates the youth of baby boomers, a group he described as “the people who have now accumulated the majority of the world’s wealth, and the same people who pay millions of dollars for the artifacts of their youth at auctions.”

Honest auto repair in Boulder

Hopefully the above steps have been helpful to you in understanding the replacement of your serpentine belt. If you would rather have an expert perform that repair or any other, we can help. At Independent Motors, 90% of the auto repair we do is repeat business. See our Volkswagen repair philosophy.

Subaru Repair: How to Break in Your New Engine + Oil Change Schedule

Subaru logo on steering wheel - Subaru Repair - How to Break in Your New Engine

Many car owners do not realize that when they drive a new car off the lot, their engine’s long-term health will be greatly influenced by their treatment of the car during the first few weeks on the road. You may have any of three different engines in a Subaru –turbocharged or naturally aspirated 4-cylinder, or 6-cylinder, all of which are horizontally opposed – and all of which require a proper break-in period at the beginning.

While we want to help with Subaru repair as needed, we also want to help you avoid large expenses with preventive strategies. Best practices to maintain and drive your car properly during the extremely important early period of ownership are as follows:

Tip 1. Start slow. Wait until you have at least 1000 miles on your odometer before you exceed 4000 revolutions per minute (RPM). Simply exhibiting patience with the car in this manner allows you to keep the engine stronger for all driving scenarios. Plus, keeping it slow at first lowers your risk of burning oil in the years to come by letting your piston rings seat properly within the combustion chambers.

Tip 2. Do not brake or speed up suddenly. As indicated in #1, you want to take it easy on your engine in its first few weeks on the road. You make it possible for the components within the engine to continue to fit well long into the life of the car by only accelerating moderately as you accrue the first thousand miles. As with acceleration, you will develop the correct mating of the pads with the brake drums or discs by applying the brakes lightly from day one. You will potentially cause your brake components to break if you are using the brakes heavily prior to completion of seating.

Tip 3. Avoid cruise control. You want your car to be speeding up and slowing down a bit, going through a spectrum of RPM levels, rather than keeping it on cruise control and having it rev at a consistent rate. You want the engine to be exposed to diverse engine conditions within a safe range (similar to stretching a muscle).

Tip 4. You want to take the car out on different types of routes, including city and highway roads. As with avoiding your cruise control, you can help the internal parts of your engine be ready to take on a range of engine RPM by using different driving scenarios. You want both the braking and the acceleration of your Subaru to be lively but conscientious (remembering moderation but also sticking to the task of “breaking in” the engine).

Tip 5. Get your oil changed at the first recommended point. See the full information on oil changes below – but the standard is 6 months or 6000 miles, whichever comes first. Whatever the case for your model, it will give the general health of your engine a boost by getting an oil change on time, with high-quality synthetic oil. Your oil change will be a bit different depending on the intake method and size of your Subaru engine. To make certain you use the right oil type and that you follow the change schedule correctly, check the car manual, although guidelines for the 2017 lineup are below. Often mechanics will suggest getting two oil changes within the break-in period, underscoring the gravity of this stage in the car’s life. To be clear, this recommendation is to get an oil change “halfway through the first oil change interval, and then performing another at the first scheduled change,” as indicated in It Still Runs.

Tip 6. Be responsive to your dashboard. You do not want to drive the engine when it is cold. Be aware of the blue “cold engine” light; if you see it, warm up the engine before proceeding.

Note of Caution: If you want to keep your Subaru healthy and prevent engine problems in the months and years ahead, use engine break-in best practices, as described above. It is worth noting that these strategies are not as critical for the newer cars as for the older ones. However, your chances of going hundreds of thousands of miles with relatively few issues will be greatly improved by careful engine treatment as you go your first 1000 miles (and continue with excellent Subaru repair and service as needed). On the other hand, failing to be conscientious could mean that you do not the value out of the car that you want.

Subaru oil change schedule

The interval of 6 months or 6000 miles, whichever comes first, is mentioned as a standard for new Subaru cars above. That interval applies to all 2017 and 2018 Subaru Outback, BRZ, Forester, Crosstrek, Impreza, Legacy, WRX, and STI. If you have a different year of the car, check your manual for your interval.

As indicated above, some mechanics will suggest doubling up the oil change during the first interval (which would mean also changing it at 3 months or 3000 miles, whichever comes first, in the case of the 2017 and 2018 Subaru models above). As noted in Cars101.com, it may be a good idea to change the oil ahead of the standard interval, “especially with hard driving, cold/hot weather, or manual transmissions that are revved up or downshifted.”

The Subaru owner’s manual backs up that perspective. The carmaker mentions that there are also various scenarios in which you want to refill the oil prior to the oil change – important since the rate at which engine oil is consumed increases under certain conditions. Those scenarios are:

  • During the break-in phase of initial ownership
  • If you filled the car with low-quality oil (or if you cannot verify oil quality, as when you buy a Subaru used)
  • If you used oil that is of the wrong viscosity
  • If you use high engine speeds (i.e., operating it at high RPM)
  • If you carry heavy loads in your Subaru
  • If you connect a trailer to the car
  • If you have lengthy stints of idling
  • If you are in traffic jams or other stop-and-go scenarios
  • If the external temperature is extreme during the car’s operation
  • If you are speeding up and slowing down the car more often than normal
  • If you have engine braking implemented.

In these situations, it is a good idea to check your oil every other time you refuel your car. Plus, you want to get oil changes more often as well. If your car is consuming more than 1 quart of oil per 1200 miles, you want to bring it to a mechanic to determine why consumption is abnormally high.

As a sample (otherwise check your manual), here are the types of oil that should be used in 2017 versions of these Subaru models and engine sizes:

  • Outback 5 L – 0w-20 synthetic
  • Outback 3.6 L – 5w-30 conventional or synthetic
  • Legacy 2.5 L – 0w-20 synthetic
  • Legacy 3.6 L – 5w-30 conventional or synthetic
  • Forester 2.5 L – 0w-20 synthetic
  • Forester 2.0 L Turbo – 5w-30 synthetic
  • Crosstrek 2.0 L – 0w-20 synthetic
  • Crosstrek 2.0 L Hybrid – 0w-20 synthetic
  • Impreza 2.0 L – 0w-20 synthetic
  • BRZ 2.0 L – 0w-20 synthetic
  • WRX 2.0 L Turbo – 5w-30 synthetic
  • STI 2.5 L Turbo – 5w-30 synthetic

Honest Subaru repair & advice

Knowing how to care for your car for yourself as needed can be helpful for your finances. However, you will probably have situations in which you want the help of a mechanic for your Subaru repair or maintenance. At Independent Motors, 90% of the auto repair we do is repeat business. See our Subaru repair philosophy.

Toyota Repair: How to Reset Your Oil Change Light

Classic Blue Toyota Tail Light - Toyota Repair - How to Reset Your Oil Change Light

For a few years, just about every new car that has been built contains an oil change reminder light. This light simply notifies the owner of the vehicle when it is time to get oil service. Oil should be changed routinely according to schedules listed within car manuals. The way the light works is by illuminating once the car has gone that specified interval distance beyond the last reset of the oil change light – which is assumed to coincide with the last oil change. It is important once you change the oil in your car to reset the light so that it will be triggered at the appropriate time. You do not need to get under the hood for this reprogramming; it is performed within the cabin. This small piece of maintenance is not technically a Toyota repair but is key to understand so that you use best practices when changing your oil.

Step 1 – Get your key into the right position. Sit in your car’s driver seat. Check the instrument panel and see if a “check oil” indicator is lit. If so, turn your ignition key until it is “Off” but with the odometer number still visible.

Step 2 – Press down reset while starting the car. Locate the trip reset knob and press in on it, holding it down for 5 seconds. Now start the car again. It should turn off your oil light and bring the odometer trip reading to 000000 when you restart the car while holding down the trip reset knob.

Step 3 – Check your work. Assuming that you held down the reset knob while restarting the car, you should see that the oil change indicator is no longer lit. If you still see it, check the manual for your car for further troubleshooting. Another option if you are having difficulty is to “[c]onsult a mechanic who specialized in Toyota vehicles for further instructions,” as suggested by It Still Runs.

That is all for this Toyota repair or maintenance project. With the above steps complete, you should no longer have an issue with your oil change light. It should be reset and ready to let you know the next time an oil change is needed.

Toyota News & Information

Having completed that project, we can look at recent news articles that may be of interest to you as a Toyota owner:

  • Toyota to take on Lyft & Uber
  • #2 still isn’t too shabby
  • Mazda & Toyota join to open Alabama plant

Toyota to take on Lyft & Uber

2017 was not exactly a great publicity year for Uber. There were months of scandals for the first half of the year, one after another, prompting the company’s hiring of former US Attorney General Eric Holder to investigate, eventually resulting in the resignation of CEO Travis Kalanick on June 13 – the same day on which David Bonderman, who was on the Uber board, also resigned after making a sexist joke in response to Holder’s findings. It was a mess.

Given the tumultuous year for cloud car services, Toyota jumped into the mix in smart taxi, where it could use its position to advance self-driving tech. The specific point of entry for Toyota is in creating a program that has similar characteristics to cloud taxi services, in collaboration with Japan Taxi.

The arrangement is a three-way venture between one of the world’s top carmakers, esteemed telecommunications firm KDDI, and one of Japan’s most prominent taxi services. The Toyota smart taxi project will be an avenue through which the manufacturer is able to gather a huge volume of data to be used for development of autonomous driving. Some in the automotive field are excited about this new effort; CNET’s Kyle Hyatt wrote, “This is great news if you’re in Japan and need to go somewhere.”

The key of the project is the TransLog component. Toyota outfitted each car in Japan Taxi’s fleet with this device; it is hooked up to a cloud artificial intelligence (AI) dispatch platform. By interconnecting all cars and data in this manner, a car service is better able to distribute its fleet in parts of town in a way that optimizes efficiency. Car driving data, video, and GPS information is all fed through TransLog for big data analysis as well, yielding additional value for the automaker.

Beyond information coming in from the cars within a taxi service, the algorithms it uses are enhanced with weather forecasts and smartphone data. With the model in place, the accuracy of placement within the city, per standards set by Japan Taxi and Toyota, was 94%.

China has a taxi service called Didi that is about to launch. Along with Didi, Grab, Lyft, and Uber, Toyota will face strong competition. The main advantages that the carmaker has over smaller taxi companies is that it has a huge research and development background, very deep pockets, and the actual automobiles themselves.

#2 still isn’t too shabby

Toyota lost a bit of its luster this year in terms of brand value. Before we get into that somewhat negative report, it is worth noting that this year is not at all a down-year for the carmaker, winning the 2018 Best Car of the Year from Consumer Reports for the Corolla (compact), Camry (midsized), Sienna (minivan), and Highlander (midsized SUV).

Those awards aside, Toyota’s overall brand value did drop lower than one of the other carmakers in 2018, according to analysis from Brand Finance Group.

The market analyst, reporting on its new Auto 100 list, noted that Toyota was 2nd on its list with Mercedes-Benz at the top. Mercedes rose to the top after its brand was estimated at $43.9 billion – a 24% year-over-year improvement. Prompting the rise in brand value was a rise in sales, which ascended at 9.9% to 2.3 million cars. Meanwhile, Toyota’s brand valuation was placed just below Mercedes-Benz at $43.7 billion, followed by BMW at $41.8 billion. Toyota’s primary challenge, according to the researcher, is to strategize China. Brand Finance noted that Chinese consumers “have shied away from the Japanese manufacturer in favour of more aspirational brands such as Mercedes-Benz.”

Mazda & Toyota join to open Alabama plant

As more carmakers open plants in the United States and elsewhere in North America, Mazda and Toyota decided to go in together on one plant in the US – forming a partnership to open an Alabama facility.

The new entity created by this alliance is Mazda Toyota Manufacturing, USA, Inc. (MTMUS). This recently announced body, which has been in development behind the scenes, is going to start its integrated work in Huntsville, Alabama, with the building of a car factory.

The carmakers are members of the partnership to the same degree, 50/50. 150,000 units of two cars, the Toyota Corolla compact and a new Mazda SUV, will be produced at the plant annually. Each of the automakers is contributing $800 million to the project, for a total $1.6 billion budget.

The new president of MTMUS, Masashi Aihara – also an executive officer at Mazda – said that the blended firm hoped to be beloved within the local area. The notion behind the collaboration, said Aihara, is that the union of the cultures and innovations of the two firms will not just yield great vehicles but also “create a plant employees will be proud to work at and contribute to the further development of the local economy and the automotive industry.”

Moving forward with Toyota repair

Toyota continues to innovate and have one of the highest values of any automaker. However, sometimes you need repair and maintenance that goes beyond simply resetting an indicator light. At Independent Motors, we like the Toyota brand so much that many of our employees own and drive them, including Bill, Independent Motors’ owner. See our Toyota repair philosophy.

VW Repair: How to Change Your Thermostat

Blue Volkswagen Bug and Cloudy Sky - VW Repair - How to Change Your Thermostat

VW Repair: How to Change Your Thermostat

The Jetta model, with a liquid-cooled engine, was first released by Volkswagen in the early 1980s. Volkswagen reintroduced the Beetle model as the New Beetle in 1996. Along with the Golf and the Passat, these two models keep the engine cool using radiator fluid instead of air flow. To avoid overheating, a thermostat gauges temperature and reports readings back to the computer. When the thermostat becomes dysfunctional, it is necessary to take it out and put in a new one.

Here are the steps to perform this Volkswagen repair:

Caution: Before proceeding, note that the engine should not be hot when you make this repair. Be certain that the car has had time to cool prior to the work to protect yourself from serious burns.

Step #1 – Drive the car onto auto service ramps. Position the wheel chock in back of the rear wheel.

Step #2 – Beneath the radiator drain valve, position a drain pan that can hold up to two gallons of coolant. Take a ¼-inch ratchet drive and insert it into the drain plug. Let about two gallons of coolant flow from the radiator. This drainage gets the level of fluid down enough that you will not get it on the engine. Once complete, set aside the drain pan; you will reuse the same fluid.

Step #3 – Find the spot at which the engine connects to the upper radiator hose. Loosen the clamp. Pull the hose out of the housing. You should now see the housing for the thermostat.

Step #4 – Take a socket and disconnect the three bolts that keep the housing attached to the engine. The 14-mm socket is most common, but your model may require a different size. Remove the thermostat housing.

Step #5 – Take the old O-ring from the thermostat housing. Put on a new one. A traditional gasket is not used to create the seal, so the O-ring must serve that function.

Step #6 – Take the thermostat that is no longer wanted from the engine and put the replacement part into position. You will know which end of the thermostat should be inside the engine by the big spring on that end of it.

Step #7 – Position the housing of the thermostat over top of it. Use the bolts to secure it. Check the bolts for rounding, rusting, or other corrosion. Replace them if needed.

Step #8 – Hook up the radiator hose again. Use the clamp to lock it into place.

Step #9 – At the radiator’s left side, you will see the fill cap. Open it, and pour the fluid back into the radiator. Make sure there is sufficient time for the radiator to let out air. Once all the fluid is back in the car, close the cap.

That’s all; you are finished with your Volkswagen repair. You should now have a new thermostat in your car so that you know your internal temperature is being properly protected. Your car is safe to drive without concern of overheating.

Volkswagen News & Information

Now that you have changed the thermostat and have that task out of the way, here are some recent news stories that may interest you as a VW owner:

  • VW sales up 6% in February 2018
  • Large segment of VW workforce will get 45 vacation days
  • 50 VW electric cars for German city
  • VW’s marketing chief aligned with blockchain startup

VW sales up 6% in February 2018

Sales for the US division of Volkswagen rose 6% in February, year-over-year (YOY) vs. February 2017. Volkswagen of America noted that the key reason for the sales bump was that its sports utility vehicles were becoming more popular.

The rise of the VW SUV is also a victory for sustainability, with both of the models sold in the United States (since the Touareg was discontinued here) also manufactured in North America. There were 7,486 sales of the Tiguan, which is built in Mexico, in February. There were 4,766 units of the Atlas, produced in Chattanooga, sold as well. That total of 12,252 represented more than half (54%) of all United States February sales by the automaker.

As SUV numbers rose, Passat numbers fell. The sedan, which is produced alongside the Atlas in Tennessee, backslid 50.3% YOY in February, dropping to 3,036.

While the Passat was a weak point, total sales for the US division of Volkswagen hit 26,660, making it the strongest February for the auto manufacturer since 2014.

To look at the first two months of 2018 together, the start – at 51,404 cars – has been 5.7% better than last year.

Large segment of VW workforce will get 45 vacation days

Approximately 120,000 VW union workers have arrived at an arrangement with the automaker that includes a substantial raise and, for some workers, six additional vacation/sick days.

Beginning in May, the union employees will see their salaries boosted 4.3%. During 2019, VW workers will get an additional 2.3% bonus along with benefits within their pensions. Some workers will be able to forego the bonus pay in exchange for six extra personal days (if they either work the night shift, or have parents or kids who require their care).

For the people who do fall within those parameters and decide to go with the extra six off-days, that will mean those individuals get a total, including the public holidays, of 45 paid days off work annually.

VW, Audi and Porsche cars are all manufactured by Volkswagen Group, which has an entire global workforce of approximately 636,000 – 286,000 of whom are in Germany.

The German members of the VW workforce are able to be powerful in negotiations with the multinational corporation because the economy has been expanding quickly and the unemployment rate is down.

50 VW electric cars for German city

In February, Volkswagen gave 50 e-Golf cars to the City of Hamburg. These zero-emission electric cars were part of a partnership between the carmaker and the German port city.

As the new, virtually silent electric cars were given to the city by Volkswagen, the company’s group strategy for new business director, Ludger Fretzen, noted that the 50 vehicles are a step toward healthier air quality.

“The objective of our partnership with Hamburg is to make urban mobility more environmentally compatible and more efficient,” noted Fretzen, who added that this sustainability effort was aligned with VW’s ongoing, long-term green campaign, Roadmap E.

VW’s marketing chief aligned with blockchain startup

IOTA, a blockchain startup, is loosely considered a distributed ledger technology (DLT). As such, it allows computers, for a very contained consumption of resources (and hence cost), to send data and payments securely.

IOTA created a data marketplace that was officially released in November 2017. Along with a major investment from Robert Bosch Venture Capital, that launch has made IOTA a point of focus for international business.

Given the prominence of IOTA, it is noteworthy that VW’s chief digital officer, Johann Jungwirth, joined the IOTA Foundation’s board. His position will be to guide the plans for the foundation and to make recommendations on how IOTA and the carmaker could work in tandem.

Honest Volkswagen repair in Boulder

While Volkswagen sales may be growing in the United States – and while the carmaker may be taking positive steps for workers, the environment, and data security – there will still be times when you need VW repair or routine maintenance. At Independent Motors, 90% of the work we do is repeat business. See our Volkswagen repair philosophy.