We have FREE maintenance inspections.
Our shop offers FREE pick-up and delivery.
We also offer marine repair, maintenance, sales and parts for all boats and PWC.
Feel free to call or email us to schedule your next appointment.
Monday - Friday
8:00 AM - 5:00 PM
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Make Your Vehicle Last
We live in such a disposable society. It's amazing all the stuff we throw away. New stuff comes out so fast, we just toss the old and move on. In the old days Ontario folks were real sticklers about taking care of their things. If something got lost or ruined by neglect, tough - they had to do without. Most Thorold car owners couldn't afford new cars very often, so they had to make them last as long as they could.
It's a good thing that cars are more reliable these days for Thorold drivers. They just don't break down as often. And the good news for us Ontario penny pinchers is that a modern car can easily go 200,000 miles/320,000 km with proper care. The engineering and the manufacturing quality is tremendous. The missing ingredient is us Thorold car owners making sure we follow the vehicle manufacturer's recommended maintenance schedules.
Every time you go a couple thousand extra miles between oil changes you have created an opportunity for sludge to be formed and clog passages. Then some SUV parts don't get properly lubricated and they start to wear out faster. Skip a cooling system service, and the corrosion inhibitors become depleted, and the radiator starts being damaged - one step closer to a failure. Same thing is true for transmission service, power brakes, fuel system cleaning - really everything on your schedule.
It is probably even more important for older SUVs. Those engines and other systems have had more time to get dirty, so they are a bit more stressed anyway. But it is never too late to get back on track with your auto maintenance and to hold off further damage.
And it really does start with the oil change. When you get a full service oil change in Thorold at Hartzel Automotive & Marine, we top off all your fluids and check for other items that are on your maintenance schedule. It's like your safety net. Go in for an oil change on time, and let your knowledgeable Hartzel Automotive & Marine service professional help you keep track of the rest.
Some things are going to wear out along the way, things like alternators, water pumps, etc. But fixing those at Hartzel Automotive & Marine is cheaper than a a costly new car payment for Thorold motorists. And taking care of problems early means they have less time to mess with other things. It is like having high cholesterol - you don't want to wait for a heart attack before you address it.
Hartzel Automotive & Marine On Your Serpentine Belt
Today we’re going to be talking about serpentine belts for our Thorold, Ontario customers. Let’s start by talking about the accessories that are driven by the serpentine belt. First is the alternator. That’s the important device that makes electricity to power the SUV and recharge the battery. Then there’s the air conditioning compressor that makes cool air for you while you're driving around Ontario in the summer.
The power steering and power brake pumps are driven by the serpentine belt in most Thorold auto owners' vehicles. Those pumps provide essential pressure that assists your steering and braking.
In many SUVs, the water pump is driven by the serpentine belt. The water pump is what circulates the coolant that protects your engine. In some cars around Thorold, Ontario, the water pump is driven by the timing belt.
The radiator cooling fans on some SUVs are also driven by the serpentine belt. Some have separate electric motors. That’s really a lot of essential work for one belt.
But modern engine design has a single belt that snakes around the front of the engine and drives most if not all of these accessories. Serpentine belts do a lot of important work, but they’re tough and can last Thorold car owners for thousands of miles.
Just how long will they last? That’ll vary for each individual car in the Thorold, Ontario area. Your automobile manufacturer will have a recommendation for when it should be changed, but it could need it sooner. The good news is that a visual inspection at Hartzel Automotive & Marine can detect a belt that’s getting close to failing.
Your knowledgeable Hartzel Automotive & Marine service professional can look at the belt: if it has more than three or four cracks per inch, it needs to be replaced. A deep crack that’s more than half the depth of the belt - replace. Frayed, missing pieces, a shiny glazed look? Toss it.
What’s involved in replacing the belt at Hartzel Automotive & Marine? First the old belt is removed. Then a new one is fitted around all the pulleys for the accessories and the drive. There’s a special pulley called a tensioner.
This pulley is mounted to the engine block with a spring loaded arm. Its essential job is to apply the correct amount of tension to the belt to keep it from getting loose and maybe slipping off. Because the spring in the tensioner pulley wears out, AutoNetTV and the automotive professionals at Hartzel Automotive & Marine recommend Thorold car owners replace them at the same time as the belt. It just makes sense.
What are the warning signs that there’s a problem with the serpentine belt? You may hear a squealing sound from under the hood when accelerating around our Thorold streets. A loose belt might give you a slow, slapping sound.
What do you do if your belt breaks? If you’ve actually had that happen on a busy St Catharines freeway, it can be a little scary. The first thing Thorold motorists usually notice is that they have no power steering or power brakes. Don’t panic – you can still steer and brake, but you’ll have to do the work. It’ll be harder to steer and you’ll need more time and effort to stop, so plan accordingly.
Your dashboard will light up will all kinds of warnings. You’ll see a warning about your cooling system if you have a water pump that’s driven by the serpentine belt. This is critical because without your cooling system working, your engine will overheat. If you don’t stop you’ll have massive engine damage, maybe to the point that you need a new engine. Open your windows and turn the heater on full blast to provide a little engine cooling. Pull over as quickly as you safely can!
The battery light will come on because the alternator isn’t working. If your car’s water pump isn’t driven by the serpentine belt, you’re not in danger of overheating so you can drive a little further if necessary. But the battery will run down to the point where the car will just shut off. You don’t want that to happen while you’re driving in our local Thorold, Ontario traffic.
Remember, Thorold motorists can avoid this stressful scenario if they replace their SUV serpentine belt on schedule. Ask your knowledgeable Hartzel Automotive & Marine service advisor to check your belts and hoses from time to time so you can take care of them if they need to be replaced prematurely.
Hartzel Automotive & Marine 96 Ormond St. S. Thorold, Ontario L2V 4V6 905.684.0050
It’s About Time: Following Service Intervals at Hartzel Automotive & Marine
There are a lot of things in life that Thorold residents have to do on a regular basis. We wash dishes every day, do our laundry and mow our lawns every week, and pay the bills every month. We should go to our Thorold dentist twice a year and see our doctor for a check-up once a year. When we don’t stay on schedule with these routines, it can lead to embarrassing, painful or expensive consequences.
Scheduled maintenance is also part of good car care. Thorold drivers should take their SUVs in regularly for a good check-up. But many St Catharines folks struggle to remember, or actually even ignore, this auto advice. When it comes to our cars, we’re more likely to listen to “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” than “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Yet it is the second adage that is the more applicable one.
Regular brushing treatments prevent cavities. Filling a cavity prevents a more painful and more expensive root canal. In the same way, replacing coolant/antifreeze, for example, vehicle can prevent cooling system leaks. Repairing leaks can prevent engine failure. So why do we procrastinate?
One reason might be that “ignorance is bliss.” We can see dirty dishes on the counter and how long our grass is getting; we can smell how dirty our clothes are; but we don’t notice how dirty our transmission fluid is getting. However, trouble in our SUVs is like trouble in our bodies—ignorance is not bliss. High blood pressure can lead to heart damage, and inadequate coolant can lead to engine damage. However, we can’t know about either one unless we take the time for a diagnostic check-up at Hartzel Automotive & Marine in Thorold.
Another reason us Thorold motorists put off scheduled maintenance for our vehicles may be that we are simply intimidated by automotive care. After all, we understand how to take care of clothing, dishes, lawns, etc. Most of us have a basic working knowledge of our bodies and feel qualified to explain how we feel. But our vehicles? What exactly does routine, preventive maintenance involve? Most Thorold motorists don’t know.
Of course, our SUVs come with owner’s manuals that do a good job of explaining what routine maintenance is and how often our vehicles need it. But how many Thorold car owners actually read them?
The good news is that all Thorold car owners have to do is remember to take our vehicles to a reputable, service center like Hartzel Automotive & Marine in Thorold. Like a good doctor, your knowledgeable Hartzel Automotive & Marine service professional will be able to tell you what maintenance and service your car needs and when. The service center can track your car’s maintenance records—just as a doctor maintains your health records—so that your vehicle is getting the service it needs in a timely manner.
Here are some guidelines to help Thorold auto owners understand the basics of preventive maintenance: Fluids. If it’s a liquid, it has to be replaced regularly. Your owner’s manual will tell you how often. Liquids include oil, transmission fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid and differential fluid. There may be others. Check with your owner’s manual or your service center for specifics on your vehicle.
Tires. They need routine, scheduled care to wear well. Primarily, they need air. But they also need to be rotated, balanced and aligned.
Brakes. Brakes and shock absorbers wear out. There’s no way to avoid it. Worn parts need to be replaced.
Fuel. Obviously your SUV needs gas on a regular basis. But the fuel system also needs periodic maintenance. Air filters and fuel filters get dirty and need to be replaced. The fuel system needs to be kept clean.
These are the basics of car maintenance. Of course, there are other parts of your car that need to be inspected regularly, such as the battery, exhaust system, belts, etc. These parts have longer life cycles than your fluids, tires, brakes and filters, and so don’t need to be replaced as often.
If you are taking your SUV in for the basics, then your Thorold service center will let you know when it is time for an inspection of these other things. Or they may notice a problem when doing routine maintenance and let you know. Either way, you’ll get a heads-up when your vehicle needs more attention.
If you’re not convinced yet that your SUV needs regular service, consider this: not doing so will cost you in decreased gas mileage, lower performance and compromised safety. These could lead to pricey repair bills and costly accidents.
Just like a good dental check-up, a good auto check-up at Hartzel Automotive & Marine in Thorold can save you from experiencing embarrassing, costly and painful situations.
Drive Defensively In Ontario
Car care is a key part of auto safety in Thorold. But the most important thing we can do to improve safety on Ontario roads is to drive safely.
Defensive driving is safe driving. And defensive driving is all about attitude. You have to decide that you will be a safe driver in Ontario, no matter what anyone else is doing.
Thorold motorists can start with awareness. Always maintain awareness of your surroundings, the road conditions, other vehicles on the Thorold road or highway and road hazards. Have you ever suddenly realized that you have arrived somewhere, but you don’t really remember driving there? That is unsafe driving.
Never assume that other Thorold motorists are paying attention. You be the one on alert. You be the one to take initiative to stay out of the way of other Ontario drivers. And don’t let familiarity dull your alertness. Remind yourself to pay as close attention while driving on the roads near your Thorold home as you would in unfamiliar territory around Ontario.
Prepare your SUV so you can give the road your full attention. Secure passengers and pets before leaving the driveway. Secure loose items in your SUV so they can’t become projectiles if you have to brake suddenly. If children or pets become a distraction while driving, pull over and take care of the problem before re-entering traffic. Unclutter your windows. Take down the danglies from your rearview mirror. And don’t use your SUV dashboard as an office. Move distractions and clutter to the backseat. Keep your windshield clear.
Properly maintain your SUV. Preventive maintenance doesn’t just prevent repairs; it prevents unsafe vehicles. Make sure your tires, lights, brakes, suspension, alignment and steering get regular check-ups at Hartzel Automotive & Marine. Also, listen to your knowledgeable Hartzel Automotive & Marine tech when he gives you auto advice about other systems in your SUV. Knowing about the wear and tear on your SUV can help you avoid dangerous situations.
Avoid driving when you are sleepy or angry. Get a good night’s sleep before a road trip in Ontario, and learn to set aside relationship, job or other issues while you are in a vehicle. Again, you have to take charge of your own safety. Don’t daydream in your vehicle. Also, talking to passengers can be a distraction. Keep your mind on the road. Conversations may keep you from daydreaming or excessive boredom on a long trip, but always keep your driving foremost in your mind.
Maintain a proper speed. Driving too fast is dangerous on crowded Thorold roads, but driving too slowly can cause accidents, too. At night, don’t overdrive your headlights. Your stopping distance needs to be shorter than the distance your headlights are illuminating.
Never drink and drive. Alcohol plays a part in half of all fatal accidents in Ontario and nationally. Also, don’t drive drugged. Pay attention to the warning labels on any medications you are taking.
Other St Catharines motorists need to see you and know what you want to do. Use your SUV turn signals, and stay out of other Ontario drivers’ blind spots.
If you can, avoid driving over debris in the road. You can damage your SUV or end up in an accident. Of course, if swerving to avoid the debris is dangerous, then slow down and navigate as best you can. Do what you can to alert other motorists to the problem. You may want to pull to the side of the Niagara Falls road and report the debris or move it to the side of the road, if you can do so safely.
Never follow too closely on St Catharines roads or highways. Observe the two-second rule. Choose an object ahead such as a tree or traffic sign. As the car in front of you passes it, start counting: one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand. If you reach the object before you’re done, you’re too close. Back off.
If you are on one of the Ontario interstates, or if you are hauling a heavy load, or if you are tired, or if in any way you are not the model of the alert and attentive driver, then increase that two-second rule to three seconds. Give yourself an added measure of safety. If the St Catharines weather is bad, increase the rule to five seconds.
Inevitably, someone always pulls in front of you when you are trying to follow the “seconds” rules. Don’t get mad. Just back off and leave them to their bad driving habits. Remember, you are not going to give up your safety for anyone else’s cussedness. It’s always a bad trade.
If someone is following you too closely, pull over and let them pass. Give yourself plenty of time to get where you’re going. If you’re late, worry about it after you’re there, not while you’re on the road.
If you see a vehicle driving erratically in Thorold, stay away. Take the next right or the next exit off the expressway. Notify the Thorold police as soon as you are safely stopped.
And of course, don’t be the idiot driver we all complain about in Thorold. Don’t contest your right-of-way, don’t race to beat someone to a merge, and don’t cut into someone else’s two seconds of space. Winning these types of ego trips may end up losing you your SUV—or worse, your life or the life of a friend.
The professional automotive team at Hartzel Automotive & Marine wants all Thorold motorists to stay smart and stay safe.
Under Pressure in Thorold: TPMS
Have you noticed an increase in price when you get a flat fixed in Thorold or your tires rotated? It might be the result of your TPMS, or Tire Pressure Monitoring System.
The federal government began requiring a TPMS system on 2008 model year passenger vehicles and light trucks. Some 2006 and 2007 models may have them as well. The system has a warning light that is mounted on the dashboard that will go on if one of the tires becomes severely under inflated.
Why the new requirement? Because underinflated tires are the number one cause of tire failure. Tire blowouts cause harmful and sometimes fatal accidents. Underinflated tires also need longer stopping distance and can skid, both of which also present dangers on Ontario roads. Many flat tires can also be prevented by proper tire inflation, and though this may seem an economic consideration, Thorold motorists who have changed a flat on the side of the road recognize that this has serious safety concerns as well.
Advances in tire technology, specifically the development of radial tires has made it harder for Thorold auto owners to recognize when a tire is underinflated. At a recommended pressure of 35 psi, a tire is seriously underinflated at 26 psi. But the tire doesn’t look low on air until it reaches 20 psi. This raises concerns about vehicle owners being able to tell when their SUVs are a safety hazard on the road. Hence, the TPMS.
So, like seatbelts, the important TPMS system is expected to save a lot of lives. The technology has been in use in race cars for years, and now it’s being mandated for all passenger cars, SUV’s, mini-vans and pick-ups. Besides warning Thorold drivers when their tires need air, the system is required to indicate when it is malfunctioning.
This increased safety won’t come without increased costs to Thorold car owners. Estimates regarding the cost of maintaining the TPMS on your vehicle run from $27 to $100. Also, there will be an added cost for tire repair. Thorold service centers have had to purchase new scanning equipment to work with TPMS sensors and other important equipment to repair tires and wheels equipped with TPMS. Hartzel Automotive & Marine service advisors have to be trained to use the new equipment. These costs will have to be passed on to Thorold auto owners.
Further, whenever a tire is changed, the Hartzel Automotive & Marine service specialist will have to deal with the TPMS. Sensors will have to removed, then re-installed and re-activated. Sometimes the act of changing a tire will damage a sensor, and it will need to be replaced. These extra services will come at an added charge to Thorold auto owners.
Tire rotations will require that the TPMS be re-programmed. And whenever a vehicle’s battery is disconnected, the TPMS will require re-programming as well.
The TPMS itself will require attention – it contains batteries and sensors that will wear out and need to be replaced.
So, if you’ve noticed an increase in the cost for car care at your Thorold tire center, it may not be the economy. It could be the cost of the TPMS in newer vehicles. Before you dash off an angry letter to Congress, however, stop and consider what you’re paying for. If predictions are correct, the TPMS will save lives, and that will be a benefit to all of us.
Of course, no warning system will save lives in Thorold if motorists don’t pay attention to it. And remember that the warning doesn’t come on until the tire is severely under inflated – you still should check your tire pressure at least once a month. Thorold drivers can prevent accidents and potentially save lives without a warning system by keeping their tires properly inflated.