The Toy Shop

Serving Toyota, Lexus, and Scion owners in Cypress, Buena Park, La Palma, and all of Orange County

The Toy Shop - Serving Toyota, Lexus, and Scion owners in Cypress, Buena Park, La Palma, and all of Orange County

How Much is Enough for Downey Auto Owners? Tire Tread Depth

Most Downey motorists know that tires wear out and that the wear has to do with tread depth. Most of us have heard that “bald” tires are dangerous, but most of us picture a tire with no tread at all when we think of a bald tire. And when we take our vehicles in for preventive maintenance, the technician tells us they’re need to be replaced long before all the tread is worn off. Just how much tire tread wear is too much? And how can you tell? Tires are expensive and their condition is important to the safe handling of a vehicle, so it’s essential for Downey motorists to know the answers to these questions.

First of all, it’s important to understand that there may be a legal limit to tread wear. If your tires are worn past this limit, you have to replace them to be in compliance with CA auto safety laws. That’s why measuring your tread wear is part of a vehicle safety inspection.

In some jurisdictions, tread must be at least 1.6 millimeters or 2/32 of an inch thick. This standard has been in effect since 1968. But this standard has recently been called into question, and some Cypress motorists are arguing that it be changed.

The safety issue that has brought this standard under scrutiny is the ability of a vehicle to stop on a wet surface. When a vehicle has trouble stopping, most Cypress auto owners immediately look at the brakes as the source of the problem. But tires are crucial to safe stopping distances because they provide the traction required in a stop.

A tire’s contact with the road surface creates traction, which allows for effective braking. On a wet surface, a tire only has traction if it can get to the road’s surface. So tire tread is designed to channel water out from under the tire to allow it to stay in contact with the road. If the tire can’t shift the water, then it starts to “float.” This condition is called hydroplaning. It is very dangerous for Cypress auto owners since the vehicle won’t stop no matter how hard the driver presses the brakes. Steering control is also lost.

A recent study tested the stopping ability of a passenger car and a full-sized pick-up on a road surface covered with only a dime’s depth of water (less than a millimeter). The vehicles were traveling at 70 mph (112 kph) when they stopped on the wet surface. At 2/32 tread depth, the stopping distance was double that of a new tire. The passenger car was still traveling at 55 mph when it reached the stopping distance it experienced with new tires.

Let’s suppose that you’re on a busy Downey freeway in a light drizzle and a vehicle stops suddenly in front of you. You just bought new tires and you brake hard, missing the vehicle with only inches to spare. If you hadn’t bought those new tires, you would have crashed into that vehicle at 55 mph. That is a major difference.

What if your tires had a tread depth of 4/32? You would have crashed into that vehicle at 45 mph. Still not a good situation. But it’s better.

Now what if you were driving that pick-up truck? You wouldn’t have missed that vehicle in the first place, and you would have crashed at higher rates of speed in both of the other scenarios. The heavier your vehicle, the longer its stopping distance. It’s a matter of physics.

The results of this test has led Consumer Reports and others to ask that the standard for tread wear from 2/32 to 4/32. The increased standard will improve safety on the road and save lives here in CA and nationally.

Of course, until the standard changes, you’ll have to decide whether you’ll be willing to replace your tires a little sooner.

You can use a quarter to tell if your tread wear is down to 4/32. Place the quarter into the tread with George’s head toward the tire and his neck toward you. If the tread doesn’t cover George’s hairline, you’re under 4/32. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the digits of the year.

You can measure the 2/32 tread wear with a penny. If the tread touches the top of Abe’s head, it’s at 2/32. Tires are a costly item for Cypress motorists when it comes to car care. But their condition has a major impact on safety. We need to decide whether to sacrifice safety for economy. Keeping our tread wear above 4/32 is good auto advice.

How to Know When to Change Your Oil At The Toy Shop

Today in the The Toy Shop auto care blog, we’re going to talk to Cypress drivers about oil change intervals. It seems that as engine technology advances, recommended oil change intervals have gotten longer for The Toy Shop customers. High quality oil in a well-engineered truck engine has lead to extended intervals. But it’s also lead to some confusion among Cypress auto owners.

The old mantra “change your oil every three months or three thousand miles, whichever comes first” once applied to every vehicle on Cypress highways. Time and miles take their toll on motor oil. But now, you could have a different oil change recommendation for every car or truck you own.

Cypress drivers are like everybody else, they have a tendency to follow the oil change schedule of the vehicle with the longest interval. Of course, that can lead to problems. How to Know When to Change Your Oil At The Toy ShopFor example, recently four of the world’s largest car makers shortened the published intervals for several of their engine models. They originally published intervals that extended out to a much as 8,000 miles.

In real world Cypress driving, the oil started to sludge up before the recommended change interval. Oil sludge is a thick jelly-like substance. Quite literally petroleum jelly – like Vaseline. This goop was clogging truck small engine passages so the oil wouldn’t flow to some parts of the engine. This resulted in engine damage. We see it too often at The Toy Shop in Cypress.

The car makers began to offer an extended warranty to cover sludge damage. But there was a catch: the vehicle owner had to follow a new, lower service interval, and provide proof of oil changes in order to make a warranty claim.

So here’s the bottom line for Cypress auto owners: with longer oil change intervals, it’s essential to follow them closely. Back in the day of 3 months or 3,000 miles, if you went an extra month or an extra thousand miles, your oil was still fresh enough that it didn’t have time to build up much sludge.

But if your recommended interval is 6,500 miles and you go over another thousand, you’re getting into heavy sludge territory. You absolutely need to follow mileage intervals very closely. And don’t forget your severe service schedule. If you do a lot of stop and go driving in CA, short trips, drive in dusty or polluted Cypress conditions, hot or cold weather, or haul heavy loads, you’re driving in severe service conditions. Your The Toy Shop advisor can help you determine which schedule to follow.

So check your truck owner’s manual or talk with your The Toy Shop service advisor about where and how you drive in Cypress. Should you change your oil closer to the regular schedule, or the severe service schedule? You need to make the call.

Let me give you an example of this. Some newer trucks have an oil change indicator. It has a sophisticated computer algorithm that tracks number of cold starts, engine temperature, RPMs, mileage, and many more variables to come up with a recommendation for when to change the oil.

Depending on driving conditions, the indicator in one test vehicle came on at anywhere from 2,500 miles to almost 7,000 miles. It’s typically just over 4,000 miles. Clearer sometimes, we’re driving easy miles that are easy on the truck – like a long road trip. Sometimes, we’re driving hard CA miles – like towing a heavy trailer or a lot of around town driving. But, usually, it’s a combination of both.

Once again, it’s up to you to make the call as to when to change your oil at The Toy Shop to protect your truck engine. Another place where CA motorists can go wrong is with the type of oil they use. More and more new cars are coming to Cypress owners filled with synthetic oil. Without going into a lot of detail right now, let’s just say that synthetic oil lasts longer and is very resistant to oil sludge.

But it also costs quite a bit more, so some Cypress people are tempted to use conventional oil for their oil changes. Now, it’s always best to use the oil recommended by your auto manufacturer. Check your owner’s manual see if a conventional oil alternative is allowed.

But getting back to the problem, if your truck came from the factory with synthetic oil, the recommended oil change interval is for synthetic oil. If you use conventional oil, you can’t use the synthetic interval. You need to shorten it.

A Cold Day In Cypress

Most Cypress motorists worry about a breakdown or a tire blowout on a busy CA freeway but don’t worry too much about failure of their air conditioning system. A breakdown at the side of the road can be a miserable and dangerous affair during Downey rush hour, but so can a long ride in a hot truck.

A lot of Cypress drivers judge their vehicles’ air conditioning systems as “non-essential” and so may neglect them in favor of repairs and maintenance that keeps the truck running. But preventive maintenance of an air conditioning system is simple and inexpensive, while auto a/c repair can be very costly in Cypress.

La Palma car owners should have the refrigerant in their air conditioning system checked regularly to ensure it is adequate and clean. Air conditioning systems often fail because air and water have contaminated the refrigerant. Air reduces the efficiency of the refrigerant, and water can cause rusting of the system’s components. If your refrigerant is contaminated, the system should be evacuated and recharged. This will actually extend the life of your air conditioning system, preventing costly repairs, and keep it at peak performance.

Inadequate refrigerant indicates a leak in the air conditioning system. Over time, seals in the system can crack, causing the refrigerant to leak out, reducing the efficiency of the system. Replacing these seals will keep your truck air conditioning system at its best, and, again, will help you avoid more costly repairs.

At The Toy Shop, we advise our Cypress customers to run their air conditioner periodically in the winter. This will keep the seals from drying out and cracking, saving them the inconvenience of this relatively minor repair.

Check with your truck owner’s manual or with your Cypress service specialist for information about how often your truck air conditioning system should be serviced.

Another piece of good auto advice: if your truck air conditioner isn’t working or is starting to show signs of breakdown, NOW is the time to get it fixed at The Toy Shop in Cypress. Waiting will only increase the chances that you are in for major repairs and an expensive repair bill.

On a final note, if you own an older vehicle, you should check into upgrading the air conditioning system. Vehicles manufactured before 1993 often contained a refrigerant known as Freon. The manufacture of Freon was outlawed in 1993, leading to an ever-dwindling supply, which leads to an ever-steeper price for Cypress drivers in CA. If your vehicle still uses Freon, you should have it retrofitted to use the new, EPA-approved R134A refrigerant. The retrofit will actually pay for itself by reducing the cost to recharge the refrigerant in your truck.

Remember, preventive maintenance — of your entire car — will keep you on the road. And, in this case, it will help you keep your cool!

Buying the Right Tires and Wheels In Cypress CA

Everyone in Cypress CA eventually replaces their tires, whether it’s because they’re worn out or they’re just looking for something different. There are so many great tire choices in Cypress CA, it can be difficult to sort them out. Let’s group the broad spectrum into several categories that will help in the selection process.

One category is often referred to as “summer tires”. Summer tires are designed to be driven on the road when temperatures are generally above 45 degrees. Their tread design is optimized for traction on dry roads in Cypress CA and they’re also able to effectively displace water on rainy roads.

Cypress Selecting Tires and Wheels Now the rubber compound gets a little hard and stiff as temperatures drop below 45 degrees as it occasionally does here in Cypress CA. And the tread which handles dry roads so well, can get packed with snow or mud – which provides very little traction in those conditions.

So if you live where its summer all year round, these tires will work well for you. If you like maximum performance in warm weather, but still live where it gets cold and snowy, you’ll want to change your summer tires for winter tires as the weather starts to change.

Summer tires can be purchased with an emphasis on handling performance, smooth ride or long life. Your Cypress CA tire professional at The Toy Shop can help you find the right tire for the way you drive.

As you can imagine, winter tires are designed to work very well in snow and ice. Their tread is designed with many channels and grooves that throw the snow out of the tread as the wheel turns. This means the tire is always be able to bite into the snow.

The rubber compound used in winter tires is specially formulated to be flexible at temperatures below 45 degrees. This maximizes cold weather traction. When it gets warmer, the softer rubber will wear faster on warm dry pavement than summer tires, so change them out once the weather has turned.

There’s a range of tires within the winter tire category. If you live where there’s a lot of snow and ice, look for the mountain and snowflake icon that signifies a severe snow rating. If you have milder winters and still want a performance component, they make a winter tire for you as well.

For many people, an all-season tire is the answer. You will give up some of the performance at the extreme ends of the summer tire/ winter tire spectrum, but you will find a long wearing tire that gives both good highway performance and winter traction on our Cypress CA roads.

Within the all-season category, there are many choices that you tire advisor can help you evaluate.

The Toy Shop
5051 Lincoln Ave.
Cypress, CA 90630
714.826.1171

Outside of these three main categories, some people in Cypress with trucks and SUVs like a tire that is designed for both on-highway and off-highway use. They can handle the rocks and bumps off-road, but still work well on the street. Again, many options depending on the relative emphasis on on-road verses off-road.

You may want new wheels to go with your new tires – well, there are hundreds and hundreds of styles to choose from. That’s a matter of personal taste. If you want to change the size of your wheels and tires, do get some professional help.

The computers on your vehicle are programmed to the size of wheel and tire combination that comes from the factory. Tire size affects various computer controlled functions like anti-lock brakes, traction and stability controls, speedometer and odometer. Of course, you want these systems to work properly. The computers can be re-programmed for different tire sizes.

And if you want to increase the size of your wheels and tires, you’ll want so help to make sure they’ll fit in the wheel wells of your vehicle without rubbing during turns or over bumps.

The The Toy Shop Guide To Caring For Your Transmission

Most cars and trucks have automatic transmissions, yet a lot of Whittier motorists only have a fuzzy understanding about what a transmission does. Think back to the last time you rode a bike in Whittier. You started out in a lower gear and shifted to higher gears as you went faster. Down shift for hills, stuff like that. Think of your legs as the engine – there’s an ideal speed you can pedal and you change gears to leverage the work you’re doing.

Lower gears for power on hills or for starting out. Higher gears for more speed. That’s what the automatic transmission does – it automatically starts in lower gears and shifts up to higher gears to go faster on CA interstates. And automatically shifts back down to climb Whittier hills, pass or start up again.

truck automatic transmissions have certainly gotten more sophisticated in recent years. They have more speeds than before: the base is four speeds, five is very common.

At The Toy Shop, we routinely service transmissions with six speeds and several have seven or even eight speeds. As you can imagine, this means more parts. Any they all have to fit into roughly the same space.

Transmissions are computer controlled these days, with some high end transmissions having two or three computers. Transmissions are engineered to last. But they are also engineered to tighter tolerances. If a portion of the transmission is starved for lubrication, it can lead to failure.

Not enough fluid can starve the transmission or dirty transmission fluid can clog small passages in the transmission, then the lubricant is blocked and can’t get to all the parts to protect them, so they wear out prematurely. The technicians at The Toy Shop see far too many transmissions that needlessly failed due to neglect.

And, as you can imagine, repairing one of these new transmissions at any Cypress service center can be quite costly. That’s why car makers have a schedule for how often you should change the fluid and what type of fluid to use.

It’s really important for Whittier motorists to carefully follow the manufacturer’s transmission service schedule.

At The Toy Shop in Cypress, we hope you never become shiftless in Whittier because you didn’t take care of your transmission.