It Pays to Take Care of Your Transmission at Malugani Tire

Posted June 19, 2017 12:03 PM

If you've been paying attention, you've noticed that vehicle engines are getting more and more powerful in Mill Valley. At the same time, they are getting better and better fuel economy. I've gotta tell 'ya, most of that's because of technological advances in transmissions. To get a better understanding of why that is, let's talk bicycles.

You've probably seen plenty of cyclists on Mill Valley roads. Perhaps you ride yourself. Then you know that a cyclist's cadence is the number of times per minute he or she pedals. The ideal pedal speed is the zone where they can most efficiently generate power over a sustained period of time. The experienced California cyclist uses her gears to keep her pedal speed in the ideal zone whether she's climbing a hill, cruising on a flat stretch or killing a downhill.

Think of it this way: if you have a 1-speed bike, you really have to pump hard to get up to speed. Your top speed is limited by how fast as you can pedal. And if you're climbing a steep California hill – forget about it.

Now let's add a couple of gears: one lower and another one higher. With the lower first gear, you can get up to your ideal pedal speed more quickly. When you shift to second, your pedal speed drops below ideal for a while as you work to get back to peak efficiency. Same thing happens when you shift to third, but now you can go much faster than you could with a 1-speed bike using the same effort. Add more gears and you can see that it's much easier to maintain ideal pedal speed. The result, quicker starts, better hill climbing, higher top speed and, most of all, a lot less fatigue for the Mill Valley rider.

Like a cyclist on a bike, every vehicle engine has an ideal engine speed called its power band. When an engine is running in that zone, it can make power very efficiently. It's the vehicle transmission's job to keep the engine in the power band over a wide range of operating conditions. Today 5 or 6 speed automatic transmissions are pretty much the minimum, and 7 and 8 speeds are fairly common in Mill Valley.

Obviously these sophisticated transmissions are very expensive. In fact, next to your vehicle engine, your transmission is the most expensive component in your vehicle, so it pays to take good care of it. Your manufacturer has a recommended service interval for changing your old, contaminated transmission fluid. Servicing your transmission on schedule at Malugani Tire keeps it operating at its best and can prevent costly damage. Ask your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire advisor if it's time for transmission service. Come see why smart Mill Valley drivers trust their transmissions to Malugani Tire.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Automotive Tips from Malugani Tire: Tire Replacement Overview

Posted June 11, 2017 1:30 AM

Tires are an expensive purchase, so knowing when tires should be replaced is important for Mill Valley drivers. Tires will just wear out with normal use. The depth of the tread on your tire determines how well it will stop, start and steer – especially in wet conditions. 4/32th of an inch (3.2 mm) of tire tread is considered a safe amount of tread.

Uneven tread wear can be a symptom of other problems, and simply replacing your tires will not prevent the same uneven wear from happening to the new tires. At Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, we can inspect your tires for excessive or uneven wear. Unusual wear may lead to further inspection of steering, suspension or alignment problems. We can help with necessary repairs and with getting you the right tires for your needs.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Malugani Tire Automotive Tips: Diagnostic Service

Posted June 6, 2017 12:29 PM

Imagine waking up one morning with a stomach ache. You pick up the phone, call the doctor’s office and say, “I’ve got a really bad tummy ache. How much will it cost to make me feel better?” Of course you wouldn’t do that. You know that there could be a lot of reasons for your symptoms and that the doctor will have to examine you, ask some questions and probably run some tests before she can tell you what’s wrong and give you treatment options.

This same scenario plays out every day at California auto repair facilities. When the cause of the concern isn’t obvious, the car will need to undergo a diagnostic examination. The typical car has about 30,000 parts, including several networked computers and miles of wiring. Finding exactly what is wrong can be very complicated and take some time. The most experienced technicians at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley are the ones who tackle the difficult diagnostic jobs. Once they have determined the cause of the trouble, they can work out the plan for how to fix it and tell you how much it will cost.

When you think about it this way, it makes perfect sense that, 1) the Malugani Tire service advisor cannot provide an estimate before the diagnosis is done, and 2) there is a charge for auto diagnostic services in Mill Valley. You expect to pay for an office visit to the doctor and for any necessary tests before you can be presented with your treatment options and costs; same goes for your vehicle.

We know it can be frustrating for Mill Valley drivers when something is wrong with your car and you aren’t sure what is going to be involved in getting it fixed. We are passionate about helping you through the process, communicating with you at each step along the way. We have highly trained diagnostic technicians and technologically-advanced diagnostic equipment to uncover the cause of your trouble. We use quality replacement parts to help make sure you stay on the road after the repair is done. That’s our prescription for automotive peace of mind.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800


At Malugani Tire we install quality NAPA replacement parts.

 



Check Engine Light Diagnosis at Malugani Tire

Posted May 30, 2017 9:29 AM

Hello Mill Valley . Have you ever had your Check Engine light come on? Did you panic? Or just scowl and ignore it? What should you do? Pull to the side of the road and call a tow truck? Or just keep driving? What does that little light really mean for Mill Valley drivers?

First of all, the Check Engine or Service Engine light does indicate that something is wrong. That's why it is called a warning light. But the something that is wrong might be a loose gas cap, or it might be serious vehicle engine trouble. That's why Mill Valley residents often don't know how to respond to it.

The Check Engine light has two modes: it flashes or it stays on. A flashing light is serious. You need to get your vehicle to Malugani Tire in Mill Valley ASAP. No, you don't need to call a tow truck, but, yes, you can't wait to get your car serviced. If your Check Engine light is on and flashing, you should not tow trailers, haul heavy loads or drive at California freeway speeds. Any of these could lead to serious damage that could result in repair bills for Mill Valley drivers who ignore it.

steady Check Engine light is less serious, but that doesn't mean it can be ignored. You should plan to get your vehicle inspected at your local Mill Valley automotive service center at the first realistic opportunity. Not the first convenient opportunity, but the first realistic one.

Modern automobiles have a computer in the engine that monitors and controls many of the engine functions. When the computer senses something wrong, it first tries to fix the problem itself by adjusting the vehicle engine. If the problem persists, the computer signals the Check Engine light to come on.

This process stores a trouble code inside the vehicle engine's computer. Your service advisor at Malugani Tire scans the computer and reads the code. This does not tell the technician exactly what is wrong with the car, but it gives him a good idea as to where to start looking.

Of course, the best thing to do is to keep that pesky Check Engine light from coming on in the first place. Good vehicle care and routine preventive maintenance go a long way to keeping your vehicle out of your Mill Valley auto repair shop. But, if that light does come on, be smart. Take care of the problem early, and take care of it professionally.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Malugani Tire Automotive Tips: Alternator

Posted May 23, 2017 5:39 AM

Your alternator makes electricity to start and run your engine and all of the vital electrical systems in your vehicle. That’s everything from the on-board computers to the turn signals. And of course there is the entertainment system, seat heaters, power windows and everything you plug into the power outlets. After your alternator makes enough electricity to do all that, it recharges your battery with what’s left over.

When Mill Valley drivers constantly have a low or dead battery, the alternator is usually a prime suspect. However, the alternator is just one vital component of the starting/charging system, and a problem with any of the other components could be the actual cause.

In addition to the alternator, the charging/starting system includes the battery, starter, serpentine belt system and all of the electrical cables that connect them. Your Malugani Tire service advisor has a systematic process of testing components and connections to get to the source of your trouble. The initial symptoms determine where to begin the diagnostic process, and he follows the procedure until he tracks down the culprit.

For example, diagnostic tests at Malugani Tire could reveal that the alternator is not generating enough electricity to keep the battery charged. Is the alternator bad? Not necessarily. A worn serpentine belt tensioner could be allowing the belt that spins the alternator to slip. So the perfectly good alternator is not spinning at the proper speed. The solution for Mill Valley drivers is to replace the serpentine belt system – not the alternator.

The good news for Mill Valley drivers is that our highly-trained technicians at Malugani Tire can properly diagnose all your vehicle troubles and make the necessary repairs to get you back on the road in Mill Valley.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800


At Malugani Tire we install quality NAPA replacement parts.



Automotive Tips from Malugani Tire: Wiper Blade Options

Posted May 15, 2017 11:04 AM

Wiper blades are critically important to Mill Valley drivers for good driving visibility and safety. When it’s time to replace your wiper blades, there are a number of different wiper blade designs and grades. Mill Valley drivers should always use at least the design or grade that came with their vehicle.

If you live in California where there is a lot of wet weather, flying insects, or you do a lot of highway driving, you may want to upgrade to a more advanced design or premium quality wiper blade. Your friendly and professional Malugani Tire service advisor can share the options available for your vehicle and help you decide which wiper blades are optimal for you.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



When You Hear the Crash in Mill Valley: What to Do After an Accident

Posted May 7, 2017 12:27 PM

Motorists in North America drive about 3 trillion miles/4.8 trillion kilometers every year. There are over 250+ million licensed drivers, and approximately 6.2 million accidents happen every year. Unfortunately, if we're going to drive vehicles, there are going to be accidents. Knowing what to do in case of an accident can help reduce the stress and cost of the situation. It can also protect you from false claims, incorrect judgments and unjust liabilities.

Never leave the scene of an accident. This is a crime, even if the accident is not your fault. If you leave the scene, it is referred to as a “hit-and-run,” and the fines are steep in California. You can even lose your driver's license or spend some time in jail. If someone has been injured in the accident, most laws require you to help them. You must call for help. If you can, you must also render first aid.

Call 9-1-1 or get someone else to call 9-1-1 as soon as possible. Tell the operator if there are injuries or any circumstances that require fire services, such as leaking gas, broken utility lines or, of course, flames. Put out flares, turn on your flashers or lift your hood to warn other Mill Valley motorists that there's been an accident.

File a police report. This can seem like a hassle when there are no injuries and only minor damage to vehicles. But you'd be surprised at the lawsuits and false claims that can arise from fender benders. You want a police report to protect yourself.

Don't talk about the accident with anyone except the police. After an accident, adrenaline is pumping and emotions are running high, and our first reaction is often to relive and recount our experience. Don't. Again, people can and will use your words against you, and in a highly emotional state, you may not say exactly what you mean. Entire court cases have hinged on the meaning of one misplaced word. Talk to the police. Don't admit guilt or fault, not to the police or to anyone else. People often feel guilt after an accident, but later, when details are analyzed, it turns out not to be their fault. Don't say, “I'm sorry,” but rather, “Can I help? What can I do?” Sympathy has often been misconstrued as an admission of fault. On paper, your words will sound more sterile than at the accident, and they can be used against you.

Collect contact information from everyone involved in the accident. Get the officer's name and badge number. Get the other driver's name, address, phone number, date of birth, driver's license number and expiration and insurance information. Get a description of the other vehicle as well as its license plate number and vehicle identification number (VIN). Most insurance companies don't keep records of license plate numbers, so the VIN is the best identifier you have of another vehicle.

This is going to be too much to remember once you're in an accident. So write down or make a note on your phone with the information you need.

Ask witnesses to wait for the police to arrive. If they can't, then get their contact information. Ask them to jot down what they saw. If witnesses refuse to give you their names, write down their license plate numbers. That way the police can find them if necessary.

After the accident, call your insurance company. Also, if you have or think you might have an injury that did not require immediate care at the accident, contact your physician right away.

There's a lot Mill Valley drivers can do to prevent accidents. Defensive driving. Good car care and preventive maintenance. But if an accident does happen in the Mill Valley area, we should be prepared to handle it well. It will ease the stress of the situation and protect us from potential legal and financial harm. Be prepared. It's good auto advice in every situation. Ask our pros at Malugani Tire for more safe driving tips the next time you visit.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Malugani Tire and the Maintenance Mindset

Posted May 1, 2017 10:55 AM

When it comes to their vehicles, some Mill Valley residents don't have a maintenance mindset. They know they need to take care of their cars, but it just seems really hard to get them to remember to do it. Mill Valley drivers generally accept that many things in life require regular maintenance but just may not have applied it to their vehicles.

Here's something that will help: The key to good vehicle maintenance starts with the oil change. Think about it – when you go in for a full-service oil change, your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor will check all your fluids. If one of them is low, he can look for the reason. If your serpentine belt is cracked, he'll see it and let you know. Corroded battery cable – they've got you covered. And at Malugani Tire, we check to see if your vehicle manufacturer has recommended any services at your current mileage.

The oil change becomes kind of a focal point, a way to check in to see what needs to be done. The fact is that vehicle inspection surveys consistently reveal that over 80% of vehicles have one or more unperformed repair or maintenance service. Vehicles are generally very reliable and can take a lot of abuse and neglect. But, you have to remember that vehicles are complicated machines. There are parts and fluids that are critical to their operation. Without them, the vehicle won't run at all.

So when you come in to Malugani Tire for an oil change, you get advice from your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor and a reminder for recommended services so you can avoid a total failure. And remember that your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor can help you work out a maintenance and repair plan, prioritizing and scheduling the work to make sure you and your family are safe, and helping you avoid expensive breakdowns.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Beware of Cheap Tires in Mill Valley

Posted April 24, 2017 8:34 AM

Do you like to shop for shoes in Mill Valley?
When buying a running shoe, is quality important?
Does durability matter as long as the shoes look fabulous?
Would you rather have one pair of long lasting shoes or two pairs of lower quality shoes at the same price?

Is the warranty important when buying tires?

Mill Valley drivers should also think about the safety aspect of tires. The tires do a lot of work – they carry the weight of the vehicle and you and your passengers. You want to be sure they hold the road and provide good traction on California freeways and surface streets. If you carry heavy loads or tow a trailer on California highways, the tires need a high load rating.

Ask your friendly and knowledgeable Mill Valley tire professional at Malugani Tire. I think it's important that Mill Valley residents understand the effect of price on a tire's quality, performance and durability. When I was a kid, my dad would say, “Pay twice as much and buy half as many.”

The same principle applies to tires. The major tire brands that you're familiar with in Mill Valley are known as Tier 1 tires. These tires are high quality and well-engineered. Comparable vehicle Tier 1 tires are usually priced similarly.

Stepping down, you come to private label tires. Some large California tire store chains carry tires with their own brand. It's important to know that most private label tires are built by the same Tier 1 companies that you are familiar with – so you are pretty safe in choosing them. To be sure, you can ask your Malugani Tire tire professional which manufacturer makes their private brand.

The lowest priced tires on the market in Mill Valley are Tier 3 tires which are usually imported from China or South America. Since you get what you pay for, you can't expect a Tier 3 tire to deliver the same performance and durability as the others.


What's the difference in the tires with high mileage warranties? It's the rubber compounds and the amount of tread material. As you might expect, you'll pay more for the longer-lasting tire.

Your tires are the only parts of your vehicle that touch the road. You're only as safe as your tires are well built. Buy value – not price.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Why Synthetic Oil Is Best for Mill Valley Drivers

Posted April 16, 2017 3:51 AM

Hello Mill Valley! Today's Malugani Tire vehicle care topic is: Synthetic Oil vs. Petroleum Based Oil. Synthetic motor oil is a substitute for petroleum based oil. If you aren't currently using it, why not? Synthetic motor oil maximizes engine power and fuel economy. To see why, we'd need a microscope, so we'll have to settle for using our imaginations. The molecules of conventional motor oil are long hydrocarbon chains. Synthetic motor oil, on the other hand, has uniform, round molecules. Which is slipperier, a pile of pencils or a pile of marbles?

Synthetic motor oil lubricates better because there's less friction. This results in myriad benefits: better wear protection, cooler operating temperatures, more power and better fuel economy. And synthetic oil doesn't sludge up like conventional oil so it prevents those small oil passages from clogging up. (We see that all the time at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley.)

Some manufacturers are extending oil change intervals for many models. The added protection of synthetic oil covers you for these longer intervals. Talk with your Malugani Tire service advisor about how you drive in Mill Valley and see if he thinks you can benefit from synthetic oil for your vehicle. Also ask about the appropriate oil change interval for synthetic, because it may very well be longer than for conventional oil.

Most Mill Valley drivers have a busy life and occasionally miss an oil change; go ahead, admit it. Since we're not perfect, doesn't it make sense to use a motor oil that's got your back?

What about price? Petroleum based oil may appear to win out on this point, but let's consider all the facts. Though synthetic oil costs more in Mill Valley, it lasts longer, protects your vehicle engine better and increases fuel economy. You'll likely save money in the long run. If you're serious about making your vehicle last longer, start using synthetic motor oil right away.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Fuel System Cleaning at Malugani Tire for Better Performance

Posted April 11, 2017 6:16 AM

Hi Mill Valley residents. Let's talk fuel injectors. A fuel injector is a valve that delivers fuel to a vehicle's engine. It has to deliver the precise amount of fuel to precisely the right place, precisely when the engine needs it. The fuel also has to be mixed with air before it can burn in the engine.

Fuel injectors are engineered to spray fuel in a specific pattern into the engine. (The pattern varies by engine type and design.) In order to achieve these spray patterns, the fuel must be pressurized.

Vehicles have one fuel injector for each cylinder in the engine. Your vehicle's control computer constantly monitors the engine and various sensors in the vehicle.  It also adjusts the fuel injectors accordingly so that they can deliver the proper amount of fuel to the engine. As you can see, fuel injectors are a sophisticated and vital part of your vehicle's engine. Because fuel injectors are such precision instruments, dirt and contaminants are a serious detriment to their performance. When an injector gets gummed up, it affects the pressure, pattern and timing of the fuel delivery. The result is a decrease in fuel efficiency and loss of engine performance for Mill Valley residents.

So it's to Mill Valley residents' advantage to keep their fuel injectors clean. That starts with keeping the fuel in your tank clean. High-quality fuel contains detergents and additives that help clean your engine. Brand-name fuel companies also deliver a more consistent quality of fuel to Mill Valley vehicles than do bargain Mill Valley area service stations.

The second way to keep your injectors clean is to keep your fuel filter clean. This filter screens dirt and rust out of the fuel as it travels from the tank to the engine. If the filter clogs up, fuel will bypass it and carry its load of dirt into the engine.

Mill Valley residents should check their owner's manual to find out how often they should change their fuel filter. This should be part of your regular preventive maintenance. Also, remember that if you use bargain-brand or low-grade fuels, or if you drive an older vehicle, your filter will need to be changed more often.

You can also purchase cleaners at Malugani Tire that will protect your fuel injectors. These cleaners are added to the fuel tank. They work best at preventing build-up in your fuel injectors and can clean up small amounts of carbon, gum and varnish. But they won't be able to clean a fully gummed-up injector. Read the labels before using any of these products for full directions on their use. If your fuel injectors are gummed up, you can get a professional deep cleaning service at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley that will result in better fuel economy and improved vehicle performance.

Good vehicle care will prevent serious damage to your fuel injector system. And this is one system that you want to keep in perfect condition.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Need a New Battery? Call Malugani Tire Today

Posted April 2, 2017 8:11 AM

Hello Mill Valley drivers! Need a new battery? There is a good chance that you do – 70% of batteries need to be replaced within four years. As your battery discharges and then recharges as you drive around Mill Valley, bits of the surface of the battery plates disintegrate. As this process continues over a few years, the alternator has to work harder to supplement the battery charge. Over time, enough of the battery is damaged that it can no longer hold a charge and it needs to be replaced. This also speeds up wear on the alternator.

Your Malugani Tire service advisor can help you determine the right vehicle replacement battery for the way you drive around Mill Valley, as well as the California climate and durability needs.

Contact Malugani Tire for information on battery replacement.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Why a Trip Inspection Is a Good Idea

Posted March 28, 2017 9:48 AM

At Malugani Tire we get a lot of Mill Valley drivers asking about vehicle trip preparation. That's a big deal. You could be driving through mountains and deserts in some pretty lonely areas around California, so it's important to know that the vehicle is up to the task and won't leave you stranded.

Smart Mill Valley drivers plan ahead for a major road trip – and there are a lot of things to get ready. Where should you start? You could start with the tires. Look them over for tread wear and check to see that they are properly inflated. Take a quick test drive around Mill Valley to see if you can feel any vibrations: Are the wheels in balance? Is the car tracking straight? Is the alignment ok? Come to Malugani Tire for a peace-of-mind trip inspection.

493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

The next thing is a full service oil change to make sure all of your fluids are topped off and you have fresh oil for the trip. And if your car has over 75,000 miles/120,000 km, you may consider putting in the high-mileage formulation to clean harmful sludge deposits in the engine. 

How about your transmission and brakes? Have you had your transmission and brakes inspected in the last six months?

How are your wiper blades? There's nothing like not being able to get rid of the bug juice on a long road trip away from Mill Valley.

Check your owner's manual for any other recommended services, and have Malugani Tire in Mill Valley do the multi-point inspection before you head out on your trip.

Consider also having the coolant system serviced at Malugani Tire – you want to stay within the vehicle manufacture’s recommendations. If you're towing a trailer around California you'll want to be keep in mind that you'll be going a long way under severe conditions.

A lot of Mill Valley drivers overlook severe conditions like towing, California summer heat or driving on dirt roads. Plan ahead for your next road trip – Malugani Tire wants you to get there and back.



Automotive Tips from Malugani Tire: Air Conditioning Inspection

Posted March 19, 2017 6:32 AM

Most auto manufacturers recommend an interval for an air conditioning system inspection. The inspection uncovers leaks, worn hoses and assesses the condition of the other components.

Environmental laws in some around Mill Valley require leaks to be repaired before refrigerant can be added. Also some parts manufacturers require other components to be replaced along with certain failed parts in order to maintain the new part warranty. This is because a given failure may be the result of another worn or damaged part that will, if not replaced, prematurely damage the new component.

Malugani Tire in Mill Valley is fully equipped to restore your flow of cool air.


Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Battery Maintenance Tips From Malugani Tire

Posted March 14, 2017 10:17 AM

When it comes to your vehicle, it all starts with the battery. Proper battery maintenance is important for two reasons:

First, your vehicle won't start or run without it. Second, it is the key to the long life of your auto electrical system. If your battery isn't working efficiently, your alternator has to work overtime to make up for it, and other electrical components can suffer as well.

A number of years ago sealed batteries were introduced to the local Mill Valley, California, market. They were hailed as being 'maintenance-free batteries.' While it is true that you can't get in and adjust the electrolyte levels of a sealed battery, it is by no means maintenance free.

Batteries are very sensitive to changes in the weather around California. Temperature really affects auto battery performance. A battery inspection is an important part of your spring and fall checkups. Next time you're under your hood, take a look at your battery.

  • Is it clean and free of residue? A dirty battery will drain.
  • Is there corrosion at the terminals where the battery cables attach to the battery? If there is, the corrosion can interfere with how efficiently electricity passes back and forth from the battery.
  • Are the cables loose? Make sure they are tight.
  • Are the cables themselves corroded? Corrosion can actually eat through the battery cables.

Malugani Tire service advisors can inspect and test your battery. If the inspection warrants a cleaning, have it done. If the battery test indicates that replacement of the battery or cables is in order, you will be lucky to have caught the problem before it becomes a major inconvenience.

Your battery will also last longer if you keep your fuel system and ignition system clean. It's all part of your commitment to regular maintenance, to keep your vehicle running on Mill Valley streets at its best for a long, long time.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Automotive Tips from Malugani Tire: A Broken or Damaged Timing Belt

Posted March 5, 2017 10:12 AM

The timing belt rotates the cam shafts which open and close the valves that allow air, fuel, and exhaust to flow through the engine as it powers your car when you drive around Mill Valley.

An old timing belt can lose a “tooth” in the belt allowing it to slip. The engine could stop or misfire. Timing belt slips – or a broken timing belt – can be disastrous on some engines. In “interference” engines, open valves can get in the way of the piston when the timing belt breaks or slips. When that happens one or more valves can be bent requiring expensive engine repairs.

It is important for Mill Valley drivers to replace their timing belts as recommended in their owner’s manual to avoid unnecessary breakdowns. Ask the team of professionals at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley if it’s time for your timing belt to be replaced.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Automotive Tips from Malugani Tire: Serpentine Belt System Wear

Posted February 27, 2017 7:00 AM

The primary job of the serpentine belt for Mill Valley drivers is to provide important traction to spin the accessories. As the belt wears it loses some of its grip and the accessories may not spin at optimal speeds. For example, if your alternator doesn’t spin fast enough, the battery will not completely recharge while you’re driving and you could end up stranded around Mill Valley with a dead battery.

In short, a worn serpentine belt will stress all of the accessories it powers leading to premature wear and possible early replacement. When as little as 5% of belt material is lost, the serpentine belt cannot provide the proper traction for the accessories. Your friendly and professional Malugani Tire service advisor can inspect your belt for excessive wear and replace your serpentine belt system if it’s excessively worn.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



The Malugani Tire Guide to Servicing Your Differential

Posted February 19, 2017 6:17 AM

Differential? What's that? And what's it for? I've been told by my service advisor that I need to get it serviced, but is that on the level?

Do these questions sound familiar? They're not uncommon for Mill Valley drivers. A lot of us in Mill Valley don't know what a differential is or what it's for. Every vehicle has a differential, and, yes, it does need to be serviced. In fact, it's more important to the operation of your vehicle than the air conditioner or windshield wipers.

A differential allows your vehicle tires to move at different speeds. This happens more than you think. The best example is when a vehicle is turning. The inside wheel travels a much shorter distance than the outside wheel during a turn. This means the outside wheel has to move faster than the inside wheel. Without a differential, your tires would hop and skip while turning. They would also lose traction in sand or snow.

The location of your differential depends on what kind of vehicle you drive. On a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the differential is located in the back. For a front-wheel drive vehicle, it is located on the front, but it is usually called a transaxle. Four-wheel drive vehicles have three differentials: one on the front, one in the back and one in the middle. This center differential compensates for differences in speed between the front and rear wheels.

Your differential contains strong gears that need to be protected from dirt, debris, water and other contaminants. A differential is sometimes referred to as a “gear box.” The work of these gears is to transfer power from the vehicle drive train to the wheels.

Your differential needs fluid to lubricate and cool the gears. This fluid, even though enclosed in the “gear box,” can get dirty because the gears grind down over time, releasing tiny bits of themselves into the fluid. Also, the additives in the differential fluid break down and need to be replaced. That's why preventive maintenance for your vehicle needs to include servicing the differential.

Your owner's manual can give you recommendations on how often to service your differential. But you should also consult with your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire professional. Malugani Tire can give you some good auto advice on whether your vehicle needs to be serviced more frequently. For example, if you drive in hot or cold California weather conditions, your differential will need to have its fluid changed more often.

Severe conditions will also affect your vehicle care routine and your differential. Check your owner's manual for a definition of “severe service” conditions that affect your vehicle. Examples may include driving with frequent stops and starts, a lot of short trips around Mill Valley, hot or cold California weather conditions and towing.

Off-roading is particularly hard on a vehicle's differential. If you are an off-roader, especially if you cross California streams or waterways, it is important that you service your differential more frequently than the recommendations suggest.

Properly servicing your differential will extend its life and keep you out of Mill Valley auto repair shops. A smooth ride is the result of proper preparation and smart choices.

 Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Mill Valley Drivers: Get Fresh Air Inside Your Car

Posted February 14, 2017 5:05 AM

Let's talk about air quality in Mill Valley. It's a global issue, but affects us wherever we are. Many decades ago, Mill Valley drivers began to become aware of how air pollution negatively affects health. But what about the air inside your vehicle?

Now, it's only been in the last few years that cabin air filters have become common in Mill Valley. You can look in your owner's manual to see if you have one. If you do, there'll be a recommendation for replacing it when it gets dirty. If you live in an area of California where there's a lot of dust, pollen or pollution, you may need to change it more often.

You can also ask your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley. How hard is it to change an air filter on a car? It depends on your vehicle. Some are quite accessible; others take some doing to get to them. They're usually in the engine compartment or under the dashboard.

Because cabin air filters are so new on the scene, some people haven't heard of them – even those who have cabin air filters in their vehicle. Malugani Tire service advisors have discovered that many Mill Valley customers who complained about an unpleasant odor in their vehicle simply had a dirty cabin air filter. 

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Automotive Tips from Malugani Tire: Signs of an Alignment Problem

Posted February 5, 2017 3:41 AM

When properly aligned, all of your wheels are pointed in the same direction. Your vehicle will track true and handle the way it is designed. Mill Valley drivers often associate our wheels being “knocked” out of alignment with an event like an accident, hitting a pothole, curb or some other object.

While these can certainly take your wheels out of alignment, the bumps and bounces of everyday Mill Valley driving take their toll on wheel alignment as well.

In addition, your vehicle can lose alignment over time with just normal driving. When your wheels are out of alignment, Malugani Tire in Mill Valley can return your wheels to the vehicle manufacturer’s factory settings. Most owner's manuals suggest an alignment check every year or two. 

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



It Is Time to Check Your Intervals

Posted January 31, 2017 8:04 AM

Part of the engineering that goes into designing a vehicle is testing the components to ensure that they meet durability and safety standards. Because of this, manufacturers have a good idea as to how long the parts in your vehicle will last under normal driving conditions. For this reason, they give us guidelines to follow regarding how often to inspect the various parts and systems on our vehicles.

Vehicular components are required to meet certain standards. The government mandates some of these standards. Others are set by the auto industry. Recommended car maintenance schedules are designed to help Mill Valley vehicle owners maintain these standards. Disregarding routine maintenance or procrastinating preventive maintenance will result in lowered performance and reduced safety for a vehicle.

Maintenance schedules are designed to ensure three areas of automotive performance for Mill Valley drivers: protection of the vehicle itself, efficiency and safety.

Protection

Your vehicle's components need protection from dirt, road damage, rust, corrosion and fuel and combustion by-products. Protective components include filters and fluids.

Most of the fluids in your vehicle are there to keep the vehicle running smoothly and to protect the vehicle from corrosion, damage or harmful contaminants. These fluids need to be changed regularly in order to continue protecting your vehicle.

For example, motor oil lubricates your engine; that keeps it running well, but it also contains detergents and other additives that clean your engine and protect it from corrosion. Your vehicle's engine was engineered for best performance with a specific weight and type of motor oil. Mill Valley drivers should always be careful to use the right motor oil for their engine.

Over time, the  additives in motor oil are depleted, and the oil becomes contaminated by dirt, water and waste gases from combustion. So in order to keep your engine clean and to continue to protect it from corrosion, the oil has to be changed periodically.

Efficiency

Over time, your vehicle's systems will get dirty and parts will wear down. Cleaning dirty systems and replacing worn parts will improve the efficiency of your vehicle, which is usually measured in terms of and power output.

For example, your fuel system components gradually get clogged up with gum and varnish from gasoline. This restricts fuel flow, which lowers your engine's efficiency. Gas mileage drops as a result. Cleaning your fuel system will restore and improve gas mileage.

Safety

Some of your vehicle's systems must be maintained for safety reasons. Your brakes are a prime example of this. Brake pads and brake fluid need to be replaced in order to ensure good braking power. Poorly maintained brakes lead to accidents.

Your owner's manual is your first resource when it comes to knowing when and how to maintain your vehicle. Of course, you can consult with your Malugani Tire service advisor. He can give you good auto advice on how to adjust your service schedule to account for climate, local road conditions and your driving distances.

Beyond routine maintenance, your vehicle also requires regular inspections. These inspections are usually recommended at specific mileage intervals, like 15,000 or 20.000 miles (24,000 km or 32,000 km). The interval is based on the known life expectancy for particular components in your vehicle. Regular inspections will identify vehicular components that need to be repaired or replaced before damage is done to the vehicle or safety is compromised. They are also designed to safeguard the efficiency and performance of your vehicle.

The multi-point inspection that comes with a full-service oil change does not cover all of the regular inspections your vehicle needs for peak performance and safety. Check with the automotive professionals at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley to find out what additional inspections your vehicle needs and how often. Good car care requires regular and consistent maintenance. But good maintenance pays for itself in better and fewer repairs. It may even save your life.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



The Malugani Tire Guide to Caring for Your Transmission

Posted January 24, 2017 7:57 AM

Most vehicles have automatic transmissions, yet a lot of Mill Valley drivers only have a fuzzy understanding about what a transmission does. Think back to the last time you rode a bike in Mill Valley. 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 California roads. And it automatically shifts back down to climb Mill Valley hills, pass or start up again.

Vehicle 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 Malugani Tire, 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 Malugani Tire see far too many transmissions that needlessly failed due to neglect.

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

It's really important for Mill Valley area drivers to carefully follow the manufacturer's transmission service schedule.

At Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, we hope you never become shiftless in Mill Valley because you didn't take care of your transmission.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Differential Service at Malugani Tire: Viva la Difference

Posted January 16, 2017 12:01 PM

Every vehicle on California roads has a differential, and it is important to the proper operation of the vehicle.  But most Mill Valley residents don't have a clue what it is.

The differential compensates for differing wheel speeds. For example, when you turn, the inside tire on the turn travels a much shorter distance than the outside wheel. So the inside wheel of the vehicle must move at a slower speed than the outside wheel. Without a differential, the wheels would hop and scrape while turning.

Have you ever seen the large bulge in the middle of the rear axle of a truck? That's the differential. In a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the differential is located on the back axle. Four-wheel drive vehicles and SUV's have differentials on both the front and the rear axle.

You might expect that the differential is located on the front axle of a front-wheel drive vehicle. You'd be right. But the differential is called a transaxle on a front-wheel drive vehicle because its location allows it to be combined with the transmission.

In an all-wheel drive vehicle, an additional differential or transfer case is located between the front and rear axles. Differentials are strong: They have to be because of the job they do. But those tough parts need proper lubrication. You don't want your differential to seize up. That results in damage to your vehicle.

So you need to have your vehicle differential serviced regularly. It's not a complicated job. At Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, we've been servicing differentials for years. The used lubricating fluid is simply drained and then replaced. Some vehicles require specific additives in the differential fluid; your Mill Valley service center will ensure you are getting what your vehicle needs.

The intervals in time or mileage for servicing your differential vary greatly from vehicle to vehicle. Check with your owner's manual or Malugani Tire service advisor to find out how often your vehicle differential needs to be serviced.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Regular Schedule or Severe Service Schedule at Malugani Tire?

Posted January 11, 2017 7:45 AM

Today's Malugani Tire article focuses on severe service maintenance. Many Mill Valley drivers are not aware of them and yet there are also very vocal advocates in California who think that severe service schedules apply to everyone. Somewhere between a complete lack of awareness and the dire blanket statements lies a reasonable approach to severe service maintenance at Malugani Tire.

To back up a little, vehicle owner's manuals have schedules for preventive maintenance: things like oil changes, transmission service and so on. They say you should change your oil after a certain distanced traveled or after so many months. Mill Valley drivers understand this very well. What they may not know is that there are actually two service schedules: the regular schedule and the severe service schedule. The mileage and time intervals are lower on the severe service schedule.

Now when you hear 'severe service,' you may think it doesn't apply to you because you don't feel your driving conditions are severe or extreme – it's just normal everyday driving in the Mill Valley area. So let's list some of the conditions that classify as severe so that you can make the judgment on your own driving.

Before we start the list, here's a point of contrast that definitely is not severe driving. Driving down your nearest California interstate at the highway speed limit on a 75 degree F/24 degree C day loaded only with your passengers. This is an easy trip for your vehicle: your engine is loafing along at low RPMs, no heavy loads to pull and moderate Mill Valley temperatures. Now let's look at some severe service driving conditions.

Most trips around Mill Valley are less than four miles/six and a half kilometers. When your vehicle engine cools down, moisture condenses in the engine. This water in the oil doesn't get a chance to evaporate on short trips because the oil doesn't get hot enough. A lot of short trips in your vehicle means a lot of water build up. And water in the oil leads to the creation of sludge which can damage the engine. Changing the oil more frequently keeps sludge from building up. By contrast, highway driving warms the engine up and gets the water burned off.

Here's another example. Most trips around Mill Valley are less than 10 miles/16 km and outside temperatures are below freezing. This is the same reasoning, but in very cold California weather it takes even longer for the oil to get hot enough to evaporate the water, hence 10  miles/16 km as opposed to 4 miles/6.4 km.

Next, you drive in very hot California weather. The hotter it is outside, the more cooling the engine, transmission, brake fluid and so on becomes. The environment in which the fluids reside is more hostile, and the fluids simply break down faster. Therefore, the lower change interval.

Another: driving at low speed most of the time. Every vehicle engine has what's called its power band. This is a range of RPMs in which it's most efficient. Low speed driving doesn't keep the engine in its power band so it's working harder. This is one of the reasons that ratings are worse in downtown than on the highway.

Stop and go driving in Mill Valley is another severe service condition. You're always accelerating, which works the vehicle engine and transmission harder. Then you're stopping, which works the brake fluid harder, causing it to get very hot. Highway driving, on the other hand, requires far less horsepower to maintain its speed than getting a stationary vehicle from a stop light up to 25 mph/40 kph. A lot of this and you'll need to follow the severe service schedule.

Also on the list is operating your vehicle in dusty, polluted or muddy conditions. Obviously, your engine air filter and cabin air will get dirty faster and need to be changed more frequently as will your breather element. Some of this dust and dirt will make its way into your fluids. They will simple get dirty faster and won't protect the components as well as fresh fluids.

Finally, you're driving under severe conditions in Mill Valley when you tow a trailer, regularly carry heavy loads or carry a car-top carrier. This is pretty obvious. You'll spend more time in lower gears so the engine and transmission work much harder and create more heat. Brakes will be more stressed stopping the heavier loads.

Sounds like most of us in Mill Valley operate under severe driving conditions at least some of the time. How can Mill Valley drivers know which schedule to follow?

Think of it as a spectrum with "always driving under severe conditions" on one end and "never driving under severe conditions" on the other end. Some will be at one extreme or the other, but most of us will fall somewhere in between.

Carefully think about your driving conditions and decide if you should do your preventive maintenance closer to the severe service recommendation or the regular recommendation. Of course, your Malugani Tire service advisor can help you with your decision.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Stay Safe in Mill Valley by Putting Your Cell Phone on ICE

Posted January 3, 2017 4:42 AM

We don't want to think about it, but each Mill Valley resident who drives or rides in a vehicle is potentially an accident victim. In the worst-case scenario, those people are unconscious and unable to communicate with California rescue workers.

Rescue workers and Mill Valley police are well aware of this difficulty, even if the rest of us don't stop to think about it. They can all recount stories of searching through glove compartments, pockets, wallets, purses and cell phone directories for a person's name and for contact information for someone who can help them get the person the medical care they need.

This contact information is critical in an accident because Mill Valley medical workers need to know about allergies and potential drug interactions. Also, in California, some medical treatments can't be provided without authorization or consent, and there can be insurance and billing issues if the person's medical care is not properly arranged.

ICE provides a solution for these concerns. ICE stands for In Case of Emergency and is a way for others to quickly identify emergency contacts in your cell phone.

Bob Brotchie, a paramedic from Cambridge, England, developed the idea for ICE in 2005. It soon spread around the globe. The system is simple, affordable and highly functional. Mill Valley rescue workers can tell you that they can't always find purses and wallets at the scene of an accident. But these days, almost no one in California goes anywhere without their phone.

To add ICE to your phone, simply put ICE in front of the names of those people who should be contacted in case you are in an emergency. For example, “ICE-Dad,” or “Ice-Deborah,” or “ICE-Dr. Mitchell.” Mill Valley rescuers can quickly identify and access this information, saving valuable time. The only thing Mill Valley drivers have to do after that is to keep their contacts current. Every time you change the batteries in your smoke alarm, it is a good idea to double-check your phone and make sure your ICE cell phone numbers are up-to-date. Of course, we'd rather avoid an accident in the first place. It's good advice to keep up with preventive maintenance (we can help you with that at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley) and practice good car care and driving habits. Those can go a long way to keeping you safe on the road. Planning for the unthinkable helps your rescuers find the information they need quickly. Let's put the world on ICE.

 Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 

 



Automotive Tips from Malugani Tire: Air Conditioning – Common Problem

Posted December 26, 2016 7:07 AM

Your auto air conditioning system cools and conditions the air in your passenger compartment when you are driving around Mill Valley. It also removes moisture from the air to keep your windows from fogging up.

A common A/C problem for Mill Valley drivers that visit Malugani Tire is contaminated refrigerant (the gas that cools the air). The inside of the A/C hoses deteriorates over time and tiny fragments of rubber clog passages. This makes the system less efficient and overworks various components.

Leaks can develop at seals and gaskets and may reduce the amount of refrigerant, causing the system to work too hard to compensate. Dirty components can have the same consequences.

Ask your Malugani Tire service advisor for an air conditioning system inspection to make sure everything is up to spec.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Automotive Tips from Malugani Tire: Knowing When Your Timing Belt Should Be Replaced

Posted December 20, 2016 7:37 AM

The timing belt in your engine controls the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves. Mill Valley drivers need to replace it on a schedule to avoid failure.

Timing belts are very difficult to get to, requiring quite a bit of labor to access. Timing belt replacement is one of the more expensive maintenance services, but the cost at Malugani Tire to correct an engine damaged by a broken timing belt is much, much more.

The timing belt has a tensioner to help maintain proper belt tension. The tensioner should be replaced along with the timing belt and any idler pulleys at the vehicle manufacturer’s specified service interval. Your Malugani Tire service advisor can help you with the timing belt.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Automotive Tips from Malugani Tire: When to Replace a Damaged Tire

Posted December 13, 2016 7:59 AM

Repair or Replace? That’s a question Mill Valley drivers ask when they have tire damage. Some punctures cannot be repaired because of their size or location. Punctures larger than a quarter of an inch (6.4 mm) are considered too large to be safely repaired. Punctures in the sidewall or near the shoulders may not be able to be repaired. And sometimes there is internal damage revealed on inspection that indicates the tire should not be repaired.

Run flat tires should not be repaired. Repairing high performance tires may make them unsuitable for motorsports. Your friendly and professional Malugani Tire service advisor can inspect your damaged tire and tell you if it can be safely repaired or if it should be replaced - and then help you get back on the roads around Mill Valley.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Malugani Tire Advice: Don't Overlook These 10 Automotive Services

Posted December 5, 2016 1:27 AM

Organization is the key to managing a busy life in California. So setting up an annual calendar for vehicle care can keep Mill Valley residents on top of preventive maintenance. But you can't just write “oil change” every few months on the calendar. Modern vehicles have many systems that are vital to the safe operation of a vehicle, and they all need to be inspected. Mill Valley residents can't afford to overlook any of them.

The following is a list of preventive maintenance services that are often overlooked by vehicle owners in the Mill Valley area. They are not presented in any particular order.

1. Malugani Tire Power Steering Service. Moisture gradually builds up in your power steering fluid, which can lead to corrosion in your steering system. The fluid also gets dirty, which can gum up your steering system. The fluid needs to be replaced periodically.

2. Malugani Tire Wheel Alignment. Wheels that are out of alignment will cause a vehicle to pull to one side. This is dangerous for Mill Valley residents and can lead to accidents. Also, it causes uneven and rapid tire wear, which means tires must be replaced more often.

3. Malugani Tire Differential Service. They are part of the drive train system that transfers power from the engine to the wheels. Damage or wear in this system can make a vehicle undriveable.

4. Malugani Tire Cabin Air Filter. Your vehicle may or may not be equipped with a cabin air filter. Its job is to remove dust and pollen from the air that enters the passenger compartment of the vehicle. If this filter clogs, it can stink. So check your owner's manual to find out if your vehicle has a cabin air filter. If so, come visit us at Malugani Tire and get it changed according to the recommended schedule.

5. Malugani Tire Timing Belt Replacement. Most passenger cars and some vans and trucks have timing belts. Mill Valley residents can check their owner's manual to find out if their vehicle has one. If so, you can't drive without it. And if it breaks while on the road, you may be looking at thousands of dollars of repairs. So it is important to inspect it occasionally. If your vehicle has close to 60,000 miles/100,000 kilometers or more on it and you haven't had your timing belt replaced, then you need to find out the recommended replacement interval NOW.

6. Malugani Tire Transmission Service. Transmission fluid gets dirty and has to be replaced. If not, you risk repairs.

7. Malugani Tire Air Conditioning Service. The refrigerant in your air conditioner needs to be replaced periodically. This fluid doesn't just refrigerate air; it provides lubrication to the air conditioning system and conditions seals. Lack of fluid can damage components.

8. Malugani Tire Brake Service. Even if your brakes are quiet and working well, the brake fluid still might need to be changed. Over time, moisture builds up in brake fluid. Water has a different viscosity than brake fluid, so the brakes can't compress properly when there's too much moisture in the fluid — and you shouldn't need to be told how it is to drive with brakes that are compromised. Moisture in your brake fluid can also corrode parts in your brake system, causing it to fail altogether.

9. Malugani Tire Coolant System Service. Antifreeze is another fluid that needs to be changed regularly. If not, it actually becomes corrosive and begins to damage your cooling system. Eventually it can eat holes in your radiator.

10. Malugani Tire Fuel System Cleaning. Over time, your fuel system just gets gummed up, which can interfere with the flow of fuel in a number of ways.

Of course, your next question should be: How often do I need to get all of this done? Well, the answer varies depending on which service we're talking about, the make and model of your vehicle, the climate where you live in California, your usual driving conditions and your driving habits.

But don't lose heart. Your owner's manual will give you a recommended service schedule for most of the service items listed. And you can get quality auto advice from your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisors to help you meet the service intervals that suit your vehicle.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800




Does My Choice in Oil Affect Change Intervals?

Posted November 30, 2016 6:59 AM

Oil changes are probably the most recognized service on a vehicle. Almost all Mill Valley residents know about them. But do we know enough?

Several decades ago, oil changes were fairly standard: every three months or 3,000 miles or 5,000 kilometers. But recent advances in both engine technology and oil quality have led to longer oil change intervals.

Delayed or skipped oil changes are a problem for Mill Valley residents because they lead to the build-up of oil sludge in your engine. Oil sludge forms when engine oil breaks down, which happens with both time and miles. Obviously, driving will take its toll on engine oil, but the oil also breaks down even as the vehicle just sits in the garage. This is why oil change intervals are listed in both time and distance traveled, and the phrase “whichever comes first” is applicable.

Oil sludge is essentially petroleum jelly. Imagine this stuff squishing around in your vehicle engine, pushing into small engine passageways and blocking passage of oil to vital engine parts, shortening your engine's life expectancy.

To prevent sludge, you have to get your oil changed regularly, as often as the manufacturer recommends. Check your owner's manual for every vehicle you own to know the interval for each one. Don't assume they will be the same.

If you tow a trailer, haul heavy loads, make a lot of short trips around Mill Valley, usually engage in stop-and-go (or around-the-town) driving, drive in cold or hot California weather, or drive in polluted or dusty conditions, you may need to change your oil more frequently. Check your vehicle's owner's manual for a “severe service” recommendation.

If the manual doesn't give you the advice you need, talk to your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor. He will be able to answer any questions about preventive maintenance or vehicle care that you may have, including how often to change your oil.

Mill Valley residents need to get the right weight and type of oil recommended for their vehicles. More and more are using synthetic oil in their vehicles. Synthetic oil typically lasts longer and is more resistant to sludge formation than conventional motor oil. But it is also more expensive. So it can be tempting for Mill Valley residents to ask for conventional oil, but if you replace synthetic oil with conventional oil, you will have to change your oil more often to prevent sludge build-up. In the end, you're probably not saving money at all.

Also, your engine may not be designed for the conventional oil. Check your owner's manual before replacing synthetic oil with conventional.

Talk to your Malugani Tire service advisor for more information.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Ask Malugani Tire About the Importance of Service Intervals

Posted November 23, 2016 6:43 AM

Today in our Malugani Tire blog, we're going to talk about following recommended service intervals. Your vehicle isn't the only aspect of your life with recommended intervals: What about six-month dental cleanings and regular physical exams? Then there's laundry, mowing the lawn, paying your electric bill, changing your furnace filter - you get the idea.

Now, what would happen if you didn't follow these intervals? For one thing, your teeth may get more cavities. You might not discover health issues that benefit from early detection and treatment. And you'd have to wear dirty clothes, be embarrassed by your overgrown lawn and have your power shut off.

We all realize there are some things in life that we have to take care of regularly. If we don't, there are negative consequences. Our quality of life diminishes and it inevitably costs more money.

Have you ever wondered, "How often should I bring my car in for scheduled maintenance?" You can let your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire technician remind you of the manufacturer's recommendations. He has checklists of what the manufacturer recommends and can find potential problems when he inspects your vehicle. Rely on Malugani Tire professionals to help you make good car care decisions, that's our job.

For those in Mill Valley who want to be more proactive with their vehicle care, here are some simple ways to remember what has a maintenance interval:

First: fluids. If it's liquid, it's got a replacement schedule. Oil, transmission fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, differential fluid, etc.
Then think tires. They need air, rotation, balancing, and alignment. And while you're thinking tires, think brakes and shocks.
And what makes your car go? Air and fuel. Air filter replacement, fuel filters and fuel system cleaning.

Of course there are more items, but if you remember to take your vehicle into Malugani Tire for these things, your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor will help you with the rest.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



How Does Malugani Tire Know What to Recommend?

Posted November 14, 2016 3:52 AM

When you drop your vehicle off at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, they don't just poke around under your hood looking for stuff to do. Malugani Tire professionals have lists and procedures they follow for different types of service. First of all, your Mill Valley service center will note the mileage on your vehicle. They'll then check to see what inspections and services the vehicle manufacturer recommends for a vehicle of your make, model and mileage. If you are a regular customer, they will also check your vehicle's history.

If the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations go beyond the services you've ordered, they'll let you know. They'll also indicate whether those services are urgent or if you can wait a while to take care of them. The Malugani Tire pros won't do work that you don't agree to.

They will, however, perform inspections while they're servicing your vehicle. They'll check belts, filters and fluids. They'll check your windshield wipers for wear. They'll let you know if there's an urgent problem that needs taken care of, and they'll give you a heads-up about problems that might be developing. If repairs or services are in order, you are given options based on driving needs and budget.

You can think of it like a trip to the dentist for a check-up. The dentist will check if you've had x-rays recently. If not, he'll get your permission to take new ones. Then the hygienist will clean your teeth and check your gums. At the end, the dentist comes in and inspects your teeth. You'll be told if you need any work done, about problems that are developing, and if anything is urgent. You'll be given different care options and recommendations on where to get work done that is beyond your dentist's usual purview. Then you'll be sent to the front desk for appointments and paperwork.

These procedures make sure your teeth are in good working order and that you are apprised of any problems. Then you can make a decision as to what work you want done and when. Malugani Tire in Mill Valley operates the same way. They want Mill Valley drivers to be able to make informed decisions about their car care.

Preventive auto maintenance is a lot like dental check-ups. Small problems can quickly develop into big ones. A cavity becomes a root canal. A dirty filter becomes engine damage. Skipping check-ups for either your teeth or your vehicle can lead to repairs.

Malugani Tire follows industry guidelines. A part is replaced only if it can no longer perform its function, no longer meets its design specifications or is missing – or if you ask for upgraded performance. Your Malugani Tire service advisor will recommend a part be replaced if it is showing signs that it will soon fail.

Dentists often offer services that go beyond routine care, such as teeth whitening. Service centers also offer Mill Valley drivers help with upgrades to a vehicle. They'll know what parts are needed and how to perform the work so that safety and performance aren't compromised. You can rely on the pros at Malugani Tire for good auto advice.

The next time you're headed to the dentist's office, think about the vehicle you're riding in. Is it time for it to get a check-up, too?

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Engine Hydration for Mill Valley Drivers: Role of Your Water Pump

Posted November 7, 2016 8:16 AM

The cooling system in an engine has five components: the radiator, the radiator cap, the hoses, the thermostat and the water pump. The water is literally the heart of the system. Just as your own heart keeps your blood circulating through your body, the water pump keeps coolant circulating through your engine.

The water pump is driven by a belt, chain or gear and only operates while the engine is running. It has a limited life span and sooner or later will have to be replaced. You can check your owner's manual to find out how long your water pump should last. Some can fail at only 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers), but almost all of them fail by 100,000 miles (160,000 kilometers).

Water pumps don't gradually wear out; they fail. In other words, they're either working or they're not. A failed water pump has to be replaced.

Water pumps can fail in two ways: they can spring a leak or their bearings fail. Leaks can come from a cracked pump but usually develop at the gasket where the pump attaches to the engine.

If you hear a low-pitched grinding sound coming from the water pump, it's time for a new one. If you see coolant leaking in the area near the pump, it needs to be replaced. Also, coolant on the driveway could indicate water pump failure. Many water pumps aren't visible because they're under a plastic cover, so you may have to take your vehicle to Malugani Tire to know if the water pump has failed. If your water pump is run by the timing belt, then it should be replaced when you replace the belt. Most timing belts need to be replaced at around 60,000 to 90,000 miles (100,000 to 150,000 kilometers). The labor for replacing a timing belt is about 90% the same for replacing a water pump, so it's cost-effective to take care of them both at the same time. Also, if your water pump develops a leak (if it's powered by the timing belt), you have to replace the timing belt as well since contamination by coolant fluid damages the belt. It just makes sense for Mill Valley residents to replace both of these parts whenever either one needs it.

Replacing a water pump at Malugani Tire is a vehicle care issue that almost all of us Mill Valley residents face eventually. They don't last forever. On the other hand, we can extend the life of most of the components of our vehicle through preventive maintenance. Just as exercise and diet keep our heart healthy, regular check-ups and fluid changes will keep our vehicles healthy. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Busting Automotive Myths in Mill Valley, California

Posted October 30, 2016 7:44 AM

Myths passed around our Mill Valley, California community start with a grain of evidence and are then built up with a lot of imagination and very elastic logic. And the internet is a breeding ground for automotive myths. Some bloggers recall the vehicles of yesteryear and declare their modern decedents to be virtually maintenance free and that anyone who says otherwise is out to rip you off.

To get the truth about auto myths you hear around the Mill Valley area, come over to Malugani Tire.


Let's examine a couple of the more popular rants and look at the truth behind them.

The first one is that the chassis no longer needs lubrication for suspension, steering and the driveline. They declare that anyone who has charged you for lubrication is a charlatan.

The truth on which this myth is based is that many new vehicles come from the factory with sealed joints and cannot be greased. However, there are still some grease points on many cars around Mill Valley. A grease fitting may have been installed in conjunction with a repair. And most trucks and truck-based SUVs driving in Mill Valley still require chassis lubrication. This is because they are more heavy duty and proper greasing is still required to keep them going.

Another common rant you'll hear around Mill Valley is that modern vehicles don't need tune-ups. That depends on your definition of a 'tune-up', which has changed as technology has progressed. Before engine control computers, electronic ignition and fuel injection, a tune up meant replacing mechanical parts that wore out. Service technicians at Malugani Tire would manually adjust fuel and air mix and timing. When these adjustments were off, spark plugs would foul and need to be replaced.

This definition just doesn't apply to modern vehicles. Service centers like Malugani Tire generally consider a tune-up to be the major service visit, recommended by your manufacturer, every 30,000 miles (50,000 kilometers) or so.

Of course you can't lubricate a sealed joint. Of course you can't adjust a carburetor if your car doesn't have one. You probably don't need to change spark plugs every year if your manufacturer says they can go 30,000 miles (50,000 kilometers). What are these bloggers getting so worked up about?

The danger with these modern-day myths is they prevent people in our local Mill Valley community from taking care of the routine preventive auto maintenance that manufactures recommend. Check out this partial list of things you still need to do to take care of your car. How many of them are really any different today than they were 20 or 30 years ago?

Oil change, cooling system service, transmission service, tire balancing, tire rotation, wheel alignment, suspension service, power steering service, proper tire inflation, brake service, differential service, battery maintenance, engine air filer, PCV valve, breather element, fuel filter, belts, hoses, timing belt, windshield wipers . . .

You get the picture. Your vehicle is still a machine that needs to be maintained. And, hey, your service advisors at Malugani Tire have always adapted to keep pace with automotive technology. Next time you come across an angry voice about your car care, talk to your Mill Valley service advisor at Malugani Tire, or do some research of your own.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Timing Belt

Posted October 25, 2016 3:46 AM

Ever heard the sad tale of a staggeringly steep repair bill from a broken timing belt? Bad news. Let's take a lesson from their woes and remember to think about our timing belt.

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

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

Unfortunately, timing belts fail without any warning. That shuts your engine down right away. Your pros at Malugani Tire can inspect your timing belt and look for cracks and looseness. But getting to the belt to take a look can be almost as much work as changing it on some vehicles. That's why manufacturers recommend replacing the belt from time to time. For most vehicles it's from 60,000 to 90,000 miles or 95,000 to 145,000 kilometers. If your owner's manual doesn't specify an interval, ask your service advisor at Malugani Tire.

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

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

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

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Good Service at Malugani Tire Equals Good Fuel Economy in Mill Valley

Posted October 17, 2016 2:18 AM

Whether we're trying to save money, save gas or save the environment, most of us Mill Valley drivers have an interest in decreasing fuel consumption. We've all heard about ways to save money on gas in California, but does it really add up to much? How much can we boost our fuel economy through preventive maintenance and more courteous driving?

The US government has a website that actually answers that question. Let's look at some of the data and find out if any of these fuel-saving ideas are really worth the effort. We've all heard that a tune-up can improve gas mileage. It turns out that it can save us 4% at the pump. At $3.50 a gallon, that's 14¢ per gallon in savings, and at $4.00 a gallon, that's a 16¢ per gallon savings.

Other common repair items can also save you at the pump. For example, if your oxygen sensor is faulty, it's not delivering the information to your engine's computer that allows it to calculate the right fuel-to-air ratio. The result? The fuel doesn't burn efficiently. Replacing that faulty sensor can save you 40% at the pump. That's certainly a reason to improve your car care and have the automotive professionals at Malugani Tire inspect things once in a while.

A faulty oxygen sensor will activate the check engine light. So will a lot of other problems that are big fuel wasters. Finding out why your light is on and fixing the problem will also improve your fuel economy. Bring your car into Malugani Tire in Mill Valley and we will take care of it for you.

What about tires? Mill Valley drivers have all heard that keeping them inflated will improve our gas mileage. True? Yep. It's a 3% savings for that one. And even small drops in tire pressure can start to add up, so a weekly tire check is in order.

Using the correct weight in motor oil is another way you can save at Mill Valley area gas pumps. It adds up to a 2% savings.

What about that courteous driving? That doesn't cost us anything and doesn't require our Mill Valley service center to implement anything. Is it worth the bother?

Again, the answer is yes. Sudden acceleration, such as charging away from stoplights, sudden stops and quick lane changes all add up in lowered fuel economy. Taking it easy when you drive on California roads amounts to a 5% savings around town and a whopping 33% savings on the freeway. Is it worth your time to slow down? How much do you get paid?

Speeding is another way we ding ourselves at the gas pump. We've all heard that it's okay to drive five miles over the speed limit, but that actually hurts our wallets. Eventually it could add up to more than a speeding ticket. An extra five miles over the speed limit ends up costing us 7% per gallon. Fifteen miles over? 23% Now there's a reason to slow down.

Another thing Mill Valley vehicle owners can do to improve that costs nothing is to toss the junk out of our trunks. In other words, clean out the car and stop hauling around non-essentials. Don't treat your vehicle like a storage locker. Dumping one hundred pounds of extra weight adds up to a 2% savings at the pump.

So when you tell someone you were going somewhere anyway and they're welcome to come along, that's okay. But if someone tells you they need to come along and it's no harm to you since you were going anyway—well, now you can tell them, “Sorry, dude, but you're an extra fifteen cents a gallon!”

All joking aside, let's all do ourselves a favor and fatten up our wallets by practicing good car care and better driving habits in California.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



The Maintenance Free Myth

Posted October 12, 2016 9:24 AM

Sometimes we hear people in Mill Valley say, "What's up with all this maintenance stuff? Modern cars just don't break down." While it is true that today's vehicles are extremely reliable, they are also becoming increasingly complicated and use more exotic materials than ever before. All that complexity demands higher tolerances for everything. For example, most Mill Valley drivers don't realize how high tech automotive fluids have become,  fluids such as engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant and brake fluid.

Did you know that a modern engine would not run for more than a few months using motor oil formulas from 30 years ago? Today's automotive fluids contain a much higher percentage of additives to protect your vehicle's components from premature wear and corrosion. Time and distances march on for all of our cars. Please don't think we're using scare tactics to get you to take care of your maintenance - but here are some personal stories we've heard to emphasize and show how important it is to get things done when they are due. Names are withheld to avoid embarrassment to those who should know better. Even though they should know better, it usually comes down to real life: time and money. But they are tales of a stitch in time saves nine.

The first comes from someone who bought a used pick-up truck for his son. The oil was clean and all the fluids were topped off. A short time later, the truck overheated on a highway in California and shut down. The repair shop diagnosed the problem: the radiator pan was corroded and dumped the coolant. Even though the coolant level was correct, it was clear that the coolant had never been completely replaced - just topped off from time to time. While this kept the engine cool, all of the anti-corrosion additives had worn out; the coolant became acidic and ate through the radiator pan. The cost: hundreds of dollars and four days in the shop. This demonstrates the need to get your coolant exchanged on schedule.

Another story involves the true cost of skipping an annual inspection. This guy took his SUV in for the California safety inspection to renew his registration. At the Mill Valley inspection station, he learned that the law had changed and that his newer rig only required an inspection every two years. He was very happy to save the money. The problem was, his rear brake pads were very worn. Two months later, it was bad enough that he could hear the grind - over the radio, DVD player and the kids. He took it in to get the bad news. Both of the rear brake rotors were damaged. The left one could be resurfaced. The right had to be replaced. So saving a little on his safety inspection turned into an extra $500 over what brake pad replacement would have been. Moral of the story for Mill Valley drivers: don't skip your annual inspections. The irony is that many Mill Valley service centers would have done a brake inspection for free.

Next: a teenage daughter and a curb. Daddy's little princess smacked a curb when she turned into a shopping center and popped the tire. The problem came when Dad didn't get an alignment. The impact was hard enough to ruin the tire - so it was enough wreck the alignment. But instead of an alignment after the first tire, Papa ended up buying a second tire a few months later - and then an alignment.

Situation: son and wife with cars from the same vehicle manufacturer with essentially the same engine. Our staffer checked the son's maintenance schedule and saw that it needed a timing belt replacement at 90,000 miles/145,000 km. He had it done - it cost several hundred dollars. His wife's car had about 60,000 miles/97,000 km, so it should be ok for a while. Right? Wrong. The problem was that the wife had the turbo charged version. Its belt was scheduled for replacement at 60,000 mi/97,000 km. At 63,000 mi./101,000 km, the belt snapped on the interstate. The valves all crashed down into the cylinders at high speed, the entire head was shredded and it had to be replaced. The cost: several thousand dollars. Does he wish he had checked the vehicle manufacturer’s maintenance schedule? You bet he does - every time he passes a big-screen TV.

The team at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley recommends taking care of little things before they become big things. And when you take care of the little things, you can make your car run better.  Plus, it is more economical to operate in California. Remember to save those maintenance records. It'll show potential buyers that you've taken care of your vehicle and it will help you get a better price. Or when you buy a used car, check those records. If there aren't any, assume that the maintenance hasn't been done and take it to Malugani Tire in Mill Valley for an inspection. Take care of unperformed routine maintenance sooner rather than later.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Speak Up: Talking with Your Malugani Tire Service Advisor

Posted October 2, 2016 8:16 AM

About 80% of the vehicles on Mill Valley roads today are behind on their preventive maintenance schedules. That translates to about 160 million vehicles in the United States that aren't performing as well as they could be - thousands right here in California. Some of the maintenance issues are minor. Others represent serious safety concerns.

There are many reasons Mill Valley drivers neglect their routine car care. Some of the more common ones are complacency, lack of confidence, lack of trust and budget issues.

Modern vehicles are amazingly reliable compared to their older counterparts. They can run for years without any repairs, and we sometimes translate that to mean they don't need any maintenance. The trouble is that without maintenance, parts in the vehicle are gradually wearing out, fluids are getting dirty, oil is developing sludge — a lot of stuff is happening that we can't see, and it is destroying the vehicle. The first time we learn there is a problem, we have a major repair bill on our hands.

Older vehicles just couldn't keep going without frequent maintenance; they broke down without timely vehicle care. Modern vehicles are designed to keep running even when they're not fully healthy. Unfortunately, that convenience has led some of us to become complacent and ignore vehicle care — until we have to fix something. And fixing something today takes a whole lot more than it used to.

Some people in Mill Valley just don't feel comfortable taking their vehicles to their local Mill Valley service center. They don't know much about engines or auto mechanics, so they don't know what questions to ask. They don't want to appear foolish or ignorant.

Your physician doesn't expect you to understand what a ligament is or how it works. But if you have a problem with one, she's going to explain to you what it is, what's wrong with it and how it can be fixed. It's in her best interest as well as yours to do so. You'll both feel more comfortable with the treatment.

That's what you can expect from the pros at Malugani Tire. They have to be highly trained and work with a lot of complex, high-tech systems. They don't expect their Mill Valley customers to understand car care. So ask questions. You need auto advice from a service specialist, just as you need medical advice from a doctor and financial advice from a financial advisor.

Which brings us to the next concern: trust. A lot of rumors fly around Mill Valley about auto repair scams. You may have heard about some local auto shops taking advantage of customers and replacing parts that weren't broken. Frankly, this is just bad business practice. Mill Valley auto service centers won't stay in business long if they're engaged in this type of activity.

It's in the best interest of Mill Valley service centers to diagnose a problem correctly and fix it right the first time. That's how they keep their businesses open.

Trust must be earned. But just as it took time for you to establish a relationship and rapport with your doctor, it will take time to build a relationship with your service center.

Also, realize that when your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Malugani Tire recommends routine maintenance, he is generally relying on your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. In other words, your trust lies both with your service advisor and your vehicle manufacturer. You'll find that most of the service recommendations from Malugani Tire you receive coincide with what's in your manual.

Those recommendations were set up by the engineers who designed your vehicle, not Malugani Tire. The team at Malugani Tire is just offering you a friendly reminder — a helpful reminder really, since most of us don't post our owner's manuals to our calendars.

Money is behind most neglect of vehicle maintenance. First, they worry that they can't afford it. Second, they worry that they're being overcharged.

The simple truth is, car care is like health care. We can't afford not to have it. Preventive maintenance is cheap compared to repair work. It extends the lives of our vehicles and saves us money on fuel. It also makes our vehicles safer to drive, which can prevent accidents. Putting off preventive maintenance can be very expensive.

Mill Valley area service centers have to be competitive. Like any business, they can't afford to overcharge customers or they go out of business. But vehicle care today does cost more in California than it used to. Vehicles are more sophisticated, complex and high-tech. That means technicians have to be better trained. They have to purchase high-tech diagnostic equipment and tools. They have to keep up with the latest advances in vehicle engineering and subscribe to computer databases. Like any business, they also have labor costs, insurance, rent, utilities, taxes, office supplies, etc.

If you are strapped for cash, Malugani Tire can offer auto advice to help you keep your car running safely and manage your budget. For example, let's say you need new brake pads, transmission service and a new cabin air filter. A technician can't ethically recommend you delay brake service: that creates a safety hazard for you and other Mill Valley drivers. You need to get that done now. But they can let you know if the transmission service can wait a month and how long you can put off changing the cabin air filter. They can also estimate what these services will cost. That gives you the time and information you need to save up for the other services.

The key to modern car care is preventive maintenance. Our modern vehicles are safer, more fuel efficient and more reliable than ever before. But to keep them that way Mill Valley drivers have to be more proactive about caring for them. It's good to know there are knowledgeable professionals at Malugani Tire who can help us do just that.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Exhaust Service at Malugani Tire: Passing the Smell Test

Posted September 26, 2016 8:06 AM

The exhaust system on a vehicle is more complex than most Mill Valley residents realize. It contains everything from old-fashioned pipes and clamps to sophisticated computers and sensors. All California folks know a properly functioning exhaust system is good for the environment, but sometimes we forget that a damaged exhaust system can be deadly. That's why preventive maintenance on your exhaust system is so important. We can help you with that at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley.

The exhaust manifold is the first component in your exhaust system. The manifold is attached to the engine. It collects the gases that are produced by the engine and directs them into the exhaust pipes. At this point, these gases are both hot and chemically dangerous.

One of the gases produced in your engine is carbon monoxide. This gas is colorless and odorless. Breathing it can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and drowsiness. Continue breathing it and you will die.

To keep this gas and others from entering your vehicle passenger compartment, the connections from the manifold to the engine and from the manifold to the exhaust pipes are sealed with gaskets. These connections should be routinely inspected at Malugani Tire for cracks and to check if they have come loose.

The exhaust pipes can also get damaged, allowing dangerous gases to leak into your passenger compartment. These pipes can rust or be dented or broken by rocks and other roadway debris, so they need to be inspected regularly.

The catalytic converter is the next component in your vehicle exhaust system. You can breathe a sigh of relief now, because this is where the dangerous engine gases are converted into carbon dioxide and water, greatly reducing the amount of harmful emissions in your exhaust. You'll also be happy to know that your catalytic converter doesn't require maintenance. However, it will wear out. If you fail an emissions inspection because of a faulty catalytic converter, you need to replace it.

The muffler's job is far less critical, but far more noticeable, than the catalytic converter's. It dampens or absorbs the noise from the engine. Most Mill Valley residents don't realize that we can actually customize the noise our car makes with a custom muffler. You can upgrade to a muffler that will make your car sleuth-quiet, or you can advertise your presence in Mill Valley with a sassy rumble.

Mufflers can also rust or be damaged by road debris. But just because their main function is to dampen out engine noise doesn't mean they can be ignored. If your muffler is leaking, you need to get it replaced quickly. Exhaust fumes need to exit through your tailpipe, not your muffler.

The exhaust pipe contains at least one oxygen sensor. The sensor monitors the oxygen content of the exhaust, which allows it to adjust the fuel-to-air ratio in the engine. This keeps your vehicle engine running smoothly and maintains good fuel economy. So, besides keeping you and the environment healthy, a well-maintained exhaust system also keeps your vehicle healthy. The tailpipe itself can rust or get damaged by road debris, so it needs a quick inspection once in a while, too.

The whole exhaust system is mounted on the vehicle with clamps and hangers. These clamps and hangers can come loose, rust or get dinged up by road debris. Remember that the gases in your exhaust system are hot, so the exhaust system itself gets hot. The clamps and hangers keep the exhaust system attached to the vehicle, but they also prevent the heated components from touching things they shouldn't. If you don't inspect and replace broken, loose or damaged clamps, you may end up with melted wires, hoses or lines. And that can spell some expensive repairs.

You should schedule an exhaust system inspection as recommended in your vehicle owner's manual. Because this system is critical to your health and the health of your car, and because of its sophistication and complexity, you need to have the work done at a qualified service center such as Malugani Tire in Mill Valley.

Maintaining your emissions and exhaust system is not just good auto advice: it's good health advice for all Mill Valley residents and their families.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



The Economy of Maintenance for Mill Valley Drivers

Posted September 20, 2016 3:49 AM

Do I keep my old vehicle or buy a new one? It's a question most Mill Valley drivers ask themselves at some time or another.

Generally, what it comes down to is the choice between a car payment and the possibility of repair bills. Most of the time, we want to choose the car payment because we don't like the inconvenience and uncertainty of vehicle repairs. But that payment has a detrimental effect on our budget and bank account.

Edmunds.com is a great website to help you with your decision. This site uses repair histories to calculate the average repair bills for specific makes and models of cars. You can plug in the information for your vehicle and get an estimate on what it will probably cost you to continue owning that vehicle.

Now, Edmunds.com isn't a crystal ball. It can't know what will happen to your specific vehicle. But it can guide you in knowing how much money to budget for the repair and maintenance of your vehicle. Ultimately, that can help you in your decision to buy a new vehicle or wait a few years.

For example, a five-year-old Camry V-6 is projected by Edmunds.com to cost about $96 a month, on average, to repair and maintain (at the time of this writing). Remember, maintenance costs are part of vehicle ownership, whether it's a new vehicle or an old one, so the projected cost for repairs on your five-year-old Camry average out to only about $50 a month. That's a whopping lot less than a new car payment.

If your vehicle is older than five years, you should also talk to your friendly and knowledgeable professional at Malugani Tire about its future. They are more familiar with the average cost of repairs for vehicles in your area and of specific problems they commonly see in particular vehicles. More importantly, they know you and they know your car. They can give you a heads-up on what repairs you may be facing in the near future.

Remember, the older your vehicle gets, the more important preventive auto maintenance becomes. Over time, vehicles accumulate wear and debris, and we just have to give them a little more attention. Getting to know your vehicle and its peculiarities is also good auto advice for Mill Valley drivers.

If you decide to keep your older vehicle, you may want to talk with your Malugani Tire service advisor about fluids specially formulated for older engines. These motor oils, transmission and other fluids are designed to clean older engines and automotive systems and recondition their seals and gaskets.

Good care at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley will keep your older vehicle on the road in California. And that may be just the boost you need in this uncertain economy. It may even save you enough to be able to afford that new vehicle you've been dreaming about.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Improve Fuel Economy with Proper Maintenance at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley

Posted September 13, 2016 10:27 AM

With Mill Valley gas prices being what they are, many of us in California are driving less and looking into purchasing smaller or more efficient vehicles. Mill Valley area residents who have to drive a lot, have large families or need four-wheel drive are particularly hard hit by the cost of fuel in California. But there are things all Mill Valley drivers can do to save fuel: We can improve our driving habits and stay on top of preventive maintenance at Malugani Tire. These things make small savings possible, but they can really add up.

Let's start with driving habits. One major gas-eater is jackrabbit starts. A smooth, gradual acceleration uses a lot less fuel. It's also easier on your engine and drivetrain, so you'll prolong their lives as well.

If you drive with one foot on the brake, stop. That creates drag, increasing fuel usage and reducing the useful life of your brakes.

Slowing down can really add up on gas savings over time for Mill Valley drivers. Driving five to ten miles over the speed limit can use up 10 to 15% more gas. The time savings is only a few minutes per hour, so the cost per minute can be rather steep.

A little extra planning can save fuel for vehicle owners  in Mill Valley as well. Leave a little early so you have time to slow down and still arrive on time. Also, plan errands ahead of time and group them as much as possible. Driving shorter distances is a great way to save fuel.

Using your cruise control where safe can save on fuel. Check your owner's manual for guidelines on when cruise control is recommended and when it isn't.

Clean out your trunk. Every ounce in your vehicle translates to a bit more fuel required to drive around Mill Valley.

Many Mill Valley residents let their car warm up during the winter - a major fuel drain. Your engine doesn't benefit; modern engines don't require a warm up to get up and running, although it's best to take it easy on them for the first few miles.

Now that we've gone over a few tips for improving driving habits, let's talk about the maintenance of our vehicle. Good car care at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley actually pays for itself in fuel savings.

First, if your gas cap is leaking or worn, get a new one.

Second, keep your engine clean. Clogged fuel filters, dirty fuel injectors and plugged PCV valves all cost you in loss of fuel. Replacing them or cleaning them will both improve fuel economy and increase the power you're getting from your engine.

Third, don't ignore your Check Engine light. Problems that cause that light to come on usually affect your fuel efficiency.

Fourth, check your 's owner's manual for service that should be regularly performed on your vehicle, and follow the schedule. Or talk to your friendly service advisor at Malugani Tire . Oil changes, transmission checks and cooling system service all improve fuel economy if they're done when needed. Low fluids and dirty fluids also create conditions in your vehicle that require more fuel. So routine maintenance is a must to maintain fuel economy and save cash.

Last, keep your tires inflated. Underinflated tires increase your vehicle's friction with the roadway, which increases the energy it takes to move. Keeping your tires properly inflated is great for saving gas as you drive around Mill Valley.

So if the cost of gas in Mill Valley has got you searching the sofa for extra pennies, you might want to start making a few changes in your driving habits and getting your vehicle the service it needs at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Cool Running in Mill Valley

Posted September 5, 2016 9:06 AM

Unless you live in Death Valley, you really don't hear much any more about cars overheating. That's because cooling systems in vehicles have been much improved. That doesn't mean you can't overheat your vehicle engine, though. Without proper preventive maintenance, you could still find yourself on the side of the road in Mill Valley waiting for your vehicle engine to cool down.

When you service your cooling system at Malugani Tire, your technician will check the condition of the coolant. It can become corrosive over time, which can damage a radiator — leading to an overheated engine. Changing the coolant periodically is good vehicle care. Your vehicle owner's manual can give you guidelines on how often to replace it.

If your engine overheated, your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor will also check your coolant system for leaks. Check the vehicle radiator for cracks and the radiator hoses for leaks. He'll also check your water pump. They don't need to be replaced on a regular schedule, but they do need checked regularly. They can and do wear out.

The water pump is a critical component of your vehicle cooling system. It pumps the coolant to keep it circulating through the engine. The coolant is cooled in the radiator, then it travels through the engine, where it absorbs heat, then it returns to the radiator, where it releases the heat. And so on. But a water pump is something of a misnomer. The fluid pumped through your vehicle cooling system is not just water. It also contains coolant, which is actually poisonous. You should never consider your radiator as an emergency water supply.

There are many types of coolant. It varies from vehicle to vehicle, and using the wrong kind could damage your engine. Your service advisor will know which kind your vehicle's manufacturer recommends. The team of automotive professionals at Malugani Tire is always a good source for auto advice. We've been providing quality automotive services at our convenient location in Mill Valley for years.

At Malugani Tire, we help you keep your cool which will keep you in the driving lane.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Below 45 Degrees in Mill Valley: Consider Winter Tires

Posted August 29, 2016 7:07 AM

Remember snow tires? They were basically just regular tires with big, knobby lugs to get them through deep snow. They were loud and rode hard, and Mill Valley drivers couldn't wait to get them off the car. Then along came television advertisements for “all-season” radials. California drivers ran out and bought some and we thought we were done with snow tires forever.

Tires have come a long way since then. Modern winter tires sold in the Mill Valley area are much better designed for the wide range of conditions that come with California winter weather. They are made with a rubber compound that helps them stay flexible in cold weather. Regular tires become hard and stiff at Mill Valley temperatures below 45°F (7° C) which reduces their traction. That's a concern in winter, especially with snowy or wet conditions. But it also means that Mill Valley drivers are better off with winter tires in cold weather even when it's dry.

The tread design on winter tires has been improved to move snow, slush and water. The lugs and grooves throw packed snow out of the tread as the tire rotates. This means the tread is open and ready to move more snow when it rolls around again. Summer tires can pack up with snow, which makes them more dangerous than a bald tire.

The all-season tire that is popular among Mill Valley drivers is a compromise between summer and winter performance. This means they give adequate performance for Mill Valley drivers in either season but aren't great in either. Summer tires give great performance in hot weather but lousy performance in winter. Mill Valley drivers need to put more thought into their tire choices these days.

If you want the performance that new winter tires can give you, you should have them properly installed by your friendly and professional service advisor at Malugani Tire. It's best to purchase four snow tires and put them on all the wheels of your vehicle. But if you only want two, you need to put them on the rear of your vehicle, even if you drive a front-wheel drive vehicle. Mill Valley drivers always want to put the tires with the best traction on the rear of the vehicle.

For more auto advice about tires for any California season, ask your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire tire professional. They can help you find the right tire for your area and for your driving needs. For the best performance from your tires, whatever the season, don't forget preventive maintenance. Keep your tires up to pressure for the best durability, safety and performance, but don't overinflate them. Remember, good car care provides the safest road for all of us in Mill Valley.


Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Malugani Tire Radiator Service

Posted August 22, 2016 1:02 AM



The coolant system is a vital part of your vehicle. It is also the second most common cause for vehicle failures. Even though coolant system failure is fairly common in Mill Valley, it is easy to prevent.

The most recognizable part of the coolant system is the radiator. It is connected to the engine with hoses and is filled with coolant. The coolant draws heat off the engine and then passes into the radiator. Air passes through cooling fins to reduce the temperature of the coolant and then it's back to the engine again.

There are several ways for the cooling system to fail. Most common is with the coolant itself. Coolant is comprised of water and antifreeze. The proper ratio keeps the coolant from either boiling away or freezing. Understandably, either can lead to massive engine damage.

Another coolant issue that is often overlooked by Mill Valley drivers is the age of the coolant itself. Antifreeze has additives that protect the coolant system from corrosion. As these additives are depleted over time, they can't protect the radiator and other parts from rust, scaling and corrosion. That old container of coolant gathering dust in your garage may still keep your engine cool, but it won't protect it from corrosion.

If you get a warning message to check the coolant or if the vehicle temperature gauge is in the hot zone, your cooling system needs to be checked. It's OK to add water or antifreeze yourself. But you need to be cautious. Remember four things:

  • First, you never want to open the radiator pressure cap. You could be severely burned.
  • Second, get to Malugani Tire in Mill Valley immediately if your coolant is low. If that is not possible, follow the directions in your vehicle owners manual - it will direct you to only make additions to the coolant overflow bottle.
  • Third, remember that you need a proper mixture of water and antifreeze. If you make an emergency addition to your cooling system, follow-up with your Malugani Tire service center where we can make necessary adjustments.
  • Fourth, not all cars use the same type of antifreeze. You need to check your vehicle owners manual to make sure you use the right kind. Mixing antifreeze types or using the wrong kind of antifreeze may void the manufacturers warranty on your cooling system. Again, another reason to depend on your Malugani Tire service center in Mill Valley to do things right.

Remember, Malugani Tire has the equipment to change your coolant quickly and inexpensively.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Serpentine Belt Service at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley

Posted August 16, 2016 6:40 AM

If you've ever heard a squealing sound under your vehicle hood, chances are it was your serpentine belt. More importantly, the belt powers the alternator. The alternator creates electricity that's used by your vehicle's electrical systems and also charges the battery. Without the alternator, the battery will go dead after a short distance.

The serpentine belt may also run the pumps for both the power steering (some are electric) and power brakes (some use vacuum boost).

And, on most vehicles, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine to keep it within optimal operating temperatures. On some Mill Valley vehicles, the water pump is powered by the timing belt instead of the serpentine belt.

When they understand what it does, Mill Valley drivers realize that if it breaks, it affects a lot of systems. That's why vehicle manufacturers outline recommended replacement guidelines in the owner’s manuals. If this important maintenance component is not included in your owner’s manual, come see us at Malugani Tire.

At Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, your professional technician can perform a visual inspection of the belt to see if it has any cracks that signal the belt could fail soon. If the belt has more than three or four cracks every inch or couple of centimeters, has deep cracks that penetrate half the depth of the belt, is frayed, is missing pieces or has a shiny, glazed look, it needs to be replaced regardless of age or mileage.

If it has lost a significant amount of thickness, it also needs to be replaced. Talk to your service advisor at Malugani Tire. There's a special spring-loaded pulley attached to the engine called the tensioner pulley. Its job is to make sure there's a constant tension on the serpentine belt so that it doesn't slip. The spring can become worn and no longer provide the necessary pressure to keep the belt tight. At Malugani Tire, we recommend that the tensioner be replaced at the same time as the serpentine belt.

As mentioned, a squealing sound could alert you that the serpentine belt needs to be replaced. It may be loose if you hear a slow, slapping sound when idling your vehicle.

All in all, the serpentine belt is very important to the operation of your vehicle. And it's not that expensive to replace at Malugani Tire – so it's good to do so before it fails.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Change Your Engine Air Filter at Malugani Tire

Posted August 7, 2016 12:39 PM

Many Mill Valley car owners have probably wondered: "What's the harm in putting off replacing an engine air filter? The answer is that not replacing it could cause your Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor to fail. This expensive sensor is situated between your engine air filter and your engine. Dirty air filters are a leading cause of mass air flow sensor failure – and these babies can cost several hundred dollars to replace in Mill Valley.

Change your vehicle air filter at Malugani Tire when it's dirty. Your vehicle engine will thank you.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 

 



Malugani Tire: Good Service and Good Fuel Economy

Posted August 1, 2016 9:02 AM

Most Mill Valley auto owners want to save on gas and seek our advice on improving economy. At Malugani Tire, we are frequently asked, however, if it is really worth the extra effort. Just how much money can Mill Valley drivers actually save?

In today's Malugani Tire article, we're focusing on the things you can do to improve your vehicle’s economy driving around California. We'll tell you the potential savings per gallon of gas at $3.50, and we'll show a chart that also shows the savings at $3.00 and $4.00.

 

DOLLARS PER GALLON $3.00 / $3.50 / $4.00

TUNE UP 4%.12.14.16

The next item is replacing a clogged engine air filter. Your engine needs enough air to burn fuel efficiently for the best mileage. A clean air filter means you get plenty of air. The fact that the air's clean protects your engine. That can save you up to 10 percent or 35 cents a gallon.

 

DOLLARS PER GALLON$3.00 / $3.50 / $4.00

AIR FILTER 10%.30.35.40

Fixing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve economy by up to 40 percent. That's a whopping $1.40 in savings per gallon. Bring your car to Malugani Tire in Mill Valley and we'll check your oxygen sensor.

 

DOLLARS PER GALLON$3.00 / $3.50 / $4.00

FAULTY O2 SENSOR 40%1.201.401.60


Chances are that if your oxygen sensor is kaput your Check Engine light will come on. Now, there are any number of things that could cause your Check Engine light to come on besides oxygen sensor problems. But if it's on, get it checked out as soon as you can at Malugani Tire.

Here's an easy one for Mill Valley auto owners. Inflate your tires to the recommended pressure. That could save you three percent or 11 cents a gallon. Even a little drop in pressure will bring down your economy, so check your tires every week.

 

DOLLARS PER GALLON$3.00 / $3.50 / $4.00

TIRE INFLATION 3%.09.11.12

Your vehicle has recommended a specific weight of motor oil. The recommendation is based on engine design and will give you the best protection. Using a heavier weight could cost one to two percent in reduced economy, or up to seven cents a gallon.

Another thing Mill Valley vehicle owners can do to improve that costs nothing is to toss the junk out of our trunks. In other words, clean out the car and stop hauling around non-essentials. Don't treat your vehicle like a storage locker. Dumping 100 pounds of extra weight adds up to a 2% savings at the pump.

So when you tell someone you were going somewhere anyway and they're welcome to come along, that's okay. But if someone tells you they need to come along and it's no harm to you since you were going anyway—well, now you can tell them, “Sorry, dude, but you're an extra fifteen cents a gallon!”

All joking aside, let's all do ourselves a favor and fatten up our wallets by practicing good car care and better driving habits in California.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



What You Need to Know from Your Malugani Tire Service Advisor

Posted July 26, 2016 3:47 AM

Mill Valley drivers may feel intimidated when they take their vehicles to a service center. They have questions but aren't sure how to ask. They don't want to feel embarrassed about their lack of knowledge. They don't want to make the service technician feel that they don't trust him.

If your service advisor at Malugani Tire uses a term you don't understand, just ask him to explain. Remember, they are the auto service experts. If they came to your place of work, they probably wouldn't understand the jargon, either. When you take your vehicle in to be serviced, make sure you understand the financial issues up front. Ask about payment policies, warranties and, of course, the cost of the work being done.

It helps to understand basic services your vehicle needs. Know the difference between a quick check-up and a thorough inspection, which you are getting and which you are asking for. Understand that diagnosing a problem takes time, and time isn't free. If you have concerns about cost, negotiate your limits before service is done. Don't be afraid to ask your service advisor for auto advice on how to keep your vehicle on the road within your budget. He can help you prioritize your vehicle's needs. Some repairs are for the safety and future health of your vehicle. Others can wait. Your Malugani Tire service advisor can help you set up a plan to get all the work done as you can afford it.

It may be tempting for Mill Valley drivers to save money with budget parts. Your service advisor can help you to sort through the options to work within your budget. High-quality parts are always preferable for any auto repair. Your service advisor will make sure the parts used won't compromise the safety of your vehicle.

Don't leave your Mill Valley service center without your paperwork, either. Ask about warranties for parts and labor. You may need these for claims or if there is a problem in the future. Get detailed explanations of the work done on your vehicle. These records will help you keep track of repairs, service and warranties.

Those records may also help close a deal when it comes time to sell your vehicle. After all, the biggest concern most people in Mill Valley have when buying a used vehicle is that they are inheriting someone else's problems.

Records of repairs and service are a good picture of your vehicle's condition and performance and what problems a new owner can expect. People are always happier to purchase a vehicle they know has been well-maintained. Whenever we climb into a vehicle, we are entrusting our health and safety to it. Perhaps it's time to take our vehicles' health a little more seriously. Open up; ask and learn.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Picking the Right Tires in Mill Valley

Posted July 18, 2016 7:30 AM

Shopping for tires in Mill Valley can be bewildering because there are many choices. Let's simplify. There are four main classifications of tires, each designed for different purposes.

First off, there are summer tires. Those who buy summer tires in Mill Valley are looking for maximum summertime performance. The rubber is a little softer to help stick to the road on fast corners on California roads. The tread has wide blocks at the shoulder to stiffen the tire in turns. The tread design can handle rain but really isn't set up for snow and ice.

Next comes winter tires. Mill Valley people buy winter tires because they still like performance driving when it's cold and slippery on California roads, so they need a tread design that'll really bite into ice and snow. The rubber compound is formulated to stay pliable when temperatures drop below 45 degrees F/7 degrees C so they get great traction even on dry roads. On the other end of the winter tire spectrum are tires designed to handle well in severe ice and snow conditions.

The third category is all-season tires. Most new cars in Mill Valley showrooms come with all-season tires. This is a tire that is designed to be used all year round. The tread design and rubber compound is a compromise that won't give you the extreme capabilities of summer or winter tires; but if you're driving and weather conditions aren't at the extreme ends of the range, all-season tires might suit you just fine.

The last category is what you might have on your SUV or pickup. All-terrain or off-road tires are designed for both highway and off-road use – a tire that gets good traction in the dirt and on off-road obstacles, but still performs well on paved Mill Valley roads.

Choosing the right tire is important for Mill Valley car owners. Talk with your Malugani Tire tire professional about your driving requirements and receive valuable guidance on tires that will meet your needs.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Automotive Tips from Malugani Tire: Rotor Problems

Posted July 11, 2016 9:08 AM

The brake rotor, or disc, is attached to your wheel. The brake pads rub on the rotor to slow your car when you are driving in Mill Valley.

Rotors can warp, crack or become misaligned. They can also be damaged by worn out brake pads that scratch grooves into the surface. These conditions result in less contact surface for the brake pads, leaving you with reduced braking power.

Over time and miles, rotors can also wear down below safe specifications. It is important for Mill Valley drivers to know that simply replacing brake pads on a wheel with a bad rotor will not solve the problem. Depending on their condition, rotors may be resurfaced or replaced.

Brake noise or a pulsation in the brake pedal are signs of potential brake problems that should be addressed right away. If you have any brake concerns, please have your friendly and professional Malugani Tire tech perform a thorough inspection.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Fuel Injection Basics for Mill Valley

Posted July 3, 2016 11:50 AM



All modern Mill Valley vehicles come with fuel injection systems, so it's a topic Mill Valley drivers need to know something about. The mighty fuel injector is a valve that delivers the gas or diesel fuel to the right place, in the right amount at the right timeto be mixed with air and burned in the engine.

So how many fuel injectors does your vehicle have? There's one for each cylinder. So four, six or eight for most folks in Mill Valley, California. Some vehicles have 10 or 12 cylinders. The engine control computer makes adjustments to the fuel injector as it monitors the engine and other sensors. Fuel injectors are a pretty high-tech.

Malugani Tire can help Mill Valley drivers with a fuel injector cleaning service. What's the benefit? In order to work right, the fuel injectors have to deliver the fuel at a precise pressure at a very precise time. It's important that the fuel is sprayed in a particular pattern as determined by the engine design.

Over time, varnish can start to build up in the fuel injectors, effecting the pressure, pattern and timing of the fuel charge. The result is that the fuel doesn't get burned as efficiently as it could. That robs performance and hurts fuel economy.

What about dirty fuel? How does that affect the fuel injectors? The fuel injectors are the last stop in the fuel system. It starts at the fuel tank. Frankly, the best way to keep your fuel injectors working well is to use high quality fuel. It's tempting to shop for bargains in Mill Valley with fuel prices as high as they are, but major brands in the Mill Valley, California, area have better detergents and additives and deliver consistent quality.

What about a good fuel filter? The fuel filter is component of the fuel system. Its job is to filter out the dirt and rust that collect in the fuel tank. If it's clogged up, the dirt will bypass the filter and head upstream to the fuel injectors.

It's important to replace the fuel filter when your manufacturer recommends it. That's part of a comprehensive fuel system cleaning.

There are different kinds of fuel injection systems. Port fuel injection systems, the kind most gasoline engines have, operate at 60 pounds per square inch. The injectors for the new gas direct injection engines Mill Valley drivers are starting to see require 10 to 30 times as much pressure. And some diesel engines for passenger vehicles have injectors that operate at 30,000 pounds or more per square inch. There's no room for dirt and gum in a precision part like that.

There are a lot of good products available in Mill Valley, California, that can clean fuel injectors. They're best used to prevent fouling in the fuel injectors. Many can't clean a seriously gummed up injector – that requires a professional deep cleaning, like those we offer at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley. But putting the cleaner in the fuel tank after you've had Malugani Tire take a look at your fuel system will help keep it clean. Be sure to read the label for directions.

Give us a call if you think your vehicle may be ready for a fuel injector cleaning.

 

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Automotive Tips from Malugani Tire: Where Should New Tires Be Placed

Posted June 26, 2016 3:58 AM

When Mill Valley drivers need to replace tires, they need to know how many they should get and on which axle they should be placed. Replacing a damaged tire may leave you with three others with significant wear, which could affect your traction control, stability control and anti-lock brake systems.

If you can’t afford to replace all four tires at once, you should at least replace two on the same axle. New tires should always be put on the rear axle for stability in slippery conditions. Your friendly and professional Malugani Tire tire professional can help you know when your worn tires should be replaced, if you can have a damaged tire repaired as well as selecting the right tires for your needs.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Right or Left? Malugani Tire Power Steering Service

Posted June 21, 2016 1:49 AM

Have you ever driven a vehicle without power steering? If you have, then you probably appreciate how much easier it is to drive today's modern vehicles. Before power steering, all of the force to turn a vehicle had to come from the driver's arms. That's why old cars had such large steering wheels: they needed plenty of leverage to steer. There were some Mill Valley folks who had difficulty driving because they just weren't strong enough.

Power steering is now standard on all vehicles, but there are several ways that power can be delivered. Most vehicles use a hydraulic power steering system system. In this system, a serpentine belt from the engine powers a pump that pressurizes the power steering fluid. The pressure activates hydraulics that provides steering power.

Other vehicles use an electric pump to pressurize the power steering fluid rather than the belt-driven pump. Some newer vehicles actually have electric motors that provide steering power and don't use steering fluid at all, especially in the increasingly popular hybrid and electric vehicles.

Mill Valley drivers who own a vehicle that uses power steering fluid need to have it changed regularly. Over time, moisture accumulates in the power steering fluid, which affects steering performance and can corrode steering components. Dirt and other contaminants can also accumulate in the power steering fluid, which will also negatively affect steering performance. A good power steering service at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley will flush out the old fluid and get rid of dirt and other deposits in the system. Clean fluid will then be added. Fresh fluid provides lubricants that help protect the steering system as well as prevent corrosion.

For recommendations on how often your power steering fluid should be replaced, consult your owner's manual. It varies by vehicle model and manufacturer. For more auto advice on steering fluid changes—and other preventive maintenance—you can talk with your service advisor at Malugani Tire. You may need to change your fluid more often depending on the driving and weather conditions in your area.

Mill Valley drivers who believe in good vehicle care will add power steering service to their preventive maintenance schedule. This will prevent damage to your steering system and extend its working life. The old days of double-handed cranking on a huge steering wheel may be over, but our new comfort and convenience are not maintenance-free. Do yourself and your vehicle a favor. Keep the power steering fluid clean.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Time Out: Suspension Problems in Mill Valley

Posted June 15, 2016 10:46 AM

Your vehicle's suspension system has two jobs: to prevent the passengers from getting tossed around inside the vehicle every time it hits a bump in the road and to keep the tires firmly planted on the road around every corner and over every bump.

To see your suspension system, you'll have to look under your vehicle. Anything that connects the wheels to the vehicle's frame is part of the suspension system. They're heavy-duty parts that work hard while you're driving and take a lot of wear and tear. Because of this, you should have your technician at Malugani Tire look at them once a year as part of your preventive maintenance routine. A good time for it is every time you get your alignment checked.

If your suspension is in trouble, you often feel it in how your vehicle drives. You should get a check of your suspension system: if the vehicle pulls to one side or wanders, if the steering is erratic, if your ride isn't as smooth as it should be, or if your vehicle handles poorly. Uneven tire wear can also indicate worn parts in your suspension system. If your shocks are leaking oil then they definitely need to be replaced. All in all, if you don't feel in control when you're driving, go get your suspension inspected.

Shocks and struts wear out. Wheel bearings may need to be repacked every few years. Some parts of your suspension may need to be lubricated whenever you change your oil. Preventive maintenance is the key to keeping your vehicle under control. Good care can prevent accidents for Mill Valley drivers.

If you are in an accident, even a minor one, it can damage your suspension system or knock your wheels out of alignment. Even hitting a curb, pothole or large rock can damage your suspension. A wheel balancing or alignment won't correct a suspension problem, and after any suspension work, you may need to get an alignment.

At Malugani Tire, we advise Mill Valley drivers never to procrastinate on getting their suspension system repaired. A damaged suspension system can lead to loss of control of a vehicle in an emergency situation and serious accidents.

Potholes are unsightly nuisances around Mill Valley, but they're also a major cause of suspension damage for Mill Valley vehicles. To avoid this, Mill Valley drivers should always keep their tires properly inflated. This gives the tires maximum resiliency. When you're driving around the Mill Valley area, avoid potholes if possible. If you can't avoid one, then slow down before driving over it. Slower speeds limit pothole damage. But if you're a little late detecting a pothole, don't brake on top of it. This will throw the vehicle's weight forward and increase the damage.

The suspension system may not be pretty to look at, but it provides you with a safe, comfortable ride — as long as you maintain it properly. You don't have to show it off, but you should be proud of it.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Mill Valley Drivers: What Is the Risk of High Oil Change Intervals?

Posted June 6, 2016 5:33 AM

Mill Valley residents may have heard that vehicles don't need their oil changed as often as they used to. That's true. But it's not the whole story.

Owing to improved engine technology and higher oil quality, most newer vehicles can go longer between oil changes than their older counterparts.

So what is a good time interval for oil changes? How do Mill Valley residents know when to change it? And why do we change it in the first place?

Oil lubricates a vehicle's engine, which protects it from friction damage. Over time the oil can collect dirt and contaminants that inhibit its performance. But dirty oil isn't the only problem for Mill Valley residents. What you really want to avoid is called oil sludge.

Oil sludge is caused by moisture in the oil and by hot spots in your engine that burn off oil. This sludge is a gooey gel that can clog engine passageways, which can block lubricants from reaching vital engine parts. The result can be engine wear or even engine failure.

Sludge forms rapidly in an engine that is driven under what are termed “severe conditions.” A vehicle's owner's manual includes recommendations for oil change intervals under both normal and severe conditions. Severe conditions include towing a trailer, driving in polluted or dusty California conditions, hauling heavy loads or using a car top carrier. Also, extremes in climate such as very hot or very cold temperatures constitute severe conditions for Mill Valley drivers.

Mill Valley residents may be tempted to overlook the severe conditions preventive maintenance schedule in their 's owner's manual because of the word “severe.” But consider this: the most common form of severe conditions is stop-and-go driving, or only driving your vehicle on short trips around Mill Valley.

When a vehicle only makes trips under four miles/six kilometers, or under 10 miles/16 kilometers in freezing conditions, the engine doesn't get warm enough for condensation in the oil to evaporate. The result? You get oil sludge build-up. If your driving patterns are the same as any of the conditions that count as severe, you should be changing your oil more frequently under the severe conditions schedule. 

The team at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley can help you understand what type of oil to use in your vehicle and how it can affect your oil change schedule. Some vehicles are filled with synthetic or synthetic-blend oil at the factory. The owner's manual will recommend that this oil continue to be used in the vehicle, and oil change intervals will be based on this type of oil.

Also, if your vehicle uses conventional oil, but you have some of those severe driving habits we talked about, you can switch to a premium-grade oil to give your vehicle extra protection. The answer to why we change our oil is fairly simple: to protect our engines and make our vehicles last longer and run better. But the answer to how often to change our oil is more complex: it depends on our vehicle, our driving habits, where we live in California and what kind of oil we use.

When it comes to oil changes, a little information can go a long way to helping Mill Valley residents save money and extend the life of their vehicles. Stay safe, and stay on the road.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Fuel System Cleaning the Professional Way at Malugani Tire

Posted May 29, 2016 10:04 AM

Your fuel system needs to be clean to do its job properly. When it gets dirty, the results are lower engine performance, reduced fuel economy and impaired safety. It can even lead to costly repair bills for Mill Valley drivers. So keep your fuel system clean as part of your routine preventive maintenance.

Fuel injectors have replaced carburetors in most of today's vehicles. These injectors deliver better fuel economy than a carburetor, but they can be compromised by rust, dirt and other contaminants. They need to be clean to maintain the correct pressure, spray pattern and volume of delivered fuel so that the vehicle engine can run at peak efficiency.

There are products on the market that Mill Valley vehicle owners can add to their gas tank that will help keep your fuel injectors clean. These products will keep a clean fuel system clean but have trouble cleaning a system that has already gotten gummed up.

If your fuel system needs a major cleaning, Malugani Tire can help. We have the tools and chemicals necessary to clean up your fuel system. We can remove accumulated carbon, grit, gum and varnish and get your fuel system and those all-important fuel injectors back up to snuff. Once your fuel system is clean, you'll notice the difference in improved power and better fuel economy. You may not notice that your vehicle is now producing fewer emissions, but our California environment will be better for it.

Mill Valley drivers should consider adding a cleaning product to their gas tank after a fuel system cleaning. Those cleaners will help prevent your fuel system getting gummed up again, plus they can prevent rust and corrosion in your fuel system.

Ask your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Malugani Tire if your vehicle is in need of a fuel system cleaning. That kind of auto advice can save you big bucks in repair bills down the road.

Your owner's manual and Malugani Tire service advisor can help you with other car care advice that can help improve the safety and performance of your vehicle. Malugani Tire in Mill Valley can also help you set up a schedule to perform that maintenance and help you customize that schedule so it accounts for the climate and road conditions in your area.

Mill Valley drivers should remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When it comes to vehicle care, that old adage has proven itself true.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



The Malugani Tire Guide to Saving Fuel: Beware of Myths

Posted May 22, 2016 4:18 AM

There's a lot of auto advice in California right now on how to save money on gas. Some of it is good advice. Some of it isn't. Some of it is myth. And it may well be a scam. Plain and simple. When someone offers you a product designed to save money on gas, ask yourself, “Does this sound too good to be true?” If the answer is yes, do more research.

The internet offers us a convenient and quick way to research someone's claims about gas savings. Mill Valley drivers can usually find out in only minutes whether that claim is questionable or not.

Chances are other Mill Valley drivers have already tried what you're being offered. If you find evidence that others feel they have been scammed, you should be wary of becoming the next victim. There aren't any pills, magic or otherwise, that you can drop into your gas tank to improve your gas mileage. Drop in enough of those pills and you can actually harm your vehicle. The last thing you need is a bunch more sediment or unknown, dissolved additives in your fuel.

There actually are proven, sensible ways that you can maintain good gas mileage, however. Good car care and consistent preventive maintenance are the keys to good fuel economy. An oil change at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley and a new fuel filter, when needed, will keep your engine running efficiently, which will translate to good fuel economy. It may be mundane, but it's solid, proven advice.

So be smart. Listen to advice from qualified Malugani Tire professionals, and stay away from unverified “magic” and conspiracy theories. Your wallet—and your vehicle—will thank you in the end.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 

 



All About Your TPMS in Mill Valley

Posted May 15, 2016 5:09 AM



Mill Valley drivers know that underinflated tires wear out more quickly. Underinflation is also a major cause of tire failure for California auto owners. More flats, blow outs, skids and longer stopping distances are all results of underinflated tires.

It's hard for many Mill Valley drivers to tell when a radial tire is underinflated. If your owner’s manual recommends 35 pounds of pressure, your tire is considered significantly under-inflated at 26 pounds. The tire may not look low until it gets below 20 pounds.

Uncle Sam to the rescue! A recent U.S. federal law required vehicle manufacturer’s to include a Tire Pressure Monitoring System - or TPMS system - in all vehicles. Many Canadian vehicles have them as well.  The system is a dashboard mounted warning light that goes off if one or more of the tires falls 25% below its pressure recommendations.

Obviously, all of this doesn't come free for Mill Valley car owners. Government studies have estimated the net costs. Of course, the TPMS system itself will cost something. Maintaining the system will have a cost, replacement of worn or broken parts and tire repair cost increases. The net cost is estimated to be between $27 and $100.

California service centers have purchased new scanning equipment to work with the TPMS sensors and updated expensive tire change equipment to better service wheels equipped with the new monitoring systems.

Malugani Tire service advisors have been trained on many systems and new tire-changing techniques. All of this adds up to significantly increased cost to the service center to perform what was once a very inexpensive service. So if you've noticed the cost of flat repairs, tire changes, and rotations going up, please keep in mind that it's because of government mandated safety equipment. Your Mill Valley service center just wants to keep you safely on the road - and it's committed to do so at a fair price. Remember, this change will help you avoid the most common vehicle failure, and possibly a catastrophic accident.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Automotive Tips from Malugani Tire: Battery Testing

Posted May 9, 2016 8:27 AM

The simple fact is that 70% of car batteries fail within 4 years. They just need to be replaced at Malugani Tire when they are no longer able to hold a full charge.

Batteries are a big ticket item for most Mill Valley drivers and it’s tempting to put off buying a new one as long as possible. But a battery that cannot hold a full charge requires the alternator to work extra hard, causing it to wear out prematurely.

Your Malugani Tire service advisor can test your battery to see if it should be replaced. Testing is a good idea for California drivers because a battery might still be good, but become dead because of a bad alternator or even a worn serpentine belt and tensioner.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Should Mill Valley Soccer Moms Follow the Severe Service Schedule?

Posted May 2, 2016 9:07 AM

So you take your vehicle in for maintenance and the pro at Malugani Tire tells you that you ought to change your oil more often. What? You followed the maintenance schedule – but you take a second look at that “severe service” schedule and see some of the following:


1. Most of your trips around Mill Valley are less than four miles/six and a half kilometers.
2. Most of your trips are less than 10 miles/16 km when outside California temperatures are below freezing.
3. You don't do a lot of California freeway driving, so you drive at low speeds most of the time.
4. You drive in an area with a lot of pollution, dust, dirt, mud or slush.
5. You frequently tow a trailer, haul heavy loads around Mill Valley or use a car-top carrier.
6. The weather in your area can get very hot or very cold.

Surprising, isn't it? Severe driving isn't quite what you'd envisioned.

Ask yourself: "Which auto service schedule should I follow?" For some of us, it's obvious. But for most of us, it's not an either/or question.

One way to decide how often to maintain your vehicle is to picture a line. On one end, imagine ideal driving conditions: year-round moderate California temperatures, only freeway driving, all trips are longer than 4 miles/6.5 km and travel is always at a constant speed of 60 mph/97 kph. At the other end of the line, put the severe driving conditions. Now, stop and think about how you drive, where you live, where you go in California and what you plan to do with your vehicle in the near future. Consider honestly where your driving fits on the line.

For example, if the regular maintenance schedule recommends an oil change every 5,000 miles/8,000 km, the severe schedule recommends 3,000 miles/5,000 km and you fall in the center of the driving conditions line, then 4,000 miles/6,600 km is a happy compromise. Just be honest. You don't want that happy compromise to turn into auto repairs.

Learning why our vehicles need more frequent service can also help us Mill Valley drivers determine a maintenance schedule. For example, fluids in your vehicle are depleted more rapidly the more heat there is in their environment. That heat can come from air temperatures, but also from the extra heat generated in the engine and transmission from stop-and-go driving. Towing a trailer or carrying heavy loads also generates more heat. So under these conditions, fluids must be replaced more often in order to retain their effectiveness.

Moisture naturally builds up inside of an engine because of the heating and cooling it constantly undergoes. When the engine is hot, moisture evaporates; when the engine is cool, moisture condenses. As long as the engine is getting hot enough to evaporate all of the moisture, your vehicle will remain healthy. But short trips don't allow for this and moisture can build up inside the engine. This moisture can lead to the formation of oil sludge, which in turn leads to clogged engine parts and damage.

In dusty or polluted Mill Valley area conditions, filters and fluids just get dirty more quickly. Talk with your service advisor at Malugani Tire regarding service schedules and which one is right for you. Good car care means taking care of problems before they become problems. And in order to do that, you need to know how often to take your vehicle in to Malugani Tire for service.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Fresh Air Inside Your Car in Mill Valley

Posted April 24, 2016 5:17 AM

Air quality has certainly become a hot issue in our modern world. We install air filters on our ventilation systems and in our vacuum cleaners. There's a filter that cleans the air going into our vehicle's engine — so why not one for the air in the passenger compartment?

Foreign and domestic vehicle manufacturers haven't been ignoring the issue. Cabin air filters are becoming a standard feature on newer vehicles. These filters can clean particles out of the air down to three microns, which accounts for pollen, dust and most pollutants. Mill Valley residents who suffer from allergies or have a respiratory disorder should be a lot more comfortable. And even if you don't have a medical need for the filter, the cleaner air in your car just might help you breathe better, figuratively as well as literally.

Cabin air filters are still fairly new in the Mill Valley area, so you'll have to check your vehicle owner's manual to see if you have one. If you do, your routine car care will have to include changing the filter as part of your preventive maintenance. The owner's manual will give recommendations on how often the filter has to be changed, but if the air where you live in California is particularly dirty or if you're prone to hay fever, you may want to change it more often.


Your friendly service advisor at Malugani Tire can also offer suggestions on how often to change your cabin air filter in your Mill Valley area. They're the ones who actually see the dirty filters, after all.

There is no standardized location for cabin air filters. Mill Valley residents can usually find them in the vehicle engine compartment or under the dashboard, but they might be somewhere else. So the ease of changing the filter will depend on its location. Some are readily accessible, but others make you wonder how they got installed in the first place. Bring your car into Malugani Tire and we will locate your cabin air filter for you.

However, if you have a newer vehicle, it's good auto advice to find out if it has a cabin air filter. If it does, you should change the filter regularly. A sure sign that a filter needs to be changed is that the interior of your vehicle will start to smell bad. That smell is exactly how some Mill Valley drivers discovered that they had cabin air filters in the first place!

Cabin air filters are just one more way we have to stay safe, stay healthy and stay on the road in California.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Positive Crankcase Ventilation – PCV Valve Service at Malugani Tire

Posted April 17, 2016 6:42 AM

Hello Mill Valley! Did you know that the first federally-mandated emissions control device was introduced in the 1960's? The Positive Crankcase Ventilation valve, or PCV valve, has been installed in California vehicles since 1964 and represents the first legislation by the United States government to regulate harmful emissions as well as to improve performance in the country's vehicles.

The PCV valve, as you can probably guess, is located on the crankcase. The crankcase is the lowest part of a vehicle's engine. It houses the crankshaft and the engine oil. The crankshaft connects to the pistons that power the engine.

Pistons are pushed down when fuel is burned in an engine. This causes the crankshaft to rotate, which sends power to the transmission.  It ultimately turns the axles and causes the vehicle to move. Some of the gases released by the burning fuel squeeze around the pistons and down into the crankcase.

If the escaped gases mix with the engine oil in the crankcase, oil sludge develops. This sludge has the consistency of petroleum jelly and can cause damage by clogging up passageways in the engine. Further, escaped gases can build up pressure inside the crankcase that can blow out seals and gaskets.

Before 1964, a hose was attached to the crankcase that vented escaped gases out into the air. These gases contained about 70% unburned fuel as well as harmful emissions. The PCV valve was designed to curb these harmful emissions as well as recapture unburned fuel.

The PCV valve is a small, one-way valve that allows escaped gases to exit the crankcase. The gases are then routed into the intake system so they can be re-burned in the engine. Fresh air enters the crankcase through a breather tube to facilitate this circulation and keep the air in the crankcase clean.

The PCV valve, like most working parts on a vehicle, will wear out over time. Usually it simply gets gummed up. Preventive maintenance, including routine oil changes at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, will extend the life of the valve, but eventually it will have to be replaced. A sticking PCV valve won't allow gases to circulate properly, which can increase pressure in the crankcase. Over time, that pressure will lead to oil leaks.

Your vehicle manufacturer recommends that a PCV valve be replaced every 20,000 to 50,000 miles (32,000 to 80,000 kilometers), depending on the vehicle and Mill Valley driving conditions. It's an inexpensive repair but may not be included in the maintenance schedule in your owner's manual.  So if you're looking for auto advice about the PCV valve, you may have to ask our pros at Malugani Tire.

Taking care of our PCV valve protects the environment in California and improves vehicle performance. It's just part of good vehicle care for Mill Valley drivers and a way all of us can do our part to improve the world we live in.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



What's up with Diesels in Mill Valley?

Posted April 11, 2016 1:46 AM

Would you be surprised to learn that about half of the passenger cars in Europe have diesel engines? You might also be surprised to learn that most manufacturers produce a variety of diesel-fueled cars for purchase abroad.

Diesel-fueled vehicles haven't been as popular in the North American markets like California. But that won't be true for long. North Americans are seeing a lot more diesel-fueled vehicles on the road. And we're not talking about buses and trucks. These vehicles will be passenger cars, pick-ups and SUV's.

There are two reasons for this. The first is a recent change in environmental laws that have upgraded emissions standards for diesel fuel in North America. Diesel fuel in North America used to have higher sulfur content than European fuel, meaning that it was a dirtier fuel to burn. That was okay for larger vehicles, but the lighter-weight engines in passenger vehicles just couldn't tolerate it.

But that high sulfur content is now a thing of the past. Fuel producers are now required to sell cleaner diesel fuel in Mill Valley. That opens the North American market to more diesel-powered vehicles. The second reason we're going to see more of these vehicles in Mill Valley is that they're more fuel-efficient than their gasoline-powered counterparts. Diesel fuel has higher energy density than gasoline. That translates to more power per barrel of fuel. In your tank, that translates to better engine performance and about 20% better fuel economy.

People in Mill Valley may associate diesel engines with black smoke, noise and a definite “shake, rattle and roll.” That's also a thing of the past. Modern diesel engines are smooth, quiet and produce cleaner emissions than gasoline engines. Also, forget that three-second wait behind a diesel vehicle at a stoplight. Modern diesels are just as quick to accelerate as other vehicles on Mill Valley roads.

Diesel engines have other advantages over gasoline engines. Diesel engines are heavier than gasoline engines because they require more heavy-duty parts, but that means the engines are more durable and can last longer than gasoline engines. Also, diesel engines may be the engines of the future since they can burn many of the new bio-fuels.

Bio-diesel can be manufactured from vegetable oils, including used cooking oil from Mill Valley restaurants. Just think, one day you could fuel your vehicle on stuff that was once considered waste—one step closer to a cleaner environment here in California. And if you think hybrid cars are environmentally sound, consider what a diesel-electric hybrid could mean. 

Mill Valley drivers who are considering buying a diesel-fueled vehicle should know that  preventive maintenance and inspection schedules are different for a diesel engine than a gasoline engine. Diesel fuel is harder on emissions systems than gasoline, so the filters and other devices have to be changed and checked more often. Also, the fuel injection system operates at much higher pressures for diesel than for gasoline, so keeping it clean becomes a higher priority.

When you switch from a gas vehicle to a diesel, you'll have to learn some new rules of vehicle care. But you won't be alone. Most Mill Valley service centers are aware that diesels are coming to North America and are already prepared to provide service for diesel engines. At Malugani Tire, we are well-versed in diesel technology. You can rely on our team of automotive professionals to provide quality service for diesel-powered vehicles.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Fuel System Cleaning at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley for Better Performance

Posted April 5, 2016 7:51 AM

A fuel injector is a valve that delivers fuel to a vehicle's engine. It has to deliver the precise amount of fuel to precisely the right place, precisely when the engine needs it. The fuel also has to be mixed with air before it can burn in the engine.

Fuel injectors are engineered to spray fuel in a specific pattern into the engine. (The pattern varies by engine type and design.) In order to achieve these spray patterns, the fuel must be pressurized.

The pressure in a fuel injection system varies depending on its type. Many gasoline engines use port injection systems, which operate with a pressure of 60 pounds per square inch. Newer direct injection systems operate at 10 to 30 times that pressure. Some diesel passenger vehicles have fuel injectors that operate at 30,000 pounds or more per square inch.

Vehicles have one fuel injector for each cylinder in the engine. Your vehicle's control computer constantly monitors the engine and various sensors in the vehicle.  It also adjusts the fuel injectors accordingly so that they can deliver the proper amount of fuel to the engine. As you can see, fuel injectors are a sophisticated and vital part of your vehicle's engine.

Because fuel injectors are such precision instruments, dirt and contaminants are a serious detriment to their performance. When an injector gets gummed up, it affects the pressure, pattern and timing of the fuel delivery. The result is a decrease in fuel economy and loss of engine performance.

So it's important to keep your fuel injectors clean. That starts with keeping the fuel in your tank clean. High-quality fuel contains detergents and additives that help clean your engine. Brand-name California fuel companies also deliver a more consistent quality of fuel than do bargain stations in the Mill Valley area.

The second way to keep your injectors clean is to keep your fuel filter clean. This filter screens dirt and rust out of the fuel as it travels from the tank to the engine. If the filter clogs up, fuel will bypass it and carry its load of dirt into the engine.

Check your owner's manual or ask the pros at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley to find out how often you should change your fuel filter. This should be part of your regular preventive maintenance. Also, remember that if you use bargain-brand or low-grade fuels, or if you drive an older vehicle, your filter will need to be changed more often.

You can also purchase cleaners that will protect your fuel injectors. These cleaners are added to the fuel tank. They work best at preventing build-up in your fuel injectors and can clean up small amounts of carbon, gum and varnish. But they won't be able to clean a fully gummed-up injector. Read the labels before using any of these products for full directions on their use.

If your fuel injectors are gummed up, you can get a professional deep cleaning service at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley that will result in better fuel economy and improved vehicle performance.

Good vehicle care will prevent serious damage to your fuel injector system. And this is one system that you want to keep in perfect condition.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Keep Your Cool in Mill Valley

Posted March 27, 2016 7:58 AM

Mill Valley drivers rely on their vehicle's coolant system to keep their engine cool. Coolant (also called antifreeze) mixed with water flows through your vehicle engine and absorbs heat. The mixture then flows out to the radiator where it's cooled by air flowing over the radiator. From there the coolant/water mix circulates back through the engine to absorb more heat.

There's a reason we mix coolant and water. Water alone actually does a good job transferring heat from the engine. The problem is that water boils at a temperature that's easily reached inside your vehicle's engine, so it can turn to steam which does not conduct heat as well and is harder to contain.

Also, if it's freezing outside in Mill Valley, the water in your engine could freeze while your vehicle is sitting out in the California cold.

So, if you remember your high school chemistry, you'll know that a mixture has both a higher boiling point and a lower freezing point than either component alone.

Coolant, or antifreeze, is specially formulated to keep your engine safe in a wide range of environmental and operating temperatures in and around Mill Valley.

Whenever your vehicle is running, the coolant in the cooling system is working to keep your engine from overheating. When it's cold outside, the coolant acts as antifreeze to keep the fluid from freezing in your engine.

All that exploding fuel in your engine creates a lot of heat. Without coolant, the metal vehicle engine parts would expand so much that the engine would seize up and stop running. The parts could be broken or warp so badly they would have to be replaced. It could even be so bad that the whole vehicle's engine is ruined and has to be junked.

This is why it is critical that Mill Valley drivers check coolant levels frequently and have their vehicle's cooling system inspected for leaks. Also your vehicle has a maintenance requirement for draining and replacing your coolant. These recommendations can vary widely, so check your owner's manual or ask us at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley.

The reason Mill Valley drivers need to change the coolant is that it has additives in it to protect the cooling system. As you can imagine, with all the heat, the cooling system's a pretty harsh environment. The additives keep the fluid from becoming corrosive and damaging the radiator and other vehicle cooling system components. Over time, the additives are depleted and the coolant just has to be replaced.

Many Mill Valley auto owners ask our advisors at Malugani Tire why there are different colors of antifreeze. It is very important that you use the correct type of antifreeze. The different types of antifreeze – or coolant – are different colors so you don't mix them up.

They use different materials to make the cooling system, and they require different types of antifreeze to protect them.

So check with us at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley or your owner's manual for the right kind because using the wrong coolant can void the warranty for your vehicle cooling system.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Automotive Tips from Malugani Tire: Serpentine Belt Tensioner

Posted March 21, 2016 2:11 AM

The serpentine belt tensioner applies pressure to the serpentine belt, maintaining optimal tension to drive the accessories like the alternator and A/C compressor. At Malugani Tire we know that the service life of the belt tensioner is the same as the belt itself, so they should always be replaced together. A worn tensioner prevents the accessories from spinning properly, leading to premature wear and noise for Mill Valley drivers.

Your vehicle manufacturer has a recommended mileage interval for serpentine belt replacement. A complete accessory drive system service replaces the serpentine belt, the belt tensioner and any idler pulleys your car might have. Your friendly and professional Malugani Tire service advisor can inspect your system and let you know if it’s time for a replacement.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Easy Miles – Do Mill Valley Driving Conditions Affect Service Intervals?

Posted March 14, 2016 8:42 AM

Have you ever noticed that your vehicle has a schedule in your owner's manual for what is called “severe service” maintenance? Let's define what severe driving conditions aren't: The easiest driving a vehicle experiences is traveling on the interstate for 20 miles (32 kilometers) or more at a constant rate of 65 miles per hour (105 kilometers per hour) in 75°F (24°C) weather with only passengers on board. Change any one of those parameters and you are adding stress to your engine. Change them significantly and you are driving under severe conditions.

Let's look at the parameters one a time. First, the length of the trip. Short trips around Mill Valley are harder on an engine than longer ones. As your engine cools down, water in the air condenses onto the engine. When you heat the engine again, the water evaporates off. This is healthy. But on short trips, the engine doesn't stay hot enough long enough for all of the water to evaporate. So it starts to build up in the engine oil leading to sludge, which can clog up your engine and lead to serious engine damage. If most or all of your trips around the Mill Valley area are less than four miles, you should be using the severe service maintenance schedule. Changing your oil more frequently at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley will help prevent the formation of sludge.

Most of us Mill Valley drivers think of severe California weather conditions when we think of severe driving conditions. And we're right. Cold California weather takes its toll on the oil in your vehicle. Remember how water has to evaporate out of the oil to keep your engine healthy? It can take up to ten miles of driving for an engine to get hot enough to get rid of moisture in the oil when the weather is cold.

Hot Mill Valley weather is also bad for vehicles. When an engine runs, it gets hot. The longer it runs, the hotter it gets. If it gets too hot, it breaks down. So it has to be constantly cooled to keep running. Hot California weather means your cooling system has to work harder to keep your engine from getting too hot.

So, in the end, most of us Mill Valley auto owners drive under severe conditions some of the time. Smart Mill Valley residents will ask themselves the question: "Should I follow the severe service maintenance schedule?" An honest evaluation of our driving habits is the best way to determine which schedule to follow.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



It's About Time: Following Service Intervals at Malugani Tire

Posted March 6, 2016 10:52 AM

There are a lot of things in life that Mill Valley 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 Mill Valley 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 vehicle care. Mill Valley drivers should take their vehicles in regularly for a good check-up. But many folks struggle to remember or actually even ignore this auto advice. When it comes to our vehicles, 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 in your 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 vehicles 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 Malugani Tire in Mill Valley.

Another reason we 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 Mill Valley residents don't know.

Of course, our vehicles 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 Mill Valley vehicle owners actually read them?

The good news is that all we have to do is remember to take our vehicles to a reputable, service center like Malugani Tire in Mill Valley. Like a good doctor, your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Malugani Tire will be able to tell you what maintenance and service your vehicle needs and when. The service center can track your vehicle'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 you 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 vehicle needs fuel 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 vehicle 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 vehicle in for the basics, then your Mill Valley 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 vehicle needs regular service, consider this: not doing so will cost you in decreased fuel economy, lower performance and compromised safety. These could lead to repair bills and costly accidents.

Just like a good dental check-up, a good auto check-up at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley can save you from experiencing embarrassing, costly and painful situations.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Let Malugani Tire Help You Keep Your Vehicle Another Couple of Years

Posted February 29, 2016 8:59 AM

Mill Valley area residents may remember when the U.S. government's “Cash for Clunkers” program made a splash on the news scene. People were offered incentives to trade in old vehicles for new, in the interest of better and improved air quality from reduced emissions.

But a lot of Mill Valley drivers want to hang onto their old clunkers. They're dependable and they're paid for. Owners would love to see the odometers on those vehicles turn past 200,000 miles (320,000 km), as long as the repair bills don't get too expensive.

There are a lot of vehicles on California roads that have run past the 200,000 mile (320,000 km) odometer reading. Is there something that their owners are doing that keeps these vehicles on the road? Or did they just win the “lemon lottery,” and luck out by getting a particularly good vehicle? Not surprisingly, most of these owners have something in common. They never skip an oil change. Can keeping a vehicle on the road for 200,000 miles (320,000 km) really be that easy for Mill Valley drivers?

Actually, it makes sense. Oil is the lifeblood of a vehicle. Clean oil ensures that the engine will run efficiently and staves off the build-up of sludge that can eventually damage engine parts. Oil changes remove dirty oil and replace dirty oil filters, keeping an engine clean and running smoothly, just like eating right keeps our hearts healthy by preventing build-up in our arteries.

But there's another reason why not skipping an oil change can result in a longer life for your car. When you bring your car in to Malugani Tire for an oil change, all of the fluid levels are checked and topped off. If these fluids are depleted, dirty or low, they can damage the engine.

If a fluid is significantly low, it usually indicates a leak somewhere, leading to an inspection of relevant parts. This inspection and the replacement of the worn part can prevent repair bills and maintain the health of the engine.

At an oil change, your technician at Malugani Tire will also do a quick check for worn belts or hoses, uneven tread wear, leaking shock absorbers and other signs of wear and tear. This advance notice allows the owner to replace parts before they break down and possibly damage your vehicle.

The oil change is also a good time to review any other service that the vehicle might need. Many car owners rely on their pros at Malugani Tire for good auto advice on check-ups and follow-up vehicle care that will keep older cars running well.

Parts wear out on older vehicles. There's no avoiding it. As the odometer chugs upward toward 200,000 miles (320,000 km), the vehicle will need several batteries, a couple of alternators and water pumps, a new set of shocks and possibly some brake rotors. But these items—all together—add up to far less than the cost of a new vehicle.

Good vehicle care and preventive maintenance are the hallmark of Mill Valley drivers who have kept their vehicles on the road and running past the age when most of us have given up and headed back to a car lot. We can learn from their wisdom.

So treat your car right: Take good care of it and don't skip the check-ups at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley. 

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Good Timing: Proper Timing Belt Replacement Saves Money for Mill Valley Drivers

Posted February 27, 2016 1:24 AM

Knowing how their engine works can help Mill Valley drivers make informed decisions about auto care and prevent repairs to their vehicles. This is especially true when it comes to timing belts.

An engine's power is generated in the cylinders. Inside the cylinder is a piston that moves up and down while the engine is running. Power is generated in a cycle that includes four strokes of the piston. First, the piston drops and a valve at the top of the cylinder opens to let in fuel and air. The piston then rises, which compresses the fuel and air. At this point, the spark plug fires, igniting the fuel and pushing the piston down. This downstroke transfers energy to the engine, which provides the power it needs to run. The piston rises again, and a valve opens to release the exhaust.

All of this movement is orchestrated by a timing belt. The timing belt is so named because it keeps the pistons and valves operating in synch with each other, just as a conductor keeps all of the instruments in an orchestra in time with one another. Thus, the timing belt is critical to the proper operation of your engine.

Not all vehicles in the Mill Valley area have timing belts. Some have timing chains. A timing chain is more durable and rarely breaks, but timing belts are cheaper, so many use them to save money.

Timing belts wear out and break, so part of preventive maintenance for Mill Valley drivers is to replace the timing belt on schedule.

The results of failure of a timing belt depend on the type of engine in your vehicle, but they are always inconvenient and can be very costly for Mill Valley auto owners. If your engine is a non-interference engine and the timing belt breaks, the engine simply stops running. Now that can be an incredibly inconvenient situation depending on where you are driving around Mill Valley when it breaks, but it won't cause any engine damage. On the other hand, if your vehicle has an interference engine and the timing belt breaks, the valves on your cylinders will actually fall into the path of the pistons. Then things start getting chewed up by the motion of the engine and it will cost thousands of dollars to get everything sorted out again. Compounding the problem is that there aren't any warning signs before a timing belt breaks. A visual inspection of the belt is difficult also. In some vehicles, parts of the belt may be visible, but most vehicles hide the belt under a cover.

The timing belt doesn't even have to break to cause major engine damage. If it slips, even one notch, the result could be engine damage with repair costs in the thousands of dollars.

Our only car care option is to simply replace the timing belt periodically. You can check your owner's manual to find out how often your timing belt should be replaced. Many vehicles need a replacement at 60,000 miles (100,000 kilometers), but the recommended replacement mileage could be as high as 90,000 or 100,000 miles (145,000 to 160,000 kilometers). If your owner's manual recommends replacement at 60,000 miles (100,000 kilometers), however, don't wait until 65,000 miles (105,000 kilometers) to get it done. Remember what you're risking.

Replacing a timing belt is not a cheap part of preventive maintenance for Mill Valley vehicle owners. The belt is usually difficult to get to and often requires removal of some of the engine accessories. The cost of the replacement, however, is a lot less than what the repairs may cost if the timing belt fails.

For more auto advice on timing belts and other engine components, you can always consult with your service advisor at Malugani Tire. When it comes to car care, ignorance is not bliss. It can end up costing you in a big way.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Super Slick at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley: Synthetic Oil

Posted December 17, 2015 12:00 PM

When you get an oil change, it's always a safe bet to just use the type of oil the manufacturer recommends. But sometimes we're asked if we'd like conventional or synthetic motor oil. We glance at the price tags on the two options and choose the cheaper one. But in this case, the more expensive oil might be the better bargain for Mill Valley drivers.

Conventional oil is made from petroleum. Its molecules form long hydrocarbon chains. Synthetic motor oil is either more highly refined petroleum or completely man-made. Its molecules are more uniform. This provides advantages over conventional motor oil.

First of all, the molecular structure of synthetic motor oil makes it more slippery than conventional oil so it lubricates better. This translates to better wear protection for Mill Valley drivers, cooler operating temperatures and more engine power.

Further, synthetic oil is more heat-resistant than conventional oil, and it doesn't vaporize as easily. It provides better protection for severe conditions like stop-and-go driving around Mill Valley and very hot or freezing California temperatures.

Also, synthetic oil doesn't generate oil sludge like conventional oil. This prevents small engine passageways from becoming clogged, which can significantly extend the working life of your vehicle engine.

Manufacturers are aware of the advantages of synthetic oil, and many of them are using it to fill their vehicles before delivering them to be sold. Many owner's manuals now come with the recommendation to use only synthetic oil. Because synthetic oil wears better and protects better than conventional motor oil, it can be changed less often. If your vehicle came with a recommendation for synthetic oil, you may have noticed that the recommended period between oil changes is longer than what you're used to. However, if you switch to conventional oil, you need to be aware that you can't follow this longer service interval. You'll have to change your oil more often.

On the other hand, if you are using conventional oil and you switch to synthetic oil, you may be able to lengthen the time between oil changes. You can ask the pros at Malugani Tire for more information. They can offer you good auto advice about oils and service intervals based on your driving habits and requirements.

Oil changes are the hallmark of preventive maintenance at Malugani Tire. All Mill Valley drivers need them. So we should get excited about a product that reduces how often we need them. Synthetic oil is more expensive, yes, but it can pay for itself by lasting longer than conventional oil. And when you add in the hidden savings of an extended engine life and improved fuel economy, not to mention increased engine power, there's a good chance that synthetic oil actually saves cash in the long run. All Mill Valley drivers pay for vehicle care. But understanding what we're paying for can make us more savvy shoppers.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Malugani Tire Center Inc. Auto Tips and Car Care: Wiper Blades – Signs of Wear

Posted December 11, 2015 12:00 PM

90% of our driving decisions are based on vision. Anything that impedes your vision can impact your driving safety – including a dirty windshield. In that sense, your wiper blades are an important safety system. Most Mill Valley auto owners wait until their wipers have failed before they replace them. Then they find themselves in a driving situation when they really need forward visibility only to discover that their wipers are worn or maybe even torn and can’t clear snow or rain from the windshield.

As a critical safety system, wiper blades should be replaced BEFORE they fail. Test your wipers at least once a month. If they are not doing the job, your friendly Malugani Tire Center Inc. service specialist can replace them for you.

Give us a call

Malugani Tire Center Inc.
(415) 388-1800
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941



Professional Auto Maintenance at Malugani Tire Center Inc.: Causes of Wheel Misalignment

Posted December 3, 2015 12:00 PM

When properly aligned, all of your wheels are pointed in the same direction. Your vehicle will track true and handle the way it is designed. Mill Valley auto owners often associate our wheels being “knocked” out of alignment with an event like a major accident, hitting a pothole, curb or some other object. While these can certainly take your wheels out of alignment, the bumps and bounces of everyday driving take their toll on wheel alignment as well. Your car can lose alignment over time with just normal driving.

When your wheels are out of alignment, the team of automotive professionals at Malugani Tire Center Inc. in Mill Valley can return your wheels to the factory settings. Most owners’ manuals suggest an inspection every year or two.

Give us a call

Malugani Tire Center Inc.
(415) 388-1800
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941



Getting the Right Tires and Wheels in Mill Valley

Posted November 27, 2015 12:00 PM

A lot of people get custom wheels in Mill Valley. When you do this yourself (over the internet . . .) you could run into trouble if you're not careful. Sometimes, once they're mounted, they just don't fit right. The tires rub in turns or on bumps. You don't want that.

Consulting your Malugani Tire tire professional can ensure you get the right fit. First he'll ask you a series of questions about your Mill Valley driving needs and what you want in your new wheels. Now, not every wheel can go on every car. Care must be taken so that tires and wheels are not too large or that the wheel is centered too far towards the outside or the inside so the tires rub.

If you don't want to make any modifications to your vehicle, you would need to focus on the wheels that would fit. With trucks, some people in Mill Valley like much bigger tires so they need a suspension lift.

Also, most Mill Valley drivers don't realize that you need to keep the rolling diameter of your new tires – the overall height of the tire – very close to what came from the factory in order for your vehicle's anti-lock brakes and stability control systems to work properly.

The computers that control these systems are calibrated to a certain size tire. When you go bigger or smaller, the computer doesn't know what changes you made so it can't tell how fast you're going. This, of course, means it sends commands to the brakes and traction control that are based on the wrong speed. If you go with a different rolling diameter, your vehicle engine control computer can be reprogrammed for the new tire size.

Either way, there are hundreds of wheel and tire choices to choose from in California. You can pick the style of wheel you want and then talk with your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire tire professional about how big the wheel should be – and how to select the right tire for your vehicle. Your Malugani Tire service advisor will help you find the best tire to meet your style, performance, ride and handling needs in Mill Valley.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Malugani Tire Center Inc. Auto Maintenance Videos: Brake Noise

Posted November 18, 2015 12:00 PM

Your brake pads are the critical parts that rub against the rotor (or disc) to slow and stop your auto. They eventually wear down.

When your pads are worn too much, they won’t stop your vehicle as well. When the friction material is worn away, metal parts of the pad are exposed and you’ll hear a squeal or grinding sound.

That’s when Mill Valley drivers should replace their brake pads. Not only will new pads restore your stopping power, but replacing them on time will prevent damage to the rotor.

If your brakes are making noise, ask your Malugani Tire Center Inc. tech to check your brakes. Addressing issues early will restore your safety and prevent expensive brake damage.

Give us a call

Malugani Tire Center Inc.
(415) 388-1800
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941



Vehicle Maintenance Videos by Malugani Tire Center Inc.: Timing Belt Overview

Posted November 11, 2015 12:00 PM

In your engine, valves over each combustion chamber open to allow fresh air in, close during the combustion event, and then other valves open to let out the exhaust. All of this happens over and over thousands of times a minute. The timing belt’s vital job is to make sure that all of this happens as it should – at precisely the right time. If the timing is off, your engine won’t run efficiently or maybe not at all – so a good timing belt is vital. If it should break, you could have pricey engine damage.

Ask your friendly Malugani Tire Center Inc. technician when your timing belt is scheduled for replacement.

Give us a call

Malugani Tire Center Inc.
(415) 388-1800
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941



Fuel Saving Tip: Auto Myths Around Mill Valley

Posted November 11, 2015 12:00 PM



With high fuel prices in Mill Valley, California, comes lots of gas saving advice. Some of it, like what you hear on  Auto is great.  When you get one of those e-mails that's going around telling you how to save gas, try to think it through.

Does it really make sense? Does it defy the laws of physics?

Do some research on the internet or ask your Mill Valley, California, service advisor at Malugani Tire.

There aren't any magic pills you can drop in your gas tank, and the government hasn't suppressed a device you can clamp on your fuel line to make your vehicle run on air. Not even in Mill Valley!

So next time you get one of those e-mails, check it out with an automotive professional. You'll get more bang for your buck with an oil change or an engine air filter replacement.

We're here for you at Malugani Tire, so give us a call at (415) 388-1800 for good honest advice about your vehicle.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Smooth Shifting in Mill Valley, California: Transmission Service

Posted October 28, 2015 12:00 PM

So you have some exciting plans for the weekend. You're going to take some of your friends out on the boat for some water skiing. Of course, you've gotten the boat all ready. And you haven't forgotten about your tow vehicle. You've gassed it up and even vacuumed it out. However, there is something even more important than the cleanliness of the interior: you want to make sure that your vehicle maintenance is up to date.

Think about it – heavy traffic on the way out of Mill Valley. There's hilly terrain as you get to the lake. Some dirt roads – and it's going to be pretty hot in California this weekend. And all the time you'll be towing around a lot of extra weight. That all adds up a lot of severe strain on your engine, brakes and transmission.

Let's just consider the transmission. It's going to be working overtime, spending more time in lower gears. The internal transmission temperature is going to be much higher than normal. A fun little blast to the local California lake for you is really severe duty for your transmission.

It's important to have enough transmission fluid. If it runs low, the transmission will run hotter and won't have the protection it needs to cope with the added stress of towing. Transmission fluid breaks down and gets dirty over time. Whether you have an automatic or manual transmission, it's important for Mill Valley drivers to have it serviced by automotive professionals like the team at Malugani Tire to make sure it runs efficiently.

An automatic transmission contains a maze of passages through which the fluid must pass to keep it shifting smoothly. Mill Valley drivers who neglect regularly scheduled transmission service risk the passages clogging up and starting to have problems.

Those who neglect their transmission for too long will eventually experience transmission failure. You really don't want to pay for a major transmission repair.

This reminds us of how much of our driving around Mill Valley, California, is under severe conditions. Towing or hauling a big load is obvious, but there are lots of other things that constitute severe driving conditions — things like short trips and driving in very hot or very cold California weather. Dusty roads and city driving around Mill Valley add to the strain. Basically, any driving that's not at highway speeds or under ideal conditions can be considered severe conditions.

While you have your vehicle in, ask for a trip inspection. Your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Malugani Tire will check your belts and hoses and let you know if your brakes are in good shape.

Now, don't forget the sunscreen.

 

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Shake It up in Mill Valley!: Why Wheel Balancing

Posted October 27, 2015 12:00 PM

Our vehicles are not massage chairs. While we may enjoy a good vibration in an overstuffed recliner, we generally want as smooth a ride as possible in our vehicles. One way to achieve this is to keep a vehicle's wheels in balance.

When a tire is mounted onto a wheel, it is usually out of balance. This means that as the wheel spins, there is a slight wobble to the path of the tire. For best handling performance and safety on the road, Mill Valley drivers want to minimize this wobble as much as possible. So we balance our tires. To balance a tire, your technician at Malugani Tire spins it on a machine or drum to determine where it is off-balance. He then attaches weights that counter-balance the uneven weight. Most people in Mill Valley are surprised at how much balancing improves the smoothness of their ride.

High-quality tires generally hold their balance well. But over time, wear and tear take their toll and tires can become unbalanced. Mill Valley drivers can tell when a front tire is unbalanced if they feel a vibration in the steering wheel. If a back tire is unbalanced, you'll feel a vibration in your seat. You may not notice these vibrations until they get fairly serious — or until someone else drives your vehicle — because they usually develop slowly. If a vibration starts abruptly, it usually means you've lost a balancing weight.

The average tire rotates at about 850 revolutions per minute at 60 mph/97 kmh. When a tire is out of balance, it actually hops down the road, rather than rolling. So at 60 mph/97 kph, it is slamming into the pavement 14 times a second. That's what creates the vibration. When tires are out of balance, they wear out more quickly. The lack of balance also causes extra wear on shocks, struts, steering components and suspension parts.

Getting a balance job at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley can prevent repair bills and even an accident. It will improve the safety of your vehicle as well as its handling performance. When you change your rims or get a flat repaired at Malugani Tire, you'll need to get your tires balanced as well. When you rotate your tires, you may want to have them balanced, too.

Some Mill Valley vehicle owners, however, only balance their wheels every other rotation. You can check your owner's manual to see what is recommended for your vehicle. Balancing your tires is part of preventive maintenance. It keeps your vehicle in good repair and prevents damage to many of its components. So practice good vehicle care and make it a point to keep your tires balanced. It's quality auto advice from Malugani Tire. Massage chairs may vibrate away our worries, but unbalanced tires will just rattle Mill Valley drivers' nerves.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Malugani Tire Center Inc. Auto Tips and Car Care: Air Conditioning – Common Problem

Posted October 20, 2015 12:00 PM

Your auto air conditioning system cools and conditions the air in your passenger compartment. It also removes moisture from the air to keep your windows from fogging up.

A common A/C trouble is contaminated refrigerant (the gas that cools the air). The inside of the A/C hoses deteriorates over time and miniature parts of rubber obstructs passages. This makes the system less efficient and overworks various components.

Leaks can develop at seals and gaskets and may lessen the amount of refrigerant, causing the system to work too hard to compensate. Dirty components can have the same consequences.

Ask your Malugani Tire Center Inc. service professional for an air conditioning system examination to make sure everything is up to spec.

Give us a call

Malugani Tire Center Inc.
(415) 388-1800
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941



Automotive Tips from Malugani Tire: When to Replace Your Wiper Blades

Posted October 7, 2015 12:00 PM

There are several important factors that go into how often Mill Valley drivers should replace their wiper blades. Of course, the more you use your wipers, the faster the blades will wear out – especially if you use them on an icy windshield. Whether it’s a lot of bugs and road grime from California freeway driving or lots of wet weather – your blades get a work out and start to wear.

But your wiper blades break down even when they aren’t used frequently. They are damaged by sunlight and temperature changes as well. The rubber in the blades can dry out and crack and eventually fall apart. Check your wipers: If they’re not doing their important job, have them replaced at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley.

Talk to your Malugani Tire service advisor about how you drive - we can counsel you on the optimal blades for your needs.


Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Line Them Up: Wheel Alignment Service at Malugani Tire

Posted October 1, 2015 12:00 PM

Hello Mill Valley! Let's talk about alignment. One of the most important parts of preventive maintenance for your vehicle is keeping the wheels in alignment. Poor alignment causes your tires to wear unevenly, which can significantly reduce their lifespan. This means you will have to replace them more often, which can be costly for drivers in Mill Valley.

It can even damage your suspension system, which is costly to repair. But even more importantly, uneven tread wear can lead to blowouts on the road, a dangerous and potentially deadly safety risk for Mill Valley drivers and their passengers.

It may not take an accident or bad driving habits to “knock” your tires out of alignment. Tires can go out of alignment with just everyday California driving. Mill Valley road hazards, pot holes, uneven or gravel roads, and even the bumps and bounces of normal Mill Valley roads and surface streets can gradually put your vehicle tires out of alignment.

So it's good auto advice to have your vehicle's alignment inspected periodically. Your vehicle's owner's manual will have recommendations on how often you should get an alignment check: usually every year or two. But if you think your vehicle tires might be out of alignment, you should bring your vehicle into Malugani Tire now.

When you bring your vehicle in for an alignment, your technician at Malugani Tire will start by inspecting the steering and suspension systems. If something is broken or damaged there, it will need to be fixed in order to get good alignment of the wheels.

If all looks good in the steering and suspension departments, the vehicle will then be put on an alignment rack where an initial alignment reading is taken. The wheels can then be aligned to the vehicle manufacturer's specifications. The ideal alignment for any vehicle is set by its engineers and may vary from vehicle to vehicle.

There are three types of adjustments that may have to be made to correctly align a vehicle's tires. The first is called “toe.” This refers to tires that are out of alignment because they point inward or outward at the front of the tire. Think of a person who is pigeon-toed or splay-footed, and you get the idea.

The second adjustment is the camber. This adjustment affects the angle at which the tires meet the road. Think of a solid building in contrast to the Leaning Tower of Pisa.

The last adjustment is the castor. This adjustment measures the angle of the tire in relation to the front axles. So, a piece of auto advice that just might be good for life as well: keep everything in alignment, and you'll be able to steer where you want to go. Drive safely.

 Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Coolant/Antifreeze Service at Malugani Tire

Posted September 25, 2015 12:00 PM

Anyone who drives a car in Mill Valley knows that engines get hot when they run. But did you know that engines need to be cooled to keep running? Heat inside an engine can cause the metal parts to expand, which can seize up an engine and make it stop running. It can even ruin the entire engine! Good vehicle care requires keeping its cooling system in good condition.

A vehicle's cooling system circulates water and antifreeze (coolant) through the engine where it absorbs heat. It then flows to the radiator where the water and antifreeze are cooled by the air that flows over the radiator. Then it circulates back into the vehicle's engine to absorb more heat.

Why shouldn't Mill Valley auto owners just use water? Because water boils at temperatures that are often reached inside of an engine. Steam won't cool your vehicle engine and is hard to contain within the cooling system. The antifreeze keeps the water from boiling.

So why do we call it antifreeze? Shouldn't it be antiboil? Truth is, the antifreeze performs another critical task. Water freezes in cold California weather. That would spell disaster for your vehicle's engine. So antifreeze also keeps the water in your cooling system from freezing in all but the most extreme cold. Pretty neat stuff!

Taking care of your cooling system is part of good preventive maintenance for your vehicle. Mill Valley area drivers should check coolant level often and regularly inspect your cooling system for leaks.

That is just good auto advice. Your vehicle's manufacturer has maintenance requirements for draining and replacing engine coolant. Consult your owner's manual or ask your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor for these recommendations, as they vary widely among vehicles.


Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Clean Air for Your Engine: A New Engine Air Filter at Malugani Tire

Posted September 16, 2015 12:00 PM

All of us in Mill Valley know we have to get the oil changed in our vehicles periodically. That's just part of good vehicle care. But when Malugani Tire technicians change your oil, they also usually inspect your air filter. That's why they sometimes let you know that your air filter needs to be changed before releasing your vehicle.

Don't just chock this up to trying to sell you something else. Mill Valley area drivers really do need to change their air filter when it gets dirty. You can check your owner's manual to see how often your air filter should need to be changed, but remember, if you live in an area in California with poor air quality, or if you drive a lot or drive under harsh conditions in the Mill Valley area, you may need to change that filter more often than is recommended.

Changing an air filter isn't guesswork. If a filter's dirty, it needs to be replaced. Air filters aren't very expensive at Malugani Tire. But the problems they cause if Mill Valley auto owners don't change them can get to be.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



When Do My Shocks Need to Be Replaced?

Posted September 15, 2015 12:00 PM

A good suspension system gives a vehicle a smooth, even ride while providing Mill Valley drivers with good handling and control. But like any system on your vehicle, parts of the suspension system can wear out, leading to a lower ride quality and safety concerns. So it's a good idea for drivers in Mill Valley to remember their suspension system in their schedule of preventive maintenance. Springs do most of the work of the suspension system. The most common types of springs are coil and leaf, but air springs and torsion bars are becoming more common. The body of the vehicle is “suspended” by the springs.

If springs were the only working component in your suspension system, however, you'd spend your travel time bouncing up and down like a bobblehead. That's where your shocks come in. They keep the rebound, or bounciness, of the springs under control. Shocks also keep your tires on the road, which keeps the driver in control of the vehicle. Some vehicles have struts in their suspension system. Struts are a compact combination of springs and shocks. They do the same job but in a single package.

Shocks wear out gradually, so it can be difficult for Mill Valley drivers to notice when they need to be replaced. There's no definitive point when a vehicle's ride goes from "smooth and controlled" to "a bit imprecise." To check if your shocks or struts are worn, you should first do a visual inspection on them. If they are leaking fluid, they need to be replaced.

There are other less obvious signs that your suspension system needs attention. For example, an uneven, cupping wear on your tires may indicate that your shocks are worn. If your vehicle feels “floaty” when you turn, or, in other words, you don't feel that you have full control of the vehicle, you should check your shocks. Also, if the front end of your vehicle dips noticeably when you stop, it's time for new shocks.

Your owner's manual gives recommendations on how often the shocks should be checked, usually between 15,000 and 30,000 miles (24,000-50,000 km). If one of your shocks does need to be replaced, you should replace all four. This will keep your suspension even and ensure good handling of your vehicle. If you carry heavy loads, tow a trailer or drive on uneven Mill Valley area terrain, you might also consider upgrading to a heavy-duty shock.

Regular shocks contain hydraulic fluid. The fluid helps them absorb the bumps or “shocks” of the road so the impact doesn't transfer to the vehicle's body. Premium shocks are filled with compressed nitrogen gas, which costs more but does a better job of controlling body motions. Regular shocks can develop air bubbles that reduce their effectiveness; the premium shocks don't have this problem. So if you want higher handling performance, if you drive off-road around California or if you just want added comfort, you should consider upgrading to premium shocks or struts.

Replacing struts can put your vehicle out of alignment, so an alignment check should always follow this type of repair. Talk to your service advisor at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley for more information.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Drive Train Service in Mill Valley at Malugani Tire

Posted September 4, 2015 12:00 PM

The drive train in your vehicle includes all the components that transfer power from the transmission to the wheels. Those components differ depending on what type of vehicle you drive, namely, front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. The preventive maintenance your driveshaft needs will also differ by what type of vehicle you drive.

Let's start with front-wheel drive. In this vehicle, the transmission and the differential are combined in one component, known as the transaxle. The transaxle is connected to two half-shafts (axles), which are then connected to the wheels with a constant velocity (or CV) joint, which is protected by an airtight rubber boot.

Malugani Tire service for this type of driveline includes servicing the transaxle and inspecting the CV boot. If the boot is damaged, the CV joint will need to be inspected, and the boot will need to be replaced. If you hear a clicking noise in your wheel wells when you turn, you may have a damaged CV joint. A damaged CV joint should be replaced.

Rear-wheel drive vehicles generally have a transmission in the front of the car and the differential in the back. A driveshaft (it looks like a long tube) connects the transmission to the differential. Some vehicles may have a two-piece driveshaft, which are connected to the differential with universal joints or U-joints. Again, the differential is connected to two half-shafts that go out to the wheels.

Malugani Tire service on the drive train on a rear-wheel drive vehicle starts with servicing the differential. It will need its fluid drained and replaced regularly. The seals on the axles should also be inspected for wear or leaks. Leaking or damaged seals may mean the axle needs to be serviced as well. Also, U-joints can wear out. If you hear clunking or feel a jolt when you shift into drive or into reverse, it could indicate a driveline problem.

All-wheel drive vehicles provide power from the transmission to all of the wheels, instead of just to the front or rear. The advantage is that the vehicle can adapt to different driving conditions and transfer more power to the front or back wheels as needed. The disadvantages are that the driveline is more complicated, and the vehicle weighs slightly more.

Many all-wheel drive vehicles are based on a front-wheel drive set-up. They also have a differential in the rear and one in the center of the vehicle that allows power to transfer to the front and rear. A shaft runs from the transfer case to the center differential, and another from the center differential to the rear differential.

Servicing an all-wheel drive at Malugani Tire involves servicing ALL of the differentials and inspecting the joints and seals for wear, leaks or damage.

Four-wheel drive vehicles are rear-wheel drive vehicles that have an option to transfer power to the front wheels. In other words, they can be driven as either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicles. These vehicles are specifically designed for the harsh driving conditions Mill Valley drivers encounter off-road. The driveline in a four-wheel drive vehicle is similar to that of an all-wheel drive vehicle. The center differential, however, is a transfer case. Maintenance requires servicing both of the differentials and the transfer case, as well as an inspection of the joints and seals.

Mill Valley auto owners would be wise to check with their owner's manual for recommendations on how often to service their vehicle drive train. It's also good auto advice to check with your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor as well. You may live in an area in California where weather or driving conditions require more frequent servicing of the drive train.


Good car care at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley always includes taking care of your driveline. Without it, your vehicle becomes a very large paperweight.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



The Malugani Tire Center Inc. Guide To Custom Wheels

Posted August 26, 2015 12:00 PM

If you’re interested in customizing the wheels and tires on your passenger car, there are a few things you should know first.

Most importantly, the wheels you buy need to fit your vehicle. Not all wheels are created equal. Too many Mill Valley drivers have bought a set of wheels that caught their eye, then, after going to the work of mounting them, have found that the wheels don’t fit right and the tires rub against the passenger car when they turn or go over a bump.

To ensure a proper fit, you can consult with your Malugani Tire Center Inc. tire professional. He/she can also help you find tires that are suited to your driving habits as well as your passenger car. You may find their auto advice invaluable, and you’ll probably be happier with your new wheels once you purchase them.

But if you just have to have that set of wheels, and you’re willing to pay for them, you can modify your vehicle to fit the wheels. Again, you should seek a knowledgeable Mill Valley professional’s help ahead of time. For example, if you want a bigger set of wheels on your pickup truck, you can get a suspension lift so they will fit the truck. A professional Mill Valley custom wheel shop can help you get the work done right.

The anti-lock brakes and stability control system on your passenger car are engineered to work with a particular height of tire. This is another reason motorists should be careful when purchasing custom wheels in Mill Valley. The new wheel and tire combo needs to match the height of the tires that came with your vehicle.

Your car’s computer gauges your speed by the revolution of your tires and sends commands to the brakes and traction control based on that speed. If you put larger or smaller tires on your passenger car, your computer is calculating the wrong speed and, consequently, sending incorrect commands to the brakes and traction control. This can have serious consequences as it may result in pricey damage to your vehicle or, worse, an accident.

If you change the size of your wheels, you need to get your engine’s computer reprogrammed at Malugani Tire Center Inc. to accommodate the new tire size. New wheels shouldn’t just fit your vehicle, they should also fit your lifestyle. There are hundreds of styles and sizes to choose from. You should do a little research about which wheels and tires will best fit your personality, give you the performance you want, and meet your handling needs. We’re not saying you shouldn’t personalize your ride, we just want you to be happy with the result. Talk to us at Malugani Tire Center Inc. in Mill Valley.

After all, good car care isn’t just about preventive maintenance. It’s also about making good choices.



Why People in Mill Valley Hesitate to Get Their Vehicle Serviced

Posted August 20, 2015 12:00 PM



A recent report stated that over 80 percent of the vehicles on our Mill Valley, California, roads have one or more service or repair that's needed but hasn't been taken care of. Now that's a lot of undone service. That translates into something over 160 million vehicles in North America alone. Some of the neglected items are minor. Others are serious safety concerns.

There are several reasons we hesitate to take care of recommended services, especially services that our Mill Valley automotive advisor recommends when we're in for something else, like an oil change.

The first issue boils down to comfort with car care. We don't always feel we know enough to make good decisions. Some of that can be attributed to the fact that vehicles are so reliable these days. They almost become an appliance. Of course you love your vehicle, but if you don't have to worry about it breaking down all the time, you're not forced to think as much about preventive maintenance.

Perhaps your dad knew a lot about cars and always made sure they were taken care of. He was very comfortable dealing with his local Mill Valley service center. People who don't know as much about cars hesitate to ask questions because they don't want to look ignorant.

It's human nature. But there's so much to know in this world, and we can't all be experts in everything. So we specialize. It's very important to ask questions of any specialist, whether it's your doctor, financial advisor or your automotive technician in Mill Valley, California.

Your service advisor at Malugani Tire wants to answer your questions. We want you to understand the recommendation and why it needs to be done.

That brings us to the next issue; people say that they don't always know if they really need the service or if they are just being sold something.

At the heart, it speaks to trust. Do you trust your Mill Valley service center and your service advisor? Trust has to be earned, and that takes time and experience. But you can shortcut the process when you realize that most of the recommendations are based on manufacturer's maintenance schedules.

In other words, "You don't have to trust me, you can trust your owner's manual."

Your Mill Valley service center has computer databases that contain the manufacturer's recommendations for almost all vehicles, so they don't need to rummage through your glove box to look for your owner's manual to know what to do.

Basically, the engineers who designed the car say, "Here's when you need to have it serviced." That's who makes the recommendation, not the technician. He's just reminding you.

Now you do need to trust your Mill Valley technician's experience and judgment from time to time. When he inspects your vehicle, he may find problems or concerns. He will explain things so that you can prioritize the concerns and make a good decision about whether or not to have something done.

That brings us to the third issue; money. Often the concern is about spending the money to take care of a recommended service. Our money has many places it needs to go. And we have another list of places we want it to go. Auto maintenance isn't usually on either of those lists.

Look, everyone who works at Malugani Tire has a family budget, too. They can relate. Maybe a little look behind the scenes would be helpful.

Service centers like Malugani Tire invest heavily in training, diagnostic equipment and tools so that they can make repairs and perform services as efficiently as possible. And like any other business, they have labor costs, insurance, rent, utilities, shop and office supplies, taxes and so on.

We work hard to make sure that we diagnose the problem correctly and fix it right the first time. That's the only way we can maintain our reputation and remain in business. If we're not satisfying our customers and providing a good value, you won't come back and the service center won't be around for long.

When there is a real budget concern, your Malugani Tire service advisor can help you prioritize the work that needs to be done and come up with a plan for taking care of it that works within your budget.

Let's say you have a serious problem with your brakes. That's a safety concern, so a technician can't ethically say, well, let's put that off for a couple of months. What they can do is take care of the brakes now and address the cabin air filter or transmission service next month.

Ask us for more details.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



A Cold Day in Mill Valley – Air Conditioning Service at Malugani Tire

Posted August 12, 2015 12:00 PM


Most Mill Valley drivers worry about a breakdown or a tire blowout on a busy California highway, but don't worry too much about failure of their air conditioning system. A breakdown on the side of the road can be a miserable and dangerous affair during Mill Valley rush hour, but so can a long ride in a hot vehicle.

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

Mill Valley drivers 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 repairs, and keep it at peak performance.

At Malugani Tire, we advise our Mill Valley 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 vehicle owner's manual or with your friendly service advisor at Malugani Tire for information about how often your vehicle air conditioning system should be serviced.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



The Malugani Tire Center Inc. Guide to Saving Fuel: Car Weight

Posted August 6, 2015 12:00 PM

The team at Malugani Tire Center Inc. in Mill Valley and California car owners are all talking MPG right now. Better gas mileage. Fewer emissions. Mill Valley car owners want to save the environment and their pocketbooks.

And we all know—or should know—that preventive maintenance will help maximize fuel efficiency. But is there something more Mill Valley motorists can do? After all, some of us Mill Valley folks can’t cut back on our driving, and others would like to do more to economize.

Weight is one major enemy of fuel economy. The more you lug around in your vehicle, the more fuel you have to burn to get from Mill Valley to Mill Valley. And that means buying more gas in Mill Valley and producing more emissions.

Of course, your passenger car’s weight isn’t negotiable. And you can’t do much about the weight of your passengers. And this isn’t an article about diet and exercise.

But look around your passenger car. Are you hauling a bunch of unnecessary weight around California? Do you really need your golf clubs every time you leave your Mill Valley home? Store sports equipment in the garage. Load it when you need it and store it when you don’t. Who knows? The extra exercise just might reduce the other type of weight in your vehicle.

The same goes for anything else in your car: make-up kits, music collections, extra electronics, spare clothing; whatever your particular extras may be. Pack it when you need it; store it when you don’t.

Clean out your Mill Valley. You’d be surprised how much weight you’re lugging around Mill Valley in plain old junk. Toss old papers, leftover food, and regular old dirt. Even if it’s not a lot of weight, you’ll feel better when you get into your car. A good cleaning is also part of good car care.

Now, don’t toss stuff you really do need. You do need that spare tire—the one in your trunk. And a kit of emergency essentials is not a bad idea. But just carry around the day-to-day essentials. You can pack a more extensive kit and store it in your garage, then toss it in your Mill Valley when you go on a longer trip, but you don’t have to lug it around all the time. After all, are you a driver? Or are you a junk chauffeur?

Lose the junk and save some money in Mill Valley
.



The Right Automotive Fluids for Mill Valley Drivers

Posted July 29, 2015 12:00 PM

All those automotive fluids can be confusing for Mill Valley drivers. Recent years have brought new grades of engine oil, types of transmission fluid, coolant and brake fluid. The right fluid protects your vehicle and helps it perform at its best. The wrong fluid won't work as well and could even cause damage.

In addition to new grades of engine oil, many vehicles now leave the factory with synthetic oil. People in Mill Valley should always use the grade recommended by their manufacturer.

All coolant, also called antifreeze, used to be green. Now there are several other colors of coolant sold at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley. Each type is designed to protect the cooling system components that are particular to your vehicle. The wrong stuff can void your vehicle cooling system warranty and could even cause engine damage.

Most passenger vehicles on Mill Valley roads today use either DOT 3, DOT 4 or DOT 5 brake fluid. Your vehicle power brake system is specifically designed to use ONE of these types – you need the right one. Higher numbers do not necessarily mean a higher, upgraded fluid.

Now, the thing is knowing that your vehicle requires specific grades and types of fluids; using the right fluid is good and using the wrong ones is bad. Once you've got that down, it's easy to remember to check with your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Malugani Tire or your vehicle owner's manual to find out which automotive fluids to use.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
(415) 388-1800
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941

 



Servicing High Mileage Vehicles at Malugani Tire

Posted July 23, 2015 12:00 PM

The price of gas and the uncertain economy are both causing California residents to review their finances. More and more Mill Valley drivers are opting to keep their vehicles longer and put off purchasing a newer car. It is estimated that two-thirds of the vehicles on the roads of North America today have over 75,000 miles/120,000 km on them. And the average age of vehicles is now over eleven years. That translates to some car care issues that many Mill Valley men and women haven't dealt with in the past.

Older vehicles simply have different maintenance requirements than newer ones. Learning those requirements presents a challenge for people in Mill Valley because many owner's manuals only publish maintenance schedules up to 60,000 or 90,000 miles (96,000 or 145,000 km). Vehicle owners have to keep good records and be more involved in planning preventive maintenance if they want to keep their vehicles on the road. First of all, any service in your owner's manual that comes with a recommended mileage interval should be continued at that interval.

For example, if it is recommended that you change your oil every 5,000 miles/8,000 km, you should continue to change your oil every 5,000 miles/8,000 km. The owner of an older vehicle has to recognize that his engine is operating under higher stress than a new one. It's just starting to show its age. So many experts suggest that the “severe service schedule” should be followed once a vehicle has racked up some serious road distance. On this schedule, the mileage interval for many services is shortened or should be performed more often. Check with your service advisor at Malugani Tire.

Mill Valley drivers who own older vehicles should also be careful not to neglect or postpone oil changes. A full-service oil change is more critical for an older vehicle than for a new one. Older engines have had a lot of time to build up sludge in their oil compartment, so changing the oil at regular intervals is a must. Skipping an oil change compounds the sludge problem. With a full-service oil change, the vehicle's fluids are also checked and topped off. Your service advisor at Malugani Tire will also let you know if these fluids need to be replaced. Older vehicles have older seals and gaskets, which often develop tiny leaks. Regularly checking fluids will compensate for these leaks and offer a heads-up about any serious ones. So, again, it is important to stay on schedule and not skip or procrastinate a fluid check.

Older seals and gaskets begin to dry out and show their age by becoming brittle. High-mileage formulation oils and fluids can help extend the lives of these gaskets and seals. These products contain additives that recondition seals and gaskets and keep them from leaking. High-mileage formulas cost more than standard products, but in the long run they can pay for themselves by preventing more costly repair bills.

If a vehicle is getting on in years or mileage, its parts are as well. High-mileage car maintenance requires necessary repairs and replacements. Timing belts, radiator hoses, parts of the suspension system, anti-lock brakes, air bags, water pumps, alternators and batteries will not last forever and will wear out in higher-mileage vehicles. They need to be inspected regularly by your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor and replaced as necessary.

But don't go running for the new car lot just yet. These repairs may sound like a lot, but in total, they're still cheaper for Mill Valley drivers than new car payments. And if you stay on top of them and budget for them, they aren't as burdensome as it may appear.

If you plan on driving your vehicle into its high-mileage years, there are two relationships you need to develop. The first is with your Mill Valley service center. Malugani Tire can offer you invaluable auto advice and help you develop a service plan that is right for you and your vehicle. Second, you need to develop a relationship with your vehicle itself. You don't need to name it, but you should become familiar with its noises and idiosyncrasies. Pay attention to changes in its habits such as new or unusual sounds, smells, vibrations, etc. Taking note of such things and sharing them with your service advisor can help stave off a lot of big-ticket repair issues.

As we get older, keeping up with a diet and exercise plan becomes more and more critical to maintaining good health. It's the same with our vehicles. A preventive maintenance plan and smart vehicle care will keep them on the road and keep them safe for a good many years to come. 

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Recommended Mill Valley Service Intervals

Posted July 15, 2015 12:00 PM



Everyone in Mill Valley, California, knows we are advised to go to our Mill Valley dentist twice a year.  Oral-conscious Mill Valley residents have a teeth-cleaning and examination. Once a year, we get x-rays to look for problems that can't be seen with the naked eye. When our dentist is done, he/she tells us what was found – "Everything's fine, see you in six months." Or "You've got a small cavity starting, let's schedule an appointment to take care of it." By the time you leave, you have a plan for addressing any necessary issues.

This system works so much better than waiting for a painful problem before going into the dentist. Small problems are fixed before they turn into big problems. And you avoid those huge bills.

If Mill Valley folks understand the wisdom of using this system for handling dental care, why do many resist when facing the same system for our vehicle maintenance?

Following the vehicle manufacturer's recommended intervals can be confusing. First, there are recommendations for so many things: oil changes, transmission, coolant, air conditioning, power steering, brakes, fuel system, filters, belts, hoses, alignment, rotation, balancing ...you get the point.

Every item has a recommended interval and it's hard for Mill Valley drivers to keep it all straight – even if you're part of the 1% of California drivers that read their owners' manual.

And if you have more than one vehicle, the complexity is multiplied. You'd need a computer to keep track of everything. Well, that's how your service center does it. For example, Malugani Tire subscribes to automotive databases that have your vehicle's recommended intervals. You may have wondered how they know what else to recommend when you take your car in for an oil change – it's all in the database.

Well, it's not all in the computer. There are other variables that can't be accounted for in the schedule: Things like Mill Valley weather conditions, altitude, and where and how you drive in California. Talk about these things with your service advisor at Malugani Tire and you may decide that the severe service schedule in your owner's manual is more appropriate.

Since anything that's not driving in moderate weather is considered severe and most of us do at least some of that around Mill Valley, California, it should be taken into account.

Let's take your basic oil change as an example. What issues are involved? The oil you put in your vehicle is a blend of base oil and special additives. There are detergents to clean the inside of your vehicle engine and corrosion inhibitors. A good quality motor oil will not only lubricate your engine, it will help it stay clean inside and run cooler.

Now, these additives deplete with use and time. That's why most vehicle manufacturer's maintenance recommendations include both a time and mileage element – like 3 months or 3,000 miles/5,000 km, whichever comes first.

It's easy for Mill Valley drivers to think, "Gee, I've only driven 2,000 miles/3,200 km in the last 3 months. I can wait on that oil change." But you need to remember that the inside of your engine is a environment. The oil is contaminated with combustion by-products that start degrading its effectiveness even when it's just sitting there.

A lot of people in Mill Valley don't realize how harmful it is to skip an oil change. There are a lot of metal parts moving around in your engine. Small bits of metal wear off and are floating around in your oil. They can be carried to more delicate areas of the engine where they cause damage. Your oil filter is designed to trap metal particles and other dirt, but if it's clogged up because you haven't changed it, it can't trap any more.

Oil sludge is another problem for Mill Valley vehicles. Sludge is oil that has turned to a gunky jelly – think 'Vaseline.' Obviously, sludge doesn't lubricate. It can also clog small oil passages so that all the parts don't get properly protected by the oil. That'll lead to premature wear.

If you've missed some oil changes, don't despair. Just talk with the pros at Malugani Tire. Fess up – you'll feel better. And they can help you get back on track. Following recommended intervals is the key to keeping your vehicle on the road and avoiding repairs.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 

 



Helping Mill Valley Drivers Get the Right Tires

Posted July 8, 2015 12:00 PM

Every Mill Valley vehicle owner has to purchase tires at some time or another, so it's a good idea to understand what the choices are. The best seasonal performance is achieved by purchasing tires to match the season you are driving in. Summer tires are designed for hot temperatures. The tread is engineered for good traction on dry or rainy California roads. But the rubber compound in summer tires gets stiff when temperatures drop below 45°F (7°C), and snow and mud can pack into the tread, reducing the traction of the tire.

Winter tires are designed for good traction on snowy surfaces. The tread actually throws snow off of the tire as the wheel turns. The rubber compound in a winter tire is soft so that it will remain flexible at temperatures below 45°F (7°C). At higher temperatures, however, the softer rubber wears down rapidly.

All-season tires sacrifice some of the extreme performance of summer or winter tires, but they maintain adequate traction in either type of Mill Valley weather.

So your first consideration when buying a tire is where you live in California, and where you usually drive. If you require maximum summer and winter performance you can go with dedicated summer and winter tires; you would just need to change out your tires each spring and fall.

For serious winter driving in California, look for tires with a severe snow rating. These tires are labeled with a mountain-and-snowflake logo.

Your second consideration is the quality of tire to purchase. Summer, winter and all-season tires come in a variety of grades and styles at California tire stores. Mill Valley drivers will want to purchase a tire that will give them good wear and that will handle their driving style and road conditions. Your Malugani Tire tire professional can give you auto advice as to which type of tire will best fit your needs.

Mill Valley vehicle owners who drive off-road around California may want to look at a high-grade tire that is designed for off-road use. These tires are designed to handle the extra wear of off-roading while still giving good performance on Mill Valley streets and roads. There are a number of options to choose from so that you can find the right tire whether you are only an occasional off-road explorer or a serious rock climber.

New wheels can be purchased in Mill Valley as a statement of style or to add personality to your vehicle. There are almost unlimited options. If you change the size of the wheels on your vehicle, however, you will need to get some professional help to make your vehicle compatible with its new wheels. Talk to your Malugani Tire for more information about tires.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



The Straight and Narrow: Power Steering Service at Malugani Tire

Posted July 2, 2015 12:00 PM

Service to a vehicle's power steering system is part of preventive maintenance for  Mill Valley auto owners. This system provides power to the steering wheel so you can turn it with ease. Without power steering, all of the power to turn your vehicle's wheels would have to come from you.

The central element of most power steering systems is a pump. The pump pressurizes the power steering fluid, and it is this pressure that provides auxiliary steering power. A belt connected to the engine usually powers the pump, although some systems use an electric pump. Some newer vehicles have an electric motor that directly provides the power steering boost.

Pressurized fluid moves from the pump to the steering gear through a high-pressure hose. A low-pressure hose returns fluid to the pump. Power steering fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the system.

Mill Valley drivers should remember that fluid levels in the power steering system should be checked at every oil change. Low fluid levels can damage the pump, which can be expensive to repair. Low fluid levels may also indicate a leaky hose in the power steering system, so it is a good idea to inspect the hoses, especially if your fluid levels are low.

Power steering fluid breaks down over time, losing its effectiveness. It also gradually collects moisture, which can lead to corrosion in the steering system. So the fluid needs to be replaced occasionally. You should check with your owner's manual or ask your service advisor at Malugani Tire to learn how often this fluid should be replaced.

When your fluid is replaced, your technicians at Malugani Tire will remove the old fluid and replace it with new. Power steering fluids are not all created equal; the fluid has to be compatible with your hoses and seals. Malugani Tire can ensure that you get the right fluid for your vehicle, or you can consult your owner's manual.

Signs that your power steering system is in trouble can include the following: a steering wheel that is hard to turn, auxiliary steering power that cuts in and out, or a whining sound coming from the pump. Also, drivers in Mill Valley who are not topping off the power steering fluid on schedule may hear squealing coming from the engine belts.

To protect your steering system you should never hold the steering wheel in the far right or far left position for more than a few seconds at a time. This can wear out your pump in a hurry.

Preventive maintenance for your steering system primarily involves the power steering components, but your steering system has other parts that can wear out or be damaged by rough California driving conditions. Such parts include the ball-joint, idler arm, steering gear, steering-knuckle and tie rod. Signs that they are in need of attention include play in the steering wheel, a vehicle that wanders, uneven tire wear and a steering wheel that is off-center. Mill Valley drivers should have their alignment checked annually. This check-up can reveal bent or damaged steering components.

For answers to other questions about your steering system, or for auto advice on any type of vehicle maintenance, check with the team at Malugani Tire. We can steer you in the right direction when it comes to quality car care.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Your Vehicle Is NOT Maintenance Free, Mill Valley Car Owners

Posted July 1, 2015 12:00 PM

A generation ago, Mill Valley drivers seemed to be more inclined to keep their vehicle's preventive maintenance on schedule. One reason for this may be that vehicles back then were a lot less reliable than they are today. Taking your vehicle in to your Mill Valley shop every year or two for repairs seemed to be a good reminder to keep the oil changed.

For example, almost everyone in Mill Valley used to take their vehicles in for regular tune-ups. Vehicles had mechanical ignition systems, which meant ignition points, spark plugs and coils had to be replaced and the timing adjusted every few years. As long as the vehicle was in for a tune-up at Malugani Tire, the vehicle was inspected and you took care of any needed repairs at the same time.

Today's engines have electronic ignition systems and engine control computers. Spark plugs can last for up to 100,000 miles/160,000 km. Vehicle reliability has vastly improved in the last few decades, and surveys report fewer problems with new vehicles than ever before. That also means that our vehicles don't experience a huge performance drop when they're ready for some care. But it doesn't mean that they don't need it.

Modern Mill Valley drivers need to rely on calendars and mileage intervals to know when to schedule maintenance. Owner's manuals contain recommendations on when different types of maintenance should be performed. Also, Malugani Tire in Mill Valley can provide advice about auto maintenance schedules. At Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, we know that benefits of staying on top of preventive maintenance are substantial. First, you'll get better engine performance and fuel economy. Those two things alone return the cost of preventive maintenance: in fuel savings and safety. Also, routine maintenance has been proven to prevent major car repairs later on. Again, the cost savings can be significant. As the old saying goes, “Spend a penny, save a dime.”

Modern vehicle engines may be more durable and reliable than their predecessors, but they're more sophisticated and complex as well. For this reason, preventive maintenance today is even more critical than the old tune-up. Modern engine systems have a lot of parts that have to stay lubricated. These parts can be made of aluminum, plastic or steel. Special additives in lubricants are required to keep each of these materials from breaking down or corroding. Over time, these additives are depleted, even if the vehicle isn't driven. This makes fluid changes a critical part of scheduled maintenance if you want to keep your vehicle on the road.

As an example, coolant fluid in your engine is a sophisticated mix that not only keeps your vehicle engine cool but also protects and maintains its components. However, this fluid gradually gets contaminated and anti-corrosion additives are depleted. It can become corrosive and damage the vehicle's engine parts it was designed to protect. It can eat holes in your radiator and other engine parts. Changing the coolant could have prevented this damage, and it's a whole lot easier and cheaper than replacing a radiator.

Timely oil changes are more critical for Mill Valley drivers than they used to be. Skipping just one oil change can start the build-up of oil sludge in your engine. Sludge can clog small engine passages, which cuts off the supply of lubricant to engine parts. Just this small bit of sludge can reduce the life expectancy of your engine. If the build-up continues, it could lead to engine failure within two or three years.

One word of warning to anyone in Mill Valley who purchases used vehicles: take care when buying a leased vehicle. Mill Valley folks who lease vehicles only intend to drive them for two or three years, generally the years when the vehicle is least likely to experience any problems. One of the reasons people lease vehicles is that they don't want to be bothered with maintenance or vehicle care. Before buying a pre-leased vehicle, be sure to inspect it for signs of damage that result from lack of proper care.

We can all be grateful for the improved reliability of our modern vehicles. With proper maintenance and care, we can expect them to last longer, perform better, get better fuel economy and require fewer repairs than ever before. We just have to be more conscientious about scheduling time for their care.

Give us a call or send us an email for more helpful tips.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 

 



Getting New Tires in Mill Valley?

Posted June 17, 2015 12:00 PM

There are so many tire choices in the Mill Valley area that selecting the right one can be a bit overwhelming for drivers. And even though it's kind of fun to have new tires on your vehicle, they're a significant investment for most Mill Valley area folks so you want do it right.

Tip: talk with your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire tire professional. He'll help you sort through the choices.

Here are some of the issues you'll talk about: One is size – you know, all those numbers on the side of the tire. The right size is . All new vehicles are required to have stability control which, along with other important safety systems, is calibrated to work with specific tire sizes. Your Mill Valley tire professional can help stay within manufacturer's specifications or program a different tire size into your vehicle's computer.

And you'll want to discuss how and where you drive to determine the type of tire you need: summer, winter,  all season tires or all-terrain. There are tires for every Mill Valley auto owner's needs.

Like we said, tires are a big investment, so you want to get a good value on tires. Now that doesn't always mean the cheapest tire. A top tier tire from Malugani Tire will last a long time and give Mill Valley drivers good performance throughout its life. Tires sold in Mill Valley bargain tire shops may not live up to that promise. Again, your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire tire professional can give you options that offer the best long-term value within your immediate budget.

Last, with a 2-wheel drive vehicle, it's to always replace both tires on an axle. Modern sensors and computer safety systems for vehicle brakes, stability and traction control need both tires to have the same amount of wear to work properly. And always put the new tires on the rear so you don't fishtail in a turn. With all-wheel drive you should replace all four tires at the same time.

Schedule a tire inspection at Malugani Tire to see how much life is left in your vehicle tires and seek the help of a professional when choosing new shoes for your vehicle.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Blind Spot Safety for Mill Valley Driving

Posted June 12, 2015 12:00 PM

Blind spots may be a good thing when it comes to a spouse's annoying habits, but when driving an automobile in Mill Valley, they are definitely to be avoided. So, while it's not good marital advice, it's good auto advice to minimize your own blind spots and stay out of other Mill Valley drivers' blind spots, especially when it comes to large, heavy vehicles like trucks and buses.

First, minimize your own blind spots. Do this before you pull out of the driveway or parking space. Adjust your rearview mirror so that you see as much of the area behind you as possible. And, no, this doesn't include the passengers in the back seat. The rearview mirror isn't designed to be a baby monitor.

Next, lean to the side until your head almost touches the driver's side window. Now adjust the driver's side mirror so that it just catches the side of the vehicle. Then, lean to the middle of the car and adjust the passenger's side mirror in the same way. These adjustments will ensure you the widest possible view behind your vehicle.

Of course, you can't eliminate blind spots entirely. There is always an area behind any vehicle where the driver just can't see what's there. The bigger the vehicle, the bigger the blind spot. Toddlers are just the right size to hide in a pickup's or SUV's blind spot. The blind spot on an RV or tractor-trailer can actually hide your crossover! You should always check behind any vehicle before getting in and backing up. And if you sit in the vehicle for a few minutes before backing up, it is best to get out and check again, especially if you are pulling out of a neighborhood driveway in Mill Valley. No precaution is too extreme if it saves the life of a child.

Trucks may cause about 60% of the accidents involving a truck and a car, but 78% of fatalities in such accidents are with the smaller vehicle. The number of fatalities in California, as well as the number of crashes, could be cut significantly if Mill Valley drivers learned to properly share California roads with trucks.

While learning to share California roads and freeways with trucks and other large vehicles may not seem like preventive auto maintenance, it does, in fact, go hand-in-hand with good car care. Keeping your vehicle out of the body shop can save you big bucks and prevent the stress of a major accident, along with the injuries that could come with it.

The team at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley urges you to stay safe, and stay on the road!

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Wipe Out! New Wiper Blades for Mill Valley Drivers

Posted June 4, 2015 12:00 PM

When people in Mill Valley talk about vehicle safety, they think of tires and brakes. But do we think about our windshields? Isn't the ability to see a prime safety factor when it comes to driving around California? Yet we often don't even notice our windshields until we can't see through them or our wiper blades fail.

It's estimated that around 46 million people are driving with wipers that won't keep their windshields clear during a storm — that's 46 million people with impaired vision during a storm. For safety's sake, Mill Valley drivers need to change the way they think about wiper blades. Most of us, 78% in fact, only change our wiper blades after they fail. In other words, we don't get new ones until the old ones become a safety hazard. Instead, we need to make wiper blades part of our preventive maintenance routine.

Wiper blades should be changed twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. In California areas that experience harsh winter weather, special blades are available that prevent ice and snow from collecting on the wiper. Ask your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Malugani Tire about wiper blades that repel ice and snow.

No matter what blades you use on your vehicle in the winter, don't expect them to clear the ice and snow from your windshield after your vehicle has been parked for a while. Using your wipers will shred your blades and may even damage your wiper motor. And don't drive on Mill Valley roads with a frosted windshield. That's a serious safety hazard. It can cause accidents, and you could be held liable.

Wiper blades are subjected to harsh conditions in California. They're out in the Mill Valley sun and in the cold. Over time, they become hard and brittle and lose their flexibility. Then they start to tear. Without flexibility, wipers just can't clear a windshield of water or snow. And torn wipers can actually scratch your windshield. Then the entire windshield has to be replaced — along with the wiper blades. It's a prime example of how preventive maintenance could have saved you repair bill.

Mill Valley drivers can purchase new wiper blades at Malugani Tire or at any Mill Valley auto parts store. They cost about the same. But at Malugani Tire we'll also throw in the installation.

Once you have good wipers installed, don't forget to top off your windshield washer fluid. If you take your vehicle in for a full-service oil change at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, your washer fluid will get topped off then. But it's good auto advice to purchase a jug of washer fluid to keep at home — just in case. And pack it in the car when you go on long trips.

While we're on the subject, Malugani Tire advises Mill Valley drivers to always fill their washer fluid reservoir with windshield washer fluid. Don't ever use water. Water can freeze in the reservoir, which can damage it. It can also freeze onto your windshield. Besides, plain water just can't get a windshield clean. Think about it. Do you use plain water to clean your bathroom mirrors? And a bathroom mirror doesn't get exposed to anything near the gunk that can end up on your windshield. Windshield washer fluid was designed to do one thing — to clean windshields. Let it do its job.

A clean windshield is not just good vehicle care for Mill Valley drivers — it's also a safety feature. Let's keep it that way.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Direct Fuel Injection Update from Malugani Tire

Posted June 3, 2015 12:00 PM

For those of you in Mill Valley, California who pay attention to these things, you may have been hearing about the new direct injection engines and want to learn more about them. Some deliver the power of a V8 with the economy of a V6.

For example, in one family of engines the conventional V6 makes about 250 horsepower. The direct injection version of the same engine makes over 300 horsepower and gets essentially the same fuel economy. The turbocharged version makes over 350 horsepower.

So what are the differences from a conventional engine?

The core difference is in the fuel injection system. The system most vehicles use now is called a port injection system. The fuel injector squirts fuel into a port just outside the cylinder where it's then drawn into the engine with the air.

With a direct injection system, the injector squirts the fuel directly into the cylinder. The gain in power and economy come because fuel injected directly into the cylinder during the combustion cycle is burned much more efficiently.

First, the fuel is squirted in at hundreds of times more pressure, so it's atomized much better and burns cleaner and stronger. The other big advance is in electronics. Faster engine management computers can control the additional precision required to manage direct fuel injection.

Fuel injectors are precision instruments. They have to deliver a precise amount of fuel at exactly the right time. The design of the engine also dictates a particular spray pattern for the fuel. If a fuel injector is dirty or gummed up, it can't do its job as well. That means less power and worse fuel economy for your vehicle and can lead to damaged fuel injectors.

Replacing fuel injectors at Malugani Tire isn't cheap. Direct injection injectors are even more expensive because of the extremely high-pressure they use. Same thing for diesel fuel injectors; we're talking mortgage payment-range to replace a set of diesel injectors.

A professional fuel system cleaning from Malugani Tire gets out the gum and varnish in the whole system, including the fuel injectors. Keep those injectors clean and they'll last a long, long time.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Easy Miles ” Do Mill Valley Driving Conditions Affect Service Intervals?

Posted May 12, 2015 12:00 PM

 

Have you ever noticed that your car maker has a schedule in your owner’s manual for what is called “severe service” maintenance? Let’s define what severe driving conditions aren’t: The easiest driving a vehicle experiences is traveling on the interstate for twenty miles or more at a constant rate of 65 miles per hour in 75°F weather with only passengers on board. Change any one of those parameters and you are adding stress to your engine. Change them significantly, and you are driving under severe conditions.

Let’s look at the critical parameters one a time. First, the length of the trip. Short trips around Mill Valley are harder on an engine than longer ones. As your engine cools down, water in the air condenses onto the engine. When you heat the engine again, the water evaporates off. This is healthy. But on short trips, the engine doesn’t stay hot enough long enough for all of the water to evaporate so it starts to build up in the engine oil leading to sludge, which can clog up your engine and lead to serious engine damage. If most or all of your trips around Mill Valley are less than four miles, you should consider using the severe service maintenance schedule. Changing your oil more frequently at Malugani Tire Center Inc. in Mill Valley will help prevent the formation of sludge.

Each passenger car engine has a “power band,” or the range of RPM’s in which it runs most efficiently. Generally this power band falls in the range of California highway speed driving. So if you’re driving around town in Mill Valley all the time, your engine has to work harder. That’s why fuel efficiency ratings are so much better on the freeway than in the city. Again, this type of driving is considered severe and requires more frequent maintenance for your transmission, cooling system and brake fluid.

Most of us Mill Valley car owners think of severe California weather conditions when we think of severe driving conditions. And we’re right. Cold Mill Valley area weather takes its toll on the oil in your vehicle. Remember how water has to evaporate out of the oil to keep your engine healthy? It can take up to ten miles of driving for an engine to get hot enough to get rid of moisture in the oil when the weather is cold.

Hot Mill Valley weather is also detrimental for passenger cars. When an engine runs, it gets hot. The longer it runs, the hotter it gets. If it gets too hot, it breaks down. So it has to be constantly cooled to keep running. Hot California weather means your cooling system has to work harder to keep your engine from getting too hot.

Another important element of severe driving is the conditions we drive through. Dusty, polluted Mill Valley areas are dangerous to your filters. Dirt, dust and contaminants will also get into your fluids, and they’ll get dirty faster, so they’ll need to be changed more often as well. Finally, when you’re pulling a trailer around Mill Valley, carrying heavy loads or using a car-top carrier, you are putting more stress on your engine. The engine, transmission and brakes are all working harder to handle the extra load.

So, in the end, most of us Mill Valley auto owners drive under severe conditions some of the time. Smart Mill Valley drivers will ask themselves the question: "Should I follow the severe service maintenance schedule?" An honest evaluation of our driving habits is the best way to determine which schedule to follow.



Road Trip: Be Ready for Anything with a Trip Inspection at Malugani Tire

Posted May 7, 2015 12:00 PM

Road trip, anyone? Nothing spoils a great vacation faster than ending up stranded on the side of the road or spending a week in a rundown motel while our vehicle sits in the shop. Long days on the road can bring out the worst in your vehicle, so before you leave, prepare it for the journey by getting a trip inspection at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley. After all, you wouldn't travel without clean socks, why ask your vehicle to travel with a load of dirty oil?

The first step in a trip inspection at Malugani Tire is to look at your travel plans. What kinds of roads will you be driving on? Will you be in the California back country or on the freeway? Will you be crossing mountains? Off-roading? What will the weather be like? How far away from Mill Valley will you be traveling? How much are you hauling? Will you be towing a trailer or lugging a rooftop carrier? Will you encounter dust, mud, snow or sea salt? All of these questions can help determine which services are most needed. And don't hesitate to ask your Malugani Tire service advisor. He can give you good auto advice on what trip conditions are hardest on what systems of your vehicle and what kinds of services it realistically needs. Start with the tires and check them for tread wear and proper inflation. Replace or rotate them as needed. If you need to change them out for winter tires, then do so.

Then look at your shocks or struts for wear. Replace them if needed. You'll want that extra comfort on your trip. Be sure to check your alignment as well. Steering a vehicle that is out of alignment is tiring, and dangerous. Don't overlook your brakes. With extra passengers and baggage, your brakes are going to get a workout. You want them in top condition.

In addition, inspect belts and hoses. If any of them are close to wearing out, have them replaced before your long trip does them in.

Change your engine air filter if it needs it, or if it's close to needing it. Your car's air filter processes 12,000 times as much air as the amount of fuel it burns. A clean air filter will protect electronic sensors that affect how your engine runs.

Get an oil change at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley if it's coming due. Make it a full-service oil change while you're at it. That way, all of your fluids will get checked and topped off. Change any dirty or old fluids. Mill Valley drivers don't want to overstress their cooling systems or transmissions with dirty fluid during a long trip.

Does your vehicle smell? Check the cabin air filter. The bad smell could also indicate an exhaust leak, which can be fatal on a long trip. So don't ignore bad odors; check them out.

If your air conditioning hasn't been up to snuff, then give it an overhaul. You want your vacation to be relaxed and pleasant, and that means keeping the passenger compartment comfortable.

And be sure to check your wiper blades and your headlamps. You may find yourself driving in unfamiliar territory at night after a long day. You'll want to be able to see as much as possible.

Of course, almost everything listed here is just part of preventive maintenance for smart driving. If you keep up with your vehicle care on a regular basis, a trip inspection will be a breeze at Malugani Tire.

Taking care of your vehicle before you leave for a road trip will pay you back in safety, peace of mind, improved comfort and better fuel economy. It will also help your vacation go as planned by keeping you on the road and headed for that next great adventure. Just don't forget to pack your socks.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



A Cool and Smooth Transmission in Mill Valley

Posted April 29, 2015 12:00 PM

When it comes to preventive maintenance on our vehicles, most of us Mill Valley drivers remember to get our oil changed. But services that occur at longer intervals — like transmission service — sometimes get overlooked. Yet transmission service is part of car care. A poorly maintained transmission will fail and lead to repairs.

The transmission transfers power from the engine to the drive wheels. When it's clean and well-lubricated, it gives maximum fuel efficiency. But when it gets dirty or worn down, your transmission will suffer. Your transmission relies on transmission fluid to keep everything running well.

This is why the transmission fluid must be changed periodically. Your owner's manual will give you a recommended time schedule for this service. Or, you can ask your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor. Generally, the interval is around 35,000 miles (55,000 km) or every two years. But the interval for your vehicle may be shorter or longer.

At Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, transmission fluid can usually be changed while you wait and is simple and not particularly expensive. Compared to the cost of transmission repairs or a new transmission, it's downright cheap! So take some good auto advice from the team at Malugani Tire and take care of your transmission. It will pay you back in a longer, smoother ride.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



When Are Your Tires Worn Out?

Posted April 23, 2015 12:00 PM


 

Hey Mill Valley area drivers, are your tires worn out? What is the standard for our California streets? How can you tell on your vehicle?

While there may be legal requirements for the Mill Valley area, there are safety concerns that go beyond meeting minimum replacement mandates.

Two-thirty-seconds of an inch is the depth of the tire tread wear indicator bars that US law has required to be molded across all tires since August 1, 1968. When tires are worn so that this bar is visible, there's just 2/32 of an inch – 1.6 millimeters – of tread left. It's that level of wear that's been called into question recently.

We're referring to the tread depth on a tire, it can't move surface water out of the way and you start to hydroplane.

In a safety study, a section of a test track was flooded with a thin layer of water. If you laid a dime on the track, the water would be deep enough to surround the coin, but not enough to cover it.

A car and a full-sized pick-up accelerated to 70 miles per hour, or 112 kilometers an hour, and then made a hard stop in the wet test area. Stopping distance and time were measured for three different tire depths:

  • New tire tread depth
  • 4/32 of an inch, or 3.2 mm
  • 2/32 of an inch, or 1.6 mm

So what happened with the 2/32 inch/1.6 mm tires on the car? Get this – when the car had traveled the distance required to stop with new tires, it was still going 55 mph/89 kph. Stopping distance was nearly doubled to 379 feet/116 meters, and it took 5.9 seconds.

Wow! That means if you barely have room to stop with new tires, you would hit the car in front of you at 55 mph/89 kph with the worn tires.

Now, with the partially worn tires – at 4/32 of an inch, or 3.2 mm – the car was still going at 45 mph/72 kph at the point where new tires brought the car to a halt. It took nearly 100 feet, or about 30 meters, more room to stop and 1.2 seconds longer. That's a big improvement. We can see why Consumer Reports and others are calling for a new standard.

Of course, stopping distances were greater for the heavier pick-up truck.

How do you know when your tires are at 4/32 inch or 3.2 mm? Easy; just insert an American quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn't cover George Washington's hairline, it's time to replace your tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.

You may remember doing that with pennies. A penny gives you 2/32 inch, or 1.6 mm, to Abraham Lincoln's head. The quarter is the new recommendation – 4/32 inch, or 3.2 mm.

How do people feel about replacing their tires earlier? Well, tires are a big ticket item and most people want to get the most wear out of them that they can. But do you want that much more risk just to run your tires until they are legally worn out?

For us, and we would guess for many, the answer is "no".

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Hitting the Brakes in Mill Valley

Posted April 7, 2015 12:00 PM

Safety should always be an element of your vehicle care. So even if you don't care about how your vehicle looks, you should practice preventive maintenance to protect yourself — and other Mill Valley drivers — on the road. And good safety starts with good brakes.

Brakes need a regular inspection. There are  parts that wear out or wear down, and it's best to replace them before you have serious problems.

Of course, if you are having trouble with your brakes, NOW is the time to fix them. If your brake warning light is on, that's a good sign that you need your brakes checked. You can also tell something is wrong with your brakes by the feel of the pedal or unusual sounds while braking. If the brake pedal is low, feels spongy when you press it or is hard to push, that indicates a problem with your brakes. If you hear squealing, grinding or clunking noises when you brake, that can also indicate serious problems. If vibrations accompany braking, then it is to get your brakes checked.

Brakes come in two basic types. With disc brakes, a rotor is attached to the axle of the vehicle. Padded calipers straddle the rotor and close when the brakes are applied. The resulting friction causes the rotor — and the axle — to stop turning. With drum brakes, brake pads (also called shoes) press against the inside of a drum to create friction and stop the drum, and hence the vehicle's wheels, from turning.

When Malugani Tire services your brake system, your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor checks all of the brake pads for wear. If they are too thin, they need to be replaced. This is an inexpensive repair at Malugani Tire compared to what procrastination will cost you. If pads wear away completely, then the rotors and drums can be damaged. They will have to be either resurfaced or replaced, and that can be expensive. But if your vehicle brake pads are worn out, then your brakes are compromised and your stopping power is greatly reduced. You could easily wind up in an accident.

Brake pads come in several different grades such as regular, metallic and ceramic. The higher grades are more expensive, but they also work better. California drivers who want better and smoother braking should consider upgrading. However, Mill Valley drivers should NEVER use a brake pad that is lower than their vehicle manufacturer's recommendation.

After your brake pads are checked at Malugani Tire, it's also wise to have your brake fluid checked. This is a critical element in your brake system. When you press your brake pedal, you are compressing the brake fluid, creating pressure that activates the brake pads. If your fluid pressure is low, it will decrease your braking power. The pads just won't be able to press hard enough against the rotor or drum to stop your vehicle. Just as with worn pads, insufficient brake fluid can lead to an accident in Mill Valley.

Water can build up in your brake fluid, which can cause corrosion in your braking system. Eventually this can cause your brake fluid to leak. So Mill Valley drivers should also change their brake fluid periodically. Your vehicle owner's manual will have guidelines on how often it should be replaced, or you can ask a service advisor at Malugani Tire. 

Remember, Mill Valley folks, safety first. It's auto advice for all Mill Valley drivers on the road. You're not just protecting others; you're protecting yourself.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Mill Valley Drivers: Is It Time to Replace Your PCV Valve?

Posted April 3, 2015 12:00 PM

The crankcase is the lower part of the engine where the crankshaft is housed and where the engine oil lives. The crankshaft is connected to the pistons that power the engine.


When you are diving around Mill Valley, fuel is burned in your vehicle engine, it pushes the pistons down and the crankshaft rotates and sends power to the transmission. Some of the explosive gases from combustion squeeze past the pistons and down into the crankcase.

Now this gas is about 70% unburned fuel. If it were allowed to remain in the crankcase, it would contaminate the oil and quickly turn it to sludge. Sludge is like Vaseline and clogs passages in the engine, leading to damage.

Also, the pressure build up would blow out seals and gaskets. So in the old days, there was just a hose that vented the crankcase out into the air. Obviously, not good for our air quality in Mill Valley, California.

Enter the PCV valve. It's a small, one-way valve that lets out the gases from the crankcase and routes them back into the air intake system where they are re-burned in the engine. Fresh air comes into the crankcase through a breather tube. This makes for good circulation in the crankcase. And that gets the air out. As you can imagine, however, the valve gets gummed up over time.

Your vehicle manufacturer usually recommends they be changed somewhere between 20,000 to 50,000 miles/30,000 to 80,000 kilometers. Unfortunately, PCV valve replacement is left out of some vehicle owner's manuals, but your friendly service advisor at Malugani Tire, we will make sure your PVC is replaced if needed.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Keep Your Tires Well Rounded in Mill Valley: Tire Rotation and Wheel Balancing at Malugani Tire

Posted March 25, 2015 12:00 PM

Taking care of our tires is part of vehicle care for Mill Valley drivers. We know they have to be replaced when they wear out, but tires also require some preventive maintenance. This maintenance will improve and extend the life of the tires, so it's well worth the effort and expense for Mill Valley drivers to get it done. Tire maintenance includes keeping tires properly inflated, rotating tires and balancing wheels.

The recommended tire pressure for a vehicle's tires is printed on a sticker on the inside of the driver's side doorjamb. A lot of engineering goes into calculating the correct pressure, so it's an important number for Mill Valley vehicle owners to know. Not following this recommendation can throw off the suspension system and can lead to tire damage. Underinflated tires wear out more quickly than properly inflated tires. Vehicles also get better traction and handling on properly inflated tires. Check your tire pressure at least once a week and add air if necessary.

Don't be tempted to add a bit of extra air to your tires when you fill them. Overinflated tires will cause the center tread to wear unevenly because of improper contact with the road. It will also affect the handling performance of your vehicle.

Rotating tires allows all four tires on a vehicle to wear evenly. Front tires get more wear than rear tires because they do most of the work on turns. Tire rotation allows all of the tires to spend time on the front of the car so they all experience the extra wear.

For most vehicles, tire rotation is simply a matter of moving the front tires to the rear and vice versa. Some vehicles, however, recommend a cross-rotational pattern. Other vehicles use asymmetrical tires, which means the right tires have to stay on the right side of the vehicle and the left tires on the left. Some vehicles use differently sized wheels on the front and back of the car and should not have their tires rotated.

What kind of rotation do you need? Check your owner's manual or talk to your service advisor at Malugani Tire. Your owner's manual will have information about how to rotate your vehicle's tires as well as letting you know how often you should get it done. For most vehicles, that's usually every 5,000 miles or 8,000 kilometers Your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire professionals can also offer auto advice about tire rotation. A quick tire inspection can also indicate whether or not your tires are due to be rotated.

When it comes to tire maintenance for Mill Valley drivers, wheel balancing is usually what we know least about. Balancing a wheel is necessary to keep it in constant contact with the road. If a tire is not balanced properly, it actually hops along the roadway. You can feel this hopping as a vibration in your steering wheel if the unbalanced tire is a front tire. You'll feel the vibration through your seat if a rear tire is unbalance. Properly balancing your tires is important and will extend their life span, improve handling and improve the safety of your vehicle. When you replace your tires, the new tires need to be balanced.

Never use different sized tires on the same axle of a vehicle. In other words, your front tires need to be the same size and your rear tires need to be the same size. Mixing sizes can lead to some serious handling problems for Mill Valley drivers.

If you have an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle, all four tires need to be the same size. If your tires are wearing out, you can sometimes make a new tire purchase fit within your budget by only buying two tires at a time. When you do this, the new tires should be installed on the rear of the vehicle. Rear tires are more in need of the traction than your front tires to avoid spinning out on slippery surfaces. If you drive a vehicle around Mill Valley, you need tires, so you need to know how to care for them. The safety of your vehicle can depend on the condition of your tires.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Cool Breeze: Air Conditioning Service at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley

Posted March 12, 2015 12:00 PM


Most California auto owners know that their vehicles need regular preventive maintenance like changing the oil and filters, rotating the tires and refilling the washer fluid. But did you know that your air conditioning system needs routine maintenance as well? Taking care of your air conditioning system can extend its life and prevent costly repair bills.

Why is it important for Mill Valley area drivers to get routine maintenance on their air conditioning system? First, the refrigerant contains an added lubricant. As the refrigerant circulates through the air conditioning system, its parts are lubricated. This constant lubrication keeps the parts functioning well. But over time, this lubricant is used up, and without it, the parts will eventually seize up and fail.

Mill Valley folks should understand, however, that the air conditioner will continue to pump out cool air even without the lubricant, so you won't know the system is sick until it actually dies. So good vehicle care includes regularly checking the refrigerant and lubricant in your vehicle air conditioning system and replacing it if needed.

The second reason your air conditioning system needs preventive maintenance is that air and water can get into the system. Air, water and the contaminants they contain will reduce the efficiency of the air conditioning system and can cause corrosion of the system's parts. Keeping the air conditioning system clean is a practice that will extend its life and keep you from losing your cool on hot Mill Valley days.

How often should you get a routine car air conditioner inspection? It varies from vehicle to vehicle. Check your owner's manual for the vehicle manufacturer's recommendation.

Here's a good piece of advice from Malugani Tire for California vehicle owners that will extend the life of their air conditioning systems: You should run your air conditioner in the winter every once in a while. This circulates the refrigerant, which lubricates the seals. That way, they won't dry out during cold Mill Valley weather.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Maintaining Your Diesel in Mill Valley

Posted March 5, 2015 12:00 PM

Diesel engines have been used extensively in Europe and Asia for many years. They haven't been as common in the Mill Valley area because of the high sulfur content in our diesel fuel. But the government is now mandating lower sulfur content and, as a result, we are going to see more Mill Valley diesel-fueled vehicles on the road, especially in passenger cars and SUV's.

Diesels are popular in California because they get better fuel economy than gas-powered engines. They also last longer. Modern diesel engines are quiet and powerful. And if you associate diesel engines with black smoke, then you're not up with the times. That smoke is a thing of the past.

Diesels don't produce any more pollutants than gasoline engines. The pollution standards for diesel-powered vehicles are as strict in California as for other vehicles.

Also, diesel engines can run on bio-diesel fuels as well as fossil fuels. Diesel fuel can be produced from vegetable oil or from cellulosic waste like wood chips and sawdust. In California, we may soon see bio-diesel produced from algae. These fuel sources will lessen Mill Valley drivers dependence on fossil fuels and may even become truly renewable and sustainable.

Diesel-powered vehicles also perform as well as other passenger vehicles. Most people don't notice a difference in driving one or the other. If you haul heavy loads or tow a trailer around California, however, the diesel is a definite improvement.

So, you may be asking, if diesels are so great, why don't all Mill Valley people drive them? Surely there are disadvantages you haven't told me about. That's true. Diesel engines are heavier than gas engines, and they cost more in California. The better fuel economy of the diesel engine is partially offset by the higher purchase price.

Because of higher fuel prices, diesel engines used to be more expensive to drive in Mill Valley. But now, with higher volatility in the prices of both gasoline and diesel fuel in California, that cost difference is less definitive. Whether a diesel or gas engine is more expensive for California drivers depends now on the current price of fuel and how far you drive.

Consider also that diesel-powered vehicles have a high resale value in the Mill Valley area, and the costs of owning and operating a diesel vs. a gas-powered vehicle in California becomes a real toss-up.

Preventive auto maintenance for diesel vehicles has also become similar to that of gas-fueled vehicles in recent years. The major difference is that diesels require cleaner fuel, air and oil, so their filters are more expensive than those for gasoline engines. The engine air filter must be changed more frequently as well.

The costs for car care and repairs in Mill Valley are similar. You may be thinking, wait:  You just told me that filters are more and have to be changed more regularly. True, but that is offset by the fact that diesel engines have a much longer lifetime than gasoline engines. So if you are the type of owner who prefers to hang on to a vehicle for a long time, you will be more than rewarded with a diesel engine.

So if you have been looking for Mill Valley auto advice on whether to switch to a diesel vehicle or stay with a gas-powered one, then we hope this helps. The answer as to which type of vehicle is better is that it depends on the driver and their driving habits. Now that you know the facts, you can make an informed choice based on your own priorities and needs.

 Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Drive Train - What You Need to Know in Mill Valley

Posted February 25, 2015 12:00 PM



One Mill Valley automotive service issue that doesn't get much attention is driveline service. Drivelines don't get talked about very much around Mill Valley, but they're very important. First let's define what the driveline is:

Taking a small step back, the power plant is comprised of the engine and transmission. The driveline starts there and includes all of the components that transfer power from the transmission to the wheels.

That's not really a lot of components, but they handle the full force of the engine. Without the driveline you're not moving. So Mill Valley residents need to take good care of it. The driveline components differ depending on whether your vehicle has front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, all wheel drive or four wheel drive. For purposes of our discussion, we're going to have to oversimplify a bit.

If you are ready to have your drive train looked at, give us a call at (415) 388-1800.

Let's start with front wheel drive. The point where the transmission stops and the driveline begins is a little blurred with front wheel drive because the transaxle houses both the transmission function and the differential function. The half shafts that send power to each front wheel come out of the transaxle. The shaft is connected to the wheel by a constant velocity, or CV, joint. The CV joint is protected from dirt and water by an airtight, flexible rubber boot.

So, Malugani Tire driveline service would include properly servicing the transaxle and inspecting the cv boot to see if it's torn or loose. If it is, it needs to be replaced and the CV joint inspected for damage. Repairs may be in order. Besides visual damage to the airtight CV boot, you might hear a clicking noise when turning. Recommended maintenance for the transaxle and CV joints will be spelled out in your owner's manual, or check with your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor.

On to rear wheel drive. The driveline for a rear wheel drive vehicle starts with the driveshaft – that long tube that connects the transmission with the differential on the rear axle. Some vehicles in Mill Valley have a two piece drive shaft. The shafts are connected to the transmission and the differential with big universal joints. Most Mill Valley residents have probably heard the term 'u-joints.' These joints can wear out, just like the CV joints in front wheel drive vehicles. You may hear some clunking or feel a jolt when shifting into drive or reverse – if you do, get your driveline inspected at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley.

The differential on the rear axle sends power out to each rear wheel through half shafts in the axle. The differential fluid needs to be drained periodically and replaced with clean fluid. When the seal on the end of the axle is damaged or leaks, the axle will need to be serviced. The routine maintenance item here is differential service. Be sure to check your owner's manual or Mill Valley service advisor for intervals.

Now let's go on to all wheel drive. Remember that the difference between all wheel drive and four wheel drive is that an all wheel drive vehicle is essentially providing power to all of the wheels all of the time. The vehicle may be able to shift more of the power to the front or to the back depending on where you need traction. All wheel drive vehicles are designed to work well on dry pavement. Even some high-end sports cars from makers like Lamborghini and Porsche have all wheel drive.

Some all wheel drive vehicles are designed to work well off-road in Mill Valley, but all hard-core rock crawlers are four wheel drive. These guys thrive in mud, sand, rocks and hills – but they don't work well on dry pavement when they're in four wheel drive. So they have the option to shift to rear wheel drive only on dry pavement.

Most all-wheel drive vehicles are very similar to front wheel drive when it comes to the front end. They also have a center differential that transfers power to the rear differential. Connecting it all is a shaft from the transaxle to the center differential and another from the center differential to the rear differential. So all of the normal front wheel drive service is recommended as well as service to the center and rear differentials.

Four wheel drive can be thought of as a rear wheel drive vehicle that can also send power to the front axle. There's a transfer case in the middle of the vehicle that can be shifted to send power through a drive shaft to a differential on the front axle. So Mill Valley residents need differential service for the front and rear differentials and for the transfer case as well.

The bottom line for Mill Valley residents is that the maintenance schedules are in your owner's manual. Your Mill Valley service advisor can answer any questions you've got. If this is the first time you've heard some of this stuff – it's time to ask someone at Malugani Tire if any of it needs to be done now.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Bouncy Bouncy – Are My Shocks Bad?

Posted February 19, 2015 12:00 PM

When Mill Valley drivers think about preventive maintenance, what usually comes to mind is oil, fluids and brakes. We don't generally think about our shocks or struts, but these auto parts keep our tires on the road.

Mill Valley drivers don't think about shocks as often as oil changes because shocks and struts last a long time and wear out slowly. They don't need to be checked as often as our brake pads or air filters. By the time your shocks have 50,000 miles (80,000 kilometers) on them, their performance will have noticeable degraded. If you want to restore the handling and ride designed for your vehicle, try replacing your shocks and struts.

Of course, if you drive off-road around Mill Valley, carry heavy loads, tow a trailer or put in a lot of mileage on poor driving surfaces, your shocks or struts will wear out more quickly. You'll need to replace them more often or upgrade to better shocks.

Your suspension system uses springs and shocks to absorb the “shocks” and vibrations of driving over road surfaces. Springs support the vehicle's weight, suspending it above the axles so the body of the vehicle is protected from most of the bumps on the road. Shocks control the bounciness of the springs by moderating rebound. They also push your tires down onto the road's surface, maximizing traction. Without shocks, your wheels would bounce over bumps and lift against curbs and corners. Shocks are important to the safe handling of your vehicle as well as a comfortable ride. Struts are a combination shock and spring in one unit.

Worn shocks result in lowered vehicle handling performance. If your vehicle “squirms” around corners or gets “floaty” over bumps, then you need to check your shocks. If the rear end of your vehicle squats while accelerating, the front end dips while braking, or one corner sags, you probably need new shocks.

If you're unsure whether you need new shocks, or if you're considering upgrading to a higher quality shock, then consult your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor. He or she can give you advice on the condition of your shocks and how to match your driving needs to the quality of your shocks.

At Malugani Tire we know good vehicle care is essential to the safety, performance and efficiency of your vehicle. It can improve the comfort of your ride as well.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Deciphering the Malugani Tire Menu Board

Posted February 13, 2015 12:00 PM

Let's talk about deciphering the auto service menu board. Mill Valley, California, service centers like Malugani Tire have a board that lists the routine services they provide. But some people don't know what these services really are unless they ask. Let's go down a typical list, in alphabetical order, starting with air conditioning service.

Feel free at any time to give Malugani Tire a call at (415) 388-1800 to learn of the many services we offer, or stop by our Mill Valley, California auto center at 493 Miller Ave, 94941.

First remember that all of these services are recommended by vehicle manufacturers. They set how often or at how many miles/kilometers the service should be done.

Air conditioning service involves purging the old refrigerant and capturing it for proper disposal. Then fresh refrigerant is installed. The fresh refrigerant will lubricate the system and will also help it cool better.

Alignment. Service centers like Malugani Tire make sure all four wheels are lined up and track with each other. This reduces tire and suspension wear and improves safety and handling.

Battery service. Service centers like Malugani Tire inspect the battery for corrosion, leaks or damage. Test the battery's ability to hold a charge. If the battery's still strong, clean it up. If not, replace it.

Brake service. This could be two things. A brake inspection to see if the brakes are working well mechanically and to see if the pads are still safe. If not, replace the pads and make any repairs that might be in order.

The other thing is to evacuate the brake fluid, clean out the system and replace it with fresh fluid. This is important, but often overlooked.

Cabin air filter. The cabin air filter is the filter that cleans the air that comes into the passenger compartment. It works like the filter on your furnace at home. It gets dirty and needs to be changed often.

Cooling system. This is the cooling system for your engine. Replace the old coolant with fresh to protect your radiator and other cooling system components from corrosion.

Differential service. Every vehicle has at least one differential. They don't require service very often, so people don't think of them much. The differential transfers power from the drive train to your wheels. Drain the old fluid and add fresh lubricant.

Engine air filter. This filters the air that's burned in the engine. It also gets dirty and needs to be replaced often.

Fuel filter. This filter cleans the fuel before it gets to the engine. Like the other filters, it too gets clogged and needs to be replaced in order to maintain good flow.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800





Gear Up: Transmission Service at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley

Posted February 6, 2015 12:00 PM

The transmission system in your vehicle allows you to change gears. Lower gears are power gears. They get your vehicle moving and get it up hills. Higher gears get the vehicle up to speed and get it rolling faster. If you have a standard transmission, then you have to do the work of shifting gears yourself. But with an automatic transmission, the vehicle shifts gears on its own. It automatically starts out in low gear and automatically shifts to high gears as it gets rolling. Again, it will automatically shift to a lower gear to climb hills or when you need a burst of speed.

How does it know when to change gears? Today's automatic transmissions are computer-controlled. The computer gathers information about what the vehicle is doing and changes the gears as needed.

Automatic transmissions are becoming more sophisticated all the time. More gears, or “speeds,” are being added. Almost all vehicles have at least four speeds. Five or six is common. Some are even increasing to seven or eight – up to ten. Adding gears has a lot of advantages for Mill Valley vehicle owners: it improves fuel economy and increases performance.

But there is a drawback for drivers in Mill Valley: more gears equal more parts and a more complex transmission system. Plus, all those parts need to fit into the same space as older, less complex transmissions. This means that today's transmissions are engineered to much tighter tolerances. In other words, they demand meticulous care from Mill Valley drivers. Transmissions are designed for durability. But that durability can be compromised if they aren't given proper care.

That's why changing transmission fluid is such an important part of preventive maintenance for vehicles in Mill Valley. Transmission fluid lubricates the transmission and keeps it in good working order. But if the fluid runs low, transmission parts will wear out quickly or suffer damage due to increased friction. The transmission can even fail.

Dirty transmission fluid can clog the small passageways in the transmission, blocking lubricant from reaching all of its parts. Again, this can lead to increased wear, damage or failure.

New transmissions aren't cheap. Repairing them isn't cheap either. But changing transmission fluid is fairly inexpensive at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley. That's why responsible car care includes maintenance on the transmission system at Malugani Tire. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that periodic fluid changes aren't just good auto advice, they actually pay for themselves by preventing transmission repairs.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Treat Your Vehicle to Good Tires at Malugani Tire

Posted January 29, 2015 12:00 PM

When we shop for shoes, most of us know that we can get two pairs of cheap shoes or one good pair for about the same price. And since the two cheap pairs wear out in about the same time as the good pair, there really is no difference in cost. If you like having a closet full of shoes to match your moods and outfits, then cheap shoes can be what you want. But if you spend a lot of time on your feet, you probably know that cheap shoes can come with an added cost of sore feet and other foot ailments. When you add in the benefits of comfort and protection, the more expensive shoes are actually the better value.

Buying tires at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley is a lot like buying shoes, except that Mill Valley vehicles don't have changeable apparel and don't need a closet full of tires to match. Vehicles spend a lot of time on their tires—all the time, in fact—so they need tires that can stand up to the job. Tires are work shoes: they have to deal with a lot of crazy California road conditions, all while carrying the weight of a vehicle and its passengers.

Bad tires, like cheap shoes, can also be a safety concern for Mill Valley drivers. Tires need good traction, and they need to be strong enough to handle the loads they carry. Vehicles that carry heavy loads or tow trailers around California need tires with a high load rating, in the same way that you are better off on a rough California mountain trail with sturdy hiking boots rather than flip-flops.

The best tires on the market are called Tier 1 tires. These are high-quality tires engineered to stand up to a lot of wear while maintaining good traction. They are also the most expensive tires on the market, although prices don't vary much from brand to brand.

Tire chain stores in Mill Valley often carry tires with their own brand name. These are private label tires. They are less expensive than Tier 1 tires but are still a quality product. In fact, many private label tires sold in the Mill Valley area are manufactured by the same companies that make Tier 1 tires. Don't hesitate to ask your Malugani Tire tire professional who makes their private brand.

The cheapest tires on the California tire market are Tier 3 tires. Most of these tires are imported from Asia or South America, and they just don't have the same standard of engineering behind them that the higher-priced tires have. When it comes to Tier 3 tires, you get what you pay for.

At Malugani Tire, we sometimes express tire quality in terms of the warranty. In other words, we call a tire a “40,000 mile/65,000 km tire,” or a "60,000 mile/100,000 km tire." This refers to the number of miles/kilometers a tire will be under warranty. Tires with a higher mileage warranty are made with higher quality rubber compounds and have more tread. As you might expect, they also cost more than tires with low mileage warranties.

Cheap tires often have no warranty at all. However, if you find yourself in a position where you need new tires and you're really strapped for cash, purchasing Tier 3 tires is better than waiting until you can afford Tier 1. It's always better to drive on new tires, even cheap ones, than driving on tires that are worn past their safety limits.

That said, if you're driving on Tier 3 tires, it's a good idea to budget and plan to buy higher-quality tires the next go-around. Two sets of cheap tires may wear out in the same time as one set of quality tires, but the quality tires actually cost less than two sets of cheap tires. That's the great fallacy of cheap tires. In the long run, they actually cost more than good tires and come with significantly reduced performance and durability to boot. Not exactly the best value for Mill Valley area drivers.

So, some good auto advice would be to always buy as much tire as you can afford. That way you'll get the most durability and performance and the most mileage out of every tire. Plus, with a better tire, there's some peace of mind that comes with knowing you won't have to purchase tires as often.

Good vehicle care requires checking your tires occasionally for tread wear and road damage. Practicing this preventive maintenance can help you avoid flats and blowouts.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Under Pressure in Mill Valley: TPMS

Posted January 21, 2015 12:00 PM

Have you noticed an increase in price when you get a flat tire fixed in Mill Valley, or have 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 underinflated.

Why the new requirement? Because underinflated tires are the number one cause of tire failure. Tire blowouts cause crashes and sometimes fatal accidents. Underinflated tires also need longer stopping distance and can skid, both of which also present dangers on California roads. Many flat tires can also be prevented by proper tire inflation, and though this may seem an economic consideration, Mill Valley drivers 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 Mill Valley drivers 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 vehicles are a safety hazard on the road. Hence, the TPMS.

So, like seatbelts, the 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, minivans and pick-ups. Besides warning drivers in the Mill Valley area when their tires need air, the system is required to indicate when it is malfunctioning.

This increased safety won't come without increased costs. 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. Mill Valley service centers have had to purchase new scanning equipment to work with TPMS sensors and other equipment to repair tires and wheels equipped with TPMS. The pros at Malugani Tire have to be trained to use the new equipment. These costs will have to be passed on to Mill Valley drivers.

Further, whenever a tire is changed, Malugani Tire will have to deal with the TPMS. Sensors will have to be 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 Mill Valley drivers.

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 vehicle care at your Mill Valley 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 Mill Valley if drivers 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. You can prevent accidents and potentially save lives without a warning system by keeping their tires properly inflated.

Safe driving!

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Drive Defensively in California

Posted January 14, 2015 12:00 PM

Car care is part of auto safety in Mill Valley. But the most important thing we can do to improve safety on California roads is to drive safely.

Defensive driving begins with the proper attitude. Have in mind that you won't let anyone take your safety away from you. You'll be aware of your surroundings, road conditions, other vehicles and hazards. And the first person to be concerned with is you: start with your own environment.

Don't leave without securing all occupants including children and pets. Watch for loose items that can become projectiles during evasive maneuvers.

Driving too fast or too slow increases the chance of an accident.

Never drive impaired: Alcohol is a factor in half of all fatal crashes. Never drink and drive.

Other impairments include being sleepy, angry, daydreaming or talking. If you suddenly wonder how you got where you are – you're not paying enough attention.

Keep your windows clean and uncluttered. No fuzzy dice and stickers.

Keep your car in good shape so that it handles properly: Maintain tires, lights, brakes, suspension, wheel alignment and steering.

Always use your turn signals while driving around Mill Valley, California. Avoid other vehicles' blind spots.

Don't drive faster than your headlights – if you can't stop within the distance you can see, you're going too fast.

Avoid driving over debris in the road. Even harmless looking items can cause damage or an accident.

Keep your wheels straight when waiting to turn at an intersection in Mill Valley . That way if you're hit from behind, your car won't be pushed into on-coming traffic.

My daddy always said that when you drive, you're actually driving five cars: yours, the one in front, the one behind and the ones on either side. You can't trust that other drivers will do the right thing, so you've got to be aware of what they're doing at all times.

If you see another car driving erratically, weaving, crossing lanes, etc., stay back. Take the next right turn if you're downtown Mill Valley, or take the next exit on the California highway. Notify the police if you see someone driving dangerously in our Mill Valley community.

Never follow too closely. The minimum distance is the two second rule. Pick a landmark ahead, like a tree or road marker. When the car in front of you passes it, start counting: 'one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand.' If you pass the landmark before reaching two-one-thousand, you're following too closely.

Remember that the two second rule is the minimum – it assumes you're alert and aware. Three seconds is safer. Move out to five seconds or more if it's foggy or rainy.

Someone will inevitably move into your forward safety zone – just drop back and keep a safe distance.

If someone follows you too closely, just move over.

Don't play chicken by contesting your right of way or race to beat someone to a merge. Whoever loses that contest has the potential to lose big and you don't want any part of that. So stay alert, constantly scan around your car and arrive safely.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Talk To Malugani Tire Center Inc. About New Shoes For Your Vehicle

Posted January 8, 2015 12:00 PM

Custom wheels are one way that Mill Valley folks express themselves and personalize their passenger car. But they aren’t as cheap and easy as sticking decals on your back window. There are several important factors need to be considered, including cost, the fit of the wheel, modifications that will have to be made to the passenger car, how the new wheels and tires will affect the operation of the vehicle, your driving habits, and, of course, the style of the wheels. Most Mill Valley motorists start with the last factor: the style of the wheels. But that should be the last thing we choose.

When considering custom wheels, you should first carefully consider your budget. Some wheels may require pricey adjustments to your passenger car suspension system, brakes, or traction systems. You need to know what you can afford before you start shopping in Mill Valley or get your heart set on a particular type of wheel.

There are three basic ways you can change your wheels. First, you choose a wheel that is already the same size as the ones on your passenger car. Second, you can choose larger wheels, and third, you can choose smaller wheels. Mounting wheels that are the same size as the ones already on your car sounds easy enough. But, even though the wheel may be the same diameter as your current wheels, but that doesn’t mean it will fit your passenger car. Besides diameter, wheels also have an offset. This is the measurement from the inside edge of the wheel to the point at which it bolts on. If your new wheel does not have the same offset as your current wheels, your passenger car tires can rub on the inside or outside of the wheel well. This can lead to blowouts, uneven tread wear, and other mechanical problems.

The tire and wheel professionals in Mill Valley at Malugani Tire Center Inc. on 493 Miller Ave can help you select a wheel that has both the correct diameter and offset for your passenger car. Or, if you really want a specific wheel in spite of the offset difference, your may be able to install adapters that will make the wheels fit.

Mounting larger wheels is a more involved process. There are several ways of doing this. You can mount larger wheels, but keep the overall tire diameter the same. Or you can “supersize” your tire/wheel combo. Mounting larger wheels while maintaining the same overall tire diameter is the easiest way to increase wheel size. You still need to adjust for offset. Generally, this alteration means that your new tires will be wider than the originals, so you will have to install adapters to keep them from rubbing on the wheel wells. Consult your Malugani Tire Center Inc. service specialist by calling (415) 388-1800.

If you want to install larger wheels and increase the overall tire diameter, it is vital that the package fits in the wheel well: you may have to do some minor modifications to your suspension. More importantly, you will have to reprogram your passenger car engine’s computer to calibrate for the larger tire size. The computer calculates your speed based on the rotation of your tires, so increasing the size of the tires will render it inaccurate. Inaccurate speed calculations can mess up your anti-lock brakes and your stability control systems, as well as your speedometer and odometer.

As you can see, the more modifications you make, the more vital it becomes to have your friendly Malugani Tire Center Inc. service professional tire and wheel professional help you with your car care.

If you really want those “super-sized” tires, great: just factor in the issues listed above, plus you may have to have modifications done to your suspension system.

The larger wheels and tires will add weight to your vehicle. This weight is not held up by the suspension system, so is referred to as “unsprung” weight. Adding unsprung weight affects your car differently than just adding loads inside of your car. Unsprung weight can affect acceleration and braking. Putting large wheels on your passenger car may require an upgraded brake system.

Also, you may not get the performance from your passenger car that you’ve been used to. It may be sluggish when accelerating or harder to handle when turning. You may also find that the ride is bumpier than it was before. Of course, done right at Malugani Tire Center Inc., a good wheel job can sometimes improve a vehicle’s ride or performance. It just depends on your vehicle, the type of wheels you choose, and what you are hoping to accomplish.

Now let’s suppose you want smaller wheels on your vehicle. That should be easier, right? Not really. You still have to worry about offset, and it is important that your computer be reprogrammed to account for calibration issues. And you may need adjustments to your suspension system.

Remember your budget? All of these scenarios require that you shell out some bucks. Perhaps now you can see why it is good auto advice for San Francisco drivers to make that consideration first, before setting their heart on a specific type of wheel.

Another consideration should always be your driving habits. Do you do a lot of off-roading on the outskirts of Mill Valley? Do you carry heavy loads? Do you tow a trailer on California interstates? All of these factors must be considered when replacing your tires and wheels. Some wheels just may not be up to the work you need them to do.

For example, if you mount large rims on your vehicle, then add low-profile tires to avoid major adjustments to other systems, they won’t be able to handle off-roading as well as larger tires. There won’t be enough sidewall on the tires to absorb the impact from off-roading. You could end up with dented or broken rims.

At the end of the day, Mill Valley auto owners should always put safety ahead of appearance. That’s why you shouldn’t add custom wheels to your vehicle without consulting with your Malugani Tire Center Inc. tire and wheel professional. Cutting corners when installing custom wheels by not making necessary adjustments to all of the systems impacted by the change can result in dangerous operating conditions as well as expensive repairs down the road.

The friendly auto professionals at Malugani Tire Center Inc. want to remind Mill Valley car owners of the basics of vehicle safety: preventive maintenance, emergency preparedness and professional repairs. Stay safe, and stay on the road.



Check Engine Light Diagnosis At Malugani Tire In Mill Valley

Posted December 30, 2014 12:00 PM

Check

Many Mill Valley drivers have had their Check Engine light come on. It's an amber colored light that shows on your dashboard. In newer vehicles, it might just be a problem with your gas cap not being screwed on tight enough (or a worn gas cap), causing the vehicle to fail the self-diagnostic evaporative emission test. All you need to do is go to your gas cap and verify that it is tight. If that was the problem, the light will turn off and everything will be fine within one or two days.

Resist the temptation to have someone “clear” the codes to turn off your vehicle check engine light. This erases important diagnostic information that your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire technician needs to diagnose the underlying problem for the Check Engine light – and any other pending problems that may be stored in the vehicle computer.

If the problem is still there — you still see the light — bring your vehicle in to Malugani Tire in Mill Valley and have your Check Engine light checked out as soon as possible.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California zip code 94941


Viva la Differential At Malugani Tire

Posted December 23, 2014 12:00 PM

Viva

With front-wheel drive being so common in Mill Valley these days, the differential is just taken care of during a transmission service, so most Mill Valley folks don't even have to think about it. And most rear-wheel drive vehicle differentials don't need to be serviced for a long time, so it's understandable that it's not something on most drivers' minds. So it's not uncommon for people in California to not know they have a differential, let alone know that it needs service.

To better understand what a differential does, think about a high school track. There are lanes marked off on the track. For the longer distance races, the starting lines are staggered. The starting lines for the outside lanes are ahead of the starting lines for the inside lanes. That's to compensate for the longer length of the outside lanes. Staggering the starting lines means that each runner has the same distance to run.

The differential compensates for the difference in speeds on drive wheels between the inside wheel and the outside wheel in a turn because they have to travel together through slightly different distances.

Many vehicle differentials do a lot of work and require very heavy duty parts. And those parts need protection. The differential fluid lubricates the gears in the differential and keeps them cool. The fluid eventually gets dirty and worn down. Some kinds of differentials require special additives that break down over time. So manufacturers and Malugani Tire technicians recommend intervals for replacing your differential fluid.

Your Malugani Tire service technician will drain the used fluid and check it out for metal bits, which could be a sign of excessive wear on the gears. He'll then replace the fluid and install the additives if necessary.

Mill Valley four-wheel-drive vehicles need special attention to their differentials because they have a differential on both the front and rear axles that work at different times and sometimes under heavy loads; so they may need to be serviced at Malugani Tire at different intervals.

Your Mill Valley service advisor can look up the manufacturer's recommended service interval or you can check your vehicle owner's manual.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
(415) 388-1800
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941



Put on the Brakes: Brake Service at Malugani Tire

Posted December 16, 2014 12:00 PM

When it comes to preventive maintenance and vehicle care, most Mill Valley drivers know how important it is to check their brakes. But brakes are more than just brake pads and shoes. There are a lot of components in the brake system, and they all need to be in good working order.

The pads and shoes are known as the friction materials in the brake system. They push together, providing friction which stops the vehicle. It's no wonder they have to be checked regularly for wear, and brake pads and shoes need to be replaced periodically.

Brake pads/shoes gradually wear out, but that doesn't mean your braking gradually becomes less effective. The pads are engineered so that they maintain good braking until they wear too thin to provide adequate friction. At this point, they need to be replaced.

But your braking system also has mechanical parts. These pistons and springs can also gradually wear out or get gummed up by oil, dirt and other road spatter. A brake inspection at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley  includes a check of these parts as well as the pads and shoes. Your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Malugani Tire can then advise you of any parts that need cleaning or replacement.

The fluid component to the brake system needs a regular check-up at Malugani Tire as well. The brake fluid cools and protects your brake system. Protective additives are gradually depleted by the operation of the brake system, and moisture buildup inside the fluid can diminish its effectiveness. When you have your brakes serviced at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, the fluid should be checked and, if needed, replaced, which will clean out water, debris and dirt.

It is important to remember that your brake system also includes your tires. No matter how well your brake system is performing, if your vehicle tires are worn, you won't get good stopping power. Traction is the power of your tires gripping to the roadway. Traction is always better on tires with a good tread. Good traction translates to good braking.

This is particularly important on wet Mill Valley roads. A good tire will give you good braking on either wet or dry California roads. But stopping distance increases dramatically when worn tires meet wet roads. Tread on a tire acts to channel away water as the vehicle passes over the wet road, improving  contact between the tire's surface and the road; that maintains traction. But the thinner the tread, the less effective the water channels become, and water can get between the tire and the roadway, reducing friction. A loss of friction means a longer stopping distance and possibly the loss of control.

Braking depends on two things: the weight of your vehicle and the speed of the vehicle. The heavier the vehicle or the faster the vehicle, the more braking power it requires. Thus, brake systems vary from vehicle to vehicle. For example, a pickup that is designed for heavy loads has a more powerful braking system than a compact car. Sports cars also have higher-grade braking systems than minivans.

Regardless of what kind of car you drive in Mill Valley, it is always good auto advice to keep your brake system in good repair, and that means ALL of your brake system. Just one more way to keep your travels accident- and worry-free.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Arrive Alive in Mill Valley

Posted December 11, 2014 12:00 PM

We've all seen drivers do crazy things while driving to or from Mill Valley. A guy shaving in the rear-view mirror, a woman applying makeup, people talking on their phones, texting or drinking from an enormous coffee mug. It's a wonder we even dare drive on California roads.

The truth is that all of us are distracted when we drive. Unfortunately, traffic, road construction and other external factors are beyond our control. The distractions inside our car, however, are things we can often control.

Here's some things that'll give you more control in your car, and help keep your attention on the roads around Mill Valley.

  • Mill Valley drivers who are 16 to 20 years old tend to be more distracted by the radio, CD or MP3 player.
  • Mill Valley drivers who are 20 to 29 are more distracted by passengers in the car, including small children.
  • Those over age 65 tend to be more distracted by objects or events that are outside of the vehicle.

Other factors like fatigue, stress and lack of sleep make it harder to pay attention to driving – no matter what age we are. It is always better to pull over and take a quick nap than risk falling asleep at the wheel. Mill Valley drivers are also distracted by thinking about relationships, family issues, money and bills. So what can Mill Valley drivers do to manage these distractions? Well, the first thing is to eliminate as many as we can.

If you really think you have to shave, change your clothes or put on make-up while driving in Mill Valley – you're wrong. Just start getting ready earlier so you have enough time to finish those things before you drive around Mill Valley.

The professional here at Malugani Tire wand you to remember that driving is probably the most dangerous thing you'll do all day – so don't make it any worse. Use these tips to keep you and your loved ones safer behind the wheel in Mill Valley.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Training Received by Technicians in Mill Valley, California

Posted December 5, 2014 12:00 PM

When your vehicle breaks down in the Mill Valley, California, area, or just needs some routine service, it can make you a little nervous. Because your vehicle's so important to your life, you need to be back on the road as soon as possible — with the problem fixed right the first time.

We've been checking into some of the training our Mill Valley, California, technicians receive, and we're very impressed. It's amazing how much knowledge and skill goes into diagnosing and repairing a modern vehicle. So it's not like when your uncle worked on his hot rod over the weekend.

Today there are four-cylinder engines around Mill Valley that make more power than the V-8's in luxury cars did 20 years ago. A new V-6 Toyota Camry could beat Sonny Crocket's Ferrari in a race to 60 mph/97 kph.

Our engines are more and more powerful. And they're so reliable. This is all due to engineering. But the benefits come to Mill Valley drivers at the price of simplicity. Modern cars are so much more complex from a mechanical standpoint that it makes your head spin.

Then there are the electronics. Some vehicles on California roads have several networked computers controlling most of the engine functions and many other vehicle functions as well. Mill Valley drivers take all of this sophistication for granted – but somebody has to fix it when it breaks.

It's a real challenge for the pros at Malugani Tire and other Mill Valley auto service centers to keep up. It requires a high level of commitment on the part of the auto technician and the service center. In addition to the training, there's the financial commitment to purchase the diagnostic and repair tools as well.

So where do Mill Valley technicians go for training? There are many sources. It's usually a combination of formal classroom training, training provided in the service center by auto parts and equipment manufacturers, online courses and home study courses. There are many independent certifications available all the way up to Master Technician.

Service centers in Mill Valley, California, have a lot of other resources available.  No one can know everything, so service centers like Malugani Tire subscribe to data services, technical libraries and even online communities that can help them when they run into a difficult problem.

It's like those medical diagnosis shows on TV. Here are the symptoms. What's the diagnosis and treatment? Diagnosis is every bit as much an art as a science. Mill Valley drivers want everything to be simple, straightforward and cheap – and sometimes it just isn't.

So, be more relaxed next time you take your vehicle in. You can trust the professionals at Malugani Tire. You're in good hands. The more you know, the more comfortable you can be with your automotive service decisions at Malugani Tire. 

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Tracking True in California: Wheel Alignment in Mill Valley

Posted November 25, 2014 12:00 PM

The biggest issue for Mill Valley area drivers is always safety. When your vehicle wheels are out of alignment, the vehicle will pull to one side, which could lead to an accident. When you're vehicle is out of alignment, you should have it taken care of right away at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley.

When undergoing an alignment service at Malugani Tire, your vehicle is put on an alignment rack where the tires, steering and suspension parts are checked for damage. Then the alignment is charted and checked against the factory settings.

Precision adjustments are made to bring the wheels back into alignment. This gets all four wheels going in exactly the same direction.

Mill Valley drivers should be aware of the signs of alignment problems. These include the car pulling to one side. Also, the steering wheel may not be centered when you're going straight. If you see the edges of one or more tires rapidly wearing down, you should have your Mill Valley service center look it over. If you've been in an auto accident in California, you should get your alignment checked.

Obviously, a big jolt can seriously knock things out of alignment, but Mill Valley area drivers also need to understand that a series of smaller ones can add up.

That's why we recommend periodic alignment checks. If your vehicle owner's manual doesn't specify the interval, once a year might be appropriate. Or check with a service advisor at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley.

One thing's for sure: the cost of the alignment at Malugani Tire is cheaper for Mill Valley drivers than having to buy a couple of new tires because of neglect.

 Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Budget for Maintenance in Mill Valley

Posted November 21, 2014 12:00 PM

Sometimes busy Mill Valley residents dream about going back to the “simpler” days of our grandparents. But if you could travel back in time and take a road trip around California in a Model T, you might change your mind. The improved designs and quality of today's automobiles have significantly reduced the amount of time Mill Valley residents spend at the side of the road during breakdowns. With proper maintenance, today's vehicles can stay on the road longer than ever before.

Some of those improvements, however, have led to higher repair costs. For example, older cars often broke down from vapor lock. Gas vaporized while traveling from the gas tank to the fuel pump. No gas, no power. The car quits going. The solution was simple — you just sat by the road until the car would start up again. Today's Mill Valley drivers would hardly tolerate that kind of inconvenience, and it's likely that yesterday's Mill Valley drivers didn't care much for it, either. So on today's vehicles, the fuel pump is actually located inside the gas tank. Problem solved. No more vapor lock. The downside is that now it costs a lot more to repair or replace a fuel pump at Mill Valley area auto service centers.

Mill Valley drivers certainly should be grateful for the improvements in auto design that keep us off the side of the road, but it comes at a price. Vehicle  care in California  simply costs more  than it used to. So if you think about it, Mill Valley drivers can avoid many vehicle repairs by preventive maintenance. If we plan for maintenance, we can avoid a lot of costly repairs.

Just a bit of auto advice from Malugani Tire: If you like new vehicles and can afford them, then buy them. But if you are buying a new vehicle every few years because you're afraid of the higher repair costs for older vehicles, then you ought to take a second look at the numbers. You can save a lot of money on car payments and California auto insurance with an older vehicle, and preventive auto maintenance can help you avoid most car repair bills. And if you budget for preventive maintenance you have done at Malugani Tire, it can become as routine as a car payment — only a whole lot less!

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Why Is My Check Engine Light On?

Posted November 11, 2014 12:00 PM

The Check Engine Light strikes fear into the hearts of some Mill Valley drivers, and is totally ignored by just as many. Just what it means is a mystery to most people.


Let's get the urgency issues out of the way first. If your Check Engine light is flashing, that means that something is wrong that could cause engine damage. Naturally, you need to get that taken care of right away. If your check engine light is flashing, you shouldn't drive at high speeds, tow or haul heavy loads. Take it easy all the way to your Mill Valley service center.

Why

If the light is glowing steadily, you should keep an eye on it for a day or two. If the light doesn't go off, schedule an appointment with your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Malugani Tire to get it checked out.

Some more information on how the Check Engine light works may be helpful for Mill Valley drivers. Most of your engine functions are controlled by a computer, not surprisingly, called an engine control computer. The computer is able to adjust many engine parameters for environmental conditions, engine condition and even the way you drive.

In order to make these adjustments, the computer relies on a network of sensors to provide data. The computer knows the proper operating range for each sensor. When a sensor reading is out of range, the computer runs some tests and may turn on the vehicle's Check Engine light.

A simple example is a loose or missing gas cap. This may cause one of the sensors to read out of range. The computer doesn't know if it's a serious condition that caused the reading or just a loose gas cap, so it stores a trouble code and turns on the Check Engine light.

Now when you tighten up the gas cap, the sensor readings will be in the correct range. The computer will keep checking on the report for a day or two. Since a bad reading didn't come up again, it turns off the Check Engine light. The computer will also try to make adjustments to compensate for some readings. If it can do so, it'll then turn off the Check Engine light.

If the problem can't be resolved then the light will remain on, and you should get your vehicle looked at. Your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Malugani Tire will plug a scanner into the on-board diagnostic port and read the trouble code stored in the computer. The trouble code will give the technician a starting place as he diagnoses the cause of the problem.

 

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Considering an Alternative Fuel Vehicle in Mill Valley?

Posted November 5, 2014 12:00 PM

There is a clear and vocal demand in Mill Valley and nationally for a reduction in air pollution and our dependence on fossil fuels. This is what is driving the California market for alternative fuel vehicles. There are a number of these vehicles on Mill Valley area roads today, and many more being developed. Yet each of these vehicles has its own advantages and disadvantages. Mill Valley auto owners should learn what these advantages and disadvantages are before running out and purchasing one of these alternative fuel vehicles at your nearest Mill Valley dealership.

Mill Valley drivers should carefully research the vehicle care before buying an alternative fuel vehicle, as it may or may not coincide with the standards for gasoline vehicles. You should look at costs as well; these vehicles may help save our environment here in Mill Valley, but that might not represent a savings to your wallet. You'll need to decide what you can afford and what will work for your lifestyle. Also, your choice of vehicle may be affected by what fuels are available in your area. Switching to an alternative fuel vehicle is not a bad decision, but it should be a carefully considered one.

Flex Fuel Vehicles
Flex fuel vehicles can run on gasoline or on a combination of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Because of the 85% ethanol content, this fuel is commonly called E85 in California.

Ethanol is made from corn. So flex fuel vehicles lessen our dependency on fossil fuels. But they also raise the price of corn, which is a basic foodstuff in some areas of the world. Whether replacing fossil fuels with corn is a good idea is hotly contested right now.

One piece of Malugani Tire auto advice before we move on: do not put E85 into your vehicle unless it has an engine designed for flex fuels. Because of the high ethanol content in E85, engines need special seals and gaskets to function properly on this fuel. Running an ordinary engine with E85 can lead to gas leaks and fires.

Diesel
Diesel engines are nothing new on California freeways, and many get great fuel economy. Diesel fuel can now be made from vegetable oil and other renewable sources. A diesel fuel made from algae will soon be on the market in the Mill Valley area.

Natural Gas
Natural gas is less expensive than gasoline in Mill Valley and burns more cleanly. Also, gasoline engines can be adapted to run on compressed natural gas, and many natural gas vehicles are already on Mill Valley roads. You can even install a special pump in your home gas line to use to fuel your vehicle. If you are interested in converting your gasoline engine to run on CNG in Mill Valley, ask your Malugani Tire service advisor about it.

On the other hand, an engine running on natural gas is not as powerful as one running on gasoline. Also, the tank you need to store natural gas is large—it takes up nearly the entire trunk of your car. Further, refueling stations are still few and far between in some California areas, or even unavailable in many parts of the country.


Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicles were all the rage in California some years ago. But their limitations were quickly realized by Mill Valley auto owners. These vehicles won't come into their own until we find ways to improve their batteries. Currently, many of these cars have a short range before their power runs out and can only be realistically used close to home. However, they are easy to recharge since they can be plugged in at home, and there are many researchers working on improving the battery technology in these vehicles. They may yet be the vehicles of the future.

Hybrids
Hybrids have been among the most successful alternative fuel vehicles here in Mill Valley and throughout the county. A hybrid gets its name because it has both a gas or diesel engine and an electric motor.

There are two types of hybrids. The full-hybrid relies on the electric motor for power, but the gas (or diesel) engine generates power for the battery. Thus, while still consuming fossil fuels, it uses less of them than a standard vehicle and also reduces harmful pollutants. Also, it overcomes the range problem of the strictly electric vehicle.

In a mild hybrid, the electric motor assists the gas or diesel engine in powering the vehicle. Thus, it uses more gasoline or diesel than full hybrids and has higher emissions. But mild hybrids are available in larger body models like full-size pickups and SUV's.

A Note of Caution about Hybrid and Electric Vehicles
One last note before we leave the subject of alternative fuel vehicles. The battery in an electric or hybrid vehicle is not as tame as the one in a standard vehicle. They carry enough voltage to kill you. These are not do-it-yourself vehicles when it comes to preventive maintenance or car care. Only a trained technician should work under their hoods.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



It’s Time To Check Your Intervals

Posted October 28, 2014 12:00 PM

Part of the engineering that goes into designing a vehicle is testing the components to ensure that they meet durability and safety standards. Because of this, manufacturers have a good idea as to how long the parts in your vehicle will last under normal driving conditions. For this reason, they give us guidelines to follow regarding how often to inspect the various parts and systems on our passenger cars.

Vehicular components are required to meet certain standards. The government mandates some of these standards. Others are set by the auto industry. Recommended car maintenance schedules are designed to help Mill Valley car owners maintain these standards. Disregarding routine maintenance or procrastinating preventive maintenance will result in lowered performance and reduced safety for a vehicle.

Maintenance schedules are designed to ensure three areas of critical automotive performance for Mill Valley auto owners: protection of the vehicle itself, fuel economy, and safety.

Protection

Your vehicle’s components need protection from dirt, road damage, rust, corrosion and fuel and combustion by products. Protective components include filters and fluids.

Most of the fluids in your passenger car are there to keep the vehicle running smoothly and to protect the vehicle from corrosion, damage or harmful contaminants. These fluids need to be changed regularly in order to continue protecting your passenger car.

For example, motor oil lubricates your engine, when keeps it running well, but it also contains detergents and other additives that clean your engine and protect it from corrosion. Your vehicle’s engine was engineered for best performance with a specific weight and type of motor oil. Mill Valley drivers should always be careful to use the right motor oil for their engine.

Over time, the essential additives in motor oil are depleted, and the oil becomes contaminated by dirt, water and waste gases from combustion. So in order to keep your engine clean and to continue to protect it from corrosion, the oil has to be changed periodically.

Efficiency

Over time, your vehicle’s systems will get dirty and parts will wear down. Cleaning dirty systems and replacing worn parts will improve the efficiency of your vehicle, which is usually measured in terms of fuel efficiency and power output.

For example, your fuel system components gradually get clogged up with gum and varnish from gasoline. This restricts fuel flow, which lowers your engine’s efficiency. Gas mileage drops as a result. Cleaning your fuel system will restore fuel efficiency and improve gas mileage.

Safety

Some of your passenger car’s systems must be maintained for safety reasons. Your brakes are a prime example of this. Brake pads and brake fluid need to be replaced in order to ensure good braking power. Poorly maintained brakes lead to accidents for Mill Valley drivers.

Your owner’s manual is your first resource when it comes to knowing when and how to maintain your passenger car. Of course, you can consult with a your Malugani Tire Center Inc. service advisor. He can give you good auto advice on how to adjust your service schedule to account for climate, local road conditions and your driving distances.

Beyond routine maintenance, your vehicle also requires regular inspections. These inspections are usually recommended at specific mileage intervals, like fifteen or twenty thousand miles. The interval is based on the known life expectancy for particular components in your passenger car. Regular inspections will identify vehicular components that need to be repaired or replaced before damage is done to the vehicle or safety is compromised. They are also designed to safeguard the efficiency and performance of your vehicle.

The multi-point inspection that comes with a full-service oil change does not cover all of the regular inspections your vehicle needs for peak performance and safety. Check with the automotive professionals at Malugani Tire Center Inc. in Mill Valley to find out what additional inspections your vehicle needs and how often. Good car care requires regular and consistent maintenance. But good maintenance pays for itself in better fuel efficiency and fewer costly repairs. It may even save your life.



How Much is Enough for Mill Valley Auto Owners? Tire Tread Depth

Posted October 23, 2014 12:00 PM

Most Mill Valley drivers 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 and their condition is important to the safe handling of a vehicle, so it's for Mill Valley vehicle owners 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 California 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 California professionals 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 Mill Valley drivers 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 Mill Valley drivers 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 (1.6 mm) tread depth, the stopping distance was double that of a new tire. The passenger car was still traveling at 55 mph (89 kph) when it reached the stopping distance it experienced with new tires.

Let's suppose that you're on a busy Mill Valley road 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 (89 kph). That is a major difference.

What if your tires had a tread depth of 4/32 (3.2 mm)? You would have crashed into that vehicle at 45 mph (72 kph). 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 be changed from 2/32 (1.6 mm) to 4/32 (3.2 mm). The increased standard will improve safety on the road and save lives here in California 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 an American quarter to tell if your tread wear is down to 4/32 (3.2 mm). 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 (3.2 mm). With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the digits of the year.

You can measure the 2/32 inch (1.6 mm) tread wear with a penny. If the tread touches the top of Abe's head, it's at 2/32 (1.6 mm). Tires are super important when it comes to vehicle 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 in (3.2 mm) is good auto advice.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800
http://malugani-tire.autodealertips.com



Maintaining Your Older Car in Mill Valley, California

Posted October 17, 2014 12:00 PM



The government mandates a lot of equipment on cars in Mill Valley, California: emission devices and control computers, safety equipment like airbags and crash worthiness requirements. All of this is great for the Mill Valley motoring public, but it does add quite a bit to the price of a new vehicle.

Because new vehicles are more expensive, people in the Mill Valley area are driving their old vehicles longer. The average vehicle is now over nine years old. Two thirds of vehicles on the road in California have more than 75,000 miles (120,000 km) on them. As cars age, their performance drops, they have difficulty idling for long periods and are more sensitive to weather extremes. Fortunately today's cars are up to the challenge – but they need a little help to keep on goin'.

Give Malugani Tire a call at (415) 388-1800 to schedule your next maintenance.

Some owner's manuals don't specify service requirements at higher mileage. That doesn't mean it doesn't have to be done. In fact, it's more important than ever to stay on top of routine maintenance for cars with more than 75,000 miles (120,000km).

First, just extend regular service intervals out: for instance a service that's recommended every 15,000 miles (24,000 km) should be performed at 15,000, 30,000, 45,000 and 60,000 miles (24,000, 48,000, 72,000 and 96,000 km) and so on. Because of the additional stress older engines experience, the severe service maintenance schedule is more appropriate than the regular schedule; ask your service advisor. Watch for leaks; seals and gaskets dry out over time and don't hold the fluids as well as they used to.

It's also time to make sure you have a good technician, like those here at Malugani Tire. There are some services and replacements that are scheduled after you put on some clicks, like timing belts, valve train adjustments, suspension, anti-lock brake service, air bags, etc. And unexpected repairs down the road are just par for the course. Check for unusual sounds, smells or the way your car feels. These could be hints that trouble's brewing. Better to catch it early before it turns into a costly repair.

And a regular wash and wax will help maintain your car's appearance. One of the things you can do to really help your high mileage vehicle is to begin using high mileage formulation fluids. There are special engine oils, coolants, and transmission and power steering fluids that are formulated for cars that have a few clicks on the old odometer.

High mileage oil is designed to condition seals and gaskets, reduce wear and avoid premature burn off. Older engines are dirtier inside – and dirty engines contaminate their oil faster. High mileage oil has special additives that clean the engine, removing sludge deposits over time. The result is less stress on the engine, better fuel economy and excellent wear protection.

Studies have even shown that using high mileage fluids early will actually prevent some of the problems of high mileage vehicles. So once you hit around 50,000 miles (80,000 km), consider stepping up to high mileage formulations. High mileage fluids cost a bit more than standard fluids because of the additional additives, but they can be worth their weight in gold in terms of preventing repair costs down the road. It does cost more to properly maintain a higher mileage vehicle – but it's way cheaper than a new car payment!

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Malugani Tire Center Inc. Maintenance Tips: The Belt Goes On

Posted October 8, 2014 12:00 PM

Today's Malugani Tire Center Inc. auto maintenance article focuses on your serpentine belt. Your serpentine belt is a long belt that’s driven by your engine. It winds around several accessories that power vital automotive systems. Let’s go over them.

First, the serpentine belt drives your passenger car air conditioning system. It spins the compressor that makes the cool air that takes the edge off the summer heat in Mill Valley.

Next, the belt powers the alternator. The alternator creates electricity that’s used by your passenger car’s electrical systems and also charges your car battery. Malugani Tire Center Inc. Maintenance Tips The Belt Goes OnAll Mill Valley drivers know that without the alternator, the battery will go dead in a few miles.

The serpentine belt may also run the pumps for both the power steering and power brakes. And, on many passenger cars, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine to keep it within normal operating temperatures for Mill Valley car owners. (On some passenger cars, the water pump is powered by the timing belt instead of the serpentine belt.)

So you can see the serpentine belt does a lot of work. And it if breaks, it affects a lot of systems. That’s why auto manufacturers and your service advisor at Malugani Tire Center Inc. have recommended that it be changed every so often so that it doesn’t fail.

Your
friendly Malugani Tire Center Inc. service professional can perform a visual inspection of the belt to see if it has any cracks that signal the belt could fail soon and will measure the amount of belt material to make sure there is enough.

Your serpentine belt works in tandem with a spring loaded pulley attached to the engine called the tensioner pulley. Its essential job is to make sure there’s a constant tension on the serpentine belt so that it doesn’t slip. The spring can become worn and no longer provide the necessary pressure to keep the belt tight. At Malugani Tire Center Inc., we recommend that the tensioner be replaced at the same time as the serpentine belt.

All in all, the serpentine belt’s a key art for the function of your passenger car. And it’s not that expensive to replace at Malugani Tire Center Inc. – so bring in your vehicle if it hasn't been checked in a while.



Go Big or Go Home: Upsize Your Wheels at Malugani Tire

Posted October 1, 2014 12:00 PM

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

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

Fifteen or 16-inch wheels used to be the factory standard, but today, because a lot of Mill Valley drivers like the look of larger wheels, many vehicles are available with 17 or 18-inch wheels. Optional wheel packages of 20 inches or more are also available in Mill Valley.

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

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

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

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

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

Your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire tire professional may be able to reprogram your vehicle's computer to adjust for a larger (or smaller) rolling diameter.

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

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

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

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

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

Once you've got your new wheels, have your service advisor at Malugani Tire see if you need an alignment. You don't want those new wheels and your higher performance compromised by poor alignment. Get the most out of your investment by getting the work done right at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley.

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

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

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Charge It in Mill Valley for Extended Battery Life

Posted September 24, 2014 12:00 PM

Here's an interesting statistic for our in Mill Valley, California, drivers: Only 30 percent of car batteries make it to 48 months. And the life expectancy varies by where you live. It ranges from 51 months in extremely cold areas to just 30 months in extremely hot climates.

Why is that? It turns out that it's our modern cars with all their electric accessories that are to blame. Things like, GPS, DVDs and entertainment computers are keeping vehicle batteries from maintaining a full charge. The longer a battery goes with a low charge, the sooner it'll die.

It's clear that you Mill Valley drivers need to recharge your batteries. This is the job of the alternator. The problem comes when the car's demand for electricity is high and we are driving in stop and go conditions or short trips around Mill Valley. The alternator just can't keep up.

The result is shortened battery life. So what can we do to improve our battery's health?

We need to keep the battery as close to a full charge as possible. That can be hard because sitting for just 24 hours in hot weather between charges can be too long. When the weather's cold in Mill Valley, sitting for several days will cause discharge.

So some highway driving around California will help keep a full charge if the battery has not been deeply depleted. Car batteries are not designed to be run down really low, or deep cycled, as it's called. So using your headlights or other power accessories when the car is off can deeply deplete your battery. Using the alternator to recharge from a deeply depleted state is also very dangerous to your battery because it charges too fast. In fact, on average, your battery would only last for ten recharges like that.

If you do find yourself with a dead battery or very low battery, use a good quality battery charger to slowly bring the battery up to full charge. Follow the instructions on the charger or talk to your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Malugani Tire .

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800





Breathe Free in Mill Valley: Cabin Air Filter Replacement at Malugani Tire

Posted September 19, 2014 12:00 PM

There are a lot of new features, both optional and standard, on Mill Valley drivers' vehicles these days. One you may not have heard of is called a cabin air filter. Simply put, its job is to keep the air in the passenger compartment of your car nice and clean.

A cabin air filter is similar to the filter you use on your furnace at home in Mill Valley. Cabin air filters can catch particles down to three microns. By comparison, a grain of sand is 200 microns. So cabin air filters are effective against dust, dirt, pollen, mold spores and most pollutants in our Mill Valley area atmosphere. Good news if you suffer from any types of allergies, or if you live in an area in California prone to air pollution.

Cabin air filters are generally located in the engine compartment or under the dashboard. They can be tricky to access and replace, so you'll probably want to go to your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Malugani Tire to get it done. Check your vehicle owner's manual to find out if your vehicle is equipped with a cabin air filter and how often it should be changed. Recommendations vary, but generally a cabin air filter should be changed every 12,000 to 15,000 miles (19,000 to 24,000 kilometers).

Of course, if you are an allergy sufferer in Mill Valley, you may want to replace it more often. Also, if you do a lot of driving in polluted or dusty areas in California, you'll also want to shorten the cabin air filter replacement period. Dirty air filters just don't work well, and they can exude an unpleasant odor if ignored for too long.

Most Mill Valley folks know that good car care includes keeping your vehicle clean, including the air inside the passenger compartment, so changing your cabin air filter should be part of your routine preventive maintenance. It's good auto advice as well as good medical advice that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You really shouldn't wait until the interior of your car starts to smell and your eyes start to water before you change your filter. And trying to cover it up with a dangling green pine tree is not the right answer, either!

Cabin air filters can be a welcome relief to Mill Valley allergy sufferers, but they're also a great idea for anyone in California who just wants to breathe better.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Tire Maintenance in Mill Valley

Posted September 12, 2014 12:00 PM

With the recent focus in the Mill Valley area on improving fuel economy, we've been told how important it is to maintain our tire pressure.

Mill Valley drivers know that tires wear out, but we want to make them last as long as possible because they're not cheap to replace. In addition to saving gas, properly inflated tires last longer. Underinflated tires will wear out more quickly.

Some people in Mill Valley wonder if they should add a few extra pounds of pressure when they fill up their tires. Bad idea. In fact, there are very good reasons not to overinflate your tires. For one, the middle of the tread will wear unevenly because the full tread is not contacting the road properly. That also adversely affects your handling.

Stop by Malugani Tire to see about tire maintenance for your vehicle.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

Every vehicle in the Mill Valley area has a sticker on the driver's side door jamb that tells you the vehicle manufacture's recommended tire pressure. This recommendation is an integral part of the vehicle's suspension tuning. A lot of engineering actually goes into the recommended tire pressure, so it's important for drivers to follow it.

What else do Mill Valley drivers need to know about tire maintenance? Tire rotation and balancing are very important. Let's start with rotation. Because the front tires handle the brunt of turning forces, the shoulders of the front tires wear more quickly than the rear tires. At Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, we rotate the tires so that they all get to do some duty on the front, and they'll all wear evenly over their live.

For most vehicles, front tires are rotated to the rear and vice versa. Others recommend a cross rotational pattern. Some vehicles use an asymmetrical tire so those tires need to stay on either the right or left side – it'll say which on the tire. Some high performance cars have asymmetrical tires and different sizes on the front and rear. These can't be rotated at all. Your owner's manual will have details for your vehicle or ask your service advisor at Malugani Tire.

How often should people near Mill Valley rotate their tires? Your owner's manual will have a recommendation. Your technician at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley can do a visual inspection to let you know if it looks like it should be done. The interval is typically around 5,000 miles/8,000 km.

You know, some people don't think new tires need to be balanced. What they aren't taking into account is the wheel. Between the wheel and the tire – even a new tire – there's enough variation to require balancing.

When you add the valve stem and tire pressure monitoring sensors required on new cars, balancing is definitely important. When a tire's out of balance, it's actually hopping down the road. Mill Valley vehicles with tires out of balance will feel the vibration through the steering wheel if a front tire's out of balance and through the seat if it's a rear tire.

Proper wheel balance promotes tire life and increases safety for Mill Valley drivers and their passengers. Historically, lead weights have been attached to the wheel to bring it into balance. Lead gives some environmental concern, so steel weights are starting to be substituted. 

The team at Malugani Tire also wants to remind you that it is important to always use the same size tire on an axle. Different size tires on the front or on the back can lead to some real handling problems. And tire manufacturers recommend that when you get two new tires, they be installed on the rear because that's where you need the most traction to avoid spinning out.

 



A New Battery in Mill Valley

Posted September 2, 2014 12:00 PM

Hello Mill Valley drivers, let's talk about batteries. Car batteries are just like any rechargeable battery. They will eventually wear out and die. If you are shopping for a new battery in Mill Valley, here's some auto advice to help you.

There are two measurements to consider when purchasing a new battery: cold cranking amps and reserve capacity. The power required to start a cold engine is measured in cold cranking amps. The number you need is determined by what kind of vehicle you drive and where you live. In general, higher-cylinder engines require more cold cranking amps than lower-cylinder engines. In other words, an eight-cylinder engine needs more cold cranking amps than a six-cylinder one. Also, diesel engines require more cold cranking amps than gasoline engines.

The weather where you live in California also determines the number of cold cranking amps you need. The colder the vehicle engine, the more power it takes to get it started. Also, cold California weather reduces the electrical efficiency of the battery, which reduces the amount of energy available in the battery to start the engine. Thus, in freezing temperatures, you need more power to start an engine, but you have less power available to get it started.

Your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley can help you choose an appropriate battery for your vehicle and your lifestyle. If you need extra power owing to cold weather or a need for more reserve capacity, you may want to choose a heavy-duty battery. Just make sure it fits into your vehicle. An oversized battery may give you the power you need, but it's a serious safety hazard if the terminals come into contact with other parts of the vehicle.

Keep in mind that preventive maintenance performed at Malugani Tire and good vehicle care can extend the life of your battery. Judicious use of electric gadgets and good driving habits are wise and can help you get the most out of your battery.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Wheel Bearings

Posted August 27, 2014 12:00 PM



Why are wheel bearings for Mill Valley vehicles important? It's simple: your wheel bearings keep the wheels on your vehicle. In today's Malugani Tire post, we'll discuss more about wheel bearings and how you can make sure they can do their very job while you drive around Mill Valley, California.

Wheel bearings are pretty simple parts. They're made of high quality steel and are engineered to last 100,000 miles (160,000)  or more if properly cared for. The bearings do two jobs: First, they allow the wheel to freely rotate with as little friction as possible. Second, they support the weight of the vehicle. For example, if your car weighs 3,600 pounds (1600 kilogram), each wheel has to support approximately 900 pounds (400 kilograms). That's a lot of heavy lifting over those long distances.

Even though wheel bearings are pretty straightforward, they need to be in near perfect condition to do their job for Mill Valley vehicles. The bearings are packed with heavy grease to lubricate and protect them. A seal keeps the grease in and water and dirt out. It's when the seal starts to leak that problems begin. The grease can become contaminated, causing the wheel bearings to overheat and ultimately fail.

The first sign that your wheel bearings are in trouble is an unusual noise coming from a wheel. It could be a chirping, growling, rumbling or a cyclic sound. The noise could get louder or even disappear at certain speeds. Your technician at Malugani Tire can inspect for bearing wear by lifting the vehicle and checking for play in the wheel.

Now some wheel bearing assemblies are factory sealed. That means that they cannot be serviced – they can only be replaced. Those that aren't sealed can be serviced on schedule at Malugani Tire. The bearings are removed, cleaned and inspected. If the bearings are still good, they're re-installed – if not, they're replaced. They are then packed in grease and a new seal is installed.

If your vehicle has a factory sealed wheel bearing assembly, the entire assembly needs to be replaced when trouble arises. Unfortunately, the parts are pretty costly – but they usually last about 150,000 miles (240,000 kilometers) as long as the seals hold up.

Now, even a good seal cannot keep out water that's exerting pressure on the seal. So if you've driven through hub-deep water, your bearings should be cleaned and repacked if they're serviceable. If you have factory sealed bearings, you just need to watch for signs of premature failure. If your wheel bearings can be serviced, your manufacturer's owner's manual will recommend an interval, usually around 30,000 miles (50,000 kilometers).

If you have any sort of trailer, don't forget its wheel bearings. They probably need to be serviced even more frequently. This is especially true for boat trailers that are used to launch the boat by backing it into the water. These should be serviced every year, usually at the end of the season so that the bearings don't have the opportunity to rust all winter.

So what happens to Mill Valley vehicles if wheel bearings fail? Well, the wheel can literally fall off the vehicle. I don't need to tell you how that could be. So check with your service advisor at Malugani Tire and see if your vehicle's wheel bearings can be serviced and when it's recommended. Listen for warning signs. If you've been fording streams or puddle surfing after rainstorms, be especially vigilant.

Visit the automotive professionals at Malugani Tire for a wheel bearing inspection. 

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



How Your Check Engine Light Works

Posted August 22, 2014 12:00 PM



Have you ever had an experience like this in Mill Valley, California? You drive through the one of those automatic car washes. When you get to the end, where the dryer is blowing, your Check Engine light starts flashing!

You fear the worst, but within a block or two, the light stops flashing, but stays on. By the next day, the light is off.

You wonder; "What was going on?" Well, it's actually a good lesson in how the Check Engine light works.

Your air intake system has a sensor that measures how much air is coming through it. When you went under the high-speed dryer, all that air was blasting past the sensor. Your engine computer was saying, there shouldn't be that much air when the engine is just idling. Something's wrong. Whatever's wrong could cause some serious engine damage.

Warning, warning! It flashes the Check Engine light to alert you to take immediate action.

It stopped flashing because once you were out from under the dryer, the airflow returned to normal. Now the engine control computer says the danger is past, but I'm still concerned, I'll keep this light on for now.

Then the Check Engine light goes off in a day or two.

The condition never did recur, so the computer says whatever it was, it's gone now. The danger is past, I'll turn that light off.

Now a flashing Check Engine light is serious. You need to get it into Malugani Tire as soon as possible. But if it stops flashing you can wait a few days, so you have time to see if the problem will clear itself or if you need to get it checked. How does the computer know when to clear itself?

Think of it this way. The engine control computer is the brain that can make adjustments to manage the engine. Things like alter the air-to- fuel mix, spark advance and so on. The computer relies on a series of sensors to get the information it needs to make decisions on what to do.

The computer knows what readings are in a normal range for various conditions. Get out of range, and it logs a trouble code and lights up the Check Engine warning.

The computer will then try to make adjustments if it can. If the computer can't compensate for the problem, the Check Engine light stays on.

The computer logs a trouble code. Some people think the code will tell the technician exactly what's wrong.

Actually, the code will tell the technician what sensor reading is out of parameters. It can't really tell him why, because there could be any number of causes.

Let's say you're feeling hot. You get your heat sensor out – a thermometer – put it under our tongue and in a minute or two you learn that you have a fever of 104 degrees F (40 degrees C).

You know your symptom – a fever – but you don't know what's causing it. Is it the flu, a sinus infection or appendicitis?

You need more information than just that one sensor reading. But it does give you a place to start and narrows down the possible problems.

There are reports on the internet telling you that you can just go down to an auto parts store and get them to read your trouble code or buy a cheap scan tool to do it yourself.

There are two problems with that. First, the computer stores some trouble codes in short term memory and some in permanent memory. Each manufacturer's computer stores generic trouble codes, but they also store codes that are specific to their brand.

A cheap, generic scan tool, like you can buy online or that the auto parts store uses, doesn't have the ability to retrieve long-term storage or manufacturer specific codes. Your Mill Valley, California, service center has spent a lot of money on high-end scan tools and software to do a deep retrieval of information from your engine control computer.

The second problem is that once you've got the information, do you know what to do with it? For example, a very common trouble code comes up when the reading on the oxygen sensor is out of whack.

So the common solution is for the auto parts store to sell you a new oxygen sensor — which is not cheap — and send you off on your way. Now your oxygen sensor may indeed have been bad and needed replacing. But the error code could have come from any of a dozen of other problems.

How do you know the right solution? Back to the fever analogy, do you need surgery or an aspirin? Leave it to the pros at Malugani Tire. Give us a call and let us help you resolve your check engine light issue.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



What Is That? Check Engine Light Service at Malugani Tire

Posted August 15, 2014 12:00 PM

Okay. You went to your local Mill Valley car wash, and while your vehicle was under the dryer, the Check Engine light started flashing. Panic! What did you just do? Something is seriously wrong with the vehicle! You head for the nearest Mill Valley service center, but on the way, the Check Engine light stops flashing and just glows red. Hmm. Maybe things aren't as bad as they seem. You decide to wait until payday to take your vehicle in to get serviced. In the meantime, the Check Engine light goes off. What? You decide the light must be faulty; maybe when it comes on it doesn't mean anything, or maybe it's just in your vehicle as some sort of scam to get you to pay for unnecessary repairs. You're glad you didn't take your car to the Mill Valley repair shop and resolve to ignore that Check Engine light in the future.

Whoa! Let's look at what really happened. Your vehicle was under an air dryer. Your air intake sensor measured too much air running through the engine. It sent its report to the engine computer, where a warning was triggered; there shouldn't be that much airflow when the vehicle engine is idling. This is a serious problem that could cause permanent engine damage. Warning! The Check Engine light starts flashing, letting you know you need to take immediate action to prevent that damage.

You drive out from under the dryer, and the air intake sensor sends a new message to the computer. The computer realizes that everything is normal and tells the Check Engine light to stop flashing. The vehicle doesn't need immediate attention; but there was a problem, and it should be checked out by your Malugani Tire service advisor. After a few days the computer senses that the problem is gone, so it turns off the warning light.

You may think this story illustrates the uselessness of a Check Engine light, but you should remember that a computer can't think for itself; it can only follow its programming. It doesn't know the difference between a car wash air dryer and a serious malfunction in your vehicle engine. That doesn't make it useless. It just means you have to be the smart one.

Being smart doesn't mean ignoring your vehicle Check Engine light. It lets you know when something is wrong, and you can prevent a lot of damage to your vehicle by paying proper attention to it.

Your engine computer is constantly collecting data about what is going on inside your vehicle engine. It knows what parameters are normal and when a reading may indicate a problem. It uses the Check Engine light to let you know when something isn't right. It then stores a code in its memory — which a technician can retrieve — that indicates which reading was abnormal.

The technician uses this code as a starting place to find out what's wrong with your vehicle. It's like going to the doctor with a fever. The fever is the reading that is abnormal — your temperature is too high — but the doctor still has to figure out what's causing it. It's probably an infection, but what kind? Sinus infection? Appendicitis? Flu? The problems and their solutions are quite different. But a fever also tells a doctor what's NOT wrong with you. Fevers don't accompany stress headaches, ulcers or arthritis, so there's no sense in testing for those conditions.

The pros at Malugani Tire respond to a trouble code in your vehicle's computer in the same way. The code doesn't say exactly what's wrong, but it does give the technician a good indication of where to start looking —and where he/she doesn't need to look.

Now, you wouldn't consider diagnosing yourself with a serious medical problem — good medical advice unless you're a doctor. So you shouldn't consider trying to diagnose your vehicle's troubles by yourself — good auto advice unless you're a trained mechanic.

There are cheap scanners available on the market, and some Mill Valley auto parts stores offer to read trouble codes from your vehicle engine's  computer for you. But these are really not good alternatives to taking your vehicle to a qualified service center such as Malugani Tire in Mill Valley. Your engine's computer has both short-term and long-term memory, and there are some codes that are specific to a particular make of vehicle. Cheap scanners can't read an engine computer's long-term memory nor can they interpret manufacturer-specific codes. That's why our manager at Malugani Tire spends a lot of money on high-end diagnostic tools.

It's as if you had a choice between a doctor who had a tongue depressor and a thermometer and one who had all the latest medical diagnostic equipment on hand. Honestly, which would you choose?

Getting your codes read at your Mill Valley area auto parts store isn't really a money-saver, either, unless you're a trained mechanic. You'll end up with a code that tells you a symptom. What usually happens next is that the Mill Valley area parts store sells you something that directly relates to the symptom. It may or may not fix the problem. It's actually cheaper to just go to Malugani Tire and get things fixed right the first time.

Remember, a fever can indicate a sinus infection or appendicitis. An antibiotic may be okay for that sinus infection, but it likely won't help your appendicitis. Is it really wise to wait around to see if the antibiotic helps when you might have appendicitis?

Part of good vehicle care is knowing where you can get a problem fixed — and fixed right. Preventive maintenance goes a long way to keeping you out of the repair shop, but eventually, we will all have a problem that needs fixing. Let's do it right the first time at Malugani Tire.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Straight and True in Mill Valley: Wheel Alignment

Posted August 6, 2014 12:00 PM

Most Mill Valley folks worry about running out of gas or having a breakdown on the side of the road. That is why we practice preventive maintenance on our vehicles — that and to keep our repair bills down. But one important part of preventive maintenance that may get overlooked by drivers in Mill Valley is a periodic alignment inspection.

Poor alignment causes tires to wear rapidly, unevenly or both. This means they will have to be replaced early, and new tires are more expensive than an alignment check in Mill Valley. Bad alignment can also cause damage to suspension and steering systems, which can be expensive to repair in Mill Valley.

Tire wear on misaligned wheels can also lead to blowouts, which are dangerous, can lead to serious accidents and can seriously damage your vehicle. Also, poor alignment itself can be the cause of an accident since the vehicle may not steer properly.

One or more wheels on your vehicle can be knocked out of alignment by running over a curb or a pothole on a bumpy Mill Valley street. An accident —  even a minor one — that involves a wheel on your car can lead to misalignment. The small bumps and bangs of everyday driving can also gradually put your wheels out of alignment.

If you have had wheel damage to your vehicle, or if you suspect that your wheels are out of alignment, you should get your alignment checked NOW. Any service center will give you that piece of auto advice. But good vehicle care suggests that you also get your alignment inspected on a regular basis. At Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, we can take care of that for you.

Your owner's manual or Malugani Tire can give you a suggestion on how often your alignment should be checked. If it doesn't, then once a year is a good rule of thumb. However, if you drive a lot — and especially if you drive on rough surfaces a lot — then you may want to consider alignment more often. Ask the pros at Malugani Tire for a recommendation.

If your vehicle is out of alignment, one or more of the wheels is not tracking correctly and will “pull” against the others. Thus, one sign of poor alignment is that your vehicle pulls to one side when you drive around Mill Valley. Also, if you are driving a straight path and your steering wheel is off-center, that usually indicates an alignment problem.

Mill Valley drivers should also check the wear on their tires. If they seem to be wearing out too quickly, or if you notice that a tire is wearing on one side more than the other, you should get your alignment checked.

When you get an alignment inspection, your vehicle will be put on a rack and all the parts of the steering and suspension systems will be inspected for wear or damage. The alignment of the tires will be charted and compared to the original factory settings. If no repairs are needed on the steering or suspension systems, the wheels will then be adjusted to bring them back into alignment.

This may seem like a lot of bother for drivers, but it's a lot less trouble than a blowout or an accident. The old adage is good auto advice for all Mill Valley residents: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

So keep on driving, and keep all four tires on the road.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Smart Mill Valley Drivers Protect Against Overheating

Posted August 1, 2014 12:00 PM

Engines get hot when they run. This heat can build up and damage vital engine parts, so engines need a cooling system to keep them running. Cooling system failure is the most common mechanical failure in vehicles. This is unfortunate, because these failures are usually easy for Mill Valley drivers to prevent.

The radiator is the best-known and most recognizable part of the cooling system. Hoses filled with coolant (also known as antifreeze) connect the radiator to the engine. The coolant draws heat from the engine and then flows to the radiator. Air passing through cooling fans on the radiator cools the coolant. The coolant then cycles back into the engine to start the process over again.

The most critical component of the cooling system, however, is the coolant itself. A mixture of water and coolant/antifreeze helps keep it both from freezing and from boiling away. Either can result in serious engine damage.

Different engines require different types of coolant/antifreeze. The owner's manual will list what kind a vehicle requires. Using the wrong type or mixing different types of coolant/antifreeze may void the warranty on the cooling system and may damage it as well.

Insufficient coolant can lead to engine failure. Coolant levels need to be checked regularly and topped off as necessary. If coolant levels drop quickly or consistently, the cooling system should be inspected for leaks. Coolant/antifreeze contains additives that protect the radiator and other coolant components from rust, scale and corrosion. Over time, these additives are depleted, so it is necessary for Mill Valley drivers to replace coolant at specified intervals. Changing coolant should be part of routine preventive maintenance for any vehicle.

This service is often ignored, though, since old coolant still cools the engine. Vehicle owners don't realize there is a problem until the system fails. They are left with major repairs and possibly a damaged engine, which could have been prevented with a cooling system service at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley.

If your vehicle sends a warning message to check its coolant or if the temperature gauge is reading in the red or hot zone, then the cooling system needs serviced. This service is critical and should not be put off since the potential for damage is high.

In an emergency situation, water or antifreeze can be added to your vehicle so that it can be driven to a service center for proper car care. For this reason, your owner's manual contains instructions for how to top off insufficient coolant – allow 45 minutes for the engine to cool before attempting to add coolant or water. However, the fluid should be added to the coolant overflow bottle, not to the radiator itself. Removing the radiator pressure cap can result in severe burns.

Topping off in an emergency, however, does not fix the problem. The vehicle should immediately be taken to Malugani Tire in Mill Valley where they can inspect the cooling system, repair any leaks and clean it if necessary. They can identify what caused the emergency situation in first place and ensure it doesn't happen again.

Regular maintenance of a vehicle's cooling system is just good auto advice for Mill Valley drivers. Cooling system service is relatively inexpensive and doesn't take long at Malugani Tire. Lack of it, however, can put a vehicle in the scrap heap.

Talk to our service advisor at Malugani Tire for more information. 

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Fuel Saving Tip: Car Weight and Your California Driving

Posted July 22, 2014 12:00 PM



Weight is the enemy of fuel economy. Everyone from Mill Valley knows this makes sense.

Some of us in the Mill Valley area carry a bunch of unnecessary weight, and I'm not talkin' what you see in the mirror.

Guys: sports equipment and tools. Ladies: well, just take a look around the passenger compartment and trunk. I think my car has about 45 pounds of french fries on the floor.

All that extra weight wastes gas as you drive between here and there, and everywhere else.

Lose the junk and save some money.

...And you really only need one of those spare tires.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Malugani Tire Center Inc. Advice On Buying New Tires

Posted July 15, 2014 12:00 PM

Today’s tires and wheels offer a lot of options for every Mill Valley driver’s style, habits and driving conditions.

Tires are designed for high-performance in winter or summer and even come in a long-wearing variety for all California seasons.

Mill Valley off-roaders should be excited about the options available to them as well. The tread on off-road tires is designed to handle the wear from bumps and rocks. The tires’ high profile protects rims from damage.

But what if you own an SUV but aren’t interested in off-roading around Mill Valley? You can change out those high-profile beasts for a lower, wider look if it suits your style.

Malugani Tire Center Inc. tire professionals can offer great auto advice on how to choose tires that match your needs and style.

The same goes for wheels. When Mill Valley drivers shop for new wheels, they can be hard-pressed to make a selection from the thousands of styles available at California tire stores. If they choose a wheel that is the same size as the ones that came with their vehicle, they can get them changed out and get back on the road, no worries. But if they change the wheel size, then they may need to make some key adjustments to their vehicle.

Upsizing a wheel may mean changing the suspension on the passenger car. The wheel and tire need to fit inside the wheel well without any rubbing during turns or when driving over bumps. Rubbing can cause uneven tire wear and even damage the tires or cause safety issues.

Upsizing wheels also increases the unsprung weight of the vehicle which has a major impact on braking performance. The larger wheels increase rotational inertia, as well, which translates to longer stopping distance and lower brake performance. Upsized wheels may require upgraded brakes. Further, wheel size is used to calculate the speed and mileage of a vehicle. Changing wheel size will cause the speedometer and odometer to give inaccurate readings unless the vehicle’s computer is re-programmed to compensate for the difference.

So if you want to customize your passenger car with new wheels, you should consult with a wheel and tire professional at Malugani Tire Center Inc. in Mill Valley to ensure you get the style you want without sacrificing safety or performance — and without damaging your vehicle.

If you just need to purchase new tires, a tire professional can also help you select the tires that are best for your driving needs and habits. The right tires will protect you and your passenger car on the road.

So personalize your vehicle, but don’t forget that good car care will keep that sassy ride on the road in Mill Valley a lot longer.



The Malugani Tire Center Inc. Guide To Caring For Your Transmission

Posted July 9, 2014 12:00 PM

Most cars and trucks have automatic transmissions, yet a lot of Mill Valley auto owners only have a fuzzy understanding about what a transmission does. Think back to the last time you rode a bike in Mill Valley. 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 California highways. And automatically shifts back down to climb Mill Valley hills, pass or start up again.

passenger car 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 Malugani Tire Center Inc., 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 Malugani Tire Center Inc. see far too many transmissions that needlessly failed due to neglect.

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

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

At Malugani Tire Center Inc. in Mill Valley, we hope you never become shiftless in Mill Valley because you didn’t take care of your transmission.



Malugani Tire Center Inc. And The Maintenance Mindset

Posted July 4, 2014 12:00 PM

When it comes to their vehicles, some Mill Valley auto owners don’t have a maintenance mindset. They know they need to take care of their cars, but it just seems really hard to get them to remember to do it. Mill Valley drivers generally accept that many things in life require regular maintenance, but just may have not applied it to their passenger cars.

For example: the lawn. You water it and mow it every week. And weed the flower beds and rake the leaves. Malugani Tire Center Inc. And The Maintenance MindsetThere are other things that Mill Valley residents are diligent about. Going to the dentist twice a year. Clothes to the dry cleaner. Flu shots. Taking the kids to your Mill Valley doctor for a checkup before school starts.

So Mill Valley motorists really are maintenance minded. They just have to learn to apply that mindset to cars. I mean, if you never brush your teeth or go to the dentist, you’ll become painfully aware of your neglect when you get a big cavity. Once the damage is done, most of us learn our lesson and shape up.

Unfortunately, Mill Valley auto owners too often learn a hard automotive lesson when they bring their vehicle to Malugani Tire Center Inc. on a tow truck. So many times a little routine maintenance would have prevented a steep breakdown.

So how can Mill Valley motorists get into the habit of taking care of their passenger car? It’s so easy to forget. If you skip cutting the grass, you see it every time you pull in the driveway.

Here’s something that will help: The key to good vehicle maintenance starts with the oil change. Think about it – when you go in for a full-service oil change, your friendly Malugani Tire Center Inc. tech will check all your fluids. If one of them is low, he can look for the reason why. If your serpentine belt is cracked, he’ll see it and let you know. Corroded battery cable – they’ve got you covered. And at Malugani Tire Center Inc., we check to see if your passenger car auto maker has recommended any services at your current mileage.

The oil change becomes kind of a focal point, a way to check in to see what needs to be done.
The fact is that vehicle inspection surveys consistently reveal that over 80% of vehicles have one or more unperformed repair or maintenance service. Vehicles are generally very reliable and can take a lot of abuse and neglect. But, you’ve got to remember that passenger cars are complicated machines. There are parts and fluids that are critical to their operation. Without them, the passenger car won’t run at all.

So when you come in to Malugani Tire Center Inc. for an oil change, you get an automotive analysis from your friendly service advisor and a reminder for recommended services so you can avoid a total failure. And remember that your friendly Malugani Tire Center Inc. service specialist can help you work out a maintenance and repair plan, prioritizing and scheduling the work to make sure you and your family are safe, and helping you avoid expensive breakdowns.



Fuel Injection: It Keeps Getting Better for Mill Valley Drivers

Posted June 25, 2014 12:00 PM

Mill Valley residents know that engines need to burn fuel to operate. Fuel is pumped from your fuel tank to your vehicle engine where it is squirted—or injected—into your engine's cylinders. This is the function of the fuel injectors.

There are two ways to inject fuel into an engine. Fuel needs air to burn, so in the first method, fuel is injected into a port and allowed to mix with airbefore it is drawn into the cylinders. In the second method, fuel is injected directly into the cylinders and mixes with air after it enters the vehicle engine.

Direct injection engines burn fuel more efficiently than conventional vehicle engines. Some models can deliver the power of a V8 with the economy of a V6.

For example, in one family of engines, the conventional version (a V6) delivers about 250 horsepower. The direct injection version delivers over 300 horsepower and gets about the same gas mileage. The turbocharged version delivers 350 horsepower.

Why the big difference in power? Direct injection systems allow fuel to be squirted into the vehicle engine at hundreds of times the pressure of a conventional engine. This atomizes the fuel better (breaks it down into tinier droplets), which means more of it gets burned, which translates to more power for your engine. It also results in cleaner emissions.

Fuel injectors are precision instruments. They have to deliver the right amount of fuel at exactly the time the vehicle engine needs it. They are also engineered to inject fuel with a specific spray pattern. This spray pattern allows for maximum fuel efficiency and proper atomization. Direct injection engines require a much higher degree of precision than conventional engines. For this reason, they are equipped with more sophisticated computers.

When fuel injectors get dirty, their precision drops off. The spray pattern won't be precise, and the timing of fuel delivery may be off. This decreases fuel efficiency and fuel economy as well as delivering less power to the engine.

Mill Valley residents should understand that fuel injectors are not cheap to replace. Direct injection fuel injectors are even more . And we're talking a mortgage payment to buy a set of new fuel injectors for a diesel engine.

So keeping your fuel injectors clean is just good auto advice. The best way to do this is to change your air and fuel filters regularly and practice other habits of good vehicle care and preventive maintenance. Cleaning additives in your fuel can also help.

If you do end up with gum or varnish in your fuel system, you'll need a professional fuel system cleaning. This will clean out your whole system, including the injectors. The good news is that with proper maintenance, Mill Valley drivers will enjoy better fuel economy and their fuel injectors will last for a long time.

Contact us for more tips to help you improve your performance and safety.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Tire Rotation and Balancing at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley

Posted June 18, 2014 12:00 PM

Tires do a lot of work for Mill Valley drivers. They transfer engine power and braking forces to the road; they handle steering control; and they cushion all those bumps and jolts while driving around Mill Valley. They also support the entire weight of the vehicle, including you and your passengers. With such important work to do, you want your tires to do their job well. And since replacing tires is fairly pricey, you want them to last as long as possible.


There are three keys to long, even tire wear for Mill Valley driving:

  • Proper tire inflation
  • Proper wheel alignment
  • Regular tire rotation and balancing

The front tires on a car take the brunt of the steering forces. As they push through turns, the shoulders of the front tires wear down more quickly than the rear tires. Rotating front and rear tires allows them to all wear at about the same rate. That's especially true of front-wheel-drive vehicles whose front tires steer and put the power to the road.

SUVs and pick-ups, especially four-wheel-drives, also tend to wear their tires more unevenly than cars because of their suspension and drivetrain set-up. Your owner's manual will likely contain a schedule for tire rotation. It's usually every 5,000 miles/8,000 km or so.

Also, there are different rotation patterns for different vehicles. Malugani Tire will know which is right for your vehicle. That brings us to wheel balancing. When wheels are balanced, they spin on the axle evenly. When they are out of balance, they wobble a bit. That makes the tires wear unevenly and may transmit a vibration to the car. Your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor puts weights on your wheels to balance them out so that they turn true and smooth.


Tires are a big investment for Mill Valley drivers. They're designed for keeping you safely on the road in Mill Valley. The cost for regular rotation and balancing is more than made up in extended tire life. And, can you really put a price on your safety and that of your passengers?

 Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Looking Down the Road - Headlamps

Posted June 12, 2014 12:00 PM



If you've ever been driving around Mill Valley and had a headlamp go out, you've probably just wanted to replace the bad bulb. If your car uses halogen headlamps, they dim over time. So if you just put in one, they won't have the same brightness, which can be distracting and will affect your field of vision.

To have your headlights inspected, visit us at Malugani Tire. We're at 493 Miller Ave in Mill Valley, California 94941. Or give us a call at (415) 388-1800.

Experts at Malugani Tire recommend replacing your halogen headlamps every year. It's easy to remember if you do it when Daylight Saving Time changes in the fall. That way you'll have bright headlamps for those long California winter nights.

There are other types of headlamps in addition to halogen. There are the old standard bulbs that have been around for decades. These are OK, but you can usually upgrade to halogen. They cost a little more but you can't believe the difference. If you do a lot of night driving you might want to use a premium halogen bulb that filters out the yellow hues and gives a very white light that's a lot like daylight.

You may have noticed those bluish headlights on luxury cars. They are high intensity discharge or, HID lamps. They really light up the road. You can upgrade to HID on some vehicles. These cost quite a bit, but they'll last for the life of your car. If you want your friends to think you have HIDs, you can get halogens with a bluish tint - no one needs to know.

Seriously, though, night driving is all about reaction time – time to stop – time to get out of the way. You can't react to what you can't see. You need headlamps that'll give you a good view down the road and good peripheral vision as well. Your headlights need to be aimed correctly so you can see and to keep your lights from shining off into oncoming traffic.

You may have seen older vehicles with headlights that are awfully dim and maybe even yellow. That's because the plastic headlight lenses have gotten cloudy and yellowed with age. They can be replaced, but many Mill Valley service centers offer a service to restore the lens that's a lot cheaper.

You can't drive if you can't see. AAA reports that nine out of ten vehicles have dirty or yellowed headlamps. So run the window squeegee over your headlights when you gas up to clear the dirt and bugs. Get your lenses restored if they need it and don't forget to replace your standard or halogen bulbs every fall.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Using Proper Fluids in Your vehicle

Posted June 6, 2014 12:00 PM


Today, Malugani Tire is writing about the proper fluids for your vehicle. It's become more complicated with changes in automotive design and manufacturing. It's not that people in Mill Valley are confused as much as they don't realize how much things have changed in recent years.

If you have questions about the fluids in your vehicle, please don't hesitate to stop by Malugani Tire. You can find us on 493 Miller Ave in Mill Valley, California 94941.
Just give us a call at (415) 388-1800.

Let's take engine oil. Twenty or 30 years ago, there were just a handful of different weights of oil. The weight of an oil is a scientific measure of its properties, particularly its viscosity or thickness.

It was common in those days to use a lighter weight oil in the winter when it's cold outside. That way the oil would be able to splash around inside the engine and protect the parts before it was fully warmed up. And a heavier weight oil would be used in the summer. The thicker oil wouldn't thin out too much in the summer heat and vaporize in the engine.

Modern valve trains have become very complicated with more moving parts and small passages than ever before. The valve train is in the top of the engine, so when the vehicle has been turned off for a while, the oil tends to run down to lower areas.  That means the valve train parts are vulnerable at start-up, before the oil starts circulating.

So new weights of oil have been introduced to meet the engineering specifications of these newer engines.

Manufacturers are recommending specific weights of oil. The recommendation is often printed on the oil fill cap. It's certainly in the owner's manual. Of course, Malugani Tire in Mill Valley can look it up for you.

It's more important than ever to have the correct weight of oil. The wrong weight could actually harm the engine.

Other fluids are also becoming more sophisticated. In the last few years new types of transmission, power brake fluid and coolant have all been introduced for some of the same reasons as for engine oil.

In addition, vehicle manufacturers are now using a wider variety of materials in these systems. Looking at the cooling system as an example, it used to be that the parts were all made out of steel or iron and the hoses were rubber. Now, some parts are plastic, aluminum or other materials.

So the anti-corrosion additives contained in the coolant, or anti-freeze, need to be different in order to protect the different materials used to make the cooling system. If you use the wrong coolant that wasn't formulated to protect your plastic cooling system parts, they could become corroded and fail. And if you're using the wrong coolant, your cooling system won't be covered under warranty. So it's important to use the right coolant and to not mix different types.

Your owner's manual or service advisor at Malugani Tire can make sure you're using the right type. You may have heard of universal coolant. Universal, or global, coolant can be added to other types without harmful reactions. That's OK for an emergency top off, but following your manufacturer's recommendation for your vehicle or other auto type is always a safe bet.

In the area of brake fluid, there are a couple of new formulations. It's important to remember that the new ones aren't better than the old ones. They're just different formulations for different vehicles. So if your vehicle calls for DOT 3, using DOT 4 or DOT 5 is not an upgrade. Use the recommended formula.

There are fluid formulations for vehicles with higher mileage. These are special engine oil, transmission fluid and so on that contain additives to condition and restore seals and gaskets in older engines.

They're fine to use as long as they're a variant of the proper fluid. In other words you can use a high mileage engine oil as long as it's also the correct weight recommended by the manufacturer. Same goes for transmission fluid; as long as it's the right type for your transmission.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Automotive Detective Work in Mill Valley

Posted June 3, 2014 12:00 PM

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

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

The good news is that Mill Valley drivers can do a lot to help out their friendly and knowledgeable service advisors at Malugani Tire in figuring out what's wrong with their vehicle. Again, the medical office is a good analogy. The more information you can give your doctor about where it hurts, when it hurts and how it hurts, the more quickly he will be able to help you. In the same way, the more you can tell your Malugani Tire service technician about when the problem occurs, what is sounds like, how often it occurs, where it occurs, etc., the more efficiently he will be able to get you back on the road.

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

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Steer Right in Mill Valley

Posted May 23, 2014 12:00 PM

Virtually all vehicles come with power steering, so many Mill Valley drivers have never driven a car or truck without it. Power steering assists you when you turn your vehicle steering wheel. Without it, it would be very hard to steer.

Now this power assist comes in a couple of forms. In recent years, a lot of vehicles have an electric motor that reduces steering effort and helps improve performance and handling.

The other kind of power steering is hydraulic. This is the kind most older California vehicles — and a lot of newer ones — have. Power steering fluid is pressurized by a pump and is used to assist steering. Of course, vehicles need the right amount of fluid in the system. If it's too low, your steering is affected and you could damage your vehicle pump.

Also, power steering fluid can become corrosive over time and damage the pump, hoses and connectors, leading to leaks and repairs. Power steering service at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley includes removing the contaminated fluid and replacing it with fresh fluid.

A word for Mill Valley drivers about power steering pumps: Some are powered by an electric motor. Others are driven by the serpentine belt. A worn serpentine belt stresses all of the vehicle components it drives, including the power steering pump, so replace the belt at Malugani Tire as advised to avoid undue repairs.

Losing your power steering while driving in Mill Valley can be unsettling – just remember that you can still steer, it'll just be harder. Check with your service advisor at Malugani Tire to see if it's time to service your vehicle's power steering system.

In addition to power steering service, at Malugani Tire we offer comprehensive automotive services.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
(415) 388-1800
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941



On Board Diagnostics for Mill Valley Motorists

Posted May 6, 2014 12:00 PM

Some Mill Valley vehicle owners wonder why Malugani Tire and other Mill Valley auto repair shops charge a fee for vehicle diagnostics.

Receiving a diagnostic charge at Malugani Tire for a tricky automotive problem shouldn't be a surprise. In the Mill Valley area, automotive diagnostics can cover quite a range. If you hear a noise in your vehicle brakes when you slow down in rush-hour traffic on a busy California road, you pull off at the next off-ramp and take a quick visual check. That is usually enough to know what needs to be done. If you're having an intermittent problem with your vehicle engine, however, a Malugani Tire diagnosis may be much more involved.

Much of the Mill Valley driver's confusion comes when the problem involves the Check Engine light. The Check Engine light comes on when the engine management computer has sensed a problem.

There's a common misconception among California drivers that the trouble code tells the Malugani Tire technician exactly what's wrong. They wonder why there is a diagnostic charge because the scanner quickly gave the diagnosis.

In reality, it is not that easy and straightforward. The computer monitors many sensors throughout the vehicle. When one of these sensors has a reading that's out of parameters, the computer will record a trouble code and turn on the Check Engine light.

The vehicle computer's trouble code just tells the Malugani Tire technician what engine parameter is out of range, not what's causing it. The technician needs to determine the underlying problem that's causing the malfunction.

There are many problems that could cause a troublesome sensor reading for Malugani Tire customers. The service advisor makes a list of the most likely causes and begins tracking down the source of the problem. This takes time.

Mill Valley service centers subscribe to databases that document possible causes for all the possible trouble codes. The databases outline procedures for confirming a diagnosis and provide the documented repair. These  databases are specific to each vehicle and engine combination.

Some diagnoses are quick and easy. Others are more involved, time-consuming and difficult. Of course Malugani Tire wants to figure out what's wrong with your vehicle and get you back on the road as quickly as possible.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Malugani Tire Center Inc. Helps You Decipher The Menu Board: Part 2

Posted April 30, 2014 12:00 PM

Mill Valley service centers have a menu board that lists the services they provide. Some Mill Valley drivers may not be familiar with all of the items on the board so here is a quick description of some of the typical services that might be listed.

Malugani Tire Center Inc. fuel system cleaning: Over time, the passenger car fuel system gets gum and varnish built up. A fuel system cleaning gets rid of that and cleans out the fuel injectors. Saves gas, by the way.

Malugani Tire Center Inc. headlamp replacement: Halogen and standard headlamps gradually fade. It’s usually good to change them every year or so.

Malugani Tire Center Inc. inspections: Mill Valley drivers get inspections for many reasons. Maybe they’re going on a trip or just want to make sure their vehicle’s ready for California summer or winter. Maybe they just bought a used passenger car and want to give it the once over. An inspection may reveal some things that are broken or are getting close to having a problem.

Malugani Tire Center Inc. oil change: – there are several options: Some Mill Valley centers offer just an oil change and new filter as an option. Most will also check and top off all of your other fluids and do a quick visual inspection with a full service oil change. In my way of thinking, the full service option is best because it makes sure you have adequate fluids and may uncover an emerging problem. There may also be options for higher mileage fluids or an upgrade to synthetic oil.

Malugani Tire Center Inc. PCV valve replacement in Mill Valley:
PCV stands for Positive Crankcase Ventilation valve. It’s a little part that releases pressure from the engine. It can get gummed up and that can lead to engine damage. Just needs to be changed now and then.

Malugani Tire Center Inc. power steering service: Often overlooked. Your friendly Malugani Tire Center Inc. technician will evacuate the old fluid, clean out the system and replace it with clean fluid. Keeps the passenger car system running well for a long time.

Malugani Tire Center Inc. serpentine belt service:
That’s the belt that powers the passenger car engine’s accessories like the alternator, air conditioner, power steering and brakes. You’ll want to replace the serpentine belt before it breaks, because that’ll shut you down.

Malugani Tire Center Inc. shocks and struts: This starts with an inspection of the suspension components. Shocks last a long time and wear out slowly, so many Mill Valley people don’t notice when it’s time to change them. If they’re worn or leaking, they need to be replaced.

Malugani Tire Center Inc. transmission service:
This involves removing the transmission fluid and replacing it with clean fluid. It’s like an oil change for your transmission.

Malugani Tire Center Inc. tire rotation and wheel balancing: The tires are rotated from front to back using the recommended rotation pattern. This helps tires wear more evenly. Wheels need to be balanced from time to time to keep them turning without any wobble or bounce. Helps the ride and saves tire wear.



TPMS: Tire Pressure Monitoring for Your Mill Valley Vehicle

Posted April 23, 2014 12:00 PM

Mill Valley drivers may know that all 2008 model year and newer cars, mini-vans and light trucks in California come with a tire pressure monitoring system. Many slightly older vehicles around the Mill Valley area have these systems as well. A tire pressure monitoring system – called TPMS – consists of sensors on each wheel that measure tire pressure.

If tire pressure drops 25 percent below the vehicle manufacture’s recommended pressure, the sensor sends a signal to a monitoring unit that causes a warning to light up on the dashboard. When drivers see the warning light, they know it's time to put some air in the tires.

There are many benefits to people in Mill Valley who drive with properly inflated tires. First is cost savings. Running at the correct air pressure improves fuel economy. Driving on underinflated tires is like driving through sand – it drags down your fuel economy. Drivers in Mill Valley will also see longer, more even tread wear so your tires will last longer.

Another important benefit of properly inflated tires is increased safety for Mill Valley vehicles. Underinflated tires become hotter, and that heat can actually lead to tire failure – possibly resulting in an accident. Your vehicle and the tires themselves will just perform better and more safely around Mill Valley with properly inflated tires.

Local California consumer groups and law-makers advocate TPMS systems hoping that they will save lives, property damage and inconvenience. While you can't put a value on saving a life, Mill Valley drivers should keep in mind that TPMS systems aren't free.

The systems themselves are added into the price of the vehicle. The batteries in the sensors will have to be replaced from time to time. Parts will break and need to be replaced. In colder climates around California, ice and salt are frequent causes of failure.

In addition, there are other behind-the-scenes costs we want you to be aware of. Every time a tire is replaced, repaired, rotated or balanced, the tire technician has to deal with the TPMS system.

Mill Valley service centers such as Malugani Tire must purchase equipment used to scan and reactivate the TPMS system after every tire service. Because older tire change equipment can damage TPMS sensors, your Mill Valley area service center may need to buy expensive, new tire changers.

Since there is no uniformity among manufacturers, technicians need to be trained on several TPMS systems. These behind-the-scenes costs are very real to Mill Valley service center managers.

That's why the team at Malugani Tire is anxious for people in the Mill Valley area to understand the financial impact of TPMS systems. In the past, we've been able to quickly and cheaply provide tire services and then pass the low cost on to customers as an expression of our good will. But now even these simple jobs take much longer and require equipment.

Sensors will need to be removed and reinstalled. Even a tire rotation will require that the monitor be reprogrammed to the new location of each tire. When a vehicle battery is disconnected, the TPMS system will need to be reprogrammed.

So when you start so see the cost of tire changes, flat repairs and rotations going up in California, please keep in mind that it's because of this new safety equipment. The team at Malugani Tire just wants to keep you safely on the road – and we're committed to doing it at a fair price.

It's important to remember that the TPMS warning only comes on when a tire is severely underinflated. You'll still want to check your tire pressure regularly. At every fill-up is best, but you should check pressure at least once a month. Here's wishing you safe travels.

Contact Malugani Tire for more information about Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems.

 Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Fuel Injection Keeps Getting Better for Mill Valley Motorists

Posted April 22, 2014 12:00 PM

Mill Valley residents know that engines burn fuel to operate. Fuel is pumped from your fuel tank to your engine where it is squirted—or injected—into your engine's cylinders. This is the function of the fuel injectors.

There are two ways to inject fuel into an engine. Fuel needs air to burn, so in the first method, fuel is injected into a port and allowed to mix with airand before it is drawn into the cylinders. In the second method, fuel is injected directly into the cylinders and mixes with air after it enters the engine.

Direct injection engines burn fuel more efficiently than conventional engines. Some models can deliver the power of a V8 with the economy of a V6.

For example, in one family of engines, the conventional version (a V6) delivers about 250 horsepower. The direct injection version delivers over 300 horsepower and gets about the same . The turbocharged version delivers 350 horsepower.

Why the big difference in power? Direct injection systems allow fuel to be squirted into the engine at hundreds of times the pressure of a conventional engine. This atomizes the fuel better (breaks it down into tinier droplets), which means more of it gets burned, which translates to more power for your engine. It also results in cleaner emissions and improved fuel economy.

Fuel injectors are precision instruments. They have to deliver the right amount of fuel at exactly the time the engine needs it. They are also engineered to inject fuel with a specific spray pattern. This spray pattern allows for maximum fuel efficiency and proper atomization.

Direct injection engines require a much higher degree of precision than conventional engines. For this reason, they are equipped with more sophisticated computers.

When fuel injectors get dirty, their precision drops off. The spray pattern won't be precise, and the timing of fuel delivery may be off. This decreases fuel efficiency and fuel economy for Mill Valley drivers as well as delivering less power to the engine.

Fuel injectors are not cheap to replace. Direct injection fuel injectors are even more expensive. And we're talking a mortgage payment to buy a set of new fuel injectors for a diesel engine.

So keeping your fuel injectors clean is just good auto advice for Mill Valley residents. The best way to do this is to change your air and fuel filters regularly and practice other habits of good vehicle care and preventive maintenance at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley. Cleaning additives in your fuel can also help.

If you do end up with gum or varnish in your fuel system, you'll need a professional fuel system cleaning. This will clean out your whole system, including the injectors. The good news is that with proper maintenance, your fuel injectors will last for a long time.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Mill Valley Drivers Severe Service Maintenance Schedules

Posted April 9, 2014 12:00 PM

Since driving requirements and lifestyles differ among Mill Valley drivers, your vehicle manufacturer publishes two auto maintenance schedules: the regular schedule and the severe service schedule. Which schedule should Mill Valley drivers follow? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Are most of your trips less than four miles/six kilometers around Mill Valley?
Are most of your trips less than 10 miles/16 kilometers in below-zero California temps?
Are most of your trips off-highway in California?
Do you drive often in dusty Mill Valley areas?
Do you regularly tow a trailer or carry heavy loads around Mill Valley?
Do you drive in very hot or very cold California weather?


Think about your typical week. Do you live by your nearest Mill Valley on-ramp and enjoy a non-stop commute? Or, do you drive the neighborhood car pool in stop-and-go traffic on Mill Valley surface streets?

Let's suppose your owner's manual says the severe service oil change recommendation is 3,000 miles/5,000 kilometers and the standard recommendation is 5,000 miles/8,000 kilometers. You know that you need to change the oil somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 miles/5,000 and 8,000 kilometers. Analyze your driving patterns and Mill Valley weather and road conditions to determine which end of the spectrum you're closer to.

Why should Mill Valley residents care about this? Normal condensation causes moisture accumulation in the engine oil. Short trips around Mill Valley or winter driving means that the engine doesn't heat up enough for the moisture to evaporate. The water in the oil turns to oil sludge that clogs up your engine and doesn't let the oil protect it adequately. That's why California residents need to change their oil more often – to clean the sludge out before it causes problems.

Carrying heavy loads (with or without a trailer) in California summer weather causes your engine and transmission to run at higher temperatures and with more stress. The fluids will break down more quickly. Additives that clean and prevent corrosion will be depleted sooner. Air pollution and dust cause fluids to get dirty faster. Ditto for filters. All of these things can lead to premature wear and eventual repairs. If you want some expert advice, talk with your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor. We can help you restore your vehicle to good working order and help you know the best schedule to follow.

Malugani Tire
(415) 388-1800
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941



Selecting New Tires and Wheels

Posted April 1, 2014 12:00 PM



Some of us Mill Valley drivers just love tires. All those little rubber hairs on new tires and the smell is wonderful. We live in a great time for tires. No matter how you drive around California, where you want to go or the look you're after; there is a tire for you.

The same is true about wheels. The hardest part is choosing from the thousands of wheels available at California tire shops.

The team at Malugani Tire can help you get some things in mind before you make a purchase. Let's start with function and think about how you drive.

For example, maybe you have a large SUV but you don't drive off-road around California, so an off-road tread isn't important. Also, because you are not out bouncing over rocks in the California backcountry, you don't need a high profile tire to protect your rims. So that means you can probably go with the low-wide look.

If you have a winter season with rain and snow or if you find you need better ice and snow performance, they make great, high-performance snow tires that won't make it look like you are driving a tractor.

There really are a lot of options for any given vehicle. Mill Valley drivers will find it very helpful to have a discussion like this with their Mill Valley tire pro or the tire experts at Malugani Tire when they need new tires. You can find the best solutions for your driving needs and to make improvements in ride or handling.

Picking a wheel that is the same size as what you are now running on is important and pretty simple. But, it gets trickier if you want to upsize. Just get some help when you go bigger. All that tire and wheel still needs to fit in the available space. You do not want your tires to rub when you turn or hit a bump. Mill Valley drivers also need to make sure their brakes and suspension bits will fit with their wheel of choice. It doesn't matter how great your car looks if it's not drivable.

Taller, wider wheels and tires probably weigh more than your stock shoes. And it's "unsprung" weight that has a big impact on brake performance. The upsized shoes increase rotational inertia; if you go too big you may need to upgrade your brakes to compensate.

Another possible problem is an inaccurate speedometer. This happens because the number of rotations can change with the new wheels. Fortunately, speedometers and odometers are all controlled by the engine computer; so they need to get reprogrammed at Malugani Tire to compensate for the bigger tires.

No matter what you are after: low cost, long life, high performance, traction or stunning good looks, your wheel and tire professional at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, California, can help identify your needs and give you a custom fit. With all the options available, you don't have to compromise. There is a tire out there with your name on it!

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Wheel Balancing at Malugani Tire

Posted March 26, 2014 12:00 PM

So you love your job, and your family life is great. Congratulations! You have achieved balance. But can you say the same for your wheels? Mill Valley drivers can tell if their tires are out of balance by vibrations at higher speeds on California roads. If one of the front tires is out, you feel the vibration in the steering wheel. If it's a back tire, you'll feel the vibration in your seat.

Tires and wheels are pretty heavy. When a tire is mounted on a wheel at Malugani Tire, it is usually not perfectly balanced. So the technician will spin the tire on a machine to determine where it's too heavy. He will then place weights on the wheels in strategic locations to balance it out. When a tire is out of balance, it actually bounces down the road instead of rolling smoothly. Since the average size tire rotates at about 850 revolutions per minute at 60 mph/97 kph, it is actually slamming into the pavement 14 times a second. That's where you get your vibration.

Most people in Mill Valley are surprised at how smoothly their car rides after balancing all four wheels.

Most high-quality tires sold in Mill Valley hold their balance pretty well. They just get out of balance gradually with normal wear and tear. If you suddenly feel a vibration, it is probably because you lost a wheel balancing weight along the way. Definitely get a balance at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley if you feel a vibration, change your rims or have a flat repaired. Putting off a needed balance job leads to excessive and tire wear, wear to your shocks, struts, steering and suspension parts. Wheel balancing not only improves your ride and handling, but also can save you some repair bills and possibly an accident. Additionally, you will get better fuel economy.

Some Mill Valley area drivers have their tires balanced at every rotation. Others do it every other time. Check your owner's manual for your requirements, or ask your friendly service advisor at Malugani Tire. Doing this will put you on the path to mechanical wheel balance.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Which Item Is Most Stolen from Vehicles in Mill Valley?

Posted March 21, 2014 12:00 PM


 

Which item is most often stolen from vehicles in Mill Valley?

Is it:

  1. Stereo
  2. Wheels
  3. Air Bag
  4. DVD System

Well, if you said stereo – you used to be right. But airbags have now surpassed stereos as the biggest target for theft in California – approximately 50,000 a year are stolen across the country. New airbags cost about $1,000, but go for $50 to $200 on the black market in California.

Stolen airbags are making their way back into cars that have been in an accident. Of course, the danger to the consumer of having a stolen airbag installed is that you can never be sure what may have previously affected them and if they will work right when you need them.

Contact us at Malugani Tire for more information about where to get your airbags checked or replaced.
Find us at 493 Miller Ave, Mill Valley, California 94941
You can reach us by phone at: (415) 388-1800

There are reports that 1 in 25 airbag replacements are stolen or salvaged airbags – or no airbag is installed at all.

That is definitely one car part you don't want to take a chance with, so Malugani Tire recommends following these guidelines:

  • Use a reputable collision repair center that employs ASE certified mechanics (we can offer recommendations at Malugani Tire).

 

  • Inspect the invoice to ensure that the repair shop purchased the airbag from a manufacturer, dealer or recycler. If you can inspect the airbag prior to installation, it should be packaged in a sealed container from the manufacturer.

 

  • You will see the SRS light (Supplemental Restraint System) when you first start your vehicle up. This tells you that the airbag system is activated. If you do not see the SRS light, there is likely a problem with the airbag system.

 

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Malugani Tire Center Inc. Often Asked About Premium vs. Regular Gas

Posted March 14, 2014 12:00 PM



Mill Valley motorists often ask the question: "Will using premium gas make my car run better?" The answer is simple. But first, let's talk about what exactly premium gasoline is.

Different grades of gasoline have different octane ratings. Regular gasoline has the lowest octane rating and premium the highest. Most gas stations around Mill Valley, California also carry a mid-grade that falls in between the two. The octane range for the different grades of gas varies by region due to altitude differences.

Engines require different octane ratings because of design differences. For example, turbocharged engines usually require premium gas.

There's a sticker on your gas tank filler lid that tells you the minimum octane rating your auto maker recommends.

For help identifying the type of gasoline your engine needs, come by Malugani Tire Center Inc. in Mill Valley:

493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

Mill Valley car owners should read their owner's manuals carefully to see if it's acceptable to use lower grades. With some cars in Mill Valley, California it is; the engine control computer can adapt. Mill Valley drivers will lose some performance, but won't do damage. With other engines, using a lower grade of fuel could result in serious and expensive damage; so you don't want to save a couple of bucks at the pump only to pay it out a hundred fold at your Mill Valley repair shop.

Your car will run best on the type of gas recommended by the manufacturer.

Today's computer controlled vehicles are optimized to run well on the recommended grade of fuel. Using a higher grade than is recommended will not give Mill Valley drivers any additional performance or better fuel economy.

Regulations require detergents for all grades of gasoline, so your engine will have the same protection, regardless of the grade of fuel you use. If you do hear some knocking or pinging from your engine, take it seriously and get your passenger car into Malugani Tire Center Inc.. It may be a sign that you need a tune-up or some other repair.

In times of costly gas prices, most Mill Valley car owners are conscious of making their fuel dollar go further as we drive around California. Be sure to use the right gas for your car. Keep your tires properly inflated and your vehicle well maintained and you will get the best gas mileage possible.



Clean Air for Your Engine: Engine Air Filters In Mill Valley

Posted March 6, 2014 12:00 PM

Every Mill Valley car owner who has taken their car in for an oil change has been told that their engine air filter's dirty.

Here's what goes into the determination of when to change the filter: First, your vehicle owner's manual will have a recommendation of when the filter should be replaced.

So between your owner's manual and your Mill Valley technician's inspection there's really no guesswork involved for Mill Valley drivers.

Now, most air filters purchased in Mill Valley don't cost a lot to replace. It's just that California people hate getting caught with an unexpected expense. On the plus side, though, changing a dirty air filter at Malugani Tire can often save enough on gas to pay for itself before your next oil change in Mill Valley.

Think about a dirty furnace filter in your Mill Valley home. When it's all clogged up, enough clean air can't get through. In your vehicle, that means that your engine can't get as much air as it needs to burn the fuel efficiently. So it makes do with less air and has to use more gas to move your vehicle around Mill Valley roads.

Your vehicle actually needs about 12,000 times more air than fuel to run. Engine air filters don't cost much in Mill Valley at Malugani Tire. When it's time to change yours, just get it done. You'll get better fuel economy, have better performance and protect your vehicle engine.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Fuel Filter Service in Mill Valley, California

Posted February 20, 2014 12:00 PM



There are a surprising number of small, inexpensive parts that can lead to expensive engine damage when they fail. It doesn't seem right.

Fortunately a lot of those things can be taken care of in routine maintenance. They may not be easy to remember because it is a long list, but your service center at Malugani Tire can help you know what's scheduled to be taken care of.

Some of us in Mill Valley, California, really don't look forward to going in for an oil change and then getting a list of the other things the manufacturer recommends.

But automotive maintenance is all about prevention and addressing small problems before they get big. Let's take the fuel filter for example.

You may not know this but the median age for private vehicles on our Mill Valley, California, roads is over nine years. When vehicles get older, five years or so, they've accumulated a lot of dirt and rust in their gas tanks. If that dirt gets into the engine it can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage. So somewhere between that dirty gas tank and the price of a great vacation is the lowly fuel filter: a very inexpensive part that doesn't cost too much to replace. And your vehicle will just run better too.

A clogged fuel filter can't let enough fuel through. You might notice at first that your vehicle is running fine around town but struggles or sputters on the Mill Valley, California, freeway or when you accelerate. Enough fuel can't get through to meet the demands of higher speed. If it gets bad enough, your engine might just shut off or not start at all, which could be dangerous.

Some fuel filters have a bypass. When they get clogged, they allow dirty fuel to move around the filter element so dirt ends up in the engine. We've already talked about how expensive that can be.

The fuel filter is even very important for newer vehicles. The fuel is still dirty even if there isn't rust in the tank. It's just that the fuel filter will need to be changed more frequently as the vehicle gets older.

How often should you change your fuel filter? Check your owner's manual. Your Mill Valley, California, service advisor at Malugani Tire can tell you as well. It's usually around 30,000 miles (50,000 kilometers) or so. Ask if it's time for a full fuel system cleaning as well. They often go hand in hand.

It's good to know that your Mill Valley, California, service center has your back. When you're motivated to maintain your vehicle's performance and to reduce operating costs, you'll think of Malugani Tire as your ally - and maybe even your memory.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



The Right Fluids for Your Vehicle

Posted February 13, 2014 12:00 PM

The current vehicles in the market have over a century of engineering behind them. They have evolved into complex and powerful machines. Developments in their engines, however, have coincided with advances in many other vehicle components, including the fluids.

It's up to people in Mill Valley to always use the right type of fluid for their vehicle. Your service advisor and your owner's manual are resources for auto advice on exactly what types of fluid your vehicle needs. Improper fluids can damage your vehicle and void your warranty.

Some of the fluids that have changed significantly in recent years are cooling system fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid and motor oil. Each of these comes in many varieties now, and it's hard to know exactly which one your vehicle needs.

Cooling systems were once made of iron, steel and rubber. One coolant could be used to protect all of these materials. But new cooling systems have components made from a variety of metal alloys and several kinds of plastic, and coolants now contain additives that protect these various materials from corrosion. Since the materials vary among manufacturers, they require different additives, which means there are now several coolants on the market. The type of coolant your vehicle needs depends on the materials used in its cooling system.

Most vehicles used to require DOT 3 brake fluid. But now many vehicles need DOT 4 or DOT 5. Some Mill Valley drivers mistakenly think the higher numbers reflect an increase in grade—that DOT 4 is somehow better than DOT 3. But the truth is, the numbers represent variations in formulation. The different formulas have evolved to meet the demands of newer and better brake systems. For a long time, transmission fluid came in two varieties: regular and friction-modified. But transmissions have come a long way recently and so have the fluids that protect and lubricate them. There are several new types of fluid on the market, but your vehicle is designed for just one of them.

Of all the automotive fluids, motor oils have experienced perhaps the greatest advances in engineering and technology. A number of new weights and formulations have recently been developed to meet the needs of modern engines, which have more parts and tighter tolerances than ever before. Engines have become more sophisticated and complicated, but they have also increased in power and fuel efficiency. Despite these changes, Mill Valley vehicles still need them to be highly durable.

That's the job of motor oil. Motor oil still has to perform its original function—lubricating and protecting the engine. It is formulated to help clean the engine as well. Modern motor oil also has to be thin enough to penetrate small engine passages yet still be resistant to vaporization.

Specialized motor oils have also been developed for high-mileage vehicles. If your vehicle has 75,000 miles/120,000 km or more on it, you might consider switching to one of these motor oils. They contain extra detergents that help clean older engines, additives that condition seals and gaskets that can become brittle with age. High-mileage motor oils come in weights and types just like regular motor oils, and Mill Valley drivers should match the proper weight and type of high-mileage oil to their vehicle in the same way you would regular motor oil.

Over time, vehicles have developed in complexity and variety, and their fluids have developed as well. Each vehicle is matched to a set of fluids that meet its specific requirements. California vehicle owners should take care to learn their vehicle's fluid requirements before topping off at home. A large part of preventive maintenance for Mill Valley drivers is making sure your vehicle's fluids are clean and adequate, but they must be the proper type as well. As our vehicles become more sophisticated, car care becomes more sophisticated as well.

Learning about proper fluids for your vehicle will help you maintain its performance and prolong its life. Talk to us at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley.

 Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Fuel Saving Tip: Alignment for Your Mill Valley Vehicle

Posted February 4, 2014 12:00 PM



Imagine you've left Mill Valley and you're up in the arctic on a dog sled.

Your dog team is pulling straight and true. You can cover a lot of ground quickly. Now imagine what would happen if one or two of the dogs wanted to go their own way and were pulling off to the side.

That would slow you down. You would have to work harder to keep the sled going where you want it. The dogs are all working as hard as before, but you're covering less ground for the same effort.

You're wasting kibble.

The same is true of your vehicle when the wheels are out of alignment. That wheel that's pulling to the side is dragging down the rest of the vehicle; so you push a little harder on the gas pedal to keep up your speed. You're wasting gas.

So have your wheel alignment checked at least once a year. It is important to get it checked right away if you feel the vehicle pulling to one side.

Sometimes we Mill Valley residents bump a curb or hit a pothole and knock our wheels out of alignment. An accident can take the wheels out of alignment as well.

Mill Valley residents need to make sure they're tracking straight. You'll get better fuel economy and your tires'll last longer. Now, mush!

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Maintenance for High Mileage Vehicles in Mill Valley, California

Posted January 31, 2014 12:00 PM



The median age for cars in the Mill Valley, California area was over nine years. And two-thirds had over 75,000 miles. At Malugani Tire we hear reports that those numbers continue to rise.

If you have a high-mileage vehicle in the Mill Valley area, bring it into Malugani Tire for high-mileage maintenance.
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

Many people in California are keeping their vehicles longer. The economy has influenced that, but the fact that modern vehicles are more durable and reliable means that owning a high mileage vehicle doesn't have to be a painful experience.

Local car owners in Mill Valley with over 100,000 miles on their vehicles often ask which service intervals they should follow. Let's start with the special needs of the older vehicle...

The reality is that time and mileage will take its toll. The engine and transmission will have more sludge. The fuel, steering and brake systems will have gum and varnish built up. There'll be more dirt and contaminants in the fuel tank. Corrosion and deposits in the cooling system. And seals and gaskets will start to dry out.

All of this, plus normal wear and tear, means that the engine might not be as strong as new, so it just has to work harder to get the job done.

So we need to compensate. Consider high-mileage formulations for oil changes, transmission service, etc. These special formulations contain additives that condition the seals and gaskets to prevent leaks. They also have more detergents to clean sludge and other deposits. They cost a bit more, but they're worth it.

In general, if an auto service was recommended every 15,000 miles when the car was new, you should continue to get the service done every 15,000 miles.

Talk with your Mill Valley service advisor at Malugani Tire about the condition of your engine. See if he thinks you should adjust your auto service intervals for oil changes or other auto maintenance to account for the older engine working harder.

Expect the oil filter to get dirty faster. Same goes for the fuel filter. And some leaks are to be expected so you need to keep a closer eye on fluid levels.

If anything, following recommended service intervals for your vehicle is more important in a higher mileage vehicle. Skipping oil changes or other services can lead to problems much more quickly than with a newer vehicle.

So, have your Mill Valley auto service advisor at Malugani Tire help you with an assessment of your older car or truck. If you haven't gotten around to a fuel system cleaning, or replacing power steering or brake fluid, a differential service or transmission service – it's time to start taking care of those things. It'll help keep you on the road for many more happy miles.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Save Fuel by Watching Your Weight

Posted January 22, 2014 12:00 PM

Most Mill Valley drivers are all talking right now. Better gas mileage. Fewer emissions. California folks want to save the environment and our pocketbooks.

And we Mill Valley drivers all know — or should know — that preventive maintenance will help maintain maximum fuel efficiency. But is there something more we can do? After all, some of us Mill Valley road warriors can't cut back on our driving, and others would like to do more to economize.

Weight is one major enemy of fuel economy. The more you lug around in your vehicle, the more fuel you have to burn to get around Mill Valley. And that means buying more gas and producing more emissions.

Of course, your vehicle's weight isn't negotiable. And you can't do much about the weight of your passengers. And this isn't an article about diet and exercise.

But look around your car. Are you hauling a bunch of unnecessary weight while driving around Mill Valley? Do you really need your golf clubs every time you leave your neighborhood? Store sports equipment in the garage. Load it when you need it and store it when you don't. Who knows? The extra exercise just might reduce the other type of weight in your vehicle.

The same goes for anything else in your vehicle: make-up kits, music collections, extra electronics, spare clothing: whatever your particular extras may be. Pack it when you need it, store it when you don't.

Clean out your vehicle. You'd be surprised how much weight you're lugging around in plain old junk. Toss old papers, leftover food and regular old dirt. Even if it's not a lot of weight, you'll feel better when you get into your car. A good cleaning is also part of good car care.

Now, don't toss stuff you really do need. You do need that spare tire — the one in your trunk. And a kit of emergency essentials is not a bad idea. But just carry around the day-to-day essentials. You can pack a more extensive kit and store it in your garage, then toss it in the car when you go on a longer trip; but you don't have to lug it around all the time.

After all, are you a driver? Or are you a junk chauffeur?

Lose the junk and save some money.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Saving Lives in Mill Valley with Tire Pressure

Posted January 14, 2014 12:00 PM



All new passenger vehicles on our Mill Valley, California, roads now have tire pressure monitoring systems – TPMS for short. They are designed to alert you if your tires are underinflated. Since they are fairly new, a lot of people have questions about them.

First off, the most important thing is that you still need to check your tire pressure every week – or at least every time you gas up. The TPMS system alert comes in when your tire is 20 percent below the factory recommendation. So if the recommended pressure is 34 pounds per square inch, the TPMS warning won't come on until the pressure is at 28 pounds. That's significantly underinflated, enough to raise safety concerns.

The worst is tire failure. A severely underinflated tire can overheat and fail. Also, handling degrades to the point that you may not be able to steer out of trouble. Also underinflated tires wear out faster and they waste fuel. So it's costly to not stay on top of proper inflation.

What's the practical value of the TPMS system? Well, it's twofold. First, it can alert you when your tire is losing pressure due to a puncture or a bent rim. That's an important warning that you might not have gotten until next time you gassed up.

The second is that we all occasionally forget to check our tire pressure. So it's a fail-safe system to let you know there's a problem brewing.

Other things can cause your TPMS system to go off. The system also monitors itself. The sensors that are mounted in the wheels have little batteries that send a signal to the monitor. The batteries go dead over time and the TPMS system will let you know. And the sensors could break. Also road salt from our California roads can ruin them.

There's also a hassle factor that your Mill Valley, California, tire center has to contend with. For example, when you have your tires rotated in Mill Valley, the TPMS system has to be re-calibrated so that it knows which tire is on which corner of the car. Same is true for when you have new tires or winter tires installed. Flat repairs, as well.

That takes extra time. And it requires the right equipment and training. Special – and expensive – tire change machines need to be used with some sensors. It's all complicated by the fact that there are a number of different TPMS systems in use so the tire professionals at Malugani Tire need equipment and training for each kind. Tire centers have had to raise the price of some of these basic services to offset their increased costs.

Also if you add custom wheels on your vehicle, you need to put in new TPMS sensors if your originals won't work on the new rims. If you don't your TPMS light will be on constantly and you won't have the benefit of the warning system.

All in all, the mandated TPMS systems will save lives, so they're worth the added hassle and expense.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Clean Fuel – Clean Performance for Mill Valley Drivers

Posted January 9, 2014 12:00 PM

Fuel filters clean the dirt, dust and debris out of your fuel. Both gasoline and diesel-powered engines have them. The fuel filter is located in the fuel line between the fuel tank and the vehicle engine.

Mill Valley auto owners don't need to filter their fuel because it has lots of grit in it; they need to filter it because it has some grit it in. Any dirt is bad for your engine. The cleaner the fuel, the better your vehicle engine will run.

Over time, the small amounts of rust, dirt and contaminants in your fuel settle out inside the fuel tank. After about five years, this can amount to a quite a bit of sediment. This means that as your vehicle ages, your fuel filter has to work harder to screen your fuel: more sediment in your tank means more potential for grit in your fuel.

The harder your fuel filter works, the more often it needs to be replaced. Check with your owner's manual to find out how often it should be serviced and how long you can expect it to last. Mill Valley drivers should change it before it becomes clogged. Your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor can help you with recommended fuel filter replacement schedules.

Good vehicle care means following recommended schedules for preventive maintenance, including changing your fuel filters. Take the auto advice offered in every owner's manual and have your vehicle regularly inspected at Malugani Tire. It may save Mill Valley auto owners money by preventing costly repairs, but it will also repay them in improved safety and peace of mind.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Battery Basics for Mill Valley

Posted January 2, 2014 12:00 PM

It's important for Mill Valley drivers to know battery basics. First, let's talk about which is harder on a battery – hot or cold California weather. Most Mill Valley area drivers think it's cold weather because that's when we call on our batteries to have enough power to start a cold vehicle engine.

However, heat does more damage to a battery than cold. Truth is, our batteries start to die a little from day one. Keeping a full charge slows the process, which is hard with short Mill Valley trips because the alternator doesn't have time to fully recharge the battery from starting the engine. Mill Valley drivers can top off the charge with a computer controlled battery charger – say, once a month in the summer and every three months during the winter.

As far as how long a battery will last, statistics show that 70% have given up the ghost within four years. By that time, they aren't capable of taking a full charge like they used to, and your vehicle alternator has to work overtime to keep up. This causes your alternator to wear out early.

If you're pushing 4 to 5 years on your battery, see your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service assistant for a battery test to see if it's recommended to replace it. Not only can you avoid getting stranded with a dead battery on a California road, but you'll save unnecessary wear and tear on your vehicle alternator.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Fuel Saving Tip: Fuel System Cleaning Near Mill Valley, California

Posted December 26, 2013 12:00 PM



A lot of fuel is wasted in the Mill Valley area by dirty fuel delivery systems in vehicles.

Let's start at the tank. The gas tank gathers dirt, rust and sediment over the years. That's why there's a fuel filter to clean the fuel after it leaves the tank. A dirty filter will rob the engine of the clean gas it needs to run efficiently.

The fuel intake components get coated with gum and varnish over time. This results in fuel being delivered inefficiently and some of that gunk getting into the engine. A fuel system service at Malugani Tire will leave your intake components as clean as a whistle.

The big fuel thief is dirty fuel injectors. They deliver fuel to the engine at a specified pressure and in a particular spray pattern. When they're clogged, the fuel doesn't get atomized the way it's supposed to and doesn't get burned as efficiently.

See your owner's manual or ask your Mill Valley service advisor at Malugani Tire when a fuel system cleaning is recommended.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Battery Replacement at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley

Posted December 18, 2013 12:00 PM

Hello, welcome to Malugani Tire. Today's focus is batteries. It seems like everything in Mill Valley runs on batteries. Of course, the batteries we're most concerned with here at Malugani Tire are those in our customer's vehicles. Just like the batteries in our smoke detectors or TV remote, Battery they wear out and need to be replaced . This can be thought of as the power output used to start a cold vehicle engine. The number of cold cranking amps you need depends on your vehicle and where you live in California, specifically how cold it is. (Many Mill Valley drivers have first-hand experience trying to start their car on a cold winter morning.) The two factors are that the colder your vehicle's engine is, the more power it takes to turn the engine over to get it started. It has all that cold, sluggish oil to contend with.

The other factor is that the chemical reaction in the battery that creates electrical energy is less efficient when the temperature dips. Let's say it's 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees C) in Mill Valley. At that temperature, 100% of the battery's power is available. At freezing, only 65% of battery power is available, but it requires 155% as much power to start the engine as it did at 80 degrees F (27 degrees C).

As you can see, the colder it gets, more power is needed, but the available power drops.

So if you live where it's cold in California, you need a battery with more cold cranking amps than you do where it's moderate or hot. The battery that originally came with your vehicle was based on averages. At Malugani Tire, we like to remind Mill Valley drivers that they should always get at least as many cold cranking amps as their vehicle manufacturer recommends but may want to upgrade if they live where it gets real cold.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Clean Fuel Equals Clean Performance for Mill Valley Drivers

Posted December 13, 2013 12:00 PM

Hello, Mill Valley residents. Let's talk fuel filters. Fuel filters clean the dirt, dust and debris out of your fuel. Both gasoline and diesel-powered engines have them. The fuel filter is located in the fuel line between the fuel tank and the engine.

Mill Valley auto owners don't need to filter their fuel because it has lots of grit in it; they need to filter it because it has some grit it in. Any dirt is bad for your engine. The cleaner the fuel, the better your vehicle engine will run.

Over time, the small amounts of rust, dirt and contaminants in your fuel settle out inside the fuel tank. After about five years, this can amount to a quite a bit of sediment. This means that as your vehicle ages, your fuel filter has to work harder to screen your fuel: more sediment in your tank means more potential for grit in your fuel.

The harder your fuel filter works, the more often it needs to be replaced. Check with your owner's manual to find out how often it should be serviced and how long you can expect it to last. Mill Valley drivers should change it before it becomes clogged. Your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor can help you with recommended fuel filter replacement schedules.

Good vehicle care means following recommended schedules for preventive maintenance, including changing your fuel filters. Take the auto advice offered in every owner's manual and have your vehicle regularly inspected at Malugani Tire. It may save Mill Valley auto owners money by preventing costly repairs, but it will also repay them in improved safety and peace of mind.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Fuel System Cleaning at Malugani Tire

Posted December 6, 2013 12:00 PM



Is your vehicle sometimes hard to start early in the morning? When you turn the key, does it hesitate or stutter? If so, the problem could be the result of a dirty fuel system. Your vehicle's fuel system starts with the air filter and ends in the top of your engine. Over time, different parts of the system get dirty, which robs you of performance and hurts your fuel economy.

Most Mill Valley vehicles have fuel injectors, rather than a carburetor. Fuel injection systems have fewer problems and require less adjustment. But they still need to be properly maintained. This is why your owner's manual has a schedule for cleaning your fuel injectors and other parts of your fuel system.

Some Mill Valley residents are interested in buying fuel system cleaners that they can pour into their gas tank. You can do that - and there are lots of great products available that can help maintain an already clean fuel system - but these products cannot do a major cleaning. For that, you need to see Malugani Tire. Malugani Tire has the professional tools and chemicals to really do a complete service.

Malugani Tire uses a process that gives your vehicle a deep, professional fuel system cleaning. You need to remove particles, gum and varnish from your fuel system and get those injectors running cleanly and efficiently. After a professional fuel system cleaning, you'll notice more power, better fuel economy and reduced exhaust emissions.

The cleaners also help prevent rust and corrosion in your fuel system and lubricate engine parts.

Fuel system cleaning is just one of those recommended service items that help keep your vehicle running strong. As with all maintenance, it can help avoid repairs that often result from not taking the right preventive steps. Mill Valley residents will notice the difference in how well their vehicle runs. Check with your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Malugani Tire to see when your vehicle is scheduled for a fuel system cleaning.

An ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure for Mill Valley vehicles.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



10 Services Mill Valley Drivers Often Overlook

Posted November 26, 2013 12:00 PM

We live such busy lives nowadays: work, social events, running the kids all over Mill Valley. Some days it's all we can do to keep track of everywhere we need to be. That's why you've gotta be organized. Smartphones, calendar apps - we have to keep track of it all.

So let's talk about schedules. Specifically, automotive service schedules. And particularly, the scheduled services that are sometimes forgotten.

Here is a list of 10 service items that are often overlooked by Mill Valley residents. They're all very important and need appropriate attention. So here we go, in no particular order.

1. Power Steering Service
Be honest; have you ever thought of this on your own? Your power steering fluid gets dirty and builds-up moisture over time. Cleaning out your power steering system means that dirt and gum are removed and your power steering parts are protected from corrosion. Next time you're in for an oil change, ask your Malugani Tire service advisor if it's time for a power steering check-up.

2. Wheel Alignment
When your wheels are out of alignment your vehicle pulls to one side. It's pretty annoying, but it's also dangerous. And it causes your tires to wear out really fast, which is an unnecessary expense! Most owner’s manuals suggest you get your alignment checked once or twice a year.

3. Differential Service
Did you even know you had a differential? Well, you do - one, two or three in fact. Differentials are often called gear boxes and they're part of the drive-train that transfers power from your vehicle engine to your wheels. They don't need service that often, but you can't completely forget them. Check with your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor.

4. Cabin Air Filter
More and more cars these days have cabin air filters (a great feature, in my opinion) to clean the air in the passenger area where we sit. They filter out dust and pollen. When they're clogged up, they can get smelly. Change your cabin air filter on schedule to enjoy fresh, clean air, which can also help with allergies.

5. Timing Belt Replacement
Most cars and some vans and trucks driven around the Mill Valley area have timing belts. Without going into a lot of detail, let's just say that your car won't run without it – period. And if it breaks while you're driving, it can do thousands of dollars’ worth of engine damage. Check your owner's manual or speak with your Malugani Tire service advisor. If you're approaching 60,000 miles or 100,000 kilometers; definitely look into it right away.

6. Transmission Service
Transmission service is very basic, but it's often forgotten by Mill Valley drivers. Your vehicle transmission needs clean fluid from time to time to keep operating efficiently and avoid pricey repairs.

7. Air Conditioning Service
Most of us don't think about our air conditioning until it fails on a hot day in Mill Valley. If you're lucky, you just need to add refrigerant. If you're not, some of the components may have been ruined. Of course, these components are not cheap. Regular air conditioning service at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley adds clean refrigerant which cools and lubricates your air conditioner and conditions the seals.

8. Brake Service
No we're not talking about squealing, grinding brakes here. We're talking brake fluid. Over time, the fluid gets a lot of water in it. Because water compresses differently than the brake fluid, your brakes won't work as well. It may even get dangerous. The water can also rust out brake system components and then your brakes can fail altogether. Check with your Malugani Tire technician for recommendations.

9. Coolant System
Another thing that's so easy for Mill Valley drivers to forget about: When you don't change your antifreeze on schedule it becomes corrosive. Fresh coolant contains additives that maintain the pH balance in the coolant. These additives wear out and the fluid in the radiator can actually eat holes in the radiator or hoses. Then you're stranded - bummer.

10. Fuel System Cleaning
In these times of high fuel prices, fuel system cleaning is vital. Fuel gums up a bunch of parts as it moves from the gas tank and through the engine. A thorough fuel system cleaning at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley will keep clean gas flowing into the engine. Your fuel injectors also get gunked up over time and need to be cleaned. Having your fuel system cleaned on schedule at Malugani Tire will really help your fuel economy.

There you have it: 10 services that are often overlooked by Mill Valley residents. Did you know that a recent survey showed that 90 percent of vehicles on the road have at least one scheduled maintenance service that hasn't been performed? Considering our busy lives, we're not surprised. Malugani Tire can help with any of these services. Give us a call or come see us.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Recommended Service Intervals at Malugani Tire

Posted November 20, 2013 12:00 PM



Most people in the Mill Valley area are aware that automotive manufacturers have recommended service intervals. Following recommended service intervals is very important. The engineers that design our vehicles have tested the various systems and components to meet durability and safety standards. Some of these standards are self-imposed and others, like those for emissions components, are government mandated for areas in California.

The maintenance schedules are designed to achieve the standards. Think of the benefits of following recommended intervals as falling into three general categories: Protection, Efficiency and Safety.

Protection. Let's start with motor oil. First of all, the engineers recommend a particular weight and type of motor oil for your vehicle. All of their oil change recommendations assume using the proper motor oil. Motor oil contains detergents and other additives that clean the engine and provide corrosion resistance. Over time, the additives are depleted. The oil also becomes contaminated by water, dirt and combustion gases.

Extending your interval beyond the recommendation means that your vehicle engine will be operating without the full protection of fresh motor oil. It also means that sludge can form in contaminated oil and clog up passages in the engine, starving parts from needed lubrication.

Efficiency. Some services are designed to keep automotive systems operating efficiently. For example, the fuel system gets clogged up with gum and varnish from the fuel. Fuel doesn't flow efficiently which reduces fuel economy. A fuel system cleaning restores the fuel system's efficiency and increases your gas mileage.

Safety. Your brakes are a component of one of the most important safety systems on your vehicle. The manufacturer has scheduled brake pad replacement as well as power brake fluid drain and replacement intervals. Because brakes are so important, a brake inspection is also on the schedule to head off problems before they result in an accident.

Check your owner's manual for recommended service schedules or talk with your Mill Valley service advisor at Malugani Tire by calling (415) 388-1800.

You may be surprised to learn that various inspections may be on your list of factory recommendations for your vehicle. These inspections are usually at major intervals like 15,000 or 30,000 miles/24,000 or 48,000 km. They're designed to uncover important parts that may be close to failing.

Your vehicle owner's manual can tell you when to change your oil, but it can't tell you that you have a radiator hose that's bulging and about to burst. For that you need a trained auto technician. These scheduled inspections are in addition to the multi-point inspections done with a full-service oil change.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Malugani Tire Center Inc. Guide To Using the Correct Fluids in Your Vehicle

Posted November 13, 2013 12:00 PM

Today's Malugani Tire Center Inc. post focuses on using the proper fluids for your vehicle. Significant advancements in automotive technology have lead to the development of high-tech fluids to keep modern cars operating at peak performance. This is due to both engineering advances and new high-tech materials used to build passenger car automotive systems.

A simple example of this is the cooling system. For decades it was primarily made out of iron, steel and rubber hoses. There was one kind of coolant that protected these components from corrosion.

Now cooling system components are made with various metal alloys and plastics. These materials require different additives to protect them from corrosion. Since the materials used vary among passenger car manufacturers, we now have a number of different kinds of coolant.

It's essential for Mill Valley car owners to use the right coolant. Malugani Tire Center Inc. Guide To Using the Correct Fluids in Your VehicleIf you pour in the wrong kind, it won’t protect the cooling system and may even void the warranty. Check your passenger car owner’s manual. Of course, your Malugani Tire Center Inc. automotive advisor will know the proper coolant for your vehicle.

Brake fluid is confusing for some Mill Valley drivers. Back when we opened Malugani Tire Center Inc. 63 years ago, most vehicles used Dot 3 brake fluid. Now we have Dot 4 and Dot 5. Some Mill Valley people mistakenly think the higher numbers are an upgrade. You know, if 3 is good then 4 must be better. That’s not how it works. They are different formulations to meet the demands of differences in brake systems. Only one of them is designed for your passenger car.

Ditto for transmission fluid. For decades there were two basic types of tranny fluid used at Malugani Tire Center Inc.: friction modified or not. With the tremendous engineering advances in passenger car automatic transmissions, there have been several new types of fluids developed to protect and lubricate them.

Nowhere are the advances in automotive fluids more evident to Mill Valley motorists and Malugani Tire Center Inc. professionals than in motor oil. Many new weights and formulations have been created to meet the demands of today’s high-tech passenger car engine design. Modern engines have more parts and much tighter tolerances. Every year, engines make more power and (thankfully!) get better fuel efficiency. And along with all the complexity and sophistication, they still have to be durable.

That’s where the new grades of engine oil come in. They have to be formulated to lubricate, protect and clean all of those passenger car engine parts, big and little. The oil has to be thin enough to get into little passages, yet resistant to vaporization.

At Malugani Tire Center Inc. in Mill Valley, we believe that in some ways modern automotive fluids are just as impressive as the new engines. Because weights of oil and types of coolant and transmission fluid are so carefully matched to the vehicle, make sure you always use the proper fluid if you are topping off at home.

Check your passenger car owner’s manual or ask your Mill Valley service technician.
The wrong fluid can cause damage to your passenger car engine. If you drive a car or truck around California with 75,000 miles or more, consider high mileage formulations. These fluids contain extra detergent to clean dirtier older engines as well as additives to condition seals and gaskets. That’ll help prevent leaks. Always be sure that the high mileage fluid is the same weight or type of fluid recommended for your passenger car.



Fuel Filter Replacement

Posted November 8, 2013 12:00 PM



Hello Mill Valley resident! You would never like to drink a glass of mud, right? Well, your vehicle feels the same way. It needs a steady supply of clean fuel in order to run well and deliver good fuel economy. The fuel filter's job is to clean dirt and rust out of the fuel before it gets to your engine. A clogged fuel filter can actually choke off the engine so that it won't start or run. Some fuel filters have a bypass valve that allows fuel to go around the clogged filter so your vehicle will still run. But, then the contaminated fuel can clog your fuel injectors and allow particles into your engine.

A vehicle with a partially clogged fuel filter might run well around Mill Valley, but sputter and strain on the because it's starving for gas. There are two things that affect how often you need to replace the filter. They are: where you drive in California and the gas you buy. If you drive a lot on dirt or gravel roads in rural California, your fuel filter will have a harder time keeping the fuel clean.

And, we hate to say it, but buying the cheapest gas from bargain stations sometimes means dirtier fuel that'll clog the filter sooner. Major brands tend to be cleaner and certainly have higher levels of detergent additives.

Of course, manufacturers recommend intervals for changing the fuel filter. But, it's a little more complicated than that for Mill Valley residents. Some manufacturers stopped listing recommended intervals for fuel filter replacement or have very long intervals like every five years or 80,000 miles (130,000 kilometers). So you may need to look to other sources for recommendations. Vehicles older than six or seven years are especially at risk because they have had time for dirt and rust to build up in the fuel tank. A clean fuel filter keeps the gas flowing. Even a partially clogged filter puts added strain on the vehicle fuel pump. That can shorten its life and result in repair.

As is often the case, spending a little money now on something as inexpensive as a fuel filter can save money for Mill Valley residents down the road by improving and preventing repairs. At Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, we can check your fuel filter. It is better than fixing a burned-out vehicle fuel pump or ruined fuel injectors.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Power Steering Service at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley

Posted October 30, 2013 12:00 PM

Many Mill Valley drivers have been hearing about technological advances in power steering, specifically electric power steering. Some very high-end cars have been featuring electric power steering. Power steering fluid has the necessary hydraulic properties and the ability to lubricate the internal parts. The power steering fluid also protects vehicle components from rust and corrosion.

Mill Valley car owners should be aware that vehicle manufacturers recommend that the fluid be replaced on schedule. At Malugani Tire, the old fluid is drained and the system cleaned thoroughly. Fresh fluid is then installed.

Unfortunately, many Mill Valley drivers don't realize how important it is to service their power steering, and some may not even know that it's necessary in the first place. A neglected power steering system can develop leaks that will shorten the life of the pump.

Mill Valley drivers should be aware of warnings that indicate possible power steering problems: the need to constantly add power steering fluid, a loud whining from the pump, erratic power assist or high steering effort. If you're experiencing any of these problems, have your power steering checked out at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley.

In addition to the pump and hydraulic system, there are mechanical parts in the steering system. The rods, arms, joints and knuckles that actually turn the wheels can become worn or damaged. A standard alignment service at Malugani Tire includes an inspection of steering components.

See if you notice any of these: play in the steering wheel, the steering wheel is off center, or there's a noise coming from your front wheels, especially when turning.  If so, have your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor do an inspection so the problem can be corrected. Waiting too long could cause uneven tire wear and may even lead to steering failure. 

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Mill Valley Air Conditioning Service

Posted October 25, 2013 12:00 PM

Working up a sweat is a great thing to do in a gym around Mill Valley, but not in your vehicle. When Mill Valley residents' vehicle AC Systems have a problem, they'll often feel it right away. The question is, how long do you put up with it? You know, the old comfort versus cost dilemma. But a more comfortable drive around California has a lot of benefits, and keeping the AC System well maintained can help prevent repairs.

A common cause of AC failure is water and air in the system. The system does not work as well with air in it. And water can cause rust that leads to damage of the A/C components. Also refrigerant, the stuff that makes the air cold, can leak out, reducing the efficiency of the system and making it work harder to try to cool the air. That is why periodically evacuating the air conditioning system and recharging it keeps the proper amount of clean refrigerant in the system for Mill Valley residents, so it cools better and lasts longer.

Mill Valley drivers should also run the air conditioner regularly, even in the winter, so that it lubricates itself and keeps the seals from drying out. The seals can crack and that leads to leaks. Your vehicle's owner's manual will have recommendations for how often to service your air conditioner. Some service centers also have this information as part of their computer databases. Your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor can give you more information.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Can Car Scent Keep You Safe on California Roads?

Posted October 15, 2013 12:00 PM

Here's a travel tip that'll I'll bet you didn't know, and it might keep you safer...

The average American commuter in California spends two and a half hours daily in their vehicle.

The government says 100,000 auto accidents yearly are caused by drivers who fall asleep at the wheel. (Aggressive driving is the number one traffic safety concern.)

So what does this have to do with how your vehicle smells while you're driving around Mill Valley?

Well, which scent did you think makes drivers more alert?

Is it:

  • A. Strawberry
  • B. New Car
  • C. Pine
  • D. Warm Vanilla Breeze

It's C. Drivers are more alert and have less fatigue with pine scent in the vehicle, according to AroMetrics.

And, drivers were less angry with overall improved driving performance with strawberry and pine scents.

And you thought they just smelled nice.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Keeping Your 'Old Faithful' Auto Running

Posted October 9, 2013 12:00 PM

At Malugani Tire we've had a lot of Mill Valley customers asking how they can make their vehicles last longer. These questions are actually a reflection of a trend that's been building for several years in California. The median age of personal vehicles is now over nine years. And 33 percent of all vehicles on the road have over 75,000 miles (120,000 km) on them. It looks like it's going to keep heading in that direction for a while. With high fuel prices, a lot of California folks are putting off buying a new car. 

So let's say you're one of the average in the Mill Valley area; you've got a nine-year-old car with 80,000 miles (130,000 km) on the odometer. What can you do to make it last another year or two?

Let's start with the premise that there's no reason that a modern car can't run for 200,000 miles (320,000 km) with proper care in Mill Valley. The engineering and manufacturing quality is there.

Of course, some parts will wear out along the way, but there's no reason for a catastrophic meltdown if Mill Valley drivers stay on top of their recommended car maintenance. The maintenance schedule in some vehicle manufacturer's owner's manuals runs out at 60,000 miles (100,000 km) or so: how do Mill Valley vehicle owners know what to do when they're way past that?

It is a challenge, for example: If a service is recommended every 15,000 miles (24,000 km) for the first 60,000 miles (100,000 km), you can just keep getting it done at least every 15,000 miles (24,000 km) after you hit 60,000 miles (100,000 km). But, it gets more complicated because older engines lose some efficiency, are dirtier inside and are just more stressed. That means it's very important to not miss any scheduled services. Skipping just one oil change at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, for example, leaves an opportunity for sludge to build up. Talk to your service advisor at Malugani Tire for more details.

So all the usual things like oil changes, transmission service, coolant service, brakes, power steering, fuel system cleaning – all that stuff needs to be maintained. People responsible for fleet vehicles around Mill Valley are sticklers for scheduled maintenance. They know that money spent on maintenance saves them three ways:

  1. it keeps efficiency from decreasing;
  2. it prevents repairs, and;
  3. they can postpone purchasing new vehicles.

Having the oil changed may be the most important thing Mill Valley drivers can do. A full-service oil change at Malugani Tire means that all of your other fluids get topped off so they are never low enough to cause damage. It also gives your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor a chance to spot problems in the early stages so that you can fix them before they get worse. And it gives you a touch point with an automotive professional along the way to remind you of things that aren't scheduled as often – things like differential service and timing belt replacement.

If you live in the Mill Valley area and have an older vehicle, you may need to follow the severe service maintenance schedule. Check your owner's manual and talk with us at Malugani Tire. Conditions inside an older engine, transmission and cooling system can arguably be considered severe – so shorter intervals could well be called for.

And, the team at Malugani Tire strongly encourages Mill Valley drivers to consider using high mileage formulation fluids. They're fluids like engine oil, transmission fluid and coolant that are formulated for older engines. They have special additives to clean deposits, and to condition and restore seals and gaskets that dry out with age. Some Mill Valley auto owners start using higher mileage formulations at around 50,000 miles (80,000 km) as a preventive measure.

Of course you also want to still look marvelous in your older car as you drive around Mill Valley. Salt and road grime wreak havoc on your paint job and can lead to body rust – so regular washing is very important. Also, a good quality waxing is recommended at least twice a year.

Give us a call for more information:

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Transmission Service at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley

Posted October 3, 2013 12:00 PM

Let's talk about transmission service. It can be easy for Mill Valley drivers to forget about getting their transmission serviced because it doesn't need it very often. It's easier for people in California to remember to change the engine oil - you know, every 3,000 miles or 5,000 kilometers. But proper transmission servicing keeps your vehicle running smoothly and helps you avoid repairs down the road.

The transmission undergoes a lot of stress. The grit you can see in used transmission fluid is actually bits of metal that wear off the gears in the transmission. In addition to that, the transmission operates at very high temperatures. Usually it's much higher than engine temperatures. Those high temperatures eventually cause the transmission fluid to start to break down and lose efficiency.

As the fluid gets older, it gets gritty and doesn't lubricate and cool the vehicle transmission as well - leading to even more wear. The fluid can actually get sludgy and plug up the maze of fluid passages inside the transmission. At best, your transmission won't operate smoothly. At worst, it could lead to damage.

When your transmission is running properly, it transfers more power from your engine to the drive wheels and improves fuel economy. That's why it is recommended to change your transmission fluid at regular intervals. Your owner's manual has a schedule for transmission service and, of course, your service advisor at Malugani Tire can tell you what is recommended.

Hot and dusty Mill Valley area conditions, towing, hauling, stop-and-go driving and jackrabbit starts all begin to increase the load on the transmission and its internal temperature. That means Mill Valley vehicles with these types of transmission requirements need to change the fluid more often. A good rule of thumb is every 35,000 miles, 55,000 kilometers or two years. If your owner’s manual suggests more frequent intervals or if you're driving under severe service conditions around the Mill Valley area, you will need to change it more often.

Most Mill Valley auto service centers (including Malugani Tire) have the ability to perform a transmission service while you wait and the cost is quite reasonable. It's downright cheap when you think about how much a major transmission repair can cost! Our pros at Malugani Tire will know the right type of transmission fluid to use. If it's getting to be time to have your transmission serviced, do your vehicle a favor and have it done.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Air Conditioning Maintenance at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley

Posted September 24, 2013 12:00 PM


Warm weather or cold, Mill Valley drivers still need to think about their vehicle's air conditioning. Most Mill Valley people don't service their air conditioning until after it fails. At Malugani Tire, we can advise you on your vehicle manufacturers preventive maintenance schedules for air conditioning service, just as we do for transmission service, oil changes and so on.

Maintaining your air conditioning system means that you always have enough refrigerant to properly do the job. Small leaks in the vehicle's air conditioning system allow the refrigerant to escape and the system can't cool the air as well. We see that a lot at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley.

The refrigerant also contains oil that lubricates air conditioning components and keeps the seals resilient. Low refrigerant and lubricating oil means that the air conditioning parts will wear out prematurely, and all Mill Valley vehicle owners know that air conditioning repairs can be costly. At Malugani Tire, we recommended that the air conditioner be run regularly, even during winter months, to keep the parts and seals lubricated.

Mill Valley drivers need to be aware that there's one more thing that isn't directly related to air conditioning service but does impact the quality of the air in your vehicle. And that's your cabin air filter. This filter cleans dust, pollen, pollution and other impurities in the air that come from the heater and air conditioner. The cabin air filter needs to be replaced when it's dirty. If you don't, it'll start to smell. Not all vehicles have one, so ask your Malugani Tire service advisor to check your cabin air filter at the same time they're doing your air conditioning service.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Watching Your Check Engine Light

Posted September 19, 2013 12:00 PM

Did you know that most of the cars driving around Mill Valley, California, carry more computer power than the Apollo 121 Lunar Module that landed on the moon in 1969?

New cars sold in the Mill Valley area have as many as 12 networked computers and over five miles (eight kilometers) of wiring. In fact, for the last decade or so, auto computers have been controlling about 85 percent of your vehicle's functions.

Cars have sensors for manifold air temperature, coolant temperature, manifold air pressure, airflow, throttle position, vehicle speed and oxygen content. All of this electronic wizardry is pretty complicated. So how do Mill Valley drivers know when there is a problem?

It's simple; the Check Engine light comes on. The computer monitors all the sensors and uses that information to decide what to adjust such as the fuel mix, spark timing and idle speed. In addition, the computer monitors its own circuits. When it finds a fault, it turns on the Check Engine light and stores a trouble code in the computer.

It can be pretty disturbing for Mill Valley drivers when the Check Engine light comes on. We wonder just how urgent it is. Generally speaking, it is not critical like a temperature or oil pressure light. When you get one of those it means STOP NOW! When the Check Engine light shows up, you should come in to Malugani Tire in Mill Valley to find out what the matter is as soon as possible.

Since 1996, there has been a strong emissions control component to the Check Engine diagnostic. But if your Check Engine light flashes on and off, you know that it is more urgent and you need to get it checked immediately to prevent damage. You should slow down and avoid towing or heavy loads until you can get it checked out.

Your friendly and knowledgeable technicians at Malugani Tire have special diagnostic equipment that will retrieve the trouble code from the computer and help him determine what is wrong. From there, we can fix it and get you back on the road.

Stop by if you're Check Engine light is on.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Mill Valley, California Winter Prep Service for Your Auto

Posted September 17, 2013 12:00 PM

When winter approaches in California, Mill Valley residents break out the sweaters, coats, boots and mittens. We want to be ready for California winter conditions. Your vehicle needs to be ready for winter as well. The last thing Mill Valley residents want is to get stranded out in the cold. You need your vehicle to be safe and reliable. It's a good idea to get caught up on any neglected maintenance items anytime - but the stakes are higher in cold California winters.

There are some specific things Mill Valley drivers need to do to have their vehicle ready for winter. The most obvious is having the antifreeze checked. If the antifreeze level is too low, it can't properly protect your engine, radiator and hoses from freezing. If your car does not seem to be making enough heat to keep you warm, your antifreeze level may be low or you could have a thermostat problem. Get it checked out at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley. If you are due for a cooling system service, now is a perfect time to have it done.

In the cold months around Mill Valley we always worry about being able to stop in time when it's slick out. The first thing to remember is to slow down and allow yourself plenty of room to stop. Of course, you want your brakes to be working properly. A thorough brake inspection will reveal if the pads or any other parts need replacing. Check with your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor to see if it is time to replace your brake fluid. It accumulates water over time which really messes with your stopping power.

It is also a really good idea for Mill Valley residents to have their battery tested. A battery's cranking power really drops with the temperature. If your battery is weak in the fall, it may not be up to a California winter. There is nothing like a dead battery in a snow storm.

Which leads us to an emergency kit. You should always have a blanket or something to keep you and your passengers warm if you get stranded on a remote California road. If you will be venturing away from civilization, pack more items such as food and water to help you survive. Keeping at least half a tank of gas is a good idea in case you get stuck and need to run the car to keep warm, which will also help keep your gas lines from freezing up.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



What to Do In Case of an Accident

Posted September 5, 2013 12:00 PM

If you've ever been in a vehicle accident around Mill Valley, California, even a minor one, you know how upsetting it can be. It's hard to think straight and know what to do.

Let's review what you should do in case of an accident in Mill Valley, California:

When an accident occurs, you should always stop. Leaving the scene of an accident is considered a crime in California, even if it's not your fault. And hit-and-run penalties are fairly severe, possibly resulting in steep fines, loss of your driver's license or even jail time in our local Mill Valley lockup.

Most places, including California, require that you try to help someone who is injured by calling for help or performing first aid if you are able.

Warn other Mill Valley motorists by putting out flares, using your flashers or lifting your hood.

Call 911 as soon as possible. Tell the operator if medical or fire help is needed.

Always file a police report. It's tempting to skip this if everything seems to be ok. But without a police report, the other guy can say whatever he wants about the accident later, and you won't have an objective report to help defend yourself.

Discuss the accident only with the police. Emotions are strong after an accident and we naturally want to talk about it – don't. Never admit fault or guilt to anyone, including the police officer. Sometimes we may feel at fault, but in the eyes of California law, the other guy may be responsible.

Truthfully give the officer the facts: such as, "I was going 35 miles per hour," or, "I was going 55 kilometers per hour," not, "I wasn't speeding." Remember, anything you say to the officer or anyone else can be used against you.

Also get the officer's name and badge number and ask where you can get a copy of the accident report.

Get the facts on the driver and owner of the other vehicle:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Date of birth
  • Driver's license number and expiration
  • Insurance information

Also take down a description of the other vehicle, license plate and vehicle identification number (VIN). Most insurance companies don't record license plate numbers, so the VIN is the best way to track the vehicle.

Ask witnesses, including passengers, to wait for the police. If they can't wait, ask for contact information and request that they write a brief description of what they saw. If someone refuses to leave their name, write down their license plate number so the police can track them down later if necessary.

Always call your insurance agent or your California auto insurance company's 800 number.

Call or see your local Mill Valley physician if you think you may have been injured.

We here at Malugani Tire hope that you never have to use this information and wish you happy travels.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Commitment to Make Your vehicle Last at Malugani Tire

Posted August 28, 2013 12:00 PM

These days many people in the Mill Valley area are really committed to making their cars last a long time. First thing: you've got to start with what you've got. It'd be ideal if people started with a brand new car, never missed a scheduled service item, paid attention to the severe service maintenance schedule and had regular inspections. But if you've had the vehicle for a while or bought it used, its maintenance history is what it is; and that's where you start.

Go through the maintenance schedule for your vehicle and see what's been done and when. Have your Mill Valley service advisor at Malugani Tire do an inspection and come up with a list of stuff that needs to be done. Review the list and prioritize the work, talk about budget and make a plan to get caught up.

Making a plan is so important. Suppose you go in for an oil change and learn you need your cooling system serviced, a transmission service and are coming up on a timing belt replacement in the next 5,000 miles/8,000 kilometers. You might be pretty overwhelmed.

To make it even more stressful, these are all very important systems that are expensive to repair if there's a failure. In a consultation with your Malugani Tire service advisor, you might decide to take care of the transmission on this visit, set an appointment for the cooling system service next month and get an estimate for the timing belt replacement so you'll be prepared for it in a few months.

Having a plan for taking care of these important services will set your mind at ease.

For advice on how to make your vehicle last longer, visit us at Malugani Tire.


Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



The Malugani Tire Center Inc. Guide To Vehicle Diagnosis

Posted August 20, 2013 12:00 PM

Why is my check engine light on?

Modern Mill Valley vehicles have several computers on board that control all kinds of things like engine functions, transmission shifts, traction control, anti-lock brakes, stability control, emissions – and on some vehicles, even steering, braking and the throttle.

Think about that for a minute – things that used to be controlled by simple mechanical connections now have electronic controls that rely on computers, software and sensors. It’s no wonder that when something goes wrong with their passenger car it can be pretty complicated for Mill Valley car owners to track down the source of the problem.

To help your Malugani Tire Center Inc. service advisor figure out what’s wrong, your passenger car is equipped with on-board diagnostics. The Check Engine Light comes on to tell you there’s a problem and the engine management computer stores a trouble code. Your friendly Malugani Tire Center Inc. service advisor connects a scan tool to your vehicle’s diagnostic port and retrieves the trouble codes as well as other important data.

Trouble codes are like clues for the Mill Valley technician to follow as he diagnoses what’s wrong with your passenger car. In a way, it’s like going to your Mill Valley doctor with a problem. She’ll run some additional tests and gather the information she needs to make a diagnosis and form a treatment plan. How much a vehicle diagnosis costs at Malugani Tire Center Inc. in Mill Valley depends on how much time it takes to sort out the symptoms and find the underlying problem.

Give us a call

Malugani Tire Center Inc.
(415) 388-1800
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941



Malugani Tire Center Inc.: Why Replace Your Engine Air Filter?

Posted August 14, 2013 12:00 PM

Just as our bodies need clean air to function properly, your passenger car engine needs clean air to operate efficiently. Let’s go egghead for a minute. For every gallon of gas we burn driving on California expressways, twenty pounds of carbon dioxide comes out the tailpipe. Question: how can a gallon of gas that weighs a little over six pounds produce twenty pounds of carbon dioxide?

The answer is that the carbon comes from the gasoline, but the oxygen comes from the air. You see, it takes about twelve thousand gallons of air to burn a gallon of gas in your engine. Clearly, your passenger car needs a lot of air to keep going in Mill Valley. A lot of clean air is best.

Malugani Tire Center Inc.: Why Replace Your Engine Air Filter?You’ve seen the pictures of people in Japan wearing face masks. They want some kind of filter to keep unwanted pollution and germs out of their lungs. Well, your passenger car also works better when its internals are clean. When your passenger car air filter’s dirty, it simply can’t trap any more dirt, so the pollutants just pass through into your air intake system. From there it can clog your fuel injectors and even get into the motor itself. Not surprisingly, burning dust and pollen in your passenger car engine does you no good.

So, we’re talking potential damage for Mill Valley drivers. But another big thing is wasted fuel. Your passenger car engine management computer tries to mix the correct amount of air in with the fuel. If the filter’s clogged, there isn’t enough air for the optimal fuel to air mix and that really messes with fuel efficiency.

In fact, replacing a dirty air filter at Malugani Tire Center Inc. in Mill Valley can improve your fuel economy by up to ten percent. At today’s Mill Valley fuel prices, you should be able to pay for a new air filter before your next oil change.

The verdict: When your passenger car engine air filter needs to be replaced; it needs to be replaced. How often depends entirely on the level of air pollution where you drive in California. A simple visual inspection at Malugani Tire Center Inc. will tell you when you need a new engine air filter.

When you look at the air filter on your furnace at home and see it’s all clogged up with dust and dirt, you don’t hesitate to replace it. When your Malugani Tire Center Inc. service advisor shows you your nasty engine air filter, you now know why you should go ahead and replace it.



Fuel Saving Tip: Slow Down Around Mill Valley

Posted August 7, 2013 12:00 PM



There's not much we can do about the price of gas in Mill Valley, California, but we do quite a bit about how much we use as we're driving on our Mill Valley streets.

Our driving habits can dramatically affect our fuel economy.

The first thing we can do is watch the 'go-pedal.' Hard acceleration just sucks the gas. Gently leave stop lights and plan lane changes so you don't need to floor it. That can save you hundreds of dollars a year.

Go a little slower on the freeway. Once you're going more than 65 miles an hour (105 kilometers per hour), your fuel economy starts to drop dramatically. Leave early so you don't need to rush to be on time. And cruise control is your friend – steady speed uses less gas.

Plan errands ahead. Make fewer trips by combining errands.

Hey at current gas prices, a lead-foot might as well be a gold foot.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



What Mill Valley Automotive Service Consumers Should Know

Posted July 30, 2013 12:00 PM

There are some things drivers should know about Mill Valley car service and repair. First and foremost, Malugani Tire cares about you and your family's safety. And we really appreciate your business. Malugani Tire in Mill Valley wants to build a trusting relationship that becomes the foundation for a mutually beneficial experience for years to come.

Building on that foundation, there are some things that would help you understand the auto service and repair business better. First, it can be really hard to fix vehicles. The days of shade tree mechanics are long gone. The majority of automotive systems are computerized. It takes a lot of training and very expensive equipment to diagnose and repair modern vehicles. The pros who work for Malugani Tire need extensive computer training – not just how to run the diagnostic systems, but also searching for the right parts, networking with other technicians to help them with a difficult problem and pulling together a job order that makes sure that each step of the process is addressed.

The threshold for getting started as a technician gets higher all the time in California, and there is a huge commitment to on-going training every year. This training takes time and money. It contributes to business overhead. Average consumers in Mill Valley may not realize the business and environmental regulations Malugani Tire must comply with. Of course that costs money, too. Like any California business, overhead is a big factor.

When you go into your favorite Mill Valley area restaurant, you don't value the meal by what the food would cost at the grocery store. The restaurant has rent, wages, insurance, taxes, utilities, professional fees, equipment, supplies – you get the picture. The restaurant has to charge enough to not only pay for the ingredients, but for all these other things as well while making enough profit to remain in business. If you value the meal and are satisfied with your dining experience, you'll come back and tell your friends.

It's the same for Malugani Tire. The value of its service is not the cost of the parts they replace, but in your satisfaction with the results. If they deliver a good product at a fair price, customers are happy to see them succeed as a California automotive business.

Contact Malugani Tire to learn more about our extensive auto service training.
You can find us at:
Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800
http://malugani-tire.autodealertips.com

At Malugani Tire, we love to see our Mill Valley customers whenever they come in, but we would much rather see them three or four times a year for routine maintenance than once a year on a tow truck. We want to work together with you to avoid breakdowns. Tell your friends and family to come in for their scheduled maintenance too. That lowers our marketing costs and helps keep labor rates down. That's good for everyone in Mill Valley.

 



Fuel Saving Tip: Mill Valley Tune Up

Posted July 25, 2013 12:00 PM



Have you ever gone to listen to an orchestra? The musicians take the stage early and tune their instruments. Each individual instrument must be in tune, but the critical thing is for the entire orchestra to be in tune with each other. That's why they tune up together.

Now this is no surprise; I'm going to relate the orchestra to your vehicle. Your engine has many component systems that each need to be working properly. And the components need to be working in sync, all timed up together in order for the engine to work efficiently.

We call this... (ta-da) a tune-up. When an orchestra's out of tune you get a bad concert. When your vehicle's out of tune you get bad performance and bad fuel economy.

So check your owner's manual for recommended tune-up intervals. Or ask your Mill Valley service advisor at Malugani Tire what he thinks.

...Just be careful not to say you want to make beautiful music together – that kinda makes us uncomfortable.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Serpentine Belt Service at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley

Posted July 19, 2013 12:00 PM



Don't you hate it when you hear that squeal from under the hood when you're zipping down a busy Mill Valley road? It usually means there is a problem with the serpentine belt. The serpentine belt powers a lot of engine accessories. It runs the alternator - which charges the battery; the water pump - which cools the engine; the air conditioning and the power steering pump. All are pretty important parts. It is called a serpentine belt because it snakes around a bunch of engine components.

Serpentine belts are amazingly tough. They can last for years and go long distances. Like all moving parts, however, they eventually wear out. If your belt breaks while you are driving around Mill Valley, everything will come to a halt within minutes. You need to stop the vehicle immediately or it will overheat, potentially causing engine damage. You can be sure that it won't happen at a convenient time or place. (As if there was a convenient time or place!) You might even need to get your vehicle towed to Malugani Tire. It's no wonder that vehicle manufacturer's recommend a belt replacement on schedule. It's one of those "have-to's."

Mill Valley drivers who hear a squeal when accelerating, or a slow, slapping sound at idle, should have their serpentine belt looked at. The pros at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley will visually inspect your belt to see if it needs to be changed sooner than scheduled. If the belt has more than three or four cracks every inch or couple of centimeters, has deep cracks that penetrate half the depth of the belt, is frayed, is missing pieces or has a shiny, glazed look, it needs to be replaced regardless of age or mileage.

Serpentine belt replacement is relatively inexpensive, especially compared with the cost and inconvenience of being stranded or getting a disabled vehicle back to Malugani Tire for repairs.

You're mom was right: an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



On Board Diagnostics for Your vehicle

Posted July 12, 2013 12:00 PM



Today we're going to talk about on-board diagnostics and the questions we hear from folks around Mill Valley, California, who need answers about diagnostic services. They want to know what diagnostics are, what's involved and what the benefits are. They really want to understand the value of diagnostic scans by a trained technician in Mill Valley.

These are valid concerns. If you don't understand something it's really hard to know its value. Let's start with some history.

Since 1996, all cars and light trucks in Mill Valley, California, have been required to use a standardized diagnostic system to help repair technicians determine what's wrong with your vehicle. The diagnostic system works with the vehicle's Engine Control Module – the computer that controls many engine functions.

The computer monitors dozens of components and processes. Depending on what the sensors read, the computer will make adjustments to compensate for conditions and minor problems. When there is a condition that it can't adjust for, the computer will turn on the Check Engine light.

It is also called the 'service engine soon' light on some vehicles. The warning light signals you to get into your local service center so that the trouble code can be read and the problem can be fixed. Your service center will have a scan tool and powerful software that will help the technician diagnose the problem.

If you've searched for Check Engine light on the internet, you may have seen that you can buy an inexpensive scanner or go to an auto parts store to have the trouble code read to tell you exactly what's wrong.

That's a common myth. The code itself doesn't tell you what's broken. It starts you looking in the right place. It tells you what engine parameter is out of range – but it won't tell you what's wrong or how to fix it.

Let's say you think your daughter has a fever. You take her temperature and it reads 102 degrees F/38.9 degrees C. You've confirmed a fever, but you don't know what's causing it. Is it a 24 hour flu, an infection, appendicitis or leukemia? A fever is a symptom of all of these medical problems, but it takes a skilled physician's examination and additional diagnostic tests to find out what is actually causing the fever.

An example of a trouble code could be: P0133, which reads 'Bank 1 sensor 1 circuit slow response.' This means that the front oxygen sensor has a slow response time to changes in the air-fuel mix. If that's all you knew about cars, you would think your oxygen sensor was broken and would replace it. Now, it could be the oxygen sensor – but it could also be a bad or contaminated airflow sensor, exhaust leak, electrical problem, an intake manifold leak or any of a number of other things.

You can imagine a lot of oxygen sensors have been replaced because of that code. So the on-board diagnostics point the way to where the trouble lies, but it takes some skill and high-tech equipment to actually pinpoint the problem. The cheap scan tools that a consumer can buy do not have the ability to retrieve some of the operating history that's stored in the engine control computer. That history's very helpful in diagnosing the problem. Service centers like Malugani Tire invest a lot of money in high-end diagnostic tools to help solve the mystery and get you back on the road as soon as possible without replacing a lot of parts that don't need replacing.

So, on-board diagnostics provide a powerful starting place for a highly-trained, well-equipped technician to get to the bottom of your problem. When your Check Engine light comes on, get it checked at Malugani Tire. If the light burns steadily – don't panic. Get in to Malugani Tire soon to have the engine scanned. A flashing Check Engine light means that there is a severe engine problem. Get in as soon as you can – waiting too long can lead to very expensive damage.

And try to not drive at high speed or tow or haul heavy loads with a flashing Check Engine light.

Make an appointment with Malugani Tire to have your on board diagnostics analyzed.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Emergency Items for Your vehicle

Posted July 5, 2013 12:00 PM



Local Mill Valley roadside emergencies can range from a flat tire downtown to being stranded in a snowy ravine for three days. So you may want to consider a basic emergency kit to keep in the car at all times and a travel kit tailored to a specific trip.

Your close-to-home kit for around Mill Valley would have some basic items to work on your car: everything you need to change a tire, gloves, a couple quarts of oil, some antifreeze and water. A can of tire inflator is a great temporary fix for minor flats. You'll also want jumper cables or a booster box, flares, a flashlight and some basic hand tools.

Now for your comfort and safety: a first aid kit, drinkable water, high calorie food (like energy bars), blankets, toilet paper, cell phone, towel, hat and boots. Keep some change for a pay phone, emergency cash and a credit card.

People who live in areas with frequent severe weather or earthquakes may want to carry provisions for longer emergencies.

For trips away from home, consider the weather and geography as you assemble your emergency supplies. You'll need to have a source of light and heat and will want to provide protection against the elements as well as adequate food and water for everyone in the car.

Always tell people where you are going and have a plan for checking in at waypoints. Then if you run into trouble, you can be reported missing as soon as possible and rescuers will be able to narrow the search area.

The key to safe travel is to keep your vehicle properly maintained, plan ahead and let others know your itinerary.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Keeping Your Mill Valley Air Fresh When Driving With a Clean Cabin Air Filter

Posted June 26, 2013 12:00 PM

Pop quiz: What is a cabin air filter?

A. A filter for your Mill Valley house?
B. A fresh, piney scent?
C. A filter for the passenger compartment of your car?

Clever you, it's C.

A cabin air filter cleans the outside air before it comes into the passenger compartment of your vehicle. It filters out common California air particles like dust, pollen, spores, bacteria, pollutants, exhaust gas, odors and even sparrows.

These high tech filters can block particles larger than 3 microns. By contrast, a grain of sand is about 200 microns.

Not all Mill Valley vehicles have cabin air filters. They are fairly new on the scene in California. Last check, about 40 percent of new vehicles sold in Mill Valley come with cabin air filters, but the number is growing every year.

Cabin air filters make driving a lot more pleasant for people in Mill Valley. Your vehicle can be a haven during our California allergy season with very little dust and pollen getting into the cabin. Of course, like all filters, the cabin air filter eventually gets clogged. When this happens, your heating and air conditioning flow can become restricted. The filter can even get kind of smelly.

Check your owner's manual for replacement guidelines. If your vehicle owner's manual doesn't mention your cabin air filter, ask your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Malugani Tire for a recommendation. It's usually every year or 12,000 miles /19,000 kilometers. Change it sooner if you drive in dusty conditions around the Mill Valley area, or if you start to notice a funky smell coming from your vents.

The team at Malugani Tire urges Mill Valley drivers to keep their cabin air filter cleans. It may not help with your brother-in-law in the backseat, but it will make your driving experience around Mill Valley more enjoyable.

Come by and we'll take a look at your cabin air filter for you.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Serpentine Belt Replacement Near The Mill Valley Area

Posted June 20, 2013 12:00 PM



Don't you hate it when you hear that squeal from under the hood when you're driving aroun Mill Valley? It usually means there is a problem with the serpentine belt. The serpentine belt powers a lot of engine accessories. It runs the alternator-which charges the battery, the water pump-which cools the engine, the air conditioning and the power steering pump. All pretty important parts. It is called a serpentine belt because it snakes around a bunch of engine components.

Malugani Tire Center Inc.
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

Serpentine belts are especially tough. They can last for years and go for tens of thousands of miles. But, with time they wear out. If your belt breaks while you are driving, everything will come to a halt within minutes. You have to stop the car or it will overheat, potentially causing major engine damage. And it probably won't be at a convenient time or place. You might even need to get your car towed to a service center. That is why manufacturers recommend a belt replacement on schedule. You really should get it done on schedule because a belt failure will definitely take you off the road.

If you hear a squeal when accelerating or a slow, slapping sound at idle, you should have your serpentine belt looked at. Your Mill Valley area service technician at Malugani Tire Center Inc. will visually inspect your belt to see if it needs to be changed sooner than scheduled. If the belt has more than three or four cracks an inch, has deep cracks that penetrate half the depth of the belt, is frayed, is missing pieces or has a shiny glazed look, it needs to be replaced regardless of age or mileage.

Serpentine belt replacement is relatively inexpensive, especially compared with the cost and inconvenience of being stranded or getting a disabled vehicle back to Malugani Tire Center Inc. for repairs.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.



"Before You Leave Mill Valley, Get A Trip Inspection"

Posted June 13, 2013 12:00 PM



You know, at Malugani Tire Center Inc. we get a lot of people asking about how to prepare their car for a trip. That’s a big deal. You could be driving through mountains and deserts in some pretty lonely areas outside of Mill Valley so you may be anxious to know that the car is up to the task and won’t leave you stranded.

You really do need to plan ahead for a major road trip – there are a lot of things to get ready. Where should you start? You could start with the tires. Look them over for tread wear and check to see that they are properly inflated. Take a quick test drive around Mill Valley to see if you can feel any vibrations: are the wheels are in balance? Is the car tracking straight? Is the alignment ok?

Come in and see us for trip inspection.

Malugani Tire Center Inc.
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

The next thing is a full service oil change to make sure all of your fluids are topped off and you have fresh oil for the trip. And if your car has over 75,000 miles, you may consider putting in the high-mileage formulation to clean harmful sludge deposits in the engine. You may also need a new PCV valve and an engine air filter.

How about your transmission and brakes? Have you had your transmission and brakes inspected in the last six months?

How are your wiper blades? There’s nothing like not being able to get rid of the bug juice on a long road trip away from Mill Valley.

Check your owners’ manual for any other recommended service and have Malugani Tire Center Inc. do the multi-point inspection before you head out.

Consider also having the coolant system serviced – you want to stay within the manufacturer’s recommendations. If you’re towing a trailer you’ll want to be keep in mind that you’ll be going a long way under severe conditions.

A lot of folks overlook severe conditions like towing, or summer heat, or driving on dirt roads. Plan ahead for your next road trip – we want you to get there and back.



Diesel Maintenance for California

Posted June 6, 2013 12:00 PM

At Malugani Tire we hear from a lot of people who are excited about the new diesel engines that will soon be available in passenger cars and SUV's. But our California friends are often curious about the preventive maintenance requirements. People may not know that diesel engines have long been used extensively in Europe and Asia. In fact, in some markets, there're nearly as many diesel powered passenger cars as there are gasoline.

Here's who's announced or is expected to announce new diesels for North America: BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Volkswagen, Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai and Subaru. Of course, the US auto makers will be expanding their diesel offerings as well. Diesels will become a very big deal here in California.

You may ask, why has it taken so long getting to California and North America? There are a bunch of reasons like fuel tax policies and such, but the biggest hurtle was that California diesel fuel had a high sulfur content – too high for the latest generation of highly refined diesel engines. Recent government mandates to remove sulfur now opens up California to the engines the rest of the world's been enjoying for a long time.

Why are diesels so popular worldwide? Well, for starters, diesels get up to 30% better fuel economy than gas engines. And they last a lot longer. And modern diesel engines are refined, quiet and powerful – and there's none of that black smoke we used to see.

Some people may think that diesels create more pollution. But, you need to rethink diesels. Environmental pollution standards for diesel cars and light trucks are scheduled to be as strict as they are for gasoline vehicles. A modern diesel engine is as clean as a gas engine.

Repair costs are similar to vehicles with gas engines. As with gasoline engines, proper maintenance is the key to long engine life and to avoiding repairs. So pretty much what we have come to expect with gas vehicles; coolant system service, transmission service, power brakes, power steering, differential, filters, fuel system and so on. And the payoff for you, if you're the kind that likes to keep your vehicles for a long time, is that a properly maintained diesel engine can last for many, many years.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



All Lined Up: Wheel Alignment Service at Malugani Tire

Posted May 30, 2013 12:00 PM

When all of your vehicle's wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Hitting a road hazard or even just the normal bumps and bounces of everyday driving in Mill Valley can cause your vehicle's wheels to be out of alignment.

Driving for an extended time around Mill Valley when your wheels are out of alignment results in uneven tire wear. This is dangerous … and expensive. Worst case scenario, you have a blowout on a crowded California highway. It can also cause premature wear to your suspension system, which can be really expensive to repair. At the very least, you may have to replace your tires years too early.

The ideal alignment for your vehicle was designed by its engineers. Alignment service at Malugani Tire starts with an inspection of the steering and suspension – to see if anything's bent or broken. Then your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire technician will look at tire condition.

From there, the vehicle is put on an alignment rack and an initial alignment reading is taken. The wheels are then aligned to vehicle’s specifications.

Your vehicle owner's manual probably has a recommendation for how often your alignment should be checked – usually every couple of years. If you suspect an alignment problem, get it checked at Malugani Tire before you suffer expensive tire or suspension damage.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Fuel Saving Tip: Tire Pressure Saves Fuel in Mill Valley

Posted May 23, 2013 12:00 PM



Underinflated tires waste gas for lots of folks in the Mill Valley area. Think how hard it is to walk in sand – you just have to work harder because of the resistance. When your tires don't have enough air in them, their rolling resistance is dramatically increased and it simply takes more gas to get from here to there.

Always check your tire pressure when you gas up at one of our local Mill Valley service stations. If they're low – even just a little bit – bring them up to proper pressure. There's a sticker on the inside of your driver's door that gives the manufacturer's recommended tire pressure.

And don't rely on your tire pressure monitoring system to alert you to when you need more air. The TPMS system is set to warn you when pressure drops 20 percent below recommendations. That's severely underinflated and you needed more air a long time ago. And if you have a slow leak – get it fixed right away at Malugani Tire.

Get some air and save some gas.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



PCV Valve Service at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley

Posted May 16, 2013 12:00 PM

Today, we are talking about your PCV valve. Unburnt fuel is forced into the crankcase as your engine runs.  The PCV (positive crankcase ventilation) valve vents this unburnt fuel and oil vapors from the crankcase and sends it back into the air intake system to be burned in the engine.  A clogged PCV will not allow these vapors to escape. This can dilute and contaminate the oil, leading to damaging engine oil sludge. It can also cause vehicle engine corrosion, something we see occasionally at Malugani Tire. At high speeds on California freeways, the pressure can build up to the point that gaskets and seals start to leak.

Back in the old days, vehicles were simply installed with a hose that vented these gases out into the atmosphere. But starting in the 1964 model year, environmental protection laws required that these gases be recycled back into the air intake system to be mixed with fuel and burned in the vehicle's engine.

This is much better for air quality and improves fuel economy also. (Budget-conscious Mill Valley drivers take note!) The little valve that performs this important function is the PCV valve. The PCV valve lets  gases out of the engine, but won't let anything back in. Over time, the vented gases will gum up the PCV valve and it won't work well. That can lead to all of the problems I've already described, oil leaks, excessive oil consumption and decreased fuel economy.

Fortunately, it's very easy to test the PCV Valve at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley and quick and inexpensive to replace. Even so, it's often overlooked because many Mill Valley vehicle owners don't know about it. Check your vehicle owner's manual or ask your Malugani Tire service advisor. If this is the first time you've heard of a PCV valve, you might be in line for a replacement.

There's another aspect to the PCV system. In order for the valve to work correctly, it needs a little clean air to come in. This is done through a breather tube that gets some filtered air from the engine air filter. Now some vehicles have a small separate air filter for the breather tube called the breather element. That'll need to be replaced at Malugani Tire when it gets dirty.

Please ask your Mill Valley service advisor about your PCV valve. For the price of a couple of burger combo meals in Mill Valley, you can avoid some very engine repairs.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Higher Mileage Service Intervals for Mill Valley

Posted May 8, 2013 12:00 PM



Mill Valley drivers have probably noticed that the government mandates a lot of equipment on cars: emission devices and control computers, safety equipment like airbags and crash worthiness requirements. All of this is great for the motoring public in the Mill Valley area, but it does add quite a bit to the price of a new car.

Because new cars are more expensive, Mill Valley residents are driving their old cars longer. The average car is now over nine years old. 68% of vehicles on the road have more than 75,000 miles/120,000 kilometers. As cars age, their performance drops, they have difficulty idling for long periods and are more sensitive to weather extremes. Fortunately today's cars are up to the challenge - but they need a little help to keep on going.

Some owner's manuals don't outline service requirements and schedules at higher mileage. Of course, that doesn't mean it doesn't have to be done. In fact, it's more important than ever for Mill Valley drivers to stay on top of routine auto maintenance for cars with more than 120,000 miles/190,000 kilometers. Just extend regular service intervals out: for instance a service that's recommended every 24,000 miles/38,000 kilometers should be performed at 24,000 mi/38,000 km; 48,000 mi/77,000 km; 72,000 mi/116,000 km, 96,000 mi/154,000 km; and on and on.

Because of the additional stress older engines experience, the severe service maintenance schedule may be more appropriate than the regular schedule. Watch for leaks - seals and gaskets dry out over time and do not hold the fluids as well as they used to. If you don't already have one, it is more important than ever to get a good technician, like any one of the automotive professionals on our team at Malugani Tire. There are some services and replacements that are scheduled after you put some clicks on the odometer, like timing belts, valve train adjustments, suspension, anti-lock brake service, air bags, etc. And unexpected repairs down the road are just par for the course.

Check for unusual sounds, smells or the way your car feels. These could be hints for Mill Valley vehicle owners that trouble is brewing. Better to catch it early before it turns into repair. Regular wash and wax will help maintain your car's appearance. One of the things Mill Valley drivers can do to really help a high mileage vehicle is to begin using high mileage formulation fluids. There are special engine oils, coolants, transmission fluids and power steering fluids that are formulated for cars that have higher mileage.


High mileage oil is designed to condition seals and gaskets, reduce wear and avoid premature burn off. Older vehicle engines are dirtier inside - and dirty engines contaminate their oil faster. High mileage oil has special additives that clean the engine, removing sludge deposits over time. The result is less stress on the engine, better fuel economy and excellent wear protection. Come into Malugani Tire in Mill Valley for a checkup.

Studies have even shown that using high mileage fluids early will actually prevent some of the problems of high mileage vehicles. So once you hit around 50,000 mi/80,000 km, consider stepping up to high mileage formulations. The fluids cost a bit more than standard fluids in Mill Valley because of the additional additives, but they can be worth their weight in gold in terms of preventing repair costs down the road.

It does cost more for  vehicle owner's to properly maintain a higher mileage vehicle in Mill Valley - but it's much cheaper than a new car payment!

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Malugani Tire Center Inc. Tire Safety: Washington vs. Lincoln

Posted May 2, 2013 12:00 PM

Welcome to the Malugani Tire Center Inc. automotive blog. Today, let’s talk about the effect of tire tread depth on braking. When talking about stopping power, most Mill Valley and Southern Marin motorists tend to focus on our brakes. But our tires are where the rubber meets the road. So having good brakes isn’t enough. Safe Southern Marin drivers need to have tires with enough traction to translate braking power into stopping power.

Malugani Tire Center Inc. Tire Safety Washington vs. LincolnLet’s focus on stopping in wet Southern Marin conditions. In order for a tire to have good contact with the road, it has to move the water out of the way. If it can’t move the water, the tire will actually ride on top of a thin film of water.

That’s called hydroplaning. If it’s really bad, Southern Marin motorists can actually spin out of control - endangering themselves and the other drivers around them. At best, you won’t stop as fast.

So how does a tire move water? It has channels for water to flow through. Look at your passenger car tire and you’ll see channels: channels that run around the tire and channels that flow across the tire. They’re designed to direct water away from the tire so it can contact the road better.

And the deeper the channel, the more water it can move. A brand new Malugani Tire Center Inc. tire has very deep channels and can easily move a lot of water. As the tire wears down, the channels become shallower and can move less water. When it wears down enough, it can seriously affect your ability to stop your passenger car on wet Southern Marin roads.

So that’s why it’s so important for California motorists to replace their passenger car tires when they get worn. Consumer Reports and other advocate groups call for a standard of 3/32 of an inch and they have the studies to prove it.

By comparison, you’ve probably seen the wear indicator that’s molded into tires. When tires are worn 3/32 of an inch, the tread wear bar is visible. So the recommended standard has twice the tread depth as a completely bald passenger car tire.

At Malugani Tire Center Inc., we want our customers to know that the deeper recommended tread depth makes a big difference. Stopping distances are cut dramatically on wet Southern Marin highway. A safe stop from California highway speeds with 4/32 of an inch of tread would result in a crash with worn out tires.

There’s an easy way to tell when a tire’s worn to 4/32 of an inch. Just insert a quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn’t cover George Washington’s hairline, it’s time to replace your passenger car tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.

Many Southern Marin motorists have heard of this technique using a penny and Abe Lincoln’s head - the old method. That measure gives you 2/32 of an inch – half the suggested amount. Of course, passenger car tires are a major purchase. Most of us in Southern Marin want to get as many miles out of them as we can. But there’s a real safety trade-off. It’s your choice.



Mill Valley Tire Repair

Posted April 24, 2013 12:00 PM

Most Mill Valley residents have experienced a flat tire. You know it's inconvenient and a pain. Our tires are important. Keeping them in good working order isn't just a big safety issue for Mill Valley drivers – it also has a financial impact. With high California gas prices, we've all heard about the importance of keeping proper tire pressure to save on gas. In addition, proper inflation promotes even tread wear so your tires last longer. 

There's another danger with under-inflated tires for Mill Valley residents. Low tire pressure puts added stress on the structure of the tire itself, causing it to break down prematurely. Also, under-inflated tires generate more heat which also reduces tire life. So get those slow leaks fixed quickly – don't just keep adding air every few days. You want to avoid tire damage.

Mill Valley residents should only hire qualified tire professionals to perform repairs - we have a whole team of them at Malugani Tire. Mill Valley folks can buy self-repair kits, but we advise you to save those for emergencies, like when you're off-roading and need a quick fix so you can hobble back to civilization and get professional help. If you need to use a repair-in-a-can product, remember it's a temporary measure only and your tire needs to be properly repaired as soon as possible.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Keys to Long Lasting Vehicle

Posted April 16, 2013 12:00 PM



New cars cost so much these days. Add financing and insurance and, well a new vehicle may not seem so attractive. A lot of Mill Valley, California people are hoping to make their cars last a lot longer.

The good news is that with the current state of automotive engineering and manufacture, there’s no reason a modern vehicle can’t be made to last for a 150,000 miles or more.

There is an old saying that says, 'a stitch in time saves nine' and that is really true when it comes to taking care of your car. A great example is coolant service.

Over time, coolant becomes corrosive and actually starts to damage your radiator and other parts. That’s why you need to have your cooling system serviced on a regular schedule.

The same is true for your power steering system, brake fluid, air conditioning system, differential and transmission. And your oil changes should be done right on schedule to avoid the build up of harmful oil sludge.

Don't let your brake pads go too long before they are worn to the point that they cause damage to rotors. Preventive maintenance is a great way to keep your operating costs down.

Replacing belts and hoses is much cheaper than repairing the damage that can be caused by failure.

Now this is a lot to remember. Malugani Tire Center Inc. can keep on top of this stuff. We can tell you what your manufacturer recommends and help you with a plan to take care of it.

Bottom line – take care of this stuff on schedule and you will reduce operating costs, prevent costly damage and maintain your warranty coverage. Call Malugani Tire Center Inc. today for an appointment; you can reach us at (415) 388-1800.

Take good care of your car, and it’ll take good care of you.

Malugani Tire Center Inc.
Give us a call today at (415) 388-1800.
Or stop by at 493 Miller Ave, Mill Valley, California 94941


Differential Service at Malugani Tire

Posted April 9, 2013 12:00 PM

Here at AutoNetTV, we have national viewers, like your neighbors in Mill Valley, who write to us with questions or feedback. One common question we're asked is: "What is a differential and what does it do?" You may have been told by your Malugani Tire service advisor that your differential needs serviced, or it's seen it as an option up on the service menu. Differential service at Malugani Tire covers a lot of things, so let's first talk about what a differential does.

As you drive through a turn, your outside wheels and inside wheels turn at different speeds. Kind of like the cars going around a race track - the ones driving in the outside lanes have a greater distance to travel than the cars in the inside lanes. The differential is what allows the outside and inside drive wheels to rotate at slightly different speeds so that the tires don't hop or skip while taking corners, or lose traction in dirt or snow on Mill Valley area roads. Differentials have gears in them that transfer the power from the drive train to your wheels - which is why they're often referred to as gear boxes. The gears need to be very strong to do this work, and they need to be properly protected so that they'll last.

All vehicles in Mill Valley have some form of differential. If you have a front-wheel drive car, your differential is sometimes called a transaxle and is located in the front. If you have rear-wheel drive, the differential is in the back of the car. Mill Valley auto owners with a four-wheel drive vehicle have a differential in the front and the back - and in the middle as well. The center differential adjusts for differences in speed between the front and rear wheels.

Differential fluid lubricates and cools the gears. Over time, the fluid can get dirty from bits of the gears grinding off. The additives that keep the fluid clean and protect the differential break down over time. So your vehicle manufacturer has scheduled intervals for you to have your differential fluid changed. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor if you are not sure about your recommended schedule.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Fuel Saving Tip: Dirty Oil in Your Mill Valley Vehicle

Posted April 3, 2013 12:00 PM



If you're a quart low in your vehicle, there isn't enough motor oil to lubricate your engine properly. The extra friction causes drag that reduces fuel economy while you're driving around the Mill Valley area.

The same goes for dirty oil; it doesn't reduce friction properly. The result is you get to watch those numbers at your local Mill Valley gas pump rolling higher and higher.

The transmission also needs the proper amount of clean fluid to do its work. When it's in need of service, the transmission drags your fuel economy down.

So keep it clean at Malugani Tire  and give yourself a fighting chance.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Timing Belt Service to Save Big Bucks in Mill Valley

Posted March 27, 2013 12:00 PM

Your engine is like a finely choreographed dance. All the parts have to work together. If the timing is off at the ballet, dancers crash into each other and fall down. It the timing is off in your engine, it may not run at all. One of the most intricate dances in your engine has to do with the combustion cycle.

Your vehicle engine has cylinders in which a piston travels up and down. At the top of the cylinders are valves that open to bring in the air and fuel. And there are valves that open to let out the exhaust after the fuel has been burned.

Call Malugani Tire at (415) 388-1800 for answers about your timing belt, or drop by our Mill Valley, California, service center on 493 Miller Ave.

It's critical that the values be timed to open and close at precisely the right time in the combustion cycle, or the engine will run poorly or not at all.

The timing belt is responsible for rotating the shafts that control the valves. It's vital and precision work. Timing belts are made of very tough, flexible material. They can last a long time. But they eventually wear out and can break. The consequences can be disastrous.

In some engines, the valves actually protrude far enough into the cylinders that they could come in contact with the piston. If the timing belt breaks, the pistons will smash into the valves. Valves get bent or broken. If the engine is spinning fast enough, the broken parts will shred the cylinder head as well. Repairing this damage can cost several thousand dollars.

It's a sad day when this happens; especially since it usually can be avoided. Manufacturers have issued recommendations for when you should replace your timing belt. For some engines, it's at 60,000 miles/97,000 km. For others it's at 90,000 miles/145,000 km or more. If you're approaching 60,000 miles/97,000 km or have passed it, make sure you check your owner's manual or with your Mill Valley auto service advisor at Malugani Tire for when the timing belt should be replaced. Don't let this one slip by.

Now some timing belts are visible and can be inspected. Others are hidden under a protective cover and are hard to get to. Some timing belts also drive the water pump. If you have a leaky water pump, the coolant will contaminate the timing belt and could make it fail sooner. So if you have this kind of engine, get it in to Malugani Tire for an inspection right away if you have a coolant leak.

Most people in the Mill Valley area with this engine design end up with a new timing belt when they replace the water pump. And when you're having your timing belt replaced on schedule, check with your Malugani Tire auto service advisor to see if it makes sense to install a new water pump, even if it isn't currently having problems, since most of the labor is already being done any way for the timing belt replacement.

As a heads up; larger engines will often have metal timing chains rather than belts. The chains don't need to be replaced like belts.

We've already told you how very expensive it can be to get your car running again after a timing belt fails. You also need to know that replacing the timing belt is very labor intensive and is one of the most costly maintenance services you will have. So if you will be at the point where your timing belt should be replaced in the next year or so, ask for an estimate from Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, California, so you can begin to prepare for the expense.

We at Malugani Tire, your Mill Valley service center, can be a valuable partner. Please take advantage of our knowledge and experience.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Maintenance Free Myth

Posted March 21, 2013 12:00 PM



Sometimes we hear people say, "What's up with all this maintenance stuff? Modern cars just don't break down." While it is true that today's cars and trucks are extremely reliable, they are also becoming increasingly complicated and use more exotic materials than ever before. All that complexity demands higher tolerances for everything. For example, most folks don't realize how high tech automotive fluids have become. Fluids like, engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant and brake fluid.

Did you know that a modern engine would not run for more than a few months using motor oil formulas from 30 years ago? Today's automotive fluids contain a much higher percentage of additives to protect your vehicle's components from premature wear and corrosion. Time and miles march on for all of our cars. Please don't think we're using scare tactics to get you to take care of your maintenance - but here are some personal stories from AutoNetTV staff members to emphasize the importance of getting things done when they are due. Names are withheld to avoid embarrassment to those who should know better. Even though they should know better, it usually comes down to real life: time and budget. But they are tales of a stitch in time saves nine.

The first comes from a staffer who bought a used pick-up truck for his son. The oil was clean and all the fluids were topped off. A short time later, the truck overheated on the highway and shut down. The repair shop diagnosed the problem: the radiator pan was corroded and dumped the coolant. Even though the coolant level was correct, it was clear that the coolant had never been exchanged - just topped off from time to time. While this kept the engine cool, all of the anti-corrosion additives had worn out; the coolant became acidic and ate through the radiator pan. The cost: hundred of dollars and four days in the shop. This demonstrates the need to get your coolant exchanged on schedule.

Another story involves the true cost of skipping an annual inspection. Our staffer took his SUV in for the California safety inspection to renew his registration. At the inspection station, he learned that the law had changed and that his newer rig only required an inspection every two years. He was very happy to save the $45 bucks. The problem was, his rear brake pads were very worn. Two months later, it was bad enough that he could hear the grind - over the radio, DVD player and the kids. He took it in to get the bad news. Both of the rear brake rotors were damaged. The left one could be resurfaced. The right had to be replaced. So saving a few bucks on his safety inspection turned into an extra $500 over what brake pad replacement would have been. Moral of the story: don't skip your annual inspections. The irony is that many Mill Valley service centers would have done a brake inspection for free.

Next: a teenage daughter and a curb. Daddy's little princess smacked a curb when she turned into a shopping center and popped the tire. The problem came when Dad didn't get an alignment. The impact was hard enough to ruin the tire - so it was hard enough wreck the alignment. But instead of an alignment after the first tire, Papa ended up buying a second tire a few months later - and then an alignment.

Situation: son and wife with cars from the same manufacturer with essentially the same engine. Our staffer checked the son's maintenance schedule and saw that it needed a timing belt replacement at 90,000 miles/145,000 km. He had it done - it cost several hundred dollars. His wife's car had about 60,000 miles/97,000 km, so it should be ok for a while. Right? Wrong. The problem was that the wife had the turbo charged version. Its belt was scheduled for replacement at 60,000 mi/97,000 km. At 63,000 mi./101,000 km, the belt snapped on the interstate. The valves all crashed down into the cylinders at high speed and the entire head was shredded and had to be replaced. The cost: several thousand dollars. Does he wish he had checked the maintenance schedule? You bet he does - every time he passes a big-screen TV.

We're talking about taking care of little things before they become big things. And when you take care of the little things, your car runs better and is more economical to operate. Remember to save those maintenance records. It'll show potential buyers that you've taken care of your vehicle and it will help you get a better price. Or when you buy a used car, check those records. If there aren't any, assume that the maintenance hasn't been done and take it to your San Francisco or Southern Marin service center for an inspection. Take care of unperformed maintenance sooner rather than later.



Lease verses Buy

Posted March 12, 2013 12:00 PM



Lease? Or buy? It's always a tough question for residents in the Mill Valley area. But here are a few ideas that'll make the choice more clear.

Either option gives you a choice of how you might finance your car. If you buy, you'll pay the full cost of the car, with maybe an initial down payment, then monthly payments on the balance that pays down the loan principal, and the finance charge.

If you lease, you're financing the portion of the cost of the car that's used up during the term of the lease. When the lease is up, you return the car to your local Mill Valley area dealership. You'll pay some money upfront; fees, security deposit, first month's payment and maybe a capital reduction. The month payments include a depreciation cost and a finance charge.

So how do you decide?

First, how big a down payment can you make? A lease would require a smaller down.

How much monthly payment can you afford? Again, lease payments will be much lower for any given down payment.

A lease needs you to have better credit, so that's a factor.

How long will you keep the car? If you tend to keep your cars around for a while, buying is cheaper. But just two or three years? Then leasing is the way to go.

Malugani Tire Center Inc.
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

If your car might suffer a ding or two, like, say a work truck would, then buying's better. The leasing company will want their merchandise back at the lease end in tip top shape, and if repairs are needed, you'll pay.

How many miles do you drive in and around the Mill Valley area? Important to consider because leases have a mileage limit, and if you go over, you pay a hefty charge per mile when the lease is up. So high mileage means a buy.

Will the car be used for business? Check with your accountant, but both financing options have different tax benefits, depending on your circumstances.

Over the short term, leasing is much cheaper. Medium term, leasing and buying costs are about the same. Over the long haul, leasing is always costs more.

Leases may sound a bit complicated, and the typical lease decision weighs more on the monthly payment, rather than price. So sometimes leasers may pay on a higher purchase price than a buyer would.

Here is a tip: If a salesman asks if you'll be leasing or buying, say you're not sure yet. Make your best deal, then look at financing options.

Here's another: With a buy or a lease, if you total the car, you'll owe the full amount of the loan, or the balance of the lease payments, and usually, it's less than the car's fair market value – and that's all your insurance company will pay. But ask your agent about gap insurance, which pays the difference between fair market value and what you owe. Big consideration for a lease.

Remember, you have to return your leased vehicle in excellent condition, and may need to do all manufacturer's recommended service and maintenance, or face penalties. So see your local Mill Valley service center on a regular basis, get the required work done and save the service records. It's well worth it.



The Fallacy of Cheap Tires

Posted March 6, 2013 12:00 PM

Do you ever shop for shoes in one of our Mill Valley area shoe stores?
When buying a running shoe, is quality important?
Does durability matter as long as the shoes look fabulous?
Would you rather have one pair of long lasting shoes or two pair of lower quality shoes at the same price?

Is the warranty important when buying tires?
When you choose new tires in Mill Valley, what's the most important factor for you?

Give us a call at Malugani Tire at (415) 388-1800 for tire recommendations.

You know, buying tires in Mill Valley is a big deal. It's a big ticket item so you know you'll be spending a lot. You're not only concerned about the price, but you want to know that it'll be a long time before you need to buy new tires again.

And of course there's the safety aspect as well. The tires do a lot of work – they carry the weight of the vehicle and you and your passengers. They need to be up to the task. You want to be sure they hold the road and provide good traction. If you carry heavy loads or tow a trailer, the tires need a high load rating to be up for the job.

As a tire professional, I think it's important that people understand the effect of price on a tire's performance and durability. When I was a kid, my dad had a saying, "Pay twice as much and buy half as many."

Dad applied that to a lot of things. He thought that one high quality suit would last longer and look better than two cheap suits. The saying really seems to hold true when it comes to shoes and boots, too.

I buy high-quality work shoes because I spend a lot of time on my feet. They're more comfortable, have important safety features like steel toes and non-slip soles and they last at least twice as long as cheap shoes. I feel I get very good value for my money.

I apply the same thinking to tires. The major tire brands that you're familiar with are known as Tier 1 tires. These tires are well-engineered and very high quality. Comparable tires are usually in the same price range from brand to brand.

Stepping down in price you come to private label tires. Some large tire store chains carry tires with the chain's own brand. It's important to know that most private label tires are built by the same Tier 1 brands that you are familiar with, so they are a quality product. You can ask your tire professional who makes their private brand.

The lowest priced tires on the market are Tier 3 tires. These tend to be imported from China or South America. Since you get what you pay for, you can't expect a Tier 3 tire to deliver the same performance and durability as the others.

So let's say you need new tires. You've determined the features you need. So you have several options, including price options. Now, you've probably heard the term 'it's a 40,000 mile/64,000 km tire' or 'it's a 60,000 mile/97,000 km tire'. Simply put, the manufacturer warrantees the tire for 'X' number of miles/kilometers. If that's important to you, look for the warranty.

What's the difference in the tires with higher mileage warranties? It's the rubber compounds and the amount of tread material. As you might expect, you'll pay more for the longer-lasting tire.

Now the cheapest tires you can find won't have a manufacturer's mileage warranty, or if it does, it'll be relatively low. That brings us back to dad's saying; if you buy the cheapest Tier 3 tire you can, you will likely go through two sets in the time it would take to wear out one set of good quality tires. And the good tires won't cost twice as much, so you'll end up paying more per mile/km driven with the cheap tires.

Hey, I realize that sometimes the budget will only allow for a Tier 3 tire. I make them available for my customers who need them because I would rather see them driving with safe, new tires than pushing their old tires beyond their safety limits. But at Malugani Tire, we always counsel our customers to buy as much tire as they can afford, because it will be much less expensive in the long run.

Your tires are the only parts of your vehicle that touch the road. You're only as safe as your tires are well built.

Buy value – not price.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800
http://malugani-tire.autodealertips.com



Differential Service in Mill Valley, California - What You Need to Know

Posted February 27, 2013 12:00 PM

Scratching your head? Don't worry, if you don't know what a differential is – you will in a moment. That fact is that if you drive a car anywhere in Mill Valley, California, you have a differential. Whether your vehicle is front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, you have a differential. Some Mill Valley vehicles might even have two or three.

Not surprisingly, a differential's job is to compensate for differences; specifically, they're the differences in wheel speed when turning. For instance, imagine taking a corner near your Mill Valley, California, home. Your inside wheel has a shorter distance to travel than the outside wheel as you turn the corner. That means that your outside wheel has to turn faster to keep pace with the inside wheel.

The differential allows the wheels to turn at different speeds while still providing power to your vehicle. Without a differential, Mill Valley residents' tires would scrub and hop along the pavement during turns like the early cars.

Ever noticed the big bulge in the middle of the rear axle on trucks? That's the differential. Rear-wheel drive vehicles have a differential in back. Most four-wheel drive trucks and SUVs will also have a similar differential on the front axle. A front-wheel drive vehicle's differential is called a transaxle because it combines the differential and transmission in one unit. An all-wheel drive vehicle will have a differential or transfer case that adjusts for speed differences between the front and rear drive wheels.

It can seem a little complex to some Mill Valley drivers - but you can see that all of the engine's power is routed through your differentials. They're strong enough to handle the work, but- we've said it before - they need to be properly lubricated in order to stay strong. So from time to time, you need to schedule a differential service in Mill Valley at Malugani Tire. The used fluid is drained and replaced with clean fluid. Some advise certain differentials to have special additives installed.

Get your differential serviced at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Go Straight: Wheel Alignment for Mill Valley Automobiles

Posted February 22, 2013 12:00 PM



Mill Valley drivers may have an alignment problem if their car drifts or pulls to one side, the steering wheel's off center, they notice uneven tire wear or the car doesn't feel like it handles right as they drive down Mill Valley, California, streets and roads.

When all of a vehicle's wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Running into potholes, smacking a curb or other objects around Mill Valley are great ways to knock a car out of alignment. Then one or more of your wheels start pulling in a slightly different direction and the problems begin.

The team at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley wants you to know that driving for an extended time when your car is out of alignment causes your tires to wear unevenly and excessively. Sometimes the tire can be worn so badly that it will fail.

At the very least, those who drive with wheels out of alignment will have to replace their tires sooner. You could end up with premature wear to your suspension system, which can be expensive. The front wheel alignment is adjustable on all vehicles, and the back wheels are also adjustable on some cars.

Now, let's discuss some alignment basics. Wheels are adjustable for toe, caster and camber. The ideal alignment for your car was designed by its engineers.

So, what is involved in an alignment check at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley? First, there's an inspection of the steering and suspension to see if anything is bent or broken. Tire condition will also be evaluated.  Next, the vehicle is put on an alignment rack and we take an initial alignment reading.

If all four wheels are adjustable, they are lined up perfectly parallel with the vehicle's centerline. If the back wheels aren't adjustable, the direction they push is determined and the front wheels are aligned to match.

Like most things, vehicle manufacturers have recommended a mileage interval for having alignment checked. But if you run into a curb, pothole or something else that's given you a big jolt, pay attention to whether your vehicle is pulling to one side when you drive around the Mill Valley area. It's better for vehicle owners to have their alignment checked before waiting to see if there is uneven tire tread wear; by then, the damage is done.

Getting your alignment checked at Malugani Tire when necessary is a great way to extend the life of your tires and suspension parts. It also makes sure that your tire meets the road properly for maximum performance and safety in California.

Come see us at  for more information about your tire alignment. We look forward to serving you.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



How Do You Save Gas in Mill Valley, California?

Posted February 13, 2013 12:00 PM



No one in Mill Valley, California, likes to spend a chunk of change at the gas pump. Rising California fuel prices, however, have spurred Mill Valley drivers to focus on how to improve their fuel economy. North Americans literally drive billions of miles/kilometers less each month during times of high fuel prices. But we still need to drive (we love our vehicles, after all!), so it makes sense to try and increase our fuel economy however we can.

Let's look at a real life example. This man has one of those really big SUVs. Lots of kids and horses to haul around, you know. His family was planning a four day camping trip. Here's what he did to cut his fuel costs:

First, he installed a new, high flow engine air filter. Then he had his service center change his oil, flush his cooling system and service his front and rear differentials along with the transfer case. He also had a fuel system cleaning, replaced his PCV valve and breather element. He also made sure his tires were up to the recommended pressure.

Now this cost several hundred dollars. But keep in mind, it all needed to be done anyway – it was all scheduled, and some of the work was overdue.

So he headed out, loaded with nine people and pulling a trailer with everything needed for four days of camping. When the trip was over, he tallied his costs.  Turns out, he got the best fuel economy on that vehicle up to that point. It had improved 25 percent! He saved $48.00 on that trip alone. And the savings keep on coming every day.

Here's a quick summary of what you can do to save fuel in Mill Valley, California. First get caught up on your routine maintenance. Nearly every scheduled service item can boost fuel efficiency. If it's time for a tune-up, git'er done at Malugani Tire. That's a big item.

If your Check Engine light is on, have your service advisor at Malugani Tire figure out why and fix it. Check Engine problems can be real gas wasters.

Proper tire pressure and wheel alignment can really help Mill Valley drivers as well. Try not to carry around a bunch of stuff. An extra 100 pounds can cost a mile per gallon.

Now you may not want to hear this, but the single biggest fuel waster for most Mill Valley folks is their right foot. Zooming away from stop lights and hot rod lane changes really waste fuel. Take it easy on California roads and Mill Valley streets: don't speed, and plan ahead.

Finally, you may have noticed that we haven't mentioned any magic pills or devices that will double your mileage. That's because there aren't any. Some may help a bit, but there are a lot of "miracle fuel saver" scams in California. Don't shell out any to swindlers; you need it to buy gas!

Do some research and check with your service advisor at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley before spending your hard earned cash.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Following Recommended Intervals for Your vehicle

Posted February 6, 2013 12:00 PM

If you're reading this article in Mill Valley, California, then you probably care about your vehicle and how it runs. Even though you care, there is still that moment of dread when your professional service advisor at Malugani Tire tells you the manufacturer recommends some additional service. Your heart beats a little faster, your blood pressure rises. You worry about spending more money than you had planned. And you worry that if you say "no," you might be harming your vehicle or risking your family's safety.

At the risk of sounding like your dad, you really should have done your homework. Service recommendations are in your owner's manual. But it is not like you want to keep your vehicle auto maintenance schedule on your nightstand for bedtime reading.

Vehicles are complicated machines and it takes some effort for Mill Valley residents to keep them running well. That is why they have maintenance schedules that explain how to keep your vehicle performing efficiently and prevent breakdowns. In a typical owner's manual you'll find: oil change, brake fluid and pad change, coolant system service, transmission service, battery electrolyte levels, cables and terminals, tire pressure and wear, CV boots, cabin air filter, air conditioning, heater, fuel filter, air filter, belts and hoses, power steering fluid, differential service, fuel system cleaning and wheel alignment. And then there are mechanical service requirements like timing belt changes, valve adjustment, steering function, engine and exhaust leaks - yeah, it is a really long list!

Fortunately, this isn't a test: Mill Valley residents don't need to have it memorized. Your friendly advisor at Malugani Tire has access to your manufacturer's recommendations. Don't be surprised when your service advisor at Malugani Tire reminds you something is due. Your manufacturer has taken great care in putting together your maintenance schedule. Let Malugani Tire help you stay on top of maintenance. You can expect them to suggest recommended services and tell you what problems they find under the hood. We'll also explain how urgent these services are so you can work them into your budget.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



California Balance: Wheel Balancing and Tire Rotation

Posted January 31, 2013 12:00 PM



Everyone in the Mill Valley area wants our tires to last as long as possible. Two ways to maximize tire life are wheel balancing and tire rotation.

When wheels are out of balance, they wobble a bit. That makes the tires wear in a cupping pattern. And they vibrate. To fix this, your service technician at Malugani Tire Center Inc. puts weights on your wheels to balance them out. If a front wheel is out of balance you’ll feel it in the steering wheel. If it’s a rear wheel you’ll feel it through your seat.

That brings us to tire rotation. The front tires on a car wear out more quickly than the rear tires. As they push through turns from Mill Valley to Southern Marin, the shoulders of the front tires wear down. So rotating front and rear tires allows them to all wear at about the same rate over the life of the tire.

Proper tire inflation will also help your tires last longer. Under-inflated tires wear excessively on the shoulder and may even overheat. This could cause tire damage or a blow out. Over-inflated tires wear to fast in the middle.

Four wheel drive trucks and SUV’s tend to wear their tires more unevenly so rotation is even more important with them. Give us a call to get our recommendation on your passenger car.

See your owner’s manual or ask your service technician at Malugani Tire Center Inc. for your recommended tire rotation schedule. It’s usually every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.

Tires cost a lot and they are one of the most critical safety components on your vehicle. Take care of them and they’ll take care of you.

Malugani Tire Center Inc.
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800


ICE - In Case Of Emergency In Mill Valley California

Posted January 24, 2013 12:00 PM

When accidents occur in Mill Valley, California, the victims' emergency contacts are extremely important. Too often, those involved aren't able to provide rescuers with phone numbers and medical information.

When California police and rescue workers must sift through pockets, glove compartments, wallets, purses and cell phone directories, they waste precious time.

In the unfortunate event that you are involved in an accident, you have people in the Mill Valley, California, area who you'll want to be contacted to arrange help, give consent to treatment and inform Mill Valley paramedics of medical conditions, allergies or medications.

A brilliantly simple solution is now spreading through Mill Valley and around the globe: ICE. ICE – standing for In Case of Emergency – is a way to identify emergency contacts in your cell phone directory.

Simply put 'ICE' before a contact name in your cell phone, like 'ICE – Dad,' 'ICE – Nancy.' or 'ICE – Doctor Roberts.' Rescuers will be able to quickly identify your emergency contacts, saving valuable time.

Bob Brotchie, a Cambridge, England, paramedic came up with the idea and a promotional campaign in England in 2005. This idea is gaining attention in Mill Valley, California, and in other countries. Mill Valley rescue workers all know of how many times they are unable to find a wallet or purse on an accident victim, yet most Mill Valley area folks over 14 years of age are seldom without their cell phone.

There are national and worldwide disaster databases, but participation can cost up to $200 a year. 'ICE' is free to the 276 million cell phone users in the U.S.

It is easy for you and your families to designate some ICE contacts in your cell phone. Remember to keep the listings current.

Please join Malugani Tire in getting the word out. Help us put Mill Valley, California, on ICE!

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Clean Fuel Makes a Happy Engine in Mill Valley, California

Posted January 17, 2013 12:00 PM

If the fuel system in your vehicle is dirty, you will be hurting your engine and losing performance as you drive around Mill Valley, California.

Unless they drive a vintage car, Mill Valley auto owners have fuel injectors which need to be properly maintained. That is why your vehicle owner's manual has a schedule for cleaning your fuel injectors and other parts of your fuel system.

Your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley has the tools and chemicals to do the job right. Malugani Tire uses a process that gives your car a deep, professional fuel system cleaning. The particles, gum and varnish that build up in your fuel system are removed so that it can run cleanly and efficiently.

After a professional fuel system cleaning at Malugani Tire, you'll notice more power, improved and reduced exhaust emissions. We strongly recommend you follow your fuel system cleaning service recommendations to keep your vehicle running strong.

Mill Valley drivers don't need the added expense of replacing a fuel injector that's been damaged by neglect. Check with your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor and see when your car is scheduled for fuel system cleaning.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Upsizing Wheels and Tires With Malugani Tire

Posted January 8, 2013 12:00 PM

Many Mill Valley drivers want to accessorize their vehicle - you know, make it theirs. One of the easiest ways to get a custom look is to get some new wheels. There are thousands of wheel designs at Mill Valley area tire shops to get you the look you want. And for many Mill Valley drivers, that look includes bigger wheels. It used to be that cars came from the factory with 15 or 16 inch wheels. Now 16, 17 and even 18 inchers are standard. And the factories are offering optional wheel packages up to 20 inches or more.

So let's talk about what to consider when you want to upsize your wheels. It's not exactly a DIY project, so you need to know a thing or two before you get started. The most important term to know is rolling diameter. The rolling diameter is simply the overall height of your tire. Unless you want to modify your vehicle suspension, you'll want to keep your rolling diameter the same when you upsize your wheels.

Let's think about those three golden doughnuts in front of you. They're all about the same size. So if we pretend they're tires, they would have the same rolling diameter. The doughnut hole is the size of the wheel. Now pretend we've made the hole bigger on some. That's like having a bigger wheel - but the rolling diameter is the same.

It's important to keep the rolling diameter the same for several reasons. First of all, if the tire is bigger, it might not fit in the vehicle wheel well. Next the speedometer, odometer and anti-lock brake system are all calibrated for the factory rolling diameter. In order for your anti-lock brakes to work properly, the rolling diameter must stay within 3% of the factory recommendation. If you ignore that, you run the risk that your anti-lock brakes won't work properly.

Some have vehicles with electronically-controlled suspension that will be negatively affected by changing the rolling diameter. Let's think about the doughnuts again. You see, as the size of the wheel gets bigger, the sidewall gets shorter. The tire holds less air, so the sidewalls are made stiffer to compensate.

Low profile tires from top manufacturers use special compounds that give the sidewall the strength it needs without compromising ride quality. As you increase your wheel size, you'll typically get a slightly wider tire. This means that you have a larger contact patch. The contact patch is part of the tire that contacts the road. Because there's more rubber on the road, the vehicle will handle better. And braking distances will be shorter. A lot of Mill Valley folks with trucks or SUVs love the extra control.

California drivers need to watch out that the contact patch isn't so big that the tires rub in turns or over bumps. What we're talking about here is fitment. Your tire professional at Malugani Tire can help you get this right. He'll install your new wheels, add spacers if needed to make sure your brakes fit inside your new wheels and get you rolling.

Also, if you drive off-road in California a lot, you may need a higher profile tire to protect your new rims. And make sure your new tires have the load rating you need if you tow a trailer or haul heavy loads. Again, your tire professional at Malugani Tire knows how to help.

And don't forget about tire pressure. If you have larger rims, your new tires will hold less air and they'll need to run a slightly higher pressure. Forget that and you'll wear your tires out fast. Finally, get an alignment at Malugani Tire after you get your new shoes. 

Stop by Malugani Tire to learn more about how you might upsize your wheels or tires.

You'll find us at:

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Busted: The Maintenance-Free Myth in Mill Valley

Posted January 4, 2013 12:00 PM

There's a segment of the Mill Valley area population that's not committed to proper vehicle maintenance.

Now, the ignition system in your vehicle is electronic and controlled by the engine management computer. Spark plugs rarely get fouled and will last for as much as 100,000 miles (160,000 kilometers). So tune-ups used to force you in to Malugani Tire for service, and while you were there you just took care of whatever else was on the list.

Also, in recent years, a large percentage of new vehicles in Mill Valley have been leased. These folks plan on turning the vehicle in after two or three years, so they haven't focused on the maintenance that helps a vehicle last longer.

Given all that, what's the benefit to keeping up with factory scheduled maintenance? Well, your vehicle will perform better and return better fuel economy.

Those benefits pay for themselves as they go along. The big plus is that major repairs are prevented. And these aren't just repairs that are a long way off. Modern vehicle engines are far more sophisticated and have many parts that are in critical need of proper lubrication. Missing just one oil change can allow oil sludge to start forming. Sludge clogs small engine passages, robbing parts of the lubrication they need. An expensive failure could easily occur within two or three years.

And modern engines require more sophisticated fluids. Because of the different types of materials that are used to make auto parts, things like aluminum, plastics and steel, different types of additives are required to protect automotive components from corrosion. These additives deplete with time as well as with use.

Taking care of the little things now prevents big problems later. At Malugani Tire, we have been taking care of all those little things for years. Your vehicle still needs to be taken care of – it's just that some of those points of care have changed with automotive advancements. The need for proper maintenance in Mill Valley drivers vehicles did not go away.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Fall and Spring Checkup in Mill Valley

Posted December 28, 2012 12:00 PM



When I was a kid, my dad always made sure he took the cars in for Spring and Fall checkups. I was telling a friend that it's about time to get into Malugani Tire for a checkup and he said that he read on the internet that modern cars don't need seasonal service.

My friend is (technically) right about some things, but from a practical standpoint, a seasonal check up still makes sense.

Back when my dad was teaching me about how to take care of the family vehicle, most of them used a different weight of oil in the winter and in the summer. But most of today's modern engines run the same oil year round. High-tech engines and high-tech motor oils are better able to handle the seasonal changes.

Your owner's manual or Mill Valley service advisor at Malugani Tire can tell you the right oil to use.

Of course, you're concerned about the coolant or antifreeze. You don't want to overheat in the California summer or freeze up in the winter. Your engine cooling system protects against both of these things. And modern coolant  'antifreeze' as it's sometimes called — is up to doing both very well. It's designed to last for longer distances than most people drive in a year or two.

So how does a Spring and Fall check-up fit in? Let's start with Spring. Summer is coming. That means heat, more driving and road trips. It just makes sense to check your fluid levels and do a visual inspection to see that everything is up to snuff.

You may not be scheduled to drain and replace the coolant for some time, but you need to make sure you have enough coolant and that you don't have any leaks or hoses that are about to fail.

That's pretty practical: a check-up to see if there are any problems or emerging conditions that could later become a problem, like a cracked belt.

And the same principle applies for getting ready for winter. Cold weather means lots of failed batteries. It takes more power to crank up a cold engine, and cold also decreases the available cranking power the battery has available.

So a battery test in the Fall could tell you if you've got a battery that is running on its last legs. And of course, if you live where winter temperatures get below 45 degrees F (7 degrees C) or you have ice and snow, you'll want to consider changing to winter tires.

So Spring and Fall auto checkups at Malugani Tire are practical reminders to get ready for the demands of the hot and cold seasons to come.

And odds are that you have one or more routine services that are due anyway. Like a transmission service, brake or power steering fluid, differential service stuff like that. Are your wiper blades still good? Are your headlamps starting to dim?

So Spring and Fall, change your clocks, replace the batteries in your smoke detectors and get a check-up for your cars.

See, dad was right again.

Come and see us at Malugani Tire for your Spring and Fall automotive checkup.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Mill Valley Exhaust and Emissions Service

Posted December 19, 2012 12:00 PM

Many Mill Valley residents don't realize that there is more to exhaust system maintenance than just tailpipes and mufflers, if you can see smoke or if it's too loud. Exhaust service at a full-service automotive center like Malugani Tire is really a lot more comprehensive these days.

For example, in the U.S., the federal government required catalytic converters for all cars in 1976 and on-board emission control computers in 1990. California and federal emissions requirements have forced manufacturers to come up with much more sophisticated ways to comply with environmental laws. This also goes for cars sold in Canada.

So, exhaust service has really become exhaust and emissions service. High-tech computer-controlled emissions devices are now necessary. And because it's so sophisticated, we recommend having your emission system checked out by a qualified technician, like the ones we have at Malugani Tire, regularly to make sure everything's working right – which is usually every six months or 6,000 miles/10,000 kilometers.

If your 'check engine light' comes on while you are driving around the Mill Valley area, especially if it's flashing, then you need to bring your car into Malugani Tire ASAP. Chances are it's an emission related problem. Signs of exhaust or emissions trouble include difficulty starting, engine noise or smoke.

We hope this hasn't been too 'exhausting' of a discussion. Remember that a properly functioning exhaust system is for California’s health and safety. Talk with your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley if you think you might need your exhaust system checked. A quick look can sure save a lot of pain down the road.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



I Can See Clearly Now: Wiper Blade Replacement in Mill Valley

Posted December 14, 2012 12:00 PM



About 90% of our driving decisions in the Mill Valley area are based solely on what we see. So having a good pair of windshield wipers is extremely important.

Most Mill Valley drivers have experienced the frustration and fear of not being able to see clearly during a storm, or when our vehicle windshield is just dirty. In fact, it's estimated that 46,000,000 drivers across the nation are driving with wipers that can't adequately clear their windshield in a storm.

It seems like our wiper blades are always at their worst when we need them the most. If that sounds like you, you've got plenty of company in the Mill Valley area. 78% of drivers only change their wiper blades after the blades function so poorly that they become a safety hazard.

Mill Valley drivers need to change their thinking. Instead of blades being something to replace when they fail, we need to consider wiper blades as vehicle safety component. Then we'll stay ahead of the storm.

Mill Valley vehicle owners really ought to replace wiper blades twice a year; in the spring and the fall. If you live in the colder parts of California, you may even want to get special winter blades in the fall.

Winter blades are made to resist freezing. Speaking of winter and freezing Mill Valley conditions, if your vehicle has been sitting for a long time and the windshield becomes frozen, don't use your wipers to clear off snow and ice. That can shred your blades and may even damage the wiper motor.

Your wiper blades live outside in the freezing cold and blistering sun. Over time, they become hard and brittle, and then tear. They also lose their flexibility and just don't clear the vehicle windshield effectively. Worn wiper blades aren't just a safety hazard for Mill Valley drivers; they can also scratch their windshield. That may require replacing the entire vehicle windshield – that's the consequence for neglecting such a small part.

Malugani Tire recommends Mill Valley drivers replace worn blades right away. We can provide you with a quality replacement blade. At Malugani Tire, they cost about the same as they would at the store – but installation is included.

Of course you also need washer fluid to help your blades do their work. Even though Malugani Tire will top off the washer fluid with a full service oil change, it is a good idea to have some extra fluid at home. Take it with you if you're heading out on a road trip.

Always use windshield washer fluid. Plain water, even that fancy French bottled water, just doesn't cut it. It can freeze in the fluid reservoir or on the windshield itself, making things worse. Besides, water won't clean your windows as well.

So follow these tips to keep your windshield clear and your eyes on the road.

Find us at:

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Economics of Maintenance for Mill Valley Auto Owners

Posted December 6, 2012 12:00 PM

Buying a new car in Mill Valley is always a big financial decision. The allure of that new car smell is powerful, to be sure. But what if your current car is still in good shape? How do you decide?

People in Mill Valley who've been used to driving a new car every three to five years may be having second thoughts in this economy. For many, the question is, how does the certainty of a new car payment stack up against uncertain repairs for a car that may be out of warranty?

For purposes of our discussion, let's assume you live right here in Mill Valley and have a five year old vehicle. It's now paid off. If you keep it, you fear that there'll be some repairs over the next five years, but you really don't know what to expect. For help we turned to maintenance and repair information for cars and trucks. With this data, they project likely service and repair costs for a particular make and model. They're able to use manufacturer's maintenance schedules and repair histories for the projections.

Of course, these projections can't predict what will happen to your vehicle in Mill Valley, but they do give you information to use in your decision.

Let's look at the numbers for a five year old Toyota Camry V-6. In this example, the combined maintenance and repairs for the five year period is $5,748. This works out to an average of $96 a month. The year-by-year averages range from a low of $49 a month to $124 a month.

So compare $96 a month with a new car payment. And it's actually better news than that; you would still have maintenance expenses with a new car, so the repair element could be less than half that figure.

Here are numbers for some other five year old vehicles from around Mill Valley:

  • Ford Escape - $116 a month
  • Chevy Silverado - $131 a month
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee - $138 a month
  • Hyundai Accent - $85 a month.

Now, if your vehicle is older than five years, have a chat with your Mill Valley service advisor at Malugani Tire. We see hundreds of vehicles through our bays every month and we know your car. See if there's any particular problem in common with your vehicle that you might see over the next couple of years.

And of course, the best way to keep future repair costs down is to take care of all your scheduled maintenance. This is especially important in older vehicles that have had time to accumulate some deposits.

There are special motor oil formulations that help clean older engines and protect and recondition their seals and gaskets.

We hope this eliminates some of the unknowns in the decision to keep or trade.

Give us a call if you have any questions.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Give Your Engine Clean Fuel with a New Fuel Filter from Malugani Tire

Posted November 30, 2012 12:00 PM

Your vehicle requires plenty of clean fuel to run. If your fuel contains contaminants, your fuel injectors will eventually become clogged up. When this happens, your vehicle engine may not get the proper amount of fuel at the correct pressure to run at peak performance. This hurts performance as you drive around the Mill Valley area. It can also lead to the buildup of harmful deposits on valves and in the combustion chamber.

That's why all vehicles, including vehicles, come equipped with a fuel filter. The job of the filter is to clean out little pieces of dirt and contamination. The filter captures the contaminants and keeps them out of the fuel stream. Of course, like all filters, it will eventually get clogged up and need to be replaced at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley.

If your fuel filter is clogged, the vehicle engine can't get all the fuel it needs, and it may sputter at high speeds or quick acceleration. Many fuel filters have a bypass valve that will allow unfiltered fuel through when they are clogged. This keeps your vehicle engine running but doesn't protect it from  contaminated fuel.

Mill Valley drivers may find that they need to change their fuel filter at Malugani Tire more frequently as their vehicle ages. Over the years, additional sediment and rust accumulates in the fuel tank and can be drawn into the fuel system. Your fuel filter stands guard at the gates to your engine to protect parts and to maintain performance.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Suspension Service at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley

Posted November 22, 2012 12:00 PM

During an inspection at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, your friendly and knowledgeable automotive service technician will check for worn, broken or missing parts.

Here's a quick rundown of suspension system components:

There are the springs which hold the weight of your vehicle. There are several varieties of springs. Springs are heavy duty parts that rarely break or wear out. Shock absorbers work in conjunction with springs to smooth out the ride and help keep the tires on the road. Good shocks are essential for handling performance and ride comfort.

You've probably heard of struts. They combine a shock absorber and a coil spring in one unit. Shocks and struts will wear out over time. If your tires develop a cupped wear pattern, your shocks or struts may be wearing out. This is from the shocks bouncing unevenly. You may notice a floaty or drifting sensation when cornering. If the front of your vehicle dives excessively when stopping, or rocks back and forth after you've stopped, your shocks may be worn out. And if they are leaking fluid, it's definitely time to replace them at Malugani Tire.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, visit Malugani Tire for a suspension inspection. Same applies if you've been in an accident that involved one of your wheels. If your vehicle suspension actually fails, it could lead to a serious accident, so don't put it off.

When you replace your shocks, it's usually a good idea to replace all four at the same time. That'll give you more even handling. Talk with your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Malugani Tire because you don't want a big difference between the performance of your shocks from wheel to wheel, and replacing all may be the safest bet.

There are different grades of shocks and struts. You always want to use a replacement shock or strut that equals the one that came as original equipment when your vehicle was new. But remember, they were designed to meet the expected needs of the broad range of Mill Valley people who buy that particular vehicle. Your needs may be more specialized.

For example, if you want increased handling performance, your Malugani Tire service advisor can recommend an upgraded shock or strut specially designed for improved handling. If you haul heavy loads or trailers in Mill Valley, we can recommend some heavy duty shock absorbers.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Hey Mill Valley Drivers; What Is the Most Distracting Food?

Posted November 16, 2012 12:00 PM



So what is the most distracting food to have in the car while driving around Mill Valley?

Is it:

  1. A Hamburger;
  2. Coffee;
  3. A Soft Drink, or
  4. Gummy Bears?

Well, you may be surprised to learn that all but the gummy bears are in the top ten most distracting foods when you are driving. But if you chose 'coffee,' then give yourself an extra two points.  Coffee is the number one food distraction for drivers in Mill Valley and around the country.

Food distractions cause 25 percent of all car accidents; over a million and a half each year!

You'll notice that all of the top ten distracting food items are messy. Messy foods are the types of food you might spill (very distracting!), then try to clean up (a safe-driving impossibility!). If you gotta eat on the run, take five-then drive. You'll thank yourself later for two reasons: one, that you can actually relax for just a moment in our fast-paced world, and two, you won't have to worry about getting that cinnamon roll frosting out of your dashboard after that near miss.

Keep drinks in spill-proof containers, too, so you can keep your eyes on the Mill Valley road without worrying about where that spill is headed.

So, taking a food break… or filling out accident reports. We don't have to ask you which you prefer; it's a no brainer.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Water Pump

Posted November 6, 2012 12:00 PM

Your cooling system is very important. It circulates coolant through the radiator and your engine to protect your vehicle from overheating. There are five main components to the cooling system:

  • the radiator
  • the radiator cap
  • the hoses
  • the thermostat
  • the water pump

The water pump's like the heart of your cooling system, circulating the fluid throughout your vehicle. It's a small pump that's driven by the engine; usually by belt, but sometimes by a chain or gear.

The water pump only operates when the engine's running. Water pump failure is pretty routine. We see it often at Malugani Tire. Some start failing at around 40,000 miles/64,000 km, but most fail by 100,000 miles/160,000 km. Consult your owner's manual or friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Malugani Tire to see what's recommended.

Since a water pump either works or it doesn't, you need to change it when it fails. Water pumps fail in one of two ways: the bearings fail or they begin to leak. It's possible to have a leak from a cracked water pump, but it usually leaks at the gasket where it attaches to the engine.

So how can Mill Valley drivers tell when the water pump is failing? If you can hear a low-pitched grinding sound coming from the water pump, it's got a problem. If you can see coolant in that area, you've got a leak.

Some water pumps are driven off the timing belt. They might be under a plastic cover so you can't see the water pump. Look for coolant on the driveway. If you see some, have Malugani Tire check it out.

Most timing belts need to be changed at 60,000 miles/97,000 km – some longer. It's a good idea to change your water pump at the same time if it's one of those that's driven off the timing belt. To start with, 90% of the work's already done with the timing belt change. And if you don't and develop a leak later, you'll have to change the belt again along with the water pump because the belt will have been contaminated by the leaking coolant.

Malugani Tire can replace a failed water pump with a brand spankin' new one or with a rebuilt pump. Rebuilt will save you some money, but ask your service advisor at Malugani Tire what he thinks. Don't feel too bad if your water pump gives out. They will all wear out eventually. We can get you back on the road and on with your life.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Mill Valley Alignment Service

Posted November 2, 2012 12:00 PM

Your car might have an alignment problem if: it drifts or pulls to one side, your steering wheel is off center, you have uneven tire wear or your car doesn't feel like it handles right. When all of a vehicle's wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Running into potholes around Mill Valley and smacking a curb or other object are great ways to knock your car out of alignment. Then, one or more of your wheels starts pulling in a slightly different direction and the problems begin.

There are several things involved in an alignment check at Malugani Tire. First, there's an inspection of the steering and suspension systems - their components should be checked to see if anything's bent or broken. Then the tire condition needs to be inspected. From there, the vehicle is put on an alignment rack and an initial alignment reading is taken. If all four wheels are adjustable, they are lined up perfectly parallel with the vehicle's center line. If the back wheels aren't adjustable, a technician at Malugani Tire can determine the direction they push and then align the front wheels to match.

Like most things, your manufacturer has suggested a mileage interval for having your alignment checked. But if you run into a curb, pothole or something else that's given you a big jolt, pay attention to whether your vehicle is pulling to one side when you drive. It's better to have your alignment checked before waiting to see if there is uneven tire tread wear - by then, the damage is done.

Getting your alignment checked at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley when needed is a great way to extend the life of your tires and suspension parts. It also makes sure that your tires meet the road properly for maximum performance and safety.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Mill Valley Safety Systems: Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Posted October 23, 2012 12:00 PM

Flats, blow outs, skids and longer stopping distances can all be the result of Mill Valley folks driving around on under-inflated tires. Now, it’s hard to tell when a radial tire is under-inflated. If your manufacturer recommends 35 pounds of pressure, your passenger car tire’s considered significantly under inflated at 26 pounds. The tire may not look low until it gets below 20 pounds.

New laws required manufacturers to include a Tire Pressure Monitoring System – or TPMS system – in all cars and light trucks by the 2008 model year. The system has a dashboard mounted warning light that goes off if one or more of the tires falls 25% below manufacturer’s pressure recommendations.

Mill Valley Safety Systems: Tire Pressure Monitoring SystemThis technology has been used by Mill Valley race car drivers for years. They are able to head off problems from under inflation by closely monitoring tire pressure on the track. It’s up to your car’s manufacturer to determine which of many TPMS systems available they’ll use to comply with the law.

Obviously, all of this doesn’t come free for Mill Valley drivers. U.S. government studies have estimated the net costs. Of course, the TPMS system itself will cost something. Maintaining the system will have a cost, replacement of worn or broken parts and tire repair cost increases.

The costs are partially offset by savings in fuel and tire wear. There’s also a saving in property damage and travel delay. The net cost is estimated to be between $27 and $100. The government predicts fewer fatal accidents. They estimate that it will cost between three and nine million dollars for every life saved.

Your safety has always been a concern at Malugani Tire Center Inc.. We want you on the road and accident free. We've traditionally provided things like tire rotations, snow tire mounting and flat fixes at a very low cost. We’ve been able to quickly and cheaply provide the service, and pass the low cost on to you as an expression of our good will.

That’s why we're concerned about how you’ll perceive the changes that this new law will force. Every time a tire is changed: taken off to fix a flat, a new tire installed, a snow tire mounted; the Malugani Tire Center Inc. service technician is now going to have to deal with the TPMS system.

Even a simple tire rotation will require that the monitor be reprogrammed to the new location of each tire. When a car battery is disconnected, the TPMS system will need to be reprogrammed. TPMS sensor batteries will need to be changed and failed parts replaced.

Like all other Mill Valley service centers, here at Malugani Tire Center Inc. we've had to purchase new scanning equipment to work with the TPMS sensors and to update expensive tire change equipment to better service wheels equipped with the new monitoring systems. Our Malugani Tire Center Inc. service technicians have been thoroughly trained on many systems and new tire-changing techniques. All of this adds up to significantly increased cost to perform what was once a very inexpensive service for you.

So when you start so see the cost of tire changes, flat repairs and rotations going up at Malugani Tire Center Inc., please keep in mind that it’s because of government mandated safety equipment. We want to keep you safely on the road – and we're committed to doing it at a fair price. This new safety equipment will help you avoid the most common types of vehicle failure in Mill Valley, and possibly a catastrophic accident.



E-85 Fuel Safety Advice from Malugani Tire

Posted October 16, 2012 12:00 PM


 

Today at Malugani Tire we want to talk with you about a very important safety issue. This automotive safety warning is coming from a very unusual source: fire fighting experts. You've probably heard of E-85 gasoline being offered in the Mill Valley area. Some newer vehicle models are specifically built to run on E-85 – the rest are not.

Does your vehicle use E-85 gasoline? Bring it down to Malugani Tire at 493 Miller Ave in Mill Valley, California 94941, to find out, or give us a call to make an appointment by calling (415) 388-1800.

E-85 gasoline has been developed to fight air pollution and reduce oil consumption. E-85 fuel is a mix of 85% ethanol, a grain-base alcohol, and 15% gasoline. So-called Flex-Fuel vehicles are designed to use either normal gasoline or E-85 gas. The result is lower exhaust emissions to our local Mill Valley community.

All gas engines can run with up to 10% ethanol, and in fact a lot of gasoline sold in the Mill Valley, California, area does contain some ethanol. The problem comes when well-meaning residents without Flex Fuel certified vehicles put E-85 into the tank.

At a 15% concentration, the potential for problems arises. Because of the chemical differences between ethanol and gasoline, special seals and gaskets are needed for Flex Fuel vehicles. In a normal engine, the ethanol in E-85 gas will eat away seals and gaskets. This leads to gas and oil leaks.

You Mill Valley auto owners can imagine the fire hazard caused by leaking gasoline. California fire fighting experts caution drivers to only use E-85 if they know their vehicle is certified to handle it. They expect vehicle fires to increase because of using the wrong fuel in non-Flex Fuel vehicles.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Malugani Tire Center Inc. On Your Serpentine Belt

Posted October 10, 2012 12:00 PM



Today we’re going to be talking about serpentine belts for our Mill Valley California customers. Let’s start by talking about the accessories that are driven by the serpentine belt. First is the alternator. That’s the device that makes electricity to power the vehicle and recharge the battery. Then there’s the air conditioning compressor that makes cool air for you while you're driving around Mill Valley California in the summer.

The power steering and power brake pumps are driven by the serpentine belt in most vehicles. Those pumps make the pressure that assists your steering and braking.

In many vehicles, 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 Mill Valley California, the water pump is driven by the timing belt.

The radiator cooling fans on some vehicles are also driven by the serpentine belt. Some have separate electric motors. That’s really a lot of 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 work, but they’re tough and can last for thousands of miles.

Just how long will they last? That’ll vary for each individual car in the Mill Valley California area. Your 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 can reveal a belt that’s getting close to failing.

Malugani Tire Center Inc. 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? It’s out of there.

What’s involved in replacing the belt? 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 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 recommends replacing 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 Mill Valley California 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 our local Mill Valley California freeway, it can be a little scary. Often the first thing you notice is that you 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 very 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. Pull over as quickly as you safely can. Open your windows and turn the heater on full blast to provide a little engine cooling and pulled over as soon as possible.

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 won’t run and will just shut off. You don’t want that to happen while you’re driving in our local Mill Valley California traffic.

Remember, this does not have to happen if you replace your serpentine belt on schedule. Ask your technician at Malugani Tire Center Inc. to check your belts and hoses from time to time so you can take care of them if they need to be replaced prematurely.

Malugani Tire Center Inc.
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800


Get Where You're Going with Power Steering Service in Mill Valley

Posted October 2, 2012 12:00 PM



Today we're going to talk about power steering service in Mill Valley. If you took an informal poll around Mill Valley you'd probably find that most vehicle owners have never heard of power steering service. That's not surprising. Even though power steering is standard on every vehicle, most people in Mill Valley aren't aware that it needs periodic service.

If you're younger than a certain age, you've probably never driven a vehicle without power steering. To get an idea of the difference; if you've ever cut a board with a hand saw, you know it's a lot of work. Using a power saw is easy-peasy by comparison.

Without power steering, your arms have to do all the work to steer the wheels, and that's hard, especially around downtown Mill Valley. That's why old cars had such big steering wheels: to get enough leverage to steer.

Most vehicles in Mill Valley have a hydraulic power steering system. The serpentine belt from the engine powers a pump. The pump pressurizes the power steering fluid. This actuates a hydraulic cylinder that provides power to help steer.

Some vehicles in Mill Valley use an electric pump to pressurize the fluid rather than a belt driven pump. We're also seeing vehicles with electric motors providing the power assist, not using power steering fluid at all. We'll see a lot more electric systems as more hybrids and electric vehicles hit the market.

At least for now, the vast majority of power steering systems use power steering fluid that needs to be serviced. The fluid needs to be changed for a couple of reasons. For one, it attracts moisture. Water has different hydraulic qualities than power steering fluid, and that makes a difference in steering performance. Water is also corrosive and can damage power steering components. The fluid also just gets dirty and needs to be changed. Removing the old fluid and flushing out the system gets rid of dirt and deposits. The clean, fresh fluid lubricates and provides better corrosion protection.

So ask your Mill Valley service advisor at Malugani Tire or check your owner's manual to see when power steering service is recommended. It'll extend the life of your power steering components.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



The Harm in Skipping an Oil Change for Mill Valley Drivers

Posted September 27, 2012 12:00 PM

People in Mill Valley have been hearing a lot about higher oil change intervals these days. Maybe you're wondering: What are the key issues?

Some new vehicle manufacturers are now recommending much higher oil change intervals than they have in the past. As much as 5,000 to 8,000 miles (8,000 km to 13,000 km) or more. This practice came under scrutiny when four of the largest new vehicle manufacturers announced that owners like those in Mill Valley were experiencing engine damage resulting from these higher oil change intervals.

The manufacturers' standard oil drain service for particular vehicles was scheduled at around 7,500 miles/12,000 km. People following these recommendations were experiencing engine damage. It turns out that oil sludge was building up. This caused small oil passages to clog and engine parts to fail.

What causes oil sludge? It's a factor of time and mileage. There are hot spots in every engine that cause oil burn off that leads to sludge. Also, water from normal condensation can build up in the oil. This water also creates sludge. Severe driving conditions lead to more rapid sludge formation.

Severe driving around Mill Valley includes short trips under four miles (six and a half km)  or trips under 10 miles/16 km in freezing conditions. The engine just doesn't get warm enough for the water in the oil to evaporate.

Severe conditions are at the heart of the problem. Stop-and-go driving, towing, dusty conditions, heavy loads, very hot or very cold temperatures, a car top carrier – these are all conditions that would suggest that the severe service schedule should be considered.

The severe service schedule has much shorter oil change intervals. People in Mill Valley just need to honestly evaluate how they drive to determine if they should change their oil closer to the severe service schedule or to the standard schedule.

Some types of vehicle will give oil change reminders. But it's important to know how that reminder is determined. For some, the reminder simply comes when the standard mileage interval has rolled around. Others use a computer algorithm that takes into consideration the number of cold starts, trip length, engine temperature and so on. It's programmed to approximate where on the standard/severe service spectrum you fall. Some more expensive vehicles actually have sensors that test the cleanliness and effectiveness of the oil.

For the rest of us, better safe than sorry should be the guiding principle. Talk with your Mill Valley service advisor at Malugani Tire and work it out together. Find out what kind of oil the factory sends out in your vehicle. Sometimes it's a premium grade that costs more than standard oil – but it may be what's needed to meet a higher factory recommended interval.

If you're realistically conservative, standard grades of oil will take care of you year after year. If you want to push the limits, ask for a premium grade oil to give you extra protection.

So, what happened with those manufacturers with the problems from higher oil change intervals? They ended up extending the engine warranty for parts that were affected by oil sludge. But they had a stipulation – they lowered the oil change interval and the vehicle owner had to provide proof of oil changes at the new lower interval to keep the extended warranty.

 Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Synthetic Oil for Mill Valley Autos

Posted September 19, 2012 12:00 PM

If you are a driver in Mill Valley and you aren't currently using synthetic motor oil in your vehicle, maybe now's the time to consider it. Need more information? Well, synthetic motor oil is a substitute for petroleum based oil.

Synthetic oil doesn't gel or gum-up like petroleum based oil and it doesn't vaporize as easily. It protects better in severe driving conditions like stop and go driving around Mill Valley, as well as in very hot or very cold conditions. More and more new vehicles are being delivered with full synthetic motor oil, with the recommendation to use synthetic for the life of the vehicle.

Why is this? Synthetic motor oil maximizes engine power and fuel economy. To see why, we'd need a microscope, so we'll have to settle for using our imaginations.

The molecules of conventional motor oil are long hydrocarbon chains. Synthetic motor oil, on the other hand, has uniform, round molecules. Which is more slippery, a pile of pencils or a pile of marbles?

Synthetic motor oil lubricates better because there's less friction. That means better wear protection, cooler operating temperatures, more power and better fuel economy. And synthetic oil doesn't sludge up like conventional oil, so it prevents those small oil passages from clogging up.

Some manufacturers are extending oil change intervals. The added protection of synthetic oil covers you for these longer intervals. Talk with your service advisor about how you drive and see if he thinks you can benefit from synthetic oil. Also ask about the appropriate oil change interval for synthetic, because it may very well be longer than for conventional oil.

Most of us here in Mill Valley have a busy life and might occasionally miss an oil change; go ahead, admit it. Since we're not perfect, doesn't it make sense to use a motor oil that's got your back?

Now synthetic oil costs more. But it lasts longer, protects better and increases fuel economy. You'll likely save money in the long run. If you're serious about making your car last longer, start using synthetic motor oil right away.

Give us a call to schedule an oil change, or visit us at our Malugani Tire website.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Alternative Fuel Vehicles in Mill Valley, California

Posted September 13, 2012 12:00 PM

Let's talk about alternative fuel vehicles. In their quest to reduce the use of fossil fuels and harmful exhaust emissions in our California environment, automakers will have a number of alternatives for Mill Valley drivers very soon.

For instance, Flex Fuel vehicles are already available in the Mill Valley area. Flex Fuel vehicles can run on gasoline or on E85 fuel. E85 is a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The ethanol is made from corn. The benefits to Mill Valley drivers are in using less petroleum and reduced pollution. The drawbacks are that E85 gets lower gas mileage and when gas prices are low, E85 can be more than straight gasoline.

Mill Valley drivers should only use E85 if they have a Flex Fuel compatible engine. Flex Fuel vehicles have special seals and gaskets that can stand up to the high alcohol content of E85. Using E85 in a regular engine can lead to gas leaks and fires.

Diesel engines have been around California  for a long, long time. Modern diesels are very refined and fuel efficient. Diesel fuel can be made from renewable sources like vegetable oil, too. Diesel fuel from algae and sunlight is reported to be pretty close to being commercially viable.

There are also a number of natural gas vehicles on our Mill Valley roads. Gasoline engines are adapted to run on compressed natural gas. It's less expensive than gasoline and burns very cleanly. You can even refill it with a special pump from your gas line at home.

Plug-in electric vehicles are now available in our Mill Valley area. Battery technology is the limiting factor right now. Electric cars have a limited range and are really best for use close to home. As battery technology advances, electric cars will perform closer and closer to conventional power plants.

That brings us to hybrids. There are a bunch of hybrids on our California roads, with more to come. Hybrid technology combines internal combustion engines with electric motors.

A mild hybrid has a regular gas or diesel engine that's assisted by the electric motor. The electric motor can propel the vehicle by itself up to a certain speed under gentle acceleration. There are mild hybrids in full-sized pickups and SUVs. They deliver similar to their highway ratings.

A full hybrid will rely primarily on the electric motor for power. It'll have a small gas or diesel engine that generates electricity for the batteries.

A quick word from Malugani Tire about safety around hybrid and electric vehicles. Unlike the battery in your current family car, these carry enough voltage to kill you. Never mess around under the hood or with the batteries or electrical wiring. Your Mill Valley service technician at  Malugani Tire is trained to safely disable the flow of electricity before performing maintenance or repairs on the vehicle.

Hybrids are really not do-it-yourself vehicles unless you're specifically trained on hybrid systems.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Mill Valley Road Trip Preparation

Posted September 6, 2012 12:00 PM

People from Mill Valley, California, love their cars. And nothing goes with cars better than a California road trip. Freedom from daily schedules, new sights and the open road – it's great! But there's nothing like car trouble to bring the fun to a grinding halt.

You can't always avoid problems, but you can take steps to reduce the probability of getting sidelined on your trip.

Heading out on a California road trip? Stop by Malugani Tire before you head out to make sure everything is in good repair.

Let's look at some of the auto maintenance related problems you might encounter on a road trip in California and what you might do to avoid them.

The most common vehicle component to fail is the tires. Of course, you can't always avoid a road hazard that leads to a flat, but you may be able to head off some maintenance-connected tire problems.

A good tire inspection at Malugani Tire will start with looking over the condition of the tire itself. Are there signs of uneven tire wear? Are the tires properly inflated? Is the tread worn to the point that the tire should be replaced? The answers to these questions may lead to a recommendation to balance or rotate your tires. It may also be time to have an alignment service.

Your brakes should be inspected for function as well as to determine how much life is left in your brake pads. You'll also want to know if it's time to service your brake fluid. Over time, water and contaminants make their way into your brake fluid and the system needs to be flushed, cleaned and filled with fresh fluid.

While you're out seeing the sights, you'll want to make sure you can see the sights. Replace your windshield wipers if they aren't working well. And don't forget your headlamps. They gradually lose their brightness and you don't even realize it. Many people replace their lamps once or twice a year.

All the items mentioned are part of any good vehicle maintenance plan. These are things that you want to take care of anyway, but they all come into focus as you plan for your trip. They'll always save you money in the long run and may prevent inconvenient delays on your trip. After all, you wouldn't want to miss the world's largest ball of string, would you?

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Is Your Mill Valley Driving Severe?

Posted August 28, 2012 12:00 PM



People near Mill Valley, California, often ask Malugani Tire how often they should have a particular service done. It's a great thing to ask. You can look at your owner's manual or have your Mill Valley, California, service advisor at Malugani Tire look up your vehicle in a service database. What you find is often a surprise to people – there are actually two service schedules.

One is the regular schedule and the other is the severe service schedule. Service intervals are shorter on the severe service schedule. When asked, most folks in Mill Valley will say that their driving is normal and that the 'regular' schedule probably applies to them. 'Severe service' sounds pretty extreme – 'I don't drive like that.'

Well, here is what the manufacturers say constitutes severe driving conditions; you can draw your own conclusions.

  • Most of your trips are less than four miles (six and a half kilometers).
  • Most of your trips are less than ten miles (16 km) and outside temperatures are below freezing.
  • The engine is at low speed most of the time – not on the highway. You operate your vehicle in dusty areas.
  • You regularly tow a trailer or carry heavy loads.
  • You drive with a car-top carrier.
  • You do a lot of stop-and-go driving.
  • You drive in very hot or very cold weather.

If that's severe driving, what constitutes regular driving? Well, it would look something like this: I live somewhere with moderate temperatures all year round – I'm thinking San Diego here. And I live close to a freeway on-ramp. Everywhere I need to go is right off the freeway, at least four miles (six and a half km) from my home. I can drive at a steady 60 miles per hour (100 kph) when I'm on the freeway.

I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like my normal driving. It sounds more like ideal conditions. I live where it gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I run short errands around Mill Valley. Occasionally we load up for family trips.

For me, normal driving includes elements of severe service driving. So here's what I tell people: think about how you drive, where you live, where you go and what you are expecting to with your vehicle in the near future.

Picture a line with 'regular' on one end and 'severe' on the other, and make a judgment on where you fall. If your regular oil change recommendation is 5,000 miles (8,000 km) and the severe service recommendation is 3,000 miles (5,000 km), when should you change your oil? For me, it's closer to 3,000 miles (5,000 km). For my wife, it's closer to 5,000 miles (8,000 km). Your Mill Valley, California, auto service advisor at Malugani Tire will be happy to have this discussion with you and help you sort it out.

Just a quick word on why severe service intervals are shorter. One has to do with heat. That can either be external heat from the weather, engine and transmission heat from stop-and-go driving or working extra hard moving heavy loads or towing. The heat causes the fluids like oil and transmission fluid to break down more quickly, and then they aren't as effective.

Another factor is water. Moisture naturally collects in fluids as they cool. In your motor oil, for example, if you don't drive long enough for the oil to fully heat up, the water won't evaporate. Water in the oil can lead to the buildup of damaging sludge.

If you live where the air is dusty or polluted, fluids will become contaminated and filters will get dirtier more quickly.

So make an honest evaluation of your driving conditions. You've made the commitment to take care of your vehicles, so it only makes sense to follow the right schedule.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Automobile Fluids For Your vehicle

Posted August 22, 2012 12:00 PM


If you've walked through the automotive fluids section of an auto parts store in Mill Valley, you'll know how overwhelming the sheer number of products available can be. How do you know what's right for your vehicle?

As you know, these fluids all serve a function in making your car run as you drive around the Mill Valley area. Your vehicle manufacturer has specified a particular type of fluid for every system from the motor, to the cooling system, brake fluid and so on. When you realize that not every variation is applicable to your vehicle, the task becomes more manageable.

First let's talk about why there are so many varieties. Starting with motor oil, we see that manufacturers match the properties of a particular weight or type of oil with the design needs of the engine. For example, engines with sophisticated valve trains often require a thinner weight of oil.

Some vehicles around Mill Valley come from the factory filled with synthetic oil and the recommendation to use it for life. The safe bet is to always use what the factory recommends. The recommendation is what's been proven to work in function and durability tests. The recommended oil is also a factor in determining oil change interval schedules.

Sometimes fluids are developed specifically to meet the needs of a particular family of engines. An example would be coolant. Because of the different materials used to build the cooling system, the coolant has to be formulated to protect those parts, which vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, from corrosion. We've seen special coolant in California for General Motors, Volkswagen, Chrysler and others.

The same is true of transmission fluid and brake fluid in recent years.

The really good news is that the friendly and professional service advisors at Malugani Tire have databases that tell them the recommended fluids for your vehicle. This takes all the guess work out. If you have some special needs, like a higher mileage engine or want enhanced performance, ask your service advisor for upgrades or additives that'll meet your needs while being consistent with the manufacturer's recommendations.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Budgeting for Maintenance In Mill Valley California

Posted August 15, 2012 12:00 PM



Life's full of surprises in Mill Valley California, some of which cost money. A leaky roof, a broken tooth, or an unexpected car repair. Malugani Tire Center Inc. of Mill Valley California and AutoNetTV have done some research on how we can budget for proper vehicle care.

Everyone in Mill Valley California does our best to budget for scheduled vehicle maintenance. What's hard is unexpected repairs. The truth is that our vehicles can stay on the road longer than ever before with proper maintenance. That's because of improved vehicle design and manufacturing quality. But some of those same improvements also lead to higher repairs costs.

Let's take the fuel pump. Previous generations were often stranded by the side of the road by vapor lock. This occurred when the gas vaporized between the gas tank and the fuel pump. Fuel just stopped flowing.

You had to sit and wait until the car would start again. To alleviate the problem, fuel pumps are now located inside the gas tank. This is a great solution, but when the fuel pump fails, it's a much more expensive proposition to replace it.

Sealed wheel bearing assemblies are another example. These wheel bearings can't be serviced – you just have to replace the entire assembly when it starts to fail. That costs several times as much as service on non-sealed bearings.

So we all benefit in Mill Valley California from design improvements, but we need to plan for repairs down the road.

There's a tool that can be found on Edmunds.com that you can use to prepare your service and repair budget.

Let's suppose you have a 2003 Toyota Camry – a very popular car in Mill Valley California. It's now paid for and you'd like to keep it running for the next three years. You can go to Edmunds' True Cost to Own calculator and enter your vehicle's data. The calculator will provide estimates of what it'll cost to service and repair your vehicle over the next five years. The estimate is based on where you live in or near Mill Valley California, manufacturers' recommendations and repair experience for your particular model.

Of course these are just estimates – there's no way to predict what'll actually happen to the car in your driveway, but it's a good starting point.

The calculator also has estimates for depreciation, financing, insurance, taxes and fuel costs.

Let's focus on maintenance and repair. This table shows that the average monthly cost of maintenance and repairs is eighty-three dollars. That may sound like a lot, but compare it to a new car payment.

Budgeting for Maintenance

So if you set aside eighty-three dollars a month, you'd go a long ways towards taking care of routine maintenance and being prepared for the unexpected repairs that arise.

Of course, you can't predict when something will go wrong or what it'll cost, but at least you have a reasonable target to shoot for.

Some people around Mill Valley California are afraid of what can go wrong with their older car so they buy a new one. That's fine if you really want a new car, but if you properly maintain your older vehicle, you'll save a lot of money on new car payments and insurance. It just makes good economic sense.

Get with your Mill Valley California service advisor at Malugani Tire Center Inc. and work out a plan for keeping your vehicle on the road.

You can visit Malugani Tire Center Inc. at 493 Miller Ave in Mill Valley, California 94941 or just give us a call at (415) 388-1800.



Ethics of Automotive Repair in Mill Valley

Posted August 10, 2012 12:00 PM



We're going to be talking about the ethics of automotive repair. It seems like news outlets really like hit-and-run reporting; they hit everyone from groceries stores to retail to physicians. And the Mill Valley automotive service and repair industry hasn't been given a pass either.

Unfortunately, every profession in Mill Valley has some bad actors that hurt the reputation of everyone else. On the automotive side, industry associations and professional licensing organizations are very committed to high ethical standards.

Yet some people remain uncomfortable with Mill Valley automotive service and repair. It may start with the fact that our vehicles are a big investment and we rely on them for so much in our lives. That alone guarantees our attention. And how well we understand the recommendations really impacts our comfort level.

If we understand what's recommended and the benefits of taking care of the work – and the pitfalls of putting it off – we'll have more trust in the recommendation. So communication is key. It's like going to the doctor; If she's using medical jargon and takes a lot of basic medical knowledge for granted, we have a hard time following her train of thought. It can be like that with your Mill Valley service advisor too. He's so familiar with all things automotive, he may forget you don't know a PCV from an EGT.

If you don't understand what your doctor's talking about: ask some questions. If you don't understand what your Mill Valley automotive advisor's talking about: ask some questions.

Let's go back to those ethical standards; when we hear a repair recommendation, we always ask ourselves, "Is this really necessary?" Well, here's the industry standard:

If a technician tells you that a repair or replacement is required it must meet the following criteria:

  1. The part no longer performs its intended purpose
  2. The part does not meet a design specification
  3. The part is missing

For example, it you take your car in for a grinding noise when you step on the brakes, you may just think you need new brake pads. After the inspection, the technician at Malugani Tire says that you have a cracked rotor and need to replace it.

If you tried to get him to simply put new pads on, he would say that if you didn't want to replace the rotor; Malugani Tire would ethically have to refuse the repair.

To just put pads on a cracked rotor would have been very wrong. The brakes could've failed at anytime and needed to be repaired – not just have a band-aid slapped on them.

Now, looking at something not so serious, the technician may suggest repair or replacement if:

  1. The part is close to the end of its useful life – just above discard specifications or likely to fail soon
  2. To address a customer need or request – like for better ride or increased performance
  3. To comply with maintenance recommended by the vehicle's manufacturer
  4. Based on the technician's informed experience

Of course, the technician has the burden of making ethical recommendations and properly educating their customers. For the customer, if you are uncomfortable with a recommendation, ask some questions. More information is always a good thing.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Coolant Service at Malugani Tire

Posted July 31, 2012 12:00 PM

Mill Valley residents' vehicles have to operate in a wide range of California temperatures which requires the engine coolant to be able to perform 'no matter what.' Think for a moment about the environment where the coolant does its thing. Very hot, high pressure, corrosive...

And all the while, it has to protect the components of the cooling system from corrosion. These components are made from steel and aluminum, plastics and rubber. The coolant has to be formulated to protect against corrosion for all of these different materials. That's why vehicle manufacturer’s recommend different types of anti-freeze for our Mill Valley, California, vehicles.

There are several different 'families' of anti-freeze available to us here in Mill Valley. Your owner's manual will tell you what kind you should use. Of course, the automotive professionals at Malugani Tire will know the right kind for your vehicle.

It's important to stay on top of this because coolant system failure is the most common mechanical problem people have here in Mill Valley, California. Regular service needs to be done at Malugani Tire to avoid failures and also to keep your warranty in place.

While the specifics of the service required may vary from vehicle to vehicle, your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor will know what to do. You'll be advised to replace the coolant at specified intervals.

Some recommend periodic coolant system flushes. A flush adds a cleaning step to the fluid replacement process. Again, check to see what your owner’s manual recommends.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Keys to a Long Lasting Vehicle

Posted July 26, 2012 12:00 PM



We live in a disposable society. Everything from elaborate packaging to our clothing. Even cell phones are disposable. When replacement is cheaper than repair, the term "built to last" goes by the wayside. An exception is our vehicles. They're still a very big investment and Mill Valley drivers want to make them last as long as possible.  We also want to make keeping them running as cheap as possible. When talking vehicles, it's all about preventive maintenance. There is an old saying that says, "A stitch in time saves nine," and that is really true when it comes to taking care of your vehicle. A great example is coolant service in Mill Valley.

Your coolant not only protects your engine from overheating and freezing, it must also protect cooling system components from corrosion. Over time, coolant becomes corrosive and actually starts to damage your radiator and other parts. That's why you need to have your cooling system serviced on a regular schedule.

The same is true for your power steering system, brake fluid, air conditioning system, differential and transmission. And of course, Mill Valley vehicle owners shouldn't forget those oil changes right on schedule. Skipping even one change can start the build up of harmful oil sludge.

Our engines are full of gaskets and seals. Fresh fluids condition those gaskets and seals to keep them from drying out and leaking. Automotive fluids contain additives that help clean and lubricate the various systems they protect. Over time, the additives are used up and the fluid just does not provide the protection it did when it was fresh. And don't forget the mechanical systems. Changing brake pads before they are worn to the point that they cause damage to rotors is a great way to keep your operating costs down.

Replacing serpentine belts and timing belts on schedule is much cheaper for Mill Valley drivers than repairing the damage that can be caused by failure. Also, air filters, fuel filters, PCV valves and batteries are all important. Regular wheel alignments, tire rotation and balancing will make your tires last longer. And don't forget to replace your shocks and struts when they wear out. Your fuel system needs regular cleaning to keep running well, prevent mechanical damage and improve fuel economy.

Now this is a lot to remember for Mill Valley drivers - too much, really. But it is your Mill Valley automotive technician's job to keep on top of this stuff. At Malugani Tire we can tell you what your manufacturer recommends and help you with a plan to take care of it. We can advise you about which  maintenance schedule you should use - the regular schedule or the severe service schedule - depending on the kind of driving you do. We also know the right fluids for your vehicle and may even suggest higher mileage formulations for your older vehicle.

Bottom line - take care of this stuff on schedule and you will reduce operating costs, prevent damage and maintain your warranty coverage.

Of course, you want your vehicle to look as good as it runs. Regular washing will prevent rust and protect your finish. Take advantage of cleaners, waxes and protectants for your interior and tires. Your vehicle will look great and you'll be proud to drive it longer.

Most of us in Mill Valley can't afford to throw away our car when it breaks down. By budgeting for regular preventive maintenance, we can prevent many inconvenient - and expensive - problems down the road, and can keep driving "old faithful" for years to come.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Your Well Trained Technician at Malugani Tire

Posted July 18, 2012 12:00 PM

When your vehicle has a problem or just needs some routine service, you might get a little nervous. Your vehicle's so important to your life in Mill Valley, you need to get back on the road as soon as possible – with the problem fixed right the first time.

If you've ever checked into some of the technician training Malugani Tire professionals receive, you may be surprised at how much specialized knowledge and skill goes into diagnosing and repairing a modern car. For example: Today there are four cylinder engines that generate more power than the 1980s-era V-8's. I mean a new V-6 Toyota Camry could beat Sonny Crocket's Ferrari in a race to 60 mph/100 kph.

Our engines are more and more powerful and at the same time their fuel economy keeps inching up – even with steep Mill Valley gas prices. They are also amazingly reliable: Kudos to the automotive engineers. But the advances come at the price of simplicity. The modern vehicles driven around California are so much more complex from a mechanical standpoint that it makes your head spin – not to mention the electronics.

Some vehicles have several networked computers controlling most of the engine functions and many other vehicle operations as well. Mill Valley motorists take all of this sophistication for granted, but somebody has to fix it when it breaks. It's a real challenge for Malugani Tire in Mill Valley technicians to keep up, but we work hard to stay ahead of the technology. It requires a high level of commitment on the part of the technicians and the Mill Valley service centers as well.

Malugani Tire technicians receive training through a combination of formal classroom training, training provided at Malugani Tire by parts and equipment manufacturers, online courses and home study courses.

In addition to the expensive training, there's the financial commitment for Malugani Tire to purchase the diagnostic and repair tools.

There are many independent certifications held by the pros at Malugani Tire. The ability to repair your vehicle requires a strong combination of training and resources. No one can know everything, so Mill Valley auto service centers subscribe to data services, technical libraries and even online communities that can help them when they run into a difficult problem.

It's like those medical diagnosis shows on TV. Here are the symptoms – what's the diagnosis and treatment? Diagnosis is every bit as much an art as a science. At Malugani Tire, we want everything to be simple, straightforward and inexpensive – but sometimes it just isn't.

The next time you bring us your vehicle, don't worry. You're in good hands at Malugani Tire.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Coolant/Antifreeze Service in Mill Valley, California

Posted July 12, 2012 12:00 PM

Mill Valley auto owners may know that most automotive failures in Mill Valley, California, are tire related, but do you know the second most common cause of vehicle failure? Nope, it's not teenagers. It is the coolant system. But if you take good care of your vehicle coolant system, it will take good care of you.

A vehicle's engine creates a lot of heat - so much heat, that if it is not properly cooled, the engine can lock up, resulting in massive damage and repair bills. But when everything is working right, your vehicle engine operates at the proper temperature and all is well. Without antifreeze in your cooling system, the water could freeze and cause vehicle engine damage. This could be very expensive, not to mention inconvenient.

The right mix of water and antifreeze protects the engine against damage from freezing and overheating. Antifreeze also protects the coolant system against corrosion that could cause the system to fail. The thing to remember is this: coolant system failure is very common, but it is also very easy to prevent. Your Mill Valley service center knows the manufacturer's recommendations and can tell you when the coolant needs to be changed. At Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, we can perform a coolant system service.

Mill Valley auto owners can add water or antifreeze to the bottle themselves but should be careful. First, you never want to open the radiator pressure cap. The steam could severely burn you. Second, try to get to Malugani Tire in Mill Valley immediately if your coolant is low. If that is not possible, follow the directions in your owner's manual. Third, remember that you need a proper mixture of water and antifreeze or you will damage your engine. If you make an emergency addition to your cooling system, follow-up with a service advisor at Malugani Tire where they can make necessary corrections. Fourth, not all cars use the same type of antifreeze.

Mill Valley technicians will need to check their vehicles owner's manual to make sure they use the right kind. Mixing antifreeze types or using the wrong kind of antifreeze may void the manufacturer’s warranty on your vehicle cooling system. If you're not sure, ask your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Malugani Tire for guidance.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Another Couple of Years: Making Your Vehicle Last At Malugani Tire Center Inc.

Posted July 3, 2012 12:00 PM

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A while back, the Cash for Clunkers program was all over the news. Mill Valley people could trade in their old vehicle for a new one that got better fuel economy and receive a government rebate.

A lot of Mill Valley motorists had so-called clunkers that they wanted to keep. They’re good commuters, grocery getters or toy haulers. They enjoy that fact that they’re paid off, or soon will be. They would gladly like to keep their passenger cars for 200,000 miles or more – as long as it’s economical to do so.

There are plenty of Mill Valley drivers whose vehicles are running after 150,000 or 200,000 miles. We can learn from what they’re doing to keep our own passenger cars on the road in California.

Mill Valley drivers of high-mileage cars often report a common denominator of never skipping an oil change. Another Couple of Years: Making Your Vehicle Last At Malugani Tire Center Inc.That may sound a bit unsophisticated, but it’s really not. First off, oil is the life blood of your passenger car's engine and it needs to be clean to properly lubricate. Skipping oil changes leads to clogged oil filters and sludge that can damage your engine.

There’s another reason why the scheduled oil change is so important for Mill Valley car owners. It’s simple – a Malugani Tire Center Inc. professional is going to be looking at your car. All of your fluid levels will be inspected and topped off so they won’t get so low that damage can be done. If there is a significant fluid loss, let’s use brake fluid as an example, your Malugani Tire Center Inc. technician can look for the cause of the loss and find the problem before it leads to an accident or costly repair.

Your Malugani Tire Center Inc. advisor will also visually inspect your passenger car for worn belts and hoses, uneven tire wear, leaking shock absorbers and more. Problems get addressed before they lead to repairs that cost more than the car’s worth.

And your Malugani Tire Center Inc. advisor will be able to remind you of other services that the factory recommends you get done. Just think of that oil change the same way as you do about going to your Mill Valley dentist for your six month cleaning and checkup. Don’t skip it.

Realistically, things are going to wear out as your passenger car gets older. On the way to 200,000 miles you’ll go through several batteries, probably a couple of alternators and water pumps, a set of shocks and likely some brake rotors.

Of course, these things cost money, but they are far cheaper than new passenger car payments. With proper service at Malugani Tire Center Inc. and regular inspections, you’ll keep surprise repairs to a minimum and more money in your wallet.



Headlamp Replacement And Restoration At Malugani Tire In Mill Valley

Posted June 26, 2012 12:00 PM

Way too many accidents happen at night on California roads. There are a lot of factors, but a big one is simply visibility: if you can't see something, it's hard to avoid hitting it.

There are some things Mill Valley drivers can do to make sure they can see as much as possible when they're driving in the dark. First of all, keep your windshield clean. Glare from oncoming headlights can obscure obstacles in the road. Clean off that film that builds up on the inside of your windshield. And make sure you have good wiper blades and plenty of washer fluid.

Now it could be that your headlights aren't as bright as they used to be. It happens – the bulbs just dim over time. If it's been a couple of years since you replaced your headlamps and they aren't lighting up the road like they used to, get some new ones. They make upgraded headlamps too that give you a brighter light and a larger field of vision so you can see better and further down the road. Check with your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire if you want to up your headlamp performance.

Another very common headlamp problem in the Mill Valley area is cloudy or yellowed lenses. These days lenses are plastic and they oxidize and discolor over time. Just look at the cars in the parking lot at your Mill Valley office building – chances are you'll see several with cloudy lenses. This is a huge problem because some of the light coming from your headlamps gets trapped before it can even get out and shine down the road.

Replacing a set of headlight assemblies can run hundreds or even thousands of dollars in Mill Valley. There's an alternative that can save Mill Valley big bucks: headlight restoration. Your Malugani Tire technician can remove the oxidized layer from your lenses. He'll then polish the lenses until they're bright and smooth. When he's all finished, your lenses will be as good as new.

Any accident on California roads and streets is inconvenient and can be dangerous. And if someone gets hurt, well, that's something you want to avoid at all costs. If you're not confident driving at night in Mill Valley, ask your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire about headlamp replacement and headlight restoration Mill Valley.

Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
(415) 388-1800
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941



Service Intervals for High Mileage Vehicles in Mill Valley California

Posted June 21, 2012 12:00 PM



Nowadays, everyone in Mill Valley, California is paying more at the gas pump. For some families in the greater Mill Valley area, it adds up to several hundred dollars every month. That’s got to come out of the budget somewhere. Throughout North America, people are putting off buying a new car. They plan on keeping their old vehicle for a year or two longer than before.

Even now, 2/3 of the personal vehicles on our local Mill Valley, California roads have over 75,000 miles on them. The average age of vehicles is over nine years. And most people in Mill Valley can’t afford to be stranded or inconvenienced by a break down. So following a regular maintenance schedule, like our personal diet and exercise plans, is actually critical to preserving your investment.

Knowing what to do for a higher-mileage vehicle can be challenging because many owners’ manuals don’t publish service intervals after 60,000 miles. It just means that you need to be better at keeping records and planning your preventive maintenance.

You can start by figuring that services with a recommended interval should still be performed on that interval, even after you’re past the tables in your service manual. For example, a service might be recommended every 15,000 miles. Well, just keep doing it every 15,000 miles for as long as you have your car.

Now higher mileage engines operate under more stress. Some experts suggest that the severe service schedule is more appropriate and that routine service should be performed at shorter intervals. Check with your owners’ manual or service advisor at Malugani Tire Center Inc. to see if the severe service schedule is right for your vehicle.

And keeping up with your full-service oil change schedule is important for a couple of reasons. First, older engines have had more time to build up oil sludge. Skipping an oil change here and there can really compound the problem for your passenger car.

The second benefit is that your other fluids are routinely checked and topped off. Power steering fluid, brake fluid, coolant and transmission fluid can be kept at optimal levels even though the older seals and gaskets are leaking more than when they were new.

And speaking of older seals and gaskets: they start to dry-out and become more brittle with age. You may want to consider using high mileage formulation oil and fluids. These products contain special additives to condition seals and gaskets to keep them from leaking. The high mileage formulations cost more than standard products, but they are well worth it in terms of preventing serious repair bills down the road.

Older vehicles in the Mill Valley, California area need repairs and replacements that newer ones don’t. Things like timing belts, radiator hoses, suspension work, anti-lock brakes, air bags, water pumps, alternators and batteries. That may seem like a lot of stuff to have done, but it works out to be cheaper than new car payments.

With a high-mileage vehicle, a couple of relationships will become pretty important. The first is with your service advisor at Malugani Tire Center Inc.. You need someone you trust to take care of your car and be mindful of your needs. Ask for help to develop a plan to keep your vehicle road-worthy that works within your budget, and for the Mill Valley, California area driving conditions.

The next relationship is with your vehicle itself. We’re not talking about naming your car or tucking it in at night. We just mean - pay attention and get to know your vehicle. Notice unusual sounds, smells, vibrations, etc. Then you can describe the changes to your service advisor at Malugani Tire Center Inc. and head off problems. We can’t do anything about the price of gas, but we can properly maintain Old Faithful to keep it safely and economically on the local Mill Valley, California roads.

Take a look at the attached automotive tips video from AutoNetTV

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Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Posted June 12, 2012 12:00 PM

All new cars and light trucks in Mill Valley, California, since 2008 have come equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system, or 'TPMS'. The TPMS system detects when a tire becomes under-inflated and lights up a warning light on the dash.

So what's the big deal for Mill Valley drivers? Well, underinflated tires can be a real safety concern for in California. First of all, they don't handle properly and that can lead to an accident. Second, underinflated tires can overheat and cause the tire to come apart, which can also lead to an accident.

Government regulations requiring TPMS systems aim to reduce accidents in California and save lives, a very worthy goal. There are also positive environmental effects because underinflated tires are fuel wasters – lose 1 percent of their fuel economy for every 3 pounds of pressure below ideal. So proper tire inflation can save you a tank of gas a year. And your tires last longer so you won't have to replace them as often.

There are two kinds of TPMS systems. So-called direct systems have a battery powered sensor in each wheel that measures tire pressure. The sensor sends a signal to a receiver that illuminates the warning light if pressure is low on a tire.

Indirect systems use a computer program to detect underinflation by measuring wheel rotation speeds and other data.

Mill Valley drivers will have to replace TPMS parts as they wear out. Obviously, the batteries in the sensors will run out someday. Road salt and grime can damage sensors too. The system needs to be reset when you rotate or change your tires.

Because the TPMS system is so important to your safety, you should make the repairs when needed. And remember, TPMS is no substitute for regularly checking your tire pressure – at least once a month.

Ask us for more details.



Engine Air Filter from Malugani Tire

Posted June 7, 2012 12:00 PM

Many Mill Valley drivers have found themselves in the following situation: They go to get their oil changed and their friendly service advisor at Malugani Tire recommends a new engine air filter. They say yes, but don't know what an air filter is or what it does.

If this has happened to you, rest assured that you did the right thing by getting a new one. But you should never be too embarrassed to ask your Malugani Tire service advisor for more information. It's your vehicle and you have a right to understand what you're paying for.

Let's review: "What does an air filter do?"

Air is the focus of this discussion. What is the air like outside in Mill Valley right now? Can you see any smog? Is it full of pollen? How about dust? Anyone in California with hay fever can tell you that there's plenty in the air that you can't see. Well, the engine air filter's job is to clean that air before it goes into your vehicle engine, to mix with the fuel and be burned. Without an engine air filter, the inside of your vehicle engine would be extremely dirty from all the gunk that was burned in the cylinders.

In fact, your engine needs 12,000 times as much air as fuel for it to run. That little filter does a very big job. It's no wonder that the air filter gets dirty and needs to be replaced. Think about a vacuum cleaner. When the bag gets full of dust and dirt, the vacuum doesn't clean as well. It can't move enough air to create good suction. A clogged engine air filter is the same way - the vehicle engine can't get enough air to burn the fuel efficiently. That means less power and reduced fuel economy.

That's why your owner's manual has recommended that you change your filter at regular intervals. Of course the Mill Valley conditions you drive in will affect how quickly the filter gets dirty. If you drive in California where it's very dusty or where there's lots of pollen or pollution, you may need to change the filter sooner. The filter is easy to check visually, so your friendly and knowledgeable Malugani Tire service advisor can quickly make the call. He might recommend immediate replacement or simply let you know that it is getting close and that you'll need to replace it soon - like at your next oil change.

Because a severely dirty vehicle air filter hurts your vehicle, many Mill Valley residents find that a new air filter pays for itself in better fuel economy before the next oil change. They also make premium air filters that have been proven to increase your horsepower and torque. If more power is important to you, a high performance air filter is some of the cheapest horsepower you can buy.

The better your car breathes, the better it runs - kind of like people. And don't worry - if you have a question or don't understand a recommendation just ask your Malugani Tire service advisor.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Tire Tread Depth for Mill Valley, California Drivers

Posted May 30, 2012 12:00 PM

Driving on bald tires is like playing roulette. Though you may be fine today, eventually your luck is going to run out.

The Feds don't have any laws for tread depth, but 42 of the states, and all of Canada, do have regulations. They consider 2/32 of an inch to be the minimum legal tread depth. Two other states, including California, consider 1/32 to be the minimum and six states have no standards at all. Call us at Malugani Tire; (just call (415) 388-1800) to find out what your requirements are in the Mill Valley, California, area.

Since 1968, U.S. law has required that a raised bar be molded across all tires. When tires are worn enough that this bar becomes visible, there's just 2/32 inch/1.6 mm of tread left. But does that older standard give Mill Valley vehicles enough safety?

Consider this: Consumer Reports recommends tire replacement when tread reaches 4/32 inch/3.2 mm. And the recommendation is backed by some very compelling studies. Now before we go into the studies, you need to know that the issue is braking on wet surfaces.

We tend to think of the brakes doing all the stopping, but Mill Valley vehicles also need to have effective tires to actually stop the car. When it's wet or snowy in Mill Valley, California, the tread of the tire is critical to stopping power.

Picture this: you're driving in Mill Valley over a water-covered stretch of road. Your tires need to be in contact with the road in order to stop. That means the tire has to channel the water away so the tire is contacting the road and not floating on a thin film of water – a condition known as hydroplaning. When there's not enough tread depth on a tire, it can't move the water out of the way and you start to hydroplane.

This is where the studies come in. We think Mill Valley drivers will be surprised. A section of a test track was flooded with a thin layer of water. If you laid a dime flat on the track, the water would be deep enough to surround the coin, but not enough to submerge it. 

A car and a full-sized pick-up truck were brought up to 70 mph/112 kph and then made a hard stop in the wet test area. Stopping distance and time were measured for three different tire depths. First, they tested new tires. Then tires worn to legal limits. And finally, tires with 4/32 inch/3.2 mm of tread were tested (the depth suggested by Consumer Reports.)

When the car with the legally worn tires had braked for the distance required to stop the car with new tires, it was still going 55 mph/89 kph. The stopping distance was nearly doubled. That means if you barely have room to stop with new tires, then you would hit the car in front of you at 55 mph/89 kph with the worn tires.

Now with the partially worn tires – at the depth recommended by Consumer Reports – the car was still going at 45 mph/72 kph at the point where new tires brought the car to a halt. That's a big improvement – you can see why Consumer Reports and others are calling for a new standard.

Now without going into all the details, let us tell you that stopping the truck with worn tires needed almost 1/10 of a mile (.16 km)  of clear road ahead to come to a safe stop. How many Mill Valley drivers follow that far behind the vehicle ahead? Obviously, this is a big safety issue.

The tests were conducted with the same vehicles but with different sets of tires. The brakes were the same, so the only variable was the tires.

How do people in Mill Valley know when their tires are at 4/32 inch/3.2 mm? Well, it's pretty easy. Just insert an American quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn't cover George Washington's hairline, it's time to replace your tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.

Now you may remember doing that with pennies. But an American penny gives you 2/32 inch/1.6 mm to Abraham Lincoln's head. The quarter is the new standard – 4/32 inch/3.2 mm.

Tires are a big ticket item, and most people in Mill Valley, California, want to get thousands of miles/kilometers out of them. Just remember: driving on bald tires is like playing roulette.

Have Mr. Washington look at your tires today. If he recommends a new set, come see us at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



How to Know When to Change Your Oil at Malugani Tire

Posted May 24, 2012 12:00 PM

Today in the Malugani Tire auto care blog, we're going to talk to Mill Valley drivers about oil change intervals. It seems that as engine technology advances, oil change intervals become longer for Malugani Tire customers. For example, recently four of the world's largest vehicle manufacturer's shortened the published intervals for several of their engine models. They originally published intervals that extended out to a much as 8,000 miles (13,000 kilometers).

In real world Mill Valley 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 vehicle 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 Malugani Tire in Mill Valley.

The vehicle manufacturers 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 Mill Valley vehicle owners: with longer oil change intervals, it's essential to follow them closely. Back in the day of 3 months or 3,000 miles (5,000 kilometers), if you went an extra month or an extra thousand miles or couple of thousand kilometers, 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 (10,000 kilometers) and you go over another thousand miles or couple of thousands of kilometers, 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 California, short trips, drive in dusty or polluted Mill Valley conditions, hot or cold weather  or haul heavy loads, you're driving in severe service conditions. Your Malugani Tire service advisor can help you determine which schedule to follow.

So check your vehicle owner's manual or talk with your Malugani Tire service advisor about where and how you drive in Mill Valley. 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 vehicles 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 (4,000 km) to almost 7,000 miles (11,000 km). It's typically just over 4,000 miles (6,500 km). Sometimes our driving is easy on the vehicle – like a long road trip. Sometimes, our driving is hard on it – 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 Malugani Tire to protect your vehicle engine. Another place where California drivers can go wrong is with the type of oil they use. More and more new cars are coming to Mill Valley 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 people are tempted to use conventional oil for their oil changes. Now, it's always best to use the oil recommended by your vehicle manufacturer. Check your owner's manual see if a conventional oil alternative is allowed.

But getting back to the problem, if your vehicle 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.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Stop It! You Need Good Brakes

Posted May 18, 2012 12:00 PM

Good brakes are obviously very important. If you've ever had your brakes go out while you're driving around the Mill Valley area, you'll know how terrifying it can be. Today we'll focus on how to tell when you have a brake problem and how to make good repair choices.

Often, the first indication that something's wrong with the brakes is an unusual sound. It could be a squeal, chatter or grinding sound.

Some brake pads have a little piece of metal embedded in them that will make a squeal or chirping sound when the brake pads have been worn down to the point that they need to be replaced. It's an early warning indicator.

When you hear that sound, schedule an appointment at Malugani Tire soon.

Now a chattering sound is more urgent. That usually indicates that something is loose. It could be a brake pad or even the brake calipers. If one of those parts falls off, you could have some serious trouble stopping the vehicle. It would be a good idea to park it until you can get into the shop.

A grinding noise usually means that the brake pad is completely worn away and the metal parts of the brake are rubbing directly on the metal brake rotor. That means the rotor is being damaged and will need some work. More on that later.

Another warning sign is that your brake pedal may feel soft and spongy – or it may even feel very hard to push in. Both could mean trouble. And of course, you may get a dashboard brake warning light.

Now when it comes time to replace your brake pads, you have a choice to make. You can get the same pads that came standard on your vehicle. You can expect the same performance and durability as with the pads that came on the car from the factory.

Now you can also get a budget brake pad. Sometimes Mill Valley drivers insist on lower cost pads. That's OK if the budget demands it, but you need to be aware of the tradeoffs. Lower grade pads are usually noisier, so you'll have to live with more noise when you apply the brakes. They also tend to generate a lot more brake dust, you know, that black dust that accumulates on your wheels. And they probably won't last as long either. In our opinion, that's a lot of compromise for just a few dollars in savings.

You can also choose to buy premium brakes pads at Malugani Tire. These perform at higher specifications than the factory pads. You can expect quieter operation, less brake dust and better stopping power.

Now, getting back to the rotors. The rotors are the discs that the brake pads clamp down on to stop the vehicle. If you've been driving with completely worn brake pads, you've scratched grooves into the rotors. If the grooves aren't too deep, the rotor can be resurfaced. A thin layer of metal is cut off the surface of the rotor to make it smooth again.

Now, if the grooves are too deep or if the rotor has already be resurfaced before, there may not be enough material to resurface and still have a rotor that's thick enough to safely stop the vehicle. In that case, the rotor will have to be replaced.

Something that's often overlooked is the brake fluid. Your manufacturer has a recommended schedule for evacuating the old brake fluid, cleaning the system and refilling it with fresh brake fluid. This is really important to brake performance.

So here's the bottom line: if you suspect, inspect. If you notice any of these warning signs, have your brakes inspected at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley. Your service advisor can help you make the repair decision that's right for you.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Custom Wheels and Tires for Your Mill Valley Ride

Posted May 3, 2012 12:00 PM


 

It seems like everywhere you go in the Mill Valley area you see custom wheels. Big trucks, little cars, mini-vans - it doesn't matter - are expressing themselves with custom wheels. Some California auto owners want smaller tires and wheels - some want larger - and some want them enormous. So where do you start if you want new wheels? At Malugani Tire, we suggest you start with your budget. We know, that sounds so practical. But if the look you're after goes beyond just new tires and wheels and enters into the world of suspension modifications, you need to be prepared for the additional cost.

Let's start with something easy - you want to give your ride a unique look and the stock wheel size is just right for you. One of the concerns you will have is that the new wheels have the same offset as your vehicle factory wheels.

Your tire and wheel professional at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley can help you find the right size wheel or install adapters to make your new wheels fit. All you have to do is pick from the hundreds of styles available.

So, what about Mill Valley drivers who want to upsize? Well, if you want bigger wheels, but you want to keep the same overall tire diameter, that's pretty easy for the team at Malugani Tire. The same offset concerns apply. You need to know that the tires will likely be a little bit wider than the originals and you don't want them to rub when you make sharp turns. Your tire professional at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley will help you avoid this.

Heading the other direction, some vehicle owners in the Mill Valley area like to run smaller than standard wheels and lower the suspension. All of the same fitment issues still apply as well as calibration issues. Don't think that vehicle suspension modifications are a bad thing. Many systems actually improve ride, function and performance over the stock set-up.

Regardless of your budget, you want your vehicle to continue to do all the things you need it to do. Some of those show cars and trucks you see on TV and Mill Valley showrooms  look good but have been modified in ways that may not suit your needs. For example, if you put large rims on your SUV with low profile tires, you may be in for busted rims if you go off-roading a lot around the Mill Valley area. There just isn't enough sidewall to absorb the impact of thumping over rocks.

Some stuff the largest tires and wheels possible in their vehicles but have to severely restrict suspension travel so that the tires aren't rubbing all day. That can lead to a very harsh ride around California. Again, talk with your Malugani Tire wheel professional about all of these things: how you drive in Mill Valley, what look you are going for, your budget and what compromises you are willing to make.

At the end of the day, you're going to be rollin' out of Malugani Tire with one sweet ride.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Odometer Rollback on Your Mill Valley, California Vehicle

Posted April 25, 2012 12:00 PM

How do Mill Valley drivers know if an odometer is telling the truth?

Well, back in '86, Congress passed the Truth-in-Mileage Act to protect California consumers against mileage fraud. It says a California seller must certify the mileage reported is the actual mileage.

To have your odometer checked in Mill Valley, California, stop by Malugani Tire:

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941

 

If it isn't, the seller must say why; for example, maybe the odometer is past its mechanical limits. Some older odometers only go to 99,999 and then start over at 0. Or, the odometer has been tampered with, broken or replaced.

If the seller tells you the mileage isn't accurate, there's not much chance of putting a good number to it. And there's the unscrupulous seller who claims the reading is true, but it isn't. What can Mill Valley vehicle owners do?

You can go to www.CarFax.com, where, for a small fee, they'll give you a comprehensive vehicle history search on your vehicle, showing local Mill Valley, California, ownership history, accident reports, total-loss events, manufacturer buybacks, Lemon reports and warranty status.

You can get a mileage history by checking with the local California DMV (or wherever you happen to be) and other verified sources looking for inconsistencies in the mileage reported when the car was bought and sold. If there are signs of odometer rollback, now you'll know.

If so, proceed with caution. Or, negotiate a lower price. Or just walk away. There's always another vehicle.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Tire Replacement: What Mill Valley Drivers Need to Know

Posted April 20, 2012 12:00 PM

Looking at getting some new tires? Maybe the real reason for wanting those off-highway tires is that they look cool. Well there's nothing wrong with that. If you make sure that you've got your functional needs covered with your selection, then you can have some fun with where you go from there.

Let's suppose you zip around Mill Valley in a sporty car. You may like to run a high-performance summer tire when the weather's good. When California weather turns cold, you can put on high-performance winter tires. For the kind of driving you like to do, you want full-on performance tires. All-season tires are naturally a compromise that works well for most Mill Valley drivers, but since you have a choice, go for dedicated summer and winter tires.

When it's time for new tires, visit with a knowledgeable Malugani Tire tire professional. Describe your needs and wants. He'll come up with some selections for you to discuss. And once you settle on a type of tire, there are options for special needs: like pulling a trailer or carrying heavy loads.

Tires are one of the biggest purchases for Mill Valley drivers. With so many choices, you'll be able to get what's best for you. Take your time. And don't worry about what's in stock. If you want something that isn't here at Malugani Tire, we can order it. Chances are you'll be rolling on your new tires in a couple of days.

Let us know if you have any other questions!

 Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Finding Vehicle Recall Information From Mill Valley

Posted April 12, 2012 12:00 PM



No matter how well they’re made, cars are bound to have problems with their design or manufacturing. When the government thinks a problem is really serious, they require the manufacturer to issue a recall notice to Mill Valley residents and to fix the car free of charge. The manufacturer then tries to contact everyone who owns that type of car in Mill Valley and elsewhere until the work is done.

If you have questions about vehicle recalls, give us a call:
Malugani Tire Center Inc.
493 Miller Ave Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

These recalls always affect safety, so you need to take them seriously. It’s really easy to find out if a vehicle is being recalled. For links to government sites, look in the AutoNetTV website.

Other website include: carfax.com; autobytel.com; and dmv.org. All of these sites have free recall searches.

Recalls are pretty serious and don’t happen all that often. But sometimes cars have less serious problems that you still might want to know about. In this case, manufacturers issue what is known as a Technical Service Bulletin – or TSB. These bulletins tell service centers how to repair a problem that occurs frequently or is especially difficult.

The pros receive updated information through subscription plans, which are sometimes available in consumer versions too. You can buy access to these for an annual fee.

Whatever your source, pay attention to vehicle recalls to keep you and your passengers safe.



Transmission Care in Mill Valley, California

Posted April 4, 2012 12:00 PM

Do you have any plans around Mill Valley, California, for the weekend? Maybe you and some friends are taking the boat up to the lake. Maybe you'll be having a lot of fun water skiing and doing a little fishing.

You got the boat all ready. It's all gassed up. You packed lots of snacks and the cooler's stocked – ready to go.

How about your tow vehicle? It has plenty of gas and you've even vacuumed it out, but is your auto maintenance up to date?

Stop and think. You'll have some heavy traffic on your way out of town. Hilly terrain as you get to the lake. Some dirt roads – and you may have hot weather. And all the time you're going to be towing around a lot of extra weight.

That all adds up a lot of severe strain on your engine, brakes and transmission. Your transmission's going to be working overtime, spending more time in lower gears. The internal transmission temperature is going to be much higher than normal. What's a fun little blast to the lake for you is really severe duty for your transmission.

It's important that you have enough transmission fluid. If you're running low, the transmission will run too hot and won't have the protection it needs to cope with the added stress of towing.

And if it's time for a transmission service, you really should have it done at Malugani Tire before your trip. Transmission fluid breaks down and gets dirty over time. Whether you have an automatic or manual transmission, you need to have it serviced on schedule to make sure it runs efficiently.

Automatic transmissions contain a maze of passages that the fluid has to pass through to keep them shifting smoothly. If you neglect transmission service, the passages can get clogged up and you start to have problems. Neglect your transmission for too long and it can fail. Believe us – you don't want to pay for a major transmission repair.

You know, most of us in Mill Valley, California, do a lot of our driving under severe conditions. Towing or hauling a big load is obvious, but there are lots of other things that constitute severe driving conditions. Things like short trips or driving in very hot or very cold weather. Also, dusty roads, city driving around Mill Valley, and basically any driving that's not at highway speeds or under ideal conditions is severe driving. We all need to think about whether or not we need to follow the severe service schedule.

So, consider going in for a full service oil change before you leave for the lake to make sure everything has been looked at. Ask for a trip inspection while you're at it. Your Mill Valley, California, service technician at Malugani Tire can check your belts and hoses and let you know if your brakes are in good shape.

Don't forget the sunscreen. And to thank your Malugani Tire service technician, how about bringing him back a nice trout?

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Service Center Standard and Procedures

Posted March 29, 2012 12:00 PM

All California pilots have checklists for every aspect of flying. They always use their checklists even if they only have two steps on them. They do this simply because a checklist is a great way to not forget steps. It is also how they can assure a predictable outcome.

That is why Mill Valley automotive service centers including Malugani Tire have procedural standards for each service they perform. Malugani Tire technicians are trained step by step. And they perform the procedures step by step, the same way each time. By training to procedural standards, California service centers can assure a quality outcome. The job is done right every time and Mill Valley customers leave happy with how their vehicle performs.

Each company trains its technicians to standards. The California automotive industry as a whole is very committed to standards of excellence and encourages individual California service center operators to apply them to every vehicle they service.

An example is how Malugani Tire grades problems and communicates their recommendations. If your service advisor tells you that a repair or replacement is required it must meet the following criteria:

The part no longer performs its intended purpose
The part does not meet a design specification
The part is missing

They may suggest repair or replacement:

If the part is close to the end of its useful life - just above discard specifications or likely to fail soon
To address a customer need or request - like for better ride or increased performance
To comply with maintenance recommended by the vehicle manufacturer
Based on the technician's informed experience

Here are some examples:

An exhaust pipe has rusted through and is leaking. Replacement is recommended because the part has failed. If the pipe were rusted, corroded or weak but not leaking, the technician may suggest it be replaced because it is near the end of its useful life and replacing it now may be more convenient for the customer.

Suppose a customer wants to improve his car's handling, but his shocks haven't failed. The may suggest replacement of the shocks to satisfy the customer's wishes.

Under these guidelines the Mill Valley car repair shop must refuse partial service of a required repair if the repair creates or continues an unsafe condition.

Let's say a customer has a cracked brake rotor. This is a dangerous condition that must be repaired. If the customer does not want to replace the rotor but instead just wants new brake pads installed, the shop must ethically refuse the partial repair. That can be an upsetting conversation, but understanding that Mill Valley service centers operate under service standards and procedures is comforting. You want your service to be done right and to have confidence in your technician's recommendations.

The California automotive service industry and Malugani Tire want the best for you and for you to keep coming back.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Fuel System Cleaning to Improve Performance in Mill Valley, California

Posted March 21, 2012 12:00 PM



All modern vehicles come with fuel injection systems, so it’s a topic we all need to know something about. All new cars and trucks sold in Mill Valley, California over the last 30 years or so have come with fuel injection systems.

The fuel injector is a valve that delivers the gas or diesel fuel to the right place, in the right amount, at the right time; to be mixed with air and burned in the engine.

So how many fuel injectors does your car have? There’s one for each cylinder. So four, six or eight for most folks in Mill Valley, California. Some vehicles have 10 or 12 cylinders. The engine control computer makes adjustments to the fuel injector as it monitors the engine and other sensors. Fuel injectors are a pretty sophisticated part.

Malugani Tire Center Inc. can help you with a fuel injector cleaning service. What’s the benefit? In order to work right, the fuel injectors have to deliver the fuel at a precise pressure at a very precise time. The fuel needs to be sprayed in a particular pattern as determined by the engine design.

Over time, varnish can start to build up in the fuel injectors, effecting the pressure, pattern and timing of the fuel charge. The result is that the fuel doesn’t get burned as efficiently as it could. That robs performance and wastes fuel.

What about dirty fuel – how does that affect the fuel injectors? The fuel injectors are the last stop in the fuel system. It starts at the fuel tank. Frankly, the best way to keep your fuel injectors working well is to use high quality fuel. Its real tempting to shop for bargains with fuel prices as high as they are, but major brands in the Mill Valley, California area have better detergents and additives and deliver consistent quality.

What about a good fuel filter? The fuel filter is the next device in the fuel system. Its job is to filter out the dirt and rust that collect in the fuel tank. If it’s clogged up, the dirt will bypass the filter and head upstream to the fuel injectors.

It’s important to replace the fuel filter when your manufacturer recommends it. That’s part of a comprehensive fuel system cleaning.

There are different kinds of fuel injection systems. Port fuel injection systems, the kind most gasoline engines have, operate at 60 pounds per square inch. The injectors for the new gas direct injection engines we’re starting to see require 10 to 30 times as much pressure. And some diesel engines for passenger vehicles have injectors that operate at 30,000 pounds or more per square inch. There’s no room for dirt and gum in a precision part like that.

There are a lot of good products available in Mill Valley, California that can clean fuel injectors. They’re best used to prevent fouling in the fuel injectors. Many can’t clean a seriously gummed up injector – that requires a professional deep cleaning. But putting the cleaner in the fuel tank after you’ve had Malugani Tire Center Inc. take a look at your fuel system will help keep it clean. Be sure to read the label for directions.

Give us a call if you think your passenger car may be ready for a fuel injector cleaning.

Manager: Kendal Savelli
Malugani Tire Center Inc.
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800


Gas Savings in Mill Valley: Sharpen Your Pencil

Posted March 14, 2012 12:00 PM

High gas prices in Mill Valley increase the cost of living for California drivers. You've probably budgeted a certain amount for vehicle related expenses. Increased fuel costs now consume a larger portion of our incomes, causing some Mill Valley vehicle owners to skimp in other areas – like scheduled maintenance.

According to California news reports and automotive industry studies, this is becoming increasingly more common. In fact, nine out of ten personal vehicles on the road have at least one maintenance or repair item that hasn't been done. Some of these items pose serious safety risks. Others are just more likely to make it more expensive to drive.

In this area, we can take a lesson from professional Mill Valley vehicle owners. I'm talking about fleet owners and operators. You know, Mill Valley folks like the trucking companies and delivery services. Because their livelihood depends on it, they have gotten scheduled maintenance down to a science. And the last thing they skimp on is regular maintenance.

Why is that? Well, for one thing they know that routine maintenance prevents expensive repairs and costly breakdowns. They also know that a well-maintained vehicle uses less fuel. For them, even a small decrease in fuel efficiency may put their Mill Valley business in the red.

So what does this mean to Mill Valley drivers? Well, there's a 90 percent chance that you're missing some service that would improve your fuel economy. Here's a quick reminder list:

Fuel system cleaning, transmission service, differential service, engine air filter, wheel alignment, oil change, tune up.
Ring any bells? Can most Mill Valley vehicle owners honestly say that there isn't at least one thing on the list that hasn't been done?

Let's suppose you chose to spend $150 and get caught up on some of these services at Malugani Tire. Figure that they combine to improve your fuel efficiency by 15 percent. What would that mean to your pocketbook?

Well, the average personal vehicle in Mill Valley is driven about 12,000 a year. If you get 20 miles per gallon in your vehicle, over the course of one year you would pay for the $150 worth of service and save an additional $165 dollars if gas is at t$3.50. If gas is $4.50, you would save $255. And you'd rack up savings of $345 dollars with gas at $5.50.

GAS PRICE
$3.50
$4.50
$5.50

20 MPG
$165
$255
$345

From this you can see that the more fuel costs, the more it pays to keep up on scheduled maintenance. Some of us drive trucks in Mill Valley for work or recreation – or want a large SUV for family needs. A 15 percent improvement in fuel economy can generate huge savings – $650 a year if gas is $4.50 a gallon in Mill Valley. Take a look at this table to see where your savings could lie.

 

GAS PRICE

A) $3.50, B) $4.50, C) $5.50

10 MPG: A) $480, B) $660, C) $840

20 MPG: A) $165, B) $255, C) $345

30 MPG: A) $60, B) $120, C) $180

 

So catch up on those services you've been neglecting at Malugani Tire. Get a couple done now and a couple next time. Chances are you'll save a lot of money at Mill Valley gas pumps this year – and a lot more on repairs in years to come.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Shocks and Struts For Mill Valley Bumps and Bounces

Posted March 8, 2012 12:00 PM



If you're like most of us in Mill Valley, you want your car to handle well. That's the job of your suspension system.

There are different types of suspension systems, but they all work on the same basic principles. First, there are the springs, which bear the weight of the car. The most common springs are coil or leaf - although we see air springs and torsion bars more often. The springs do most of the work.

Visit our Mill Valley location for an inspection of your suspension.
Malugani Tire Center Inc.
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

But if all you had were springs, your vehicle would be bouncing around like a bobble head. That's where the shocks come in. They control the rebound of the springs and smooth out the up and down motions. They also keep the tires on the road, and you in control. Some passenger cars use struts. Struts are a combination of shocks and springs, together in a more compact system.

Shocks wear out slowly over time, so it's hard to notice when they get badly worn. One way to tell is to look for an uneven, cupping wear on your tires. If the shock or strut is leaking fluid, it needs to be replaced. If your car feels floaty in turns or if the front end dips a lot when you stop, it is time to get your shocks checked. Your owners' manual will tell you when your shocks should be changed - it's usually between 15,000 and 30,000 miles or 24,000 and 50,000 kilometers .

When you replace a shock, be sure to replace all four. Then your car will have an even suspension and will handle much better. Talk with your service advisor about how you drive. No, not your traffic violations, but how often you carry heavy loads, tow a trailer or drive in rough terrain. If you do a bunch of that, you'll need a heavy duty shock.

Regular shocks use hydraulic fluid and air as their dampening system. Premium quality shocks and struts use compressed nitrogen gas instead of air. Gas shocks don't get air bubbles that affect the performance of regular shocks. If you do a lot of high performance driving, off-roading or just want added comfort and control, think about getting premium gas shocks or struts.

Replacing your struts may take your car out of alignment, so be sure to get an alignment at the same time. So, to smooth out the bumps on the road of life, change your shocks and struts when they need it.



Breathe Deep With Your Cabin Air Filter

Posted February 28, 2012 12:00 PM

Bad air quality while you're driving around Mill Valley is nothing to sneeze at. But seriously, more and more vehicles these days come equipped with a cabin air filter. Since they're fairly new on the scene, a lot of folks don't know about them yet.

These filters clean the air in the passenger compartment, or cabin, of your car or truck. They do the same job as the furnace filter you have at home. They can filter out particles as small as three microns. By contrast, a grain of sand is about 200 microns.

So your cabin air filter can clean out dust, pollution, pollen and spores to keep the air in your car nice and clean. And just like your furnace filter, they need to be replaced when they get dirty. Check your owner's manual or ask your service advisor at Malugani Tire, but they typically need to be replaced at around 12,000 to 15,000 miles (19,000-24,000 kilometers).

The filter is usually either under the hood or under the dashboard. Some are a little tricky to get to, so you'll want to have Malugani Tire take care of replacing them.

As we said, many people don't realize they have a cabin air filter and go to their shop complaining about a funky smell in the ventilation system. It turned out to be a cabin air filter that was long overdue for replacement – really dirty and starting to smell. A quick replacement and they were on their way and smelling fine.

Mill Valley residents who are allergy sensitive can really benefit from a cabin air filter, as it keeps allergens to a minimum. If you're one of them, you'll want to stay on top of your filter replacement schedule.

Of course if you do a lot of driving around the Mill Valley area in dusty or polluted conditions, you'll need to change your cabin air filter more often.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Mill Valley Customer Detective Work

Posted February 21, 2012 12:00 PM

One might say the most challenging part of being an automotive service technician at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley is diagnosing a problem before it can be fixed.

Cars in California are made up of a bunch of complex systems. There usually could be a number of reasons for any given symptom. So, it's challenging to track down the actual cause of the problem. And it can be frustrating for the vehicle owner because it can take time and money to get to the bottom of a problem. If it's not something obvious, it's easy for the customer to focus on the fixing and not the diagnosing.

Let us at Malugani Tire introduce you to something we'll call 'Customer Detective Work' –  helping your technician find clues to what's wrong.

We start with the detective basics: What, Where and When. Play along with me; You come in to Malugani Tire and your car is making a funny sound...

    • Q: Where's the sound?
    • A: Around the right front wheel.
    • Q: What kind of sound?
    • A: Kind of a clunk, clunk sound.
    • Q: When do you hear the sound?
    • A: When I turn and accelerate. 
  • Q: Right and left? Forward and back?

Do you see where we're going? You're gathering additional information to help your technician at Malugani Tire know where to start. Based on your car and the tech's experience, he'll know where to look and can start with the obvious suspects.

You can see how that would be more helpful than dropping the car off with a note that says "making a funny noise."

If the tech can experience the problem personally, he's better able to make a diagnosis and repair and then test to see if the repair solved the problem.

Ask us for details.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Better Service - Better Economy

Posted February 14, 2012 12:00 PM



The hottest Mill Valley news story may be different everyday, but there’s one topic that seems to come up over and over again – the price of gas in Mill Valley. But we’ve found several basic things that any Mill Valley vehicle owner can do to greatly reduce their gas consumption, save money, and help the Mill Valley environment. You can really impact your fuel economy by how you drive – but first, here’s a review of things you can do for your car that’ll save gas no matter how you drive.

The first one is keeping your tires properly inflated. That can save two miles per gallon. Driving on low tires is like driving through sand – your car just has to work harder. Most Mill Valley service centers will fill up your tires for free, so just ask your service advisor. Also, make a habit of checking your tire pressure whenever you get gas in your car. Many Mill Valley gas stations have an air hose you can use for free.

Another important item is to keep your air filter clean. An air filter all clogged up with dirt and bugs doesn’t let enough clean air through to efficiently burn fuel. Using a dirty air filter will cost you almost two miles per gallon in reduced fuel efficiency. And worn spark plugs can cost another two. A spark plug can fire as many as 3,000,000 times for every thousand miles driven. Check the owner’s manual for replacement recommendations.

The biggest item is the oxygen sensor. This device provides the engine management computer with information it needs to fine-tune the fuel/air mix. When that’s messed up it can cost up to three miles per gallon. And of course, there’s dirty or substandard oil. Dirty oil causes extra drag. The wrong grade may be too thick. That’s another .4 miles per gallon right there.

One item Mill Valley residents seldom think about is their gas cap. A worn, loose or missing gas cap can cost another two miles per gallon. Adding up all of these worn, missing or sub-par items leads to a total of almost 11.4 miles per gallon in reduced fuel efficiency! And with current gas prices in the Mill Valley area, the cost really adds up. Taking care of these simple maintenance items will save big bucks at the pump.

Now most people aren’t missing on all of these items, but think about which ones might affect you right now! And don’t forget tune-ups, dragging brakes, low transmission fluid, fuel system cleaning, wheels out of alignment, PCV valve, fuel filter and other key services spelled out in your owners’ manual.

Malugani Tire Center Inc. knows all this stuff and can tell you when you’re scheduled to take care of each item. Create a system of your own to track your service schedules, or just use the computer system at Malugani Tire Center Inc. – which may also be updated with recall notices and maintenance schedule items from your manufacturer.



Fuel Saving Tip: Check Engine Light

Posted February 8, 2012 12:00 PM

    />  

A question for our Mill Valley California motorists: How long have you been enjoying the romantic glow of your check engine light?

Hey, it's not there to create ambiance; it's a warning that something's wrong. When your check engine light comes on get it checked at a capable Mill Valley California service station.

Check Engine Light Many conditions that cause the check engine light to come on affect fuel economy. Some very dramatically.

Always make sure you tighten your gas cap until it clicks. A loose gas cap can cause a false sensor reading that'll make the check engine light come on.

If your date's eyes are smoldering in the reflected glow of the check engine light, try to think of all the gas money you'll save by getting it fixed. Give us a call when you are ready: (415) 388-1800



What to Do in Case of an Accident in Mill Valley

Posted February 1, 2012 12:00 PM

Screeching tires, crunching metal – it's an accident! If you've ever been in a car accident in Mill Valley, even a minor one, you know how upsetting it can be. It's hard to think straight and know what to do.

Let's review what Mill Valley drivers should do in case of an accident:

When an accident occurs, you should always stop. Leaving the scene of an accident in Mill Valley is considered a crime - even if it's not your fault. And hit and run penalties are fairly severe, possibly resulting in steep fines, loss of your California driver's license or even jail time.

Your jurisdiction may require that you try to help someone who is injured by calling for help or performing first aid if you are able. Warn other motorists by putting out flares, using your flashers or lifting your hood. Call Mill Valley emergency services as soon as possible. Tell the operator if medical or fire help is needed.

You should always file a police report. It's tempting to skip this if everything seems to be ok. But without a police report, the other guy can say whatever he wants about the accident later, and you won't have an objective report to help defend yourself. Discuss the accident only with the police. Emotions are strong after an accident and we naturally want to talk about it – don't. Never admit fault or guilt to anyone including the Mill Valley police officer. Sometimes we may feel at fault, but in the eyes of the law, the other guy may be responsible.

Truthfully give the officer the facts: such as, "I was going 30 miles an hour," or, "I was going 55 kilometers per hour," not, "I wasn't speeding." Remember, anything you say to the officer or anyone else can be used against you. Also get the officer's name and ID number and ask where you can get a copy of the accident report.

Get the facts on the driver and owner of the other vehicle:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Date of birth
  • Driver's license number and expiration
  • Insurance information

Also take down a description of the other vehicle, license plate and vehicle identification number (VIN). Most California auto insurance companies don't record license plate numbers, so the VIN is the best way to track a vehicle in California.

Ask witnesses, including passengers, to wait for the police. If they can't wait, ask for contact information and request that they write a brief description of what they saw. If someone refuses to leave their name, write down their license plate number so the police can track them down later if necessary. Always call your insurance agent or your insurance company. Call or see a physician if you think you may have been injured. For vehicle repairs, call Malugani Tire at (415) 388-1800.

Contact Malugani Tire to learn more about what to do in case of an auto accident.
You can find us at:

493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Are There Blind Spots in Mill Valley?

Posted January 24, 2012 12:00 PM

All Mill Valley drivers have blind spots – and no, I'm not talking about the fact that you really don't sing like Adele. I mean the areas of the road that you can't see when you're driving around Mill Valley.

First let's talk about our own blinds spots, and then we can talk about others...

To begin, we can greatly reduce blind spots by properly adjusting our mirrors to give the widest coverage possible. Make the adjustments in your vehicle before you start to drive.

First, Mill Valley drivers should adjust their rear view mirrors to give the best possible view directly to the rear of their vehicle. Mill Valley folks don't need it to get a better view of either side of the car, the kids in the back seat or their dazzling smile. It's pretty obvious, the rear view mirror should reflect the rear.

Next, lean your head until it almost touches the driver's side window. Adjust your side mirror so that you can just barely see the side of your car. Now, lean your head to the middle of the car and adjust the outside mirror so that you can barely see the right side of the car.

When Mill Valley drivers adjust their mirrors this way, they'll have maximum coverage. Of course driving is a dynamic process – things change every second on California roads and busy highways. So it's wise to take a quick look to the side when passing to make sure that another vehicle hasn't moved into an area you couldn't see in your mirrors.

As you drive around the Mill Valley area, avoid staying in others' blind spots. You can't count on them to be watching their mirrors and looking out for you.

Here are some tips for passing a heavy vehicle on California roads:

Avoid the blind spots. If you can't see the drivers face in one of his mirrors or in a window, he cannot see you!

Don't follow too close. If you can't see one of the truck's mirrors, you're too close.

Make sure there is plenty of room to pass. Trucks are long and take time to get around. If you're on one of our local two-lane highways, wait for a passing zone.

Don't linger when passing. Because the blind spots are so big on the sides, you want to get through them quickly. If you can't pass quickly, drop back.

Pass on the left whenever possible. A trucks' blind spot is much larger on the right.

The team of automotive professionals at Malugani Tire want you to watch those blind spots – but feel free to sing in the shower all you want.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



To Save Gas Around Mill Valley: Keep up with Your Scheduled Service

Posted January 20, 2012 12:00 PM


 

One topic that hits the news in California on a regular basis is the price of gas. The answer for some California drivers is to buy a vehicle that gets better fuel economy. For those of us in Mill Valley who don't want to add a car payment to our monthly expenses, we need to improve our fuel economy any way we can.

Following recommended service intervals by coming into Malugani Tire is one of the best ways people in Mill Valley can keep their vehicle running efficiently. That means better fuel economy. When you give it some thought, it only makes sense. Dirty oil or transmission fluid can't lubricate or clean. That means more drag which reduces fuel economy.

Keeping up with scheduled oil changes and transmission services will save gas for California drivers.

Dirty engine air filters are another efficiency pirate. They rob your engine of enough air to effectively burn the fuel, so you need more gas to get the job done. Replacing a dirty air filter can pay for itself in fuel savings before the next oil change.

You can imagine what dirty fuel injectors can do to your vehicle as you drive around Mill Valley. If your owner's manual recommends a fuel system cleaning, come into Malugani Tire and ask us to get it done for you.

A simple, but very effective way for drivers to save gas is to keep their tires properly inflated. Low tires can cost you up to a mile per gallon/.425 kilometers per liter. Check your tire pressure when you gas up – or at least once a month.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Nighttime Visibility in Mill Valley

Posted January 10, 2012 12:00 PM



There are a number of factors that contribute to the high nighttime accident rate in the Mill Valley area, things like drowsy driving and a higher rate of impaired driving. Without a doubt, visibility is a major contributor. Let's focus on visibility…

It's said that 90 percent of our driving decisions are based on what we see. Nighttime driving has the effect of reducing 20/20 vision to the equivalent of 20/50 vision. What you could clearly see at 50 feet in daylight can't be seen until you are just 20 feet away at night.

Too make sure your headlights are giving you the greatest visibility, visit us at Malugani Tire, located at 493 Miller Ave, Mill Valley, California 94941. Please give us a call to make an appointment: (415) 388-1800.

Accident avoidance is dependent on reaction time. Reaction time deteriorates measurably in low light conditions. One thing we can do to improve visibility is to make sure our headlights are as bright as they can possibly be.

Headlamps dim over time. They dim so gradually that you may not notice it. Many experts suggest replacing your standard or halogen headlamps once a year.

If your vehicle has standard headlamps, consider upgrading to halogen lamps. They make a big difference. And there are upgrades available within the halogen category as well. This once-a-year expense is very modest compared to the safety benefits.

Some vehicles come with high intensity discharge – or HID – headlamps. These lamps should last for the life of your vehicle. They are very bright and are clearly the best option for nighttime driving. Depending on your vehicle, you may be able to upgrade to HID headlamps. Talk with your Mill Valley area service advisor at Malugani Tire about options for your car.

Another startling fact is that 90 percent of vehicles on the road have dirty or yellowed headlight covers. Dirty is easy to fix. Just run the window washer over the headlight cover when you stop for gas. Get those bugs and dirt off the cover.

Now plastic headlight covers can yellow or become hazy over time. They can be restored to clarity with a special polishing process. Our pros at Malugani Tire can help you with this service.

It's also vital to keep your windshield clean and streak free when driving at night. Make sure you have plenty of washer fluid and that your windshield wipers are in good working order.

We recommend replacing wiper blades twice a year – in the spring and fall. Fall is also a good time to replace headlamps so you'll be ready for those long winter nights.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



What Is a Differential and Do You Have One?

Posted January 4, 2012 12:00 PM

With front-wheel drive being so common these days in Mill Valley, California, the differential is just taken care of during a transmission service, so most Mill Valley drivers don't even have to think about it. And rear-wheel drive differentials don't need to be serviced for years, so it's understandable that it's not something on the top of Mill Valley customers' minds. It's not uncommon for drivers to not know they have a differential let alone know that it needs service.

Call Malugani Tire in Mill Valley at (415) 388-1800 for information about differential service, or stop by our Mill Valley, California, auto center at 493 Miller Ave, 94941.

To better understand what a differential does, think about our local Mill Valley high school track. There are lanes marked off on the track. For the longer distance races, the starting lines are staggered. The starting lines for the outside lanes are ahead of the starting lines for the inside lanes. That's to compensate for the longer length of the outside lanes. Staggering the starting lines means that each runner has the same distance to run.

The differential compensates for the difference in speeds between the inside wheel and the outside wheel in a turn, because they have to travel together through slightly different distances.

It's a very important function. When you think of it, all the power to get a vehicle moving goes through the differential. Most cars in the Mill Valley, California area weigh between 3,000 and 6,000 pounds (1,400 and 2,800 kg) – trucks even more. The power from the engine goes through the transmission and then through the differential to the drive wheels.

That's a lot of work and requires very heavy duty parts. And those parts need protection. The differential fluid lubricates the gears in the differential and keeps them cool.

The fluid eventually gets dirty and worn down. Some kinds of differentials require special additives that break down over time. So vehicle manufacturers recommend intervals for replacing your differential fluid.

The professionals at Malugani Tire will drain the used fluid and check it out for metal bits, which could be a sign of excessive wear on the gears. Then they’ll replace the fluid and install the additives if necessary.

Your Malugani Tire service advisor can look up the vehicle manufacture's recommended service interval or you can check your owner's manual. Give us a call at (415) 388-1800 for more information about your differential service.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Finding Vehicle Recall Information in Mill Valley, California

Posted December 30, 2011 12:00 PM



No matter how well they're made, vehicles in Mill Valley, California, will have design or manufacturing problems.

And when the government thinks a problem is really serious for people in Mill Valley, California, they require the manufacturer to issue a recall notice and fix the vehicle  free of charge. The manufacturer then tries to contact everyone in California who owns that type of vehicle to get the recall work done. Perhaps you have received a postcard notifying you of a recall. The government has links on its websites, or just visit AutoNetTV for links. There are many websites with free recall information and searches. There's CarFax, AutoByTel and the DMV.

Recalls are serious but not all that common. Sometimes there are fewer issues, and for these, manufacturers issue a Technical Service Bulletin, or TSB, that tells service centers like Malugani Tire how to repair a frequent or difficult problem.

The pros get updated information through subscription plans, also available in consumer versions for a reasonable cost. So when recalls occur, get the work done, and keep you and yours safe.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Fuel Injector Cleaning In San Francisco

Posted December 23, 2011 12:00 PM

In very simple terms, a fuel injector is a valve that squirts fuel into your vehicle engine. Your engine control computer tells the fuel injector how much fuel to deliver as well as the precise time it should be delivered. Of course this happens thousands of times a minute.

High temperatures under your hood and variations in San Francisco gas quality cause fuel injectors to be fouled with wax, dirt, water, additives and carbon. Injectors can become partially clogged, preventing them from delivering the proper amount of fuel at the correct pressure.

When your vehicle's injectors are dirty, the fuel doesn't burn as efficiently, resulting in poor fuel economy and loss of power. So it's important to keep your fuel injectors clean.

We can perform a full fuel system service for you at Malugani Tire in which the fuel injectors are cleaned so that they operate properly and deliver the right amount of fuel at the right time.

California drivers should remember that proper maintenance of their fuel system means that they will spend less on gas in San Francisco, enjoy strong performance and prevent costly repairs down the road.



Make Your Battery Last

Posted December 13, 2011 12:00 PM



Today's report from Malugani Tire is on vehicle batteries, why they die and what we can do to lengthen their life. Most of us have had a dead battery at one time or another. In fact, it would be very unusual if you hadn't. You may be surprised to learn that only 30 percent of Mill Valley vehicle batteries last for 48 months.

Now that's an average. How long a battery lasts depends on many factors. You may not know that one of the biggest factors is the temperature where you live and drive around in California. You might suppose that cold weather was harder on batteries because it takes more power to crank a cold engine, but the opposite is actually true.

For more information on your battery, please visit us:
Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

Batteries in very cold climates have a life expectancy of 51 months as opposed to 30 months in very warm climates. The reason is simple: batteries are chemically more active when they're hot than when they're cold.

A vehicle battery will actually start to discharge on its own within 24 hours in hot weather. It takes several days in cold weather. When batteries are left too long in a state of partial discharge, the discharged portion of the battery plates — for the lack of a better word — 'die.' Recharging the battery will not restore the dead part of the battery plate.

One of the big problems for the way most of us drive in the Mill Valley area is that our batteries are often partially discharged. The biggest job the battery does is to start the vehicle. It takes some time for the alternator to recharge the battery after starting. If you're driving short distances, especially if there are several starts and stops, your battery may not fully recharge.

Another issue is that vehicles are coming equipped with more and more electricity-hungry accessories like navigation systems, DVD players, CD and MP3 players, heated seats, heated steering wheels and so on. And we often plug in cell phones, computers and other gadgets. Combine that with short trips and it's no wonder that our batteries are partially discharged.

Experts say we can extend our battery life by topping off the charge periodically using a good quality battery charger. You may have heard these chargers referred to as 'trickle chargers.' They're attached to the battery and plugged into a wall outlet to slowly bring the battery up to full charge.

Now, there's some science involved with how fast a battery should be recharged. If you buy a cheap manual charger, you'll have to tend it. Frankly there is a learning curve on how to do it right and it requires much attention. A computer controlled charger – or smart charger – monitors the process and determines the appropriate rate of charge. And it even stops charging when it's fully charged. It costs more than the manual charger, but the automatic model is worth it.

The suggestion is to charge once a month in warm weather and once every three months in cold weather.

Another thing to avoid is deeply discharging your battery, something like running the headlights and stereo with the engine turned off. That'll take months off the battery life every time you do it.

Now, as we discussed, heat is hard on a battery. A dirty, greasy battery holds more heat. You can wipe off excess dirt with a paper towel or ask your service advisor at Malugani Tire to clean it for you. We can even test your battery and tell you if it's time to replace it.

Batteries are fairly expensive, so taking a few steps to make them last longer is well worth it. Of course, the battery will eventually need to be replaced. Always make sure you get a new battery that meets the factory specifications for your vehicle. If you feel you need more battery capacity than what came with your vehicle, talk with your service advisor at Malugani Tire about appropriate upgrades.

If you have a dead battery, be careful to inspect it before you jump start it. If the case is bulging, cracked or leaking, do not jump start it. Damaged batteries can explode or catch fire. And deeply discharged batteries can freeze. Do not jump start a frozen battery.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Battery Replacement for Your vehicle

Posted December 9, 2011 12:00 PM

Modern vehicles in and around Mill Valley run on 12 volt electrical systems. 12 volts is enough to get the job done for Mill Valley drivers without having so much power that there is danger of electrocution. But today's vehicles have more electrical components and do-dads than ever before. This really strains your electrical system, making it hard for the battery to keep up. Think about it: electric seats, seat heaters, power locks windows and sun roofs. And then us California drivers have all the power outlets for our cell phones, computers and DVD players.

We also have navigation systems and powerful stereos. Plus there are all the engine and transmission computers, traction control, stability control, anti-lock brakes, sensors and on and on. Even the security system is running off the battery while the car is turned off.

Fortunately, battery technology has given Mill Valley drivers resilient batteries that are able to meet these strenuous requirements. But the fact is, batteries just wear out over time. Eventually, every battery gets to the point where it cannot hold enough of a charge to start your vehicle. Sometimes batteries need to be replaced because they have just worn out. Or, in other cases, they have developed a leak which makes it even more important to get it replaced.

Special safety precautions are taken when working with batteries at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, California. These precautions also apply to anyone who is poking around the battery. Batteries contain sulfuric acid that can damage your eyes and burn your skin, so safety glasses and rubber gloves are a must for any Mill Valley resident working with their battery. Be careful to not spill acid on your clothes or the vehicle's paint. Of course, avoid short circuiting the battery as well.

Sometimes there is quite a price range in Mill Valley auto part stores for batteries that will work in a particular car. Think of it as "good," "better" and "best." More expensive batteries have a longer warranty and are guaranteed to last longer. As with most things, paying a little more up front saves in the long run for Mill Valley drivers.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800

 



Wiper Blades in California

Posted November 29, 2011 12:00 PM

If you're gonna drive around the Mill Valley area, you've got to be able to see! So having a good set of windshield wipers is extremely important. We've all experienced the frustration and fear of not being able to see clearly during a storm or when our windshield is just dirty.

It seems like your wiper blades are always at their worst when you need them the most. But windshield wipers are like most other vehicle parts– they require regular attention in order to work their best.

You really ought to replace your wiper blades twice a year; in the spring and the fall. If it's going to be a particularly harsh winter in California, you may even want to get special winter blades in the fall. Winter blades are designed to resist freezing.

Speaking of winter and freezing conditions, if your car has been sitting for a long time and the windshield becomes frozen, don't use your wipers to clear off snow and ice. That'll just tear up the blades and cause them to wear out more quickly. It may even damage the wiper motor.

Over time, wiper blades become hard and brittle, and then tear. They also lose their flexibility and just don't cover the windshield effectively.

Worn wiper blades aren't just a safety hazard; they can also scratch your windshield. That may require replacing the entire windshield, a big cost for such a little part.

Replace worn blades right away. Our professionals at Malugani Tire can provide you with a quality replacement blade. They cost about the same as they would at the store, but installation is included at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley.

Of course you also need windshield washer fluid to help your blades do their work. Even though Malugani Tire will top off the washer fluid with a full service oil change, it is a good idea to have some extra fluid at home, or in the car if you are on a long trip.

Always use windshield washer fluid. Plain water, even that fancy bottled water, may freeze in the fluid reservoir or on the windshield itself, making things worse. Besides, water won't do a good job of cleaning your windows.

And remember that some vehicles have two reservoirs: one for the windshield and one for the back window, which may be under the hood or somewhere in the back.

So follow these tips to keep your windshield clear and your eye on the road, and give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Keeping Your Engine Cool in Mill Valley, California

Posted November 25, 2011 12:00 PM



The cooling system keeps California vehicle's engines from overheating while they are driving around Mill Valley. Its job is to move heat away from the engine. Let's talk about the various components of the system and how they make this happen.

The radiator is the part most Mill Valley drivers associate with the cooling system. Coolant flows through the radiator which has fine cooling fins that draw the heat out of the coolant and dissipate it into the air. To make sure there's enough airflow over the radiator, a fan pulls air over the cooling fins even when the vehicle is idling.

In some vehicles, the fan is powered by the serpentine belt. On others, an electric motor runs the fan. Electric fans turn on and off as needed. You may have heard the fan kick on shortly after you turn your vehicle off. The sensor has determined that the engine needs a little help cooling down to a safe temperature.

A hose connects the radiator to the water pump. The water pump pushes the water into the vehicle engine block. Now the engine block and cylinder heads have passages for the coolant to pass through without getting into the oil or the combustion chamber. In the automotive community, these passages are referred to as the "water jacket."

While the coolant is passing through the water jacket, it absorbs heat from the vehicle engine on its way to the radiator for cooling. Between the engine and the radiator is a gatekeeper called the thermostat. The thermostat's job is to regulate the temperature of the engine just like your home thermostat regulates the temperature in your house. It gets your engine up to the correct operating temperature and then keeps it from overheating.

When you first start the engine, it's very cold and needs to warm up. So the thermostat blocks the flow of coolant to the radiator. As the engine warms up, the thermostat starts to let coolant flow through the system.

The final component the team at Malugani Tire wants to point out is the overflow reservoir. This bottle is designed to hold some of the coolant. It'll have a mark that indicates whether or not you have enough coolant. This is where you should add coolant if you just need to top it off.

Caution: never open the reservoir or the radiator cap when the car's hot. The cooling system is pressurized, and opening those caps while it's hot can cause hot coolant and steam to escape resulting in serious burns.

Cooling system failure is the most common mechanical failure in vehicles around Mill Valley, California. At Malugani Tire, we can do a periodic inspection of the components for  leaks, loose connections and weakening hoses.

Your vehicle manufacturer has also specified a cooling system service interval. With a cooling system service at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, the old coolant is replaced with correct clean fluid that contains the additives required to prevent corrosion. The additives are depleted over time and you need fresh fluid for adequate protection. Your radiator pressure cap should be replaced at this service as well.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Check Your Shocks and Struts at Malugani Tire

Posted November 15, 2011 12:00 PM


 

Today we're talking to Mill Valley drivers about shocks and struts. They're so easy for California folks to forget about because they last so long and wear out so slowly. But your shocks are really responsible for keeping your tires on the road – so they're very important.

Without shocks, your wheels would be bouncing over bumps and lifting on corners. The shocks push the tire down to the road to maximize traction. Good shocks equal good ride quality and safe handling for Mill Valley drivers.

There's a difference between shocks and springs. Springs support the weight of the vehicle, keeping it suspended up off the axles. The shocks moderate the rebound motion as wheels hit bumps. Now a strut combines a shock and a coil spring in one compact unit.

It's best to replace all four shocks at the same time. That way you'll have even, predictable handling at all four corners. Anything less could be dangerous.

Visit Malugani Tire to have your shocks and struts inspected by a professional.


Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Keep Your Cool in Mill Valley: Air Conditioning Service

Posted November 8, 2011 12:00 PM

Most Mill Valley drivers don't even think about their air conditioner.

Now here's a tip for Mill Valley vehicle owners: Run your air conditioner every so often during California winters. This circulates the lubricant to help keep the seals from drying out.

The air conditioner actually removes some of the moisture in the air. So if you have trouble with fogging on your vehicle windshield during California winters or during a rain storm, running the A/C on the defrost setting should help. Now on some Mill Valley cars you can't run the A/C at the same time as the defroster. Don't ask me why, but I suspect lawyers were involved.

Also, air and water can get into the A/C system. That can reduce the efficiency of the system and also lead to corrosion that causes damage. Mill Valley drivers should periodically purge the system and replace the refrigerant to remove the air and water.

California drivers would be wise to learn the early warning signs of A/C trouble: 1) The air's not as cold as it used to be. 2) It makes unusual noises when the A/C cycles on. Those are signs to get your vehicle into Malugani Tire in Mill Valley before the damage gets worse.

By following the recommended service intervals in your vehicle owner's manual, you can help prevent mechanical failure of your air conditioning system. Your A/C system contains some components like the compressor, condenser, dryer, etc. Anything Mill Valley car owners can do to lengthen the life of their A/C is well worth it. 

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Brake Service at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley

Posted November 3, 2011 12:00 PM

Brakes really aren't optional equipment for Mill Valley drivers' vehicles. And taking care of them isn't optional either.

A regular brake inspection is on every California driver's vehicle maintenance schedule. At Malugani Tire, our team will check your brake system and let you know if there are any problems. Of course, if you're having trouble with your brakes, get your car into your Mill Valley service center right away. And watch out for these problems:

  • Low or spongy brake pedal
  • Hard brake pedal
  • A brake warning light that stays on
  • Constantly squealing or grinding brakes
  • Vibrations or clunking sounds when you apply your brakes

There are two types of brakes: disc and drum. Disc brakes have a rotor that's attached to the axle. Calipers straddle the rotor, kind of like the brakes on a bicycle. Drum brakes are more common on back wheels. Pads, called shoes, push against the inside of the drum to slow the vehicle.

There are several things that need to be serviced on the brake system. First, the brake pads and shoes wear out with use and become too thin to really help. If the brake pads wear away completely you can damage the rotors. The calipers can grind grooves in the rotor. Then the rotor must either be resurfaced or replaced, and that can be expensive. But putting it off is dangerous because your vehicle won't stop as quickly. Sometimes rotors warp or crack and must be replaced.

Brake fluid is also important. When the brakes are applied, the pressure in the fluid activates the brake pads or shoes. Not enough fluid, not enough pressure to brake properly. Also, water builds up in the brake fluid over time, which leads to corrosion, leaks and brake damage, and with hard use, the brakes could severely fade or even fail. Mill Valley  drivers should change the brake fluid when their vehicle manufacturer recommends it.

Be sure to properly maintain your brakes because it's a lot cheaper than paying your nearest Mill Valley area body shop after an accident.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Cooling System Components

Posted October 28, 2011 12:00 PM

Today we want to talk about a system in our vehicles – the cooling system. It's one of those things that Mill Valley auto owners don't give much thought to until it fails and then they're stranded by the side of a road in California.

Cooling systems fail more often than any other mechanical system – usually because of neglect. Don't you hate it when something breaks and you could have done something to prevent it?

The good news is that if Mill Valley drivers take care of their cooling systems, they can keep working for the life of their car.

Here at Malugani Tire in Mill Valley, we emphasize preventive maintenance services like replacing your coolant according to the factory schedule. But the various parts that make up the cooling system need attention too. The major components of the cooling system are the water pump, freeze plugs, the thermostat, radiator, cooling fans, the heater core, the pressure cap, the overflow tank and the hoses.

It sounds complicated, but we Mill Valley residents don't have to be experts – we can leave that to our friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Malugani Tire. But, having an overview will help us remember how to take care of your car's cooling system.

Most Mill Valley folks would be surprised to know that burning fuel in your engine produces up to 4,500 degrees F/2,500 degrees C of heat. And all that heat has to be dealt with. If the heat can't be drawn off the engine, the pistons will literally weld themselves to the inside of the cylinders – then you just have to throw the engine away and get a new one. That would cost thousands of dollars.

Now the water pump is what forces the coolant through passages in the vehicle engine to absorb heat. The pump is driven by a belt that needs replacement from time to time. And the water pump will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. Spending some cash on replacing the belts and water pump is much less than the cost of repairing the extremely massive damage that can be done when an engine seizes.

There's another little known but important part of the coolant system that protects the engine. It's called a freeze plug. If you remember from high school chemistry, water expands when it freezes. In very cold areas, the coolant can actually freeze when the vehicle is left sitting.

It is hard to believe, but the expanding frozen coolant is enough to actually crack the engine block. The freeze plugs fit into the engine block. They fit tight enough to withstand the pressure of a running engine, but can expand or pop out if the coolant freezes. These little things save a lot of engine blocks.

The team at Malugani Tire can check your cooling system and make any necessary adjustments or repairs. Give us a call.

Malugani Tire
493 Miller Ave
Mill Valley, California 94941
(415) 388-1800



Deep Clean Your Fuel System at Malugani Tire

Posted October 18, 2011 12:00 PM

Having trouble with your fuel system? Bring your vehicle