Auto Care Plus

Serving Orange and the surrounding area for over 40 years

Auto Care Plus - Serving Orange and the surrounding area for over 40 years

What Is A Differential And Do You Have One?

With front-wheel drive being so common these days in Orange, CA, the differential is just taken care of during a transmission service, so most folks in Orange, CA 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 mind for our Orange customers. So it’s not uncommon for people to not know they have a differential let alone know that it needs service.

Call Auto Care Plus at (714) 771-7587 for information about differential service, or stop by our Orange, CA auto center at 1432 N Glassell St. 92867.

To better understand what a differential does, think about our local Orange 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 Orange, CA area weigh between three and six thousand pounds – 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 breakdown over time. So manufacturers recommend intervals for replacing your differential fluid.

Your Orange, CA technician at Auto Care Plus will drain the used fluid and check it out for metal bits, which could be a sign of excessive wear on the gears. Then he’ll replace the fluid and install the additives if necessary.

Your Auto Care Plus service advisor can look up the manufacturer’s recommended service interval or you can check your owner’s manual. Give us a call at (714) 771-7587 for more information about your differential service.

Defensive Driving In Orange CA

There was a man in Buena Park who learned that most car accidents occur within a mile of home – so he moved. (Just Kidding!)

When we think of defensive driving, we often focus on our local CA highway situations. The fact of the matter is we need to be just as careful close to home in Orange, because that’s where we do most of our driving. We can’t let our familiar surroundings keep us from driving defensively.

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 Orange CA. 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 Orange CA intersection. 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 Orange, or take the next exit on the CA highway. Notify the police if you see someone driving dangerously in our Orange community.

Never follow too close. 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 close.

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.

Auto Care Plus
1432 N Glassell St.
Orange, CA 92867
(714) 771-7587

Power Steering Service At Auto Care Plus In Orange

Many Orange 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 for a few years now. An electric motor directly provides the power assist to make steering easier. Undoubtedly we’ll see much more of this in Orange as full electric cars and electric hybrids become more common.

The vast majority of cars and trucks serviced at Auto Care Plus in Orange use a hydraulic power boost system. With hydraulics, fluid is pressurized by a pump which actuates a hydraulic cylinder to reduce steering effort. Some of these pumps are powered by an electric motor. Most pumps are powered by the serpentine belt driven by the engine.

Power Steering Service At Auto Care Plus In OrangePower steering fluid has the necessary hydraulic properties and the ability to lubricate the internal parts. The power steering fluid also protects SUV components from rust and corrosion.

Orange car owners should be aware that manufacturers recommend that the fluid be replaced on schedule.
At Auto Care Plus, the old fluid is drained and the system cleaned thoroughly. Fresh fluid is then installed.

Unfortunately, many Orange drivers don’t realize how critical 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.

Orange 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 Auto Care Plus in Orange.

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 Orange includes an inspection of steering components.

If you notice any play in the steering wheel, that the steering wheel is off center, or a noise coming from your front wheels, especially when turning, have your Auto Care Plus 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. Call Auto Care Plus today at (714) 771-7587.

Tire Tread Depth for Orange, CA




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 two-thirty-seconds of an inch to be the minimum legal tread depth. Two other states, including California, consider one-thirty-second to be the minimum and six states have no standards at all. Call us at Auto Care Plus; (just call (714) 771-7587) to find out what your requirements are in the Orange, CA 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” of tread left. But does that older standard give you enough safety?

Consider this: Consumer Reports recommends tire replacement when tread reaches 4/32”. And the recommendation is backed by some very compelling studies. Now before we go into the studies, you need to know that the big issue is braking on wet surfaces.

We tend to think of the brakes doing all the stopping, but you also need to have effective tires to actually stop the car. When it’s wet or snowy in Orange CA, the tread of the tire is critical to stopping power.

Picture this: you’re driving in Orange over a water-covered stretch of road. Your tires actually 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 actually 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 you’ll 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 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” 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. 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 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 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 of clear road ahead to come to a safe stop. How many Orange car owners follow that far behind the SUV ahead? Obviously, this is a critical 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 you know when your tires are at 4/32”? Well, it’s pretty easy. 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 tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.

Now you may remember doing that with pennies. But a penny gives you 2/32” of an inch to Abraham Lincoln’s head. The quarter is the new standard – 4/32”.

Tires are a big ticket item and most people in Orange, CA want to get thousands of miles 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 Auto Care Plus in Orange.

Auto Care Plus
1432 N Glassell St.
Orange, CA 92867
(714) 771-7587