Mile High Maintenance: Caring for Your Car at Altitude
Your Environment Effects Your Car
No matter where you live, your environment impacts your vehicle. The salty sea airspeeds the rust process and erodes exterior finishes. Windy deserts sandblast paint. Here in Colorado, we have the added distinction of being at high altitude. Altitude can amplify small problems and, if you’re not paying attention to your vehicle, cause new issues. At AAMCO Colorado we know what it’s like to live in Colorado and the toll it can take on your car – we’re here to help prevent that.
If you’ve just moved to Colorado, or purchased a vehicle that was relocated from sea level, it is a good idea to bring your vehicle in for a tune-up to make sure it’s operating and using fuel efficiently.
The Effects Of Altitide
The most noticeable side-effect of altitude is lowered air density. Lower air density means less compression, so less of the vital fuel components like oxygen, nitrogen, and argon are in any given volume of air when compared to the same volume at sea level. Having less density means that your engine pulls in less oxygen, nitrogen, and argon, resulting in up to 20% loss in power!
Effects On The Engine
Unlike normal wear and tear that’s compounded over time, altitude effects build as soon as the vehicle starts to climb. Many newer vehicles are designed and tested in high altitude areas to minimize the effects – you might even have seen them testing in your neighborhood.
The reduced oxygen means that your engine struggles to intake enough air to feed itself –this can lead to inefficient and even sluggish performance. If it’s not tuned correctly, it can impact everything from towing capability to acceleration.
Effects On The Fuel System
A benefit of being at altitude is the lower fuel octane ratings required to correctly start running. The downside to this, though, is if you drive to lower elevation areas your check engine light may come on.
Effects On Tire Pressure
As temperatures drop at high elevation, tire pressure will decrease. If left unaddressed, low tire pressure can lead to reduced fuel economy, reduced steering precision, uneven wear, and at extremes, tire failure. If you’re driving up and down in elevation, it’s a good idea to check your pressure frequently.
Altitude Specific Maintenece
Keep Air Filters Clean
As oxygen is at a premium up here in Mile High, maximizing airflow is critical. Clean air filters will ensure your engine is getting the most oxygen possible.
Frequently Check Tire Pressure
With our undulating elevations and temperature extremes, keeping tabs on and adjusting your tire pressure will ensure your trips are safe and efficient no matter the destination.
Keep Fuel Injectors Clean
With reduced atmospheric pressure, clean fuel injectors are integral to ensure even fuel delivery, as gunk and debris will limit flow.
Check Power Steering
With high altitude comes high wind, and if your power steering is loose, you may be pushed off the road. Make sure your power steering is tight and the front-end suspension is in proper working condition.
Check Brake Pads
Driving up and down steep mountain roads will wear out brake pads far faster than a smooth, level drive. Keeping a close eye on the state of your brake pads will allow you to brake when it counts (and avoid having to make the run of shame on the runaway truck ramps!).
Mile High Car Maintenece – AAMCO Can Help
Performing regular maintenance on your vehicle is extra important when you’re driving at altitude, as issues that you may be able to limp home with at sea level may be exponentially more of an impediment. Running out of windshield wiper fluid or power steering fluid may not be the end of the world on a drive through flat desert, but it will definitely make your windy mountain descent more harrowing!
By performing a few simple checks now, and keeping regular maintenance intervals at a local AAMCO Colorado shop, you’ll be ready to drive anywhere, including Pikes Peak! From a tune-up and multi-point inspection to diagnostics, maintenance, and repair, we’re here to make sure your drive is a mountain of fun, not a mountain of worry. So whether you have an upcoming trip or just a slight lapse in maintenance, call or schedule online and visit your local AAMCO Colorado location to get your car ready for whatever the environment throws at it.