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A Simple Way Phoenix Drivers Can Improve Gas Mileage

Let Kelly Clark Automotive in Phoenix Provide You with A Quick Fix
Gas mileage is one of those things we all want to improve. Squeezing every mile out of each fill-up is important. Did you know that not changing your air filter can dramatically impact your gas mileage?

Air filters are a lot more important than you think. Want to know a quick and easy way to improve your gas mileage? Change your air filter every 7,000 miles. We’re here to show you exactly how easy it is to do it yourself.

Let Kelly Clark Automotive Specialists help you get the best gas mileage. Since 1954, we’ve been repairing and maintaining automobiles for residents of Desert Ridge, Phoenix, Paradise Valley, Scottsdale, and Glendale.

Common Triggers for Check Engine Lights

Diagnosing Check Engine Light Causes at Kelly Clark Automotive Repair in Phoenix

As a driver, there’s nothing worse than cruising along, only to have your eye caught by that dreaded little check engine light. Even the most clueless of mechanics knows that this warning light means one thing – trouble! So what should you do, and more importantly, what does it mean? Read on for our guide to managing your check engine light, and coming out unscathed.

The Basics

The first step is to pull over as soon as possible. This doesn’t necessarily mean coming to a grinding halt, especially if you’re in heavy traffic or cruising at high speed. Be smart, and pull over only when it’s safe to do so. Chances are, an extra minute or so on the road won’t make a huge difference.

The next step is understanding what a lit up engine light actually means. Unfortunately, it’s a little vague, and doesn’t indicate exactly what the problem is. Just that there is a problem. So what issues could the light be trying to warn you about?

First things first, check your dashboard gauges and lights for any signs of overheating or low oil pressure. These categorize as roadside emergencies, and should be addressed immediately. If you can’t see any immediate problem, the following are common triggers that get engine lights glowing:

  • One frequent cause is a faulty oxygen sensor. We see many Phoenix-area cars come in to Kelly Clark Automotive Repair with this issue. This item actively monitors unburned oxygen from the exhaust pipe, and sends data to the car’s internal computer. Without it, gas mileage can significantly decrease, and emissions can skyrocket.
  • Malfunctioning catalytic convertors can also light up engine warning lights, and prevent the car from reducing its exhaust gases. Again, this decreases gas mileage, and allows harmful materials to be released into the atmosphere. When catalytic convertors overheat, damage repair costs can get expensive.
  • Another major cause is a loose or faulty gas cap. This can allow gas vapors to escape, which can disrupt the entire fuel system. It happens to many of us too. You’re finishing the fill up, texting, talking to your kids and simply forget to replace the cap. The next day you panic when the light comes on, but never think for a minute about your fill up the day before.
  • Worn down spark plugs and wires can also activate engine warning lights, which can spell big-time headaches for motorists. Spark plugs seal the combustion chamber and are a critical part of kick-starting the engine. Faulty plugs see sparks misfire, which can cause the car’s acceleration to jump and jolt. Engine misfires can also dump unburned fuel into the exhaust system, which can send catalytic converter temperatures soaring – see above!

It’s important to remember that while you may not notice an immediate problem, a flashing engine light is definitely not something to be ignored. Modern automotive computers tend to overcompensate when there’s an engine issue, which can conceal signs of performance deterioration, and lull drivers into a false sense of security. Meanwhile, gas mileage suffers, emissions spike, and permanent engine damage becomes increasingly likely. Avoid all of the above by paying close attention to your engine light—and seeing expert mechanical help from Kelly Clark Automotive Specialists if it lights up.

Help! My Car’s Radiator Hose is Leaking!

Kelly Clark Automotive Repair in Phoenix Has A Quick Radiator Hose Fix

Have you ever stopped somewhere and noticed the neon green puddle of coolant dripping under the car? That’s a sure sign you’ve got a leak. If your radiator hose is dripping, here’s a quick fix that’ll keep you from overheating and get you to the shop where our automotive repair experts will have your car’s radiator fixed quickly and economically.

The Arizona College Students’ Guide to Buying a Used Car

Tips for Arizona’s Coeds Looking to Buy on a Budget

With the end of summer just around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to get around when the school year kicks in. It’s no secret that as soon as you drive out of a dealership, the price of a new car instantly drops. That’s why as students, splashing out on a brand new set of wheels just isn’t savvy. Instead, pre-loved vehicles are the way to go.

Of course, knowing how to distinguish the gems from the old bombs is essential. As is choosing a car that suits your lifestyle. So to help you out, we’ve put together a guide to buying used cars, with a student friendly edge.

Two doors, or four?

One of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make is how many doors to opt for? While most standard cars feature four doors, you can also choose to go smaller and buy a car with two front doors, and a rear bench that can be accessed by folding down the front seats. If you’re planning on carpooling to college with three or more passengers, a four door car definitely trumps a two door option.

Fuel efficiency

Gas prices may have dropped significantly over the past two years, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be smart about choosing a fuel efficient vehicle. Depending on how far you commute to school each day, filling up the tank could become a major expense.


School parking can be a nightmare, especially when the parking spots are crammed. This is when it pays to have a small car that’s compact, and easy to park. If you’re planning on using your ride primarily as a mode of transport to and from school, small cars are your best bet. However, if you’re investing in not just a ride but a lifestyle accessory, you may want to upgrade to something a little roomier. For example, if you surf, kayak or camp, you’ll probably want a larger trunk, and more space for roof racks.

Age and mileage

As a general rule of thumb, newer cars tend to be more reliable than their older counterparts. That said, quality also depends heavily on treatment from the previous owner. Mileage can offer invaluable insight into the condition of a car, so be sure to check out the odometer.

The finer details

Like snowflakes, no two used cars are the same. This means its pays to take a close look at every car you check out. Keep an eye out for telltale signs of collision damage, like paint overspray on doors or shattered glass under the seats. Interior mildew odors could indicate water leaks, fresh undercoating may be covering up structural repairs, lit warning lights may indicate expensive engine issues and frothy motor oil is a classic sign of a blown head gasket.

Ultimately, there are a handful of different factors to consider when purchasing a new car. And to us, each and every one matters. Honing in on a new set of wheels shouldn’t be a matter of luck, divine intervention or any other form of chance. Yes, it takes homework, patience and street smarts, but if you follow these steps you should be able to find yourself a sweet ride, at a great student-friendly price.

Tips for Driving in an Arizona Monsoon

Don’t Get Caught Off Guard When Driving in a Torrential Arizona Rain Storm

We’ve all been there… Speeding down the highway at an ungodly hour, with rain hammering down on the windshield while your wipers barely keep up. Driving in monsoonal rain is nerve-racking to say the least, but what about the mechanical effects on the vehicle itself?

As automotive specialists in Arizona, we know how detrimental heavy rain can be to a car’s performance. And as a driver, it’s important for you to understand just how damaging torrential rain can be…


Rain can churn up roadside debris, which can be sucked into the engine’s components as you plough through a down pour it ploughs through a downpour. This means that leaves, dirt and other elements can be sucked into filters, and eventually clog them up. As a result, the engine’s ability to transport vital liquids and oils through the system is compromised. Cue engine seizures, overheated radiators and other major headaches.


There’s an intrinsic relationship between rain and stopping distances, and it’s not a good one. When roads are wet, braking performance drops as the wheels have less grip on the road. Pay particular attention during the first few heavy rains of the season, as these tend to dislodge oil that’s accumulated over the summer months. This tends to create ultra-slippery conditions on the road. The general rule of thumb is to multiply safe stopping distances by two.

Electric fan motors

Most well maintained electric fan motors are safeguarded against rain. However in monsoon storms, leakage can occur. This can short out motors, and cause the engine to overheat. Avoid this scenario by regularly checking for leaks during wet weather months, and keeping an eye on the temperature gauge when driving in heavy rain.


A common issue encountered when driving in the rain is squeaking belts. Moisture can increase wear and tear, as well as facilitate the growth of mold and dry rot. If you hear subtle squeaking noises after driving in wet weather be sure to check your belts to make sure they’re clean, and dry.


Handling performance, braking power and drainage are all compromised in heavy rain. One of the most dangerous side effects occurs when tires hydroplane on water, which causes temporary loss of direction. Grip is also compromised, which drags down response times and can send vehicles reeling out of control, even at the smallest of movements.

Intake pipe

In general, intake pipes are pretty resilient when it comes to avoiding the wrath of rain. However, when the skies really open up, it can simulate ‘underwater’ conditions. This causes the air intake pipe to suck up water which makes a beeline for cylinders. In response, the engine cuts out and descends into a hydrostatic lock. In severe cases this can trigger deformation of mechanical parts, which in a worst case scenario could call for a complete engine replacement.

The absolute safest way to drive in monsoonal conditions is to have an in-depth understanding of how heavy rain affects a vehicle’s performance. All drivers should understand the risks, as well as know how to manage them. And of course, Kelly Clark Automotive is your trusted on-call top Phoenix auto repair shop, should you encounter any issues as a result of driving in heavy Arizona rain.

How the Arizona Heat Can Affect Your Car

Phoenix-based Kelly Clark Automotive Understands the Desert Heat’s Impact on Your Automobile

Whether you’re a complete automotive novice or an experienced mechanic, every driver should know that when the temperature gauge lights up, alarm bells should start ringing. As automotive specialists in Phoenix, Arizona where summer temps hit over 110°F, we’re well aware that extreme heat can wreak havoc on cars. And we’re not talking about sunburn! From brakes and batteries to tires and fluids, high temperatures can be incredibly destructive. Ultimately, this translates to poor performance, compromised safety and of course, sky-high mechanic bills.

To help you keep your vehicle in top gear, we’ve put together a rundown of how heat affects various parts of your vehicle, and how to keep your wheels cool.

Wears down brakes

Despite its intrinsic importance, brake fluid is quite possibly the most neglected component of automobile maintenance. When brake fluid overheats it boils in the caliper, which creates gas bubbles within the liquid. This creates a “soft” brake pedal effect which compromises (and in some cases abolishes) a car’s stopping abilities.

Overheats batteries

Without a battery, your car won’t just kick into gear. High temperatures accelerate a battery’s chemical operations which triggers the evaporation of internal fluids. This fast-tracks burnout times, and leaves cars more or less useless. Avoid dead batteries by keeping components clean, and free of corrosion. If you live in the valley of the sun, regular checkups from a professional auto repair shop in Phoenix is also a good bet.

Chews up tires

When summer pavement temperatures soar, tires feel the heat. As well as warmth generated by rolling resistance, hot surfaces amplify stress on tread cracks, bald spots and sidewall bubbles, especially when cruising at highway speeds. The result is accelerated disintegration, or even immediate blowouts in a worst case scenario. High temperatures can also dry out rubber, which increases air pressure and causes the center of the tire to wear out faster than the outer edges. Pencilling in regular tire pressure and condition check ups is the best way to avoid heat damage during the hotter months.

Fires up fluids

We’ve already touched on the dangers of overheated brake fluid, but hot temperatures can also get other essential liquids simmering. If oil burns out, the engine is no longer able to lubricate its parts, which can cause a mechanical seizure. A dried up radiator fluid or coolant supply can get engines sizzling, while transmission fluid, power steering fluid and air conditioning coolant can also compromise overall performance.

Belts and hoses

Even the most sophisticated of modern vehicles still rely on traditional belt and hose systems to transport essential fluids throughout the engine. When these overheat due to temperature or friction, the vehicle’s ability to lubricate itself is compromised. The best way to avoid damage is to visually inspect belts and hoses for physical damage like cracks and tears. Pay particular attention to areas near clamps and connections, as these are the weakest links. In the long run, staying on top of belt and hose performance could save you serious headaches in the form of overheated radiators and engines.

The bottom line? Staying cool is a fundamental part keeping vehicles safe, and running. If you feel any of your car’s components have fallen victim to the Arizona heat, let Kelly Clark Automotive Specialists help. We’ll perform a complete check up on your car, inspecting any possible damage due to Phoenix’s high temperatures, and get you back on the road in no time.