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News

West Nile fogging commences today

West Nile fogging commences today


Courtesy of the Santa Clara County Vector Control District
Fogging commences Wednesday within the highlighted area.

The detection of West Nile Virus-infected mosquitos means that Santa Clara County officials will begin mosquito fogging operations...

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Schools

LASD trustees reopen negotiations with Los Altos Teachers Association

The Los Altos School District Board of Trustees last week directed staff to reopen negotiations with the Los Altos Teachers Association, a move intended to shore up the district’s financial picture.

According to the district’s current co...

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Community

LA teenager crowned Miss Golden State, advances to national pageant in Florida

LA teenager crowned Miss Golden State, advances to national pageant in Florida


Alicia Castro/Town Crier
Alexandra McCarthy, crowned Miss Golden State Teen in July, earned “Ms. Personality” honors from her peers.

Alexandra McCarthy has a ways to go before reaching her coveted role as a U.S. Supreme Court justice. Bu...

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Sports

After rough year, Eagles aim to soar once more

After rough year, Eagles aim to soar once more


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High senior running back Patrick Vargas snares a pass in practice last week.

Don’t dismiss the Eagles. Coach Trevor Pruitt is adamant that his Los Altos High football team will be better than expected.

&#...

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Comment

Car spotting 2015: A Piece of My Mind

When I was a kid, September was exciting, almost like Christmas, because that was when the Big Three automakers would reveal the new models for the upcoming year.

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Special Sections

Loving on the Edge

Loving on the Edge


Courtesy of Ford
The Ford Edge has been redesigned for 2015. Ford lengthened the wheel base and added cargo space, among other things. The Titanium model sells for approximately $42,000.

Once in a while, a vehicle we test-drive is just right for our...

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Business

Wine bar aims for October opening

Wine bar aims for October opening


Rendering courtesy of Honcho
Honcho, the wine and beer lounge on First Street, expects an October launch. A rendering of the space reveals the interior layout, which includes bar and lounge-style seating.

A downtown libations lounge that anticip...

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People

LOIS CAROLINE WALLES

LOIS CAROLINE WALLES

November, 1928

Lois lost a long and courageous battle with a prolonged illness on July 14th, 2015. She passed away knowing how well she was loved. She was always the life of the party and loved bringing everyone to her home for dinner or an event,...

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Travel

Carmel Valley Ranch unveils upgrades

Carmel Valley Ranch unveils upgrades


Courtesy of Carmel Valley Ranch
Carmel Valley Ranch recently upgraded its Vineyard Oak suites, which feature sweeping views, rocking chairs and private outdoor tubs for soaking under the stars.

Things are heating up at Carmel Valley Ranch, with 30 n...

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Stepping Out

'Dead Man' comes alive at Bus Barn

'Dead Man' comes alive at Bus Barn


Richard Mayer/Special to the Town Crier
The cast of Los Altos Stage Company’s “Dead Man’s Cell Phone” includes, from left, Marjorie Hazeltine (as Hermia), Kristin Walter (Jean) and Adrienne Walters (Carlotta).

Los Altos Stage Company opens its ...

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Spiritual Life

Inside Mountain View

MV actress/playwright Garvin wins NY festival award for

MV actress/playwright Garvin wins NY festival award for "Corners Grove"


Courtesy of Undiscovered Countries
Kaela Mei-Shing Garvin received a New York arts festival award for a featured role in “Corners Grove,” a play she wrote.

New York recognized that one of Mountain View’s own can “make it there” when the Planet C...

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Change oil regularly and use the correct kind

Q: My car’s engine started making noise. I found that the engine oil was low, so I added some. The noise didn’t go away, and then the Check Engine light came on. I brought my car to a repair facility and was told that the engine had a large amount of sludge inside, causing my problem. Do you agree that this is possible? What is sludge, and what caused it to occur in my engine?

A: The answer to your first question is yes, and you are not alone with this experience. As automotive manufacturers continue to reduce vehicle maintenance requirements and extend oil-change intervals, this type of problem is becoming more common. We see it because the intervals are longer and people tend to forget and wait way too long before having their fluids changed.

What is sludge? As engine oil accumulates miles, it becomes contaminated with carbon, water and various acids – all of which are by-products of the engine’s internal combustion – and forms a film of black, gooey sludge on the interior parts of the engine. That’s why oil needs to be changed periodically.

What causes sludge buildup? It is important to understand that today’s engines require oil with different additives than cars from many years ago. The different manufacturers are also requiring their own oil and additives, so there is no longer a one-size-fits-all oil application.

Knowing this, it is also important to understand that going somewhere for low-cost oil changes (i.e. $19.95) is almost a sure bet that you are not going to get the correct oil and filter installed for your vehicle. The wrong engine oil can even lead to premature internal parts wear – whether or not there is sludge buildup.

Be aware, too, that neglected oil-change intervals – or not checking your engine oil levels regularly – may starve your engine for oil and result in sludge and varnish buildup. Even the best engine oil can be ruined by such neglect.

Other causes of sludge buildup include cold-engine operation – which accelerates sludge buildup because oil temperatures are insufficient to evaporate the moisture that accumulates inside the engine – and short-trip, cold-weather driving and thermostats that are stuck open, which can have the same results.

Many automobile manufacturers install high-quality synthetic lubricants in their vehicles at the factory. This type of engine oil has a much lower tendency to create sludge and works better with the design changes inside the engine.

What should you do now?

It might be possible to flush out the sludge and hope that the internal engine parts aren’t damaged. If there is damage inside the engine, you’ll need a new or rebuilt one.

In the future, make sure that you follow the manufacturing service schedule and check your vehicle’s fluid levels frequently. Even if your vehicle did not come with quality synthetic oil, using synthetic oil is always a good idea, and there is no problem with switching from petroleum-based oil to synthetic oil at any time.

Warren McCord is an ASE Certified Master Technician and owner of Dean’s Automotive Inc., 2037 Old Middlefield Way, Mountain View. For more information about the repair shop, call 961-0302 or email McCord at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

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