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News

SPLAT targets data, outreach as airplane noise continues

SPLAT targets data, outreach as airplane noise continues


Graphic courtesy of Don Gardner
Activists claim that a new SFO flight path leaves a “sound shadow” that impacts Los Altos and Los Altos Hills.

Sky Posse Los Altos Team – more simply known as SPLAT – seeks to squelch the noise...

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Schools

Los Altos High student-run charity plans '5 Gallon Gala'

Los Altos High student-run charity plans '5 Gallon Gala'


Courtesy of Lia Evard
Water by Youth members gave Egan students a chance to carry a 40-pound Jerry can, to see how difficult it is to obtain water in developing nations.

Water by Youth, a club at Los Altos High School, is making a splash by pla...

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Community

What would you do with a box of cookies? Local Girls Scouts help Tanzanian orphanage

What would you do with a box of cookies? Local Girls Scouts help Tanzanian orphanage


Courtesy of Alicia Madden
Sales of local Girl Scout cookies support service projects, such as funding an orphanage in the village of Mto wa Mbu in Tanzania.

Girl Scout cookies – whether you think of them as a treat, a tradition or a diet comp...

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Sports

Scoreless spells sink LA boys

Scoreless spells sink LA boys


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos High point guard Nolan Brennan attempts a shot in Friday’s game versus Palo Alto. He scored eight points in the loss.

There have been several games this season in which the Los Altos High boys basketball t...

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Comment

New 'York' values

New 'York' values


Hughes

 

As we have witnessed California suffer through one of its worst droughts in history over the past few years, all of us, I’m sure, have been keenly aware of our surroundings and have done a small part in trying to conserve wa...

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Special Sections

Getting a charge  out of the Volt

Getting a charge out of the Volt


Courtesy of Chevrolet
The 2016 Chevrolet Volt can be driven up to 50 miles on the power stored in its batteries.

Just five years ago, we wondered in this column what the power supply would be for the car of the future. Gasoline, diesel, electric ba...

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Business

Nearing V-Day: Shops stock sweets, treats

Nearing V-Day: Shops stock sweets, treats


Megan V. Winslow/Town Crier
Los Altos resident Ella Roosakos, 11, with her mother, Gail, puzzles over which Gourmet Works sweets to buy as a valentine for Ella’s friend.

The gift-buying rush isn’t exclusive to Christmas. It may jump over...

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People

ALAN RODNEY MILLS

ALAN RODNEY MILLS

Alan Rodney Mills, PhD, 83, of Los Altos passed away peacefully on Saturday, January 30th, 2016. He was born in Rochdale, England in 1933 and came to California in 1962. He was a proud alumni of Manchester Grammar in England, University of Liverpoo...

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Stepping Out

PYT 'Gets Famous'

PYT 'Gets Famous'


Lyn Flaim Healy/Spotlight Moments Photography
Renee Vetter of Palo Alto, left, and Megan Foreman of Los Altos star in Peninsula Youth Theatre’s “Judy Moody Gets Famous.” Performances are scheduled Friday and Saturday.

Peninsula...

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Spiritual Life

A time to prepare: Fasting for Lent isn't limited to food

 

Today is Ash Wednesday, which in the Christian calendar marks the beginning of Lent – the 40 days of preparation for Resurrection Sunday, otherwise known as Easter.

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Inside Mountain View

New right-to-lease ordinance promises relief for renters

New right-to-lease ordinance promises relief for renters


Mountain View Tenants Coalition/Facebook
Residents gather in the fall to protest Mountain View’s rising rents. Rent relief is on the way in the form of a new ordinance.

A controversial Mountain View law requiring landlords to provide lease opt...

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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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