Fri10242014

News

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage

Council hosts study session on downtown parking garage


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos City Council continues to explore options to address parking constraints in the downtown triangle.

The Los Altos City Council last week held the first of two study sessions to discuss the potential construct...

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Schools

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner

LAHS Science and Technology Week features medical examiner


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
A Los Altos High School student learns how to use robotic surgical equipment at the school’s Science and Technology Week event last year. Students can also attend hands-on presentations at this year’s event, w...

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Community

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display

Ahoy, matey: Pirate Manor ramps up Halloween display


Town Crier File Photo
Pirate Manor is once again scheduled to arrive in the front yard of Dane and Jill Glasgow’s home on Manor Way in Los Altos, just in time for Halloween.

Although not the Walking Dead, pirate skeletons have been brought to li...

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Sports

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans

Lancers rule the pool against Spartans


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
St. Francis High’s Eric Reitmeir launches the ball over Mountain View High driver David Niehaus (2) and goalie Kenny Tang. The host Lancers won Friday’s non-league game 9-3.

There wasn’t a lot on the line Friday when ...

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Comment

Reeder, Fung for El Camino HCD: Editorial

The good news for the El Camino Healthcare District (formerly the El Camino Hospital District, for those still getting used to the new name) is that there is a contested election Nov. 4 for the district’s board of directors. Three candidates are runn...

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Special Sections

Plant-based diet offers benefits

Plant-based diet offers benefits


Photo by Ramya Krishna
Los Altos resident Nandini Krishna prepares a meat-free dish According to author Caldwell B. Esselstyn Jr., M.D., a plant-based diet can help prevent cancer.

Shirley Okita of Los Altos has found that adhering to a mostly plant...

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Business

New shop offers haute couture for girls

New shop offers haute couture for girls


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Girls @ Los Altos at 239 State St. offers clothing lines such as Nellystella as well as toys and other items for girls.

Cecilia Chen opened The Girls @ Los Altos as a tribute to the party dress. Whether it’s for...

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Books

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book

Helping kids catch a few Zs: Local dental hygienist pens meditative bedtime book


Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
Mimi Sommers, who works at a Los Altos dentist’s office, recently wrote a children’s book.

A local dental hygienist recently published a book that aims to ease parents and children during a sometimes anxious e...

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People

BARBARA DARLING MERIDETH

1946-2014

Born in Palo Alto, raised in Los Altos, retired in southern Oregon. Survived by Peter James Merideth, sons Matthew, Jacob and John Merideth, the loves of her life.

She was a housewife who took great pride in her home, her surroundings and...

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Travel

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors

Falling leaves: Four places in California to see autumn colors


Courtesy of Castello di Amorosa
Castello di Amorosa in Calistoga, above, boasts a beautiful setting for viewing fall’s colors – and sampling the vineyard’s wines.

Yes, Virginia, there is fall in California.

The colors pop out in...

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Stepping Out

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn

'Sleepy Hollow' awakens at Bus Barn



Los Altos Youth Theatre’s production of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” a musical based on Washington Irving’s classic story, is set to run through Nov. 2 at Bus Barn Theater. The cast comprises 27 young actors, directed by Cindy Powell. Courtesy o...

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Spiritual Life

Magazine

Local events add color to autumn calendar

Local events add color to autumn calendar


Van Houtte/town crier Visitors make their way through the Children’s Alley.

As Los Altos’ signature Chinese Pistache trees exchange their summer green for vibrant hues of yellow, orange and red in the fall, an abundance of local events also ad...

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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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