What Is an EGR Valve? (EGR Valve Service)October 25, 2020

If you’ve ever felt your vehicle hesitate, go, then hesitate again, you might think there’s something wrong with the transmission.  After all, it’s not moving smoothly  down the road.  But there are plenty of malfunctions that can cause those symptoms, one of them being something you may have never heard of: the EGR valve.

EGR stands for Exhaust Gas Recirculation. It’s a system that channels small amounts of exhaust back into the engine to cool down the cylinders and reduce polluting gases.  Those include nitrogen oxides that can cause smog. The EGR valve regulates how much of the vehicle’s exhaust gas is recirculated. After years and long distances traveled, that valve can get clogged or fail. Sometimes the EGR valve can stick open.  When the EGR valve isn’t working properly, your vehicle can start releasing those nitrogen oxides and pollute the air.

The symptoms of a malfunctioning EGR valve include:

  • Engine losing power
  • Engine idling roughly
  • Pinging and knocking sounds in the engine
  • Stalling and hesitation
  • Fuel economy decreasing
  • Check Engine light illuminated

 

Depending on its condition, the EGR valve can be cleaned or it may need to be replaced.  Consult with your service advisor to see what options are recommended to you.

The EGR system is part of your vehicle’s pollution and emissions control equipment. If you care about keeping our planet’s atmosphere clean, you’ll want to make sure it’s doing its job—for everyone’s benefit.

Lewis Complete Auto Repair
5110 Grisham Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75088
972.475.4800

Weather Station on Wheels (Vehicle Sensor Maintenance)October 18, 2020

You probably never thought about it, but your vehicle is like a rolling weather station.  It can check the outside temperature, let you know when the roads are slippery and help you deal with rain. And how it does all those things is pretty cool.

First, just like any weather station, a vehicle has sensors that measure the driving and weather conditions you find yourself in.  Some of those sensors can control computerized systems in your vehicle to react to the weather.  It depends on whether you have a 2-wheel, 4-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle how those sensors will respond.

Let’s start with temperature.  Most vehicles now have a thermometer that measures the temperature outside.  It’s usually in the front, and likely will tell you on the instrument panel what the outside temperature measures.  But a temperature sensor will also tell your vehicle’s computers to turn on or off certain systems like the heating or air conditioning.  If your ambient temperature sensor isn’t working right, some symptoms are a malfunctioning automatic A/C or a temperature display that is way different than the app on your phone says it should be.

Your vehicle will also have sensors that measure your speed at each wheel.  They work with an onboard computer to measure slippage in any of the wheels so traction control and antilock brakes work correctly in case of slick roads.

Your vehicle can measure something called longitudinal and latitudinal acceleration, and it uses a yaw sensor to do it.  That helps it determine if you might be in an oversteering or understeering situation.  It’s important because it works with your vehicle’s brakes to apply stopping power to keep you in control.

A steering wheel sensor tells the vehicle’s computers what the driver is doing with the wheel.  It also can work with those wheel sensors to measure how slippery the roads are, whether it be due to a wet (rain) or granular (gravel or sand) surface.  By sending different torque or braking to each wheel, it helps the driver maintain control.

More and more vehicles now have a rain sensor that can turn on the wipers automatically when they measure precipitation on the windshield.

So, you’re driving your own weather station, and making sure all this data is coming in properly depends on how each component is working.  Regular service and maintenance on these systems is important to make sure they can do their job. Your rolling weather station can’t predict the weather, but it can sure help you deal with it, so help it do its job right.

Lewis Complete Auto Repair
5110 Grisham Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75088
972.475.4800

Beware of Potholes! (Avoiding Pothole Damage)October 11, 2020

You may live in a region where roads become pockmarked with craters known better as potholes.  They’re caused by moisture seeping through a compromised road surface that can freeze, expand and literally punch holes in the road.  And when your vehicle hits one of those holes that’s big enough, the impact can flatten a tire, bend a wheel or tear apart a suspension component. 

To minimize pothole damage, leave enough room between you and the vehicle in front of you so you can see the road surface and any upcoming potholes.  That way you’ll have time to slow down and steer around them.  Also, if you see what looks like a puddle of water, it may be hiding a pothole underneath, so treat it as if was a pothole.

If you keep your tires inflated to the manufacturer’s specifications, they’re more likely to withstand hard impacts.  And the slower you’re going when you hit a pothole, the less likely you are to break something.   But if you do find you’ve hit a pothole pretty hard, here are some signs to watch out that could signal damage.

  • Your vehicle pulls to one side
  • The steering wheel shakes
  • You hear noises or clunks coming from your suspension
  • Your steering wheel is not centered when you are going straight

 

These are all symptoms you should have checked at your vehicle repair facility as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the more damage you may be doing.

You also may find after hitting a pothole hard that the tire on that wheel is flat. Try not to drive any more on that tire since you could do a lot more damage to the tire and/or wheel. A call to roadside assistance may save you money in the long run by limiting the damage to what’s already done.

Lewis Complete Auto Repair
5110 Grisham Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75088
972.475.4800

Straight Ahead (Wheel Alignment)October 4, 2020

If every road was straight and smooth, we wouldn’t have to worry much about wheel alignment. But they’re not, so we do.  Hitting potholes or driving on rough pavement can knock your vehicle out of alignment and you’ll notice it in one of several ways.

Your steering wheel may not be centered when you’re driving straight ahead, or your vehicle may pull to one side.  You may find your tires wearing on one side or they may squeal.  All are signs that could point to you needing an alignment.

Your wheels should be perpendicular to the road and parallel with each other.  If not, your tires will wear out faster and your vehicle won’t go straight on a level straightaway.

In alignment, there are several factors that must be checked.  One is camber.  Your wheels should be straight up and down if you look at them from the front. If not, you’ll wear your tires unevenly on one side.

Another factor is caster, the angle of the steering pivot.  Most vehicles have what’s called positive caster, when the top of the steering pivot leans toward the rear.  Proper caster balances steering effort, stability on the highway and cornering.

You may have heard the term “toe” in reference to your wheels.  If you looked at your front wheels from straight above, for example, imagine your wheels were your feet.  If you were to turn your toes in toward each other, that would be toeing in.  The toe of your vehicle should be set to manufacturer’s specifications so your vehicle handles well and doesn’t prematurely wear out tires.

It’s a good idea to have your alignment checked periodically since it can get knocked out by one hard knock or a lot of little knocks.  It’s not just about tire wear, it’s about ride comfort and safe handling. You may say a vehicle aligned just feels divine.

Lewis Complete Auto Repair
5110 Grisham Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75088
972.475.4800

Automotive Tips from Lewis Complete Auto Repair: Battery TestingSeptember 27, 2020

The simple fact is that 70% of car batteries fail within 4 years. They just need to be replaced at Lewis Complete Auto Repair when they are no longer able to hold a full charge.

Batteries are a big ticket item for most Rowlett drivers and it’s tempting to put off buying a new one as long as possible. But a battery that cannot hold a full charge requires the alternator to work extra hard, causing it to wear out prematurely.

Your Lewis Complete Auto Repair service advisor can test your battery to see if it should be replaced. Testing is a good idea for TX drivers because a battery might still be good, but become dead because of a bad alternator or even a worn serpentine belt and tensioner.

Lewis Complete Auto Repair
5110 Grisham Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75088
972.475.4800