The Daily Grind (Grinding Noise)May 29, 2022

If your vehicle makes a grinding sound when you turn the steering wheel, it’s speaking to you.  No, really, it is.  So listen to what it’s saying and you could avoid a much more costly repair down the road.

A grinding sound coming from the front of your vehicle when you are turning can offer some very informative clues as to what’s going on.  One cause could be that there’s a problem with the mechanical linkage that enables you to turn the wheels.  Another is that the hydraulic system that makes turning the steering wheel easier may have its own problems. 

Think of it.  Hydraulic power steering has many components that need to work in tandem.  The power steering fluid may be too old and contaminated.  Or its level may be low. That may be caused by a leak somewhere in the system. A technician can check things over to find out exactly what’s happening.

Other causes of grinding while turning can be problems with the suspension in the front.  You may have a failing CV (constant velocity) joint.  It could be your brakes are partially engaging while you are turning.  That metal-on-metal sound is never a sign that things are working just the way they’re supposed to.

To a technician looking to pinpoint the problem with your vehicle, it’s not a daily grind at all.  Experience and training will help her or him zero in on what’s causing the noise and get you back on the road. Maybe you can enjoy your sound system more after that distracting background noise has disappeared!

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

Free Money (Almost) (Fuel Saving Tips)May 22, 2022

You spend a lot of money on a vehicle, probably the most money you’ll spend on anything except a house.  But the spending doesn’t stop after you’ve bought it.  It goes into things like insurance, repairs and fuel.  One good piece of news is that you can cut down the amount you spend on fuel if you follow a few tips.

Keep your speed under 50 mph/80 kph.  Anything over that and your fuel economy will go down quickly the faster you go.  Sure, you can legally drive  faster than that, but practice this one tip and it can save you from 7%-14% on fuel.

Use cruise control.  The steady speed increases fuel economy by avoiding unnecessary braking and accelerating. 

If your vehicle is carrying unnecessary weight, unload it.  If you can save 100 pounds/45 kilograms, it can save you 1% of your fuel. 

Don’t idle.  Let’s say you’re sitting in a parking lot with your engine running for 10 seconds.  Any more and you’re wasting fuel.  Turn off your engine and start it when you have to get going.  You may have noticed that many newer vehicles automatically turn the engine off when the vehicle stops.

Avoid using a roof rack.  A cargo box strapped on the top of your vehicle can reduce your fuel economy by 2%-8% in city driving, by 6%-17% on the highway and by 10%-25% at highway speeds over 65 mph/105 mph.

Also, if you have roof rails on your vehicle with crossbars, you can save 1% of fuel simply by storing them somewhere else.  Some vehicles like Chrysler’s Pacifica minivan allow you to store the crossbars inside the roof rails to reduce drag.

Keep tires at their recommended inflation.  It can save you 3% of your fuel bill.

Use the right motor oil for your vehicle.  Using the wrong kind can cost you 1%-2% more money on fuel.

Sure, many of those savings are small on their own.  But add them up and you’d be surprised at how much you can save.  Also, keep in mind that a well maintained vehicle will also save you fuel, so make regular maintenance trips to your vehicle service facility.

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

A Door No One Can Step Through (Fuel Door Repair and Maintenance)May 15, 2022

Your vehicle has lots of doors including that one usually near the back on the vehicle’s side.  That’s the fuel door, something you use every time you gas up.  These endure hundreds of open-and-close cycles, usually without any problems.  But when they act up, it can be a major inconvenience for you.

When they stick in the “open” position, it can present real dilemma.  You can still pump your gas, but do you just drive around with that flap sticking out the side? What happens if someone steals the gas cap or it gets damaged? What happens if it rains? Yep, it’s decision time.

A fuel door that sticks open can be due to a number of factors.  The hinge on the door may have broken, possibly from corrosion or it may have been hit sometime.  Some vehicles have a cable that operates the door and it could be loose.  The latch that holds the door shut could have broken or it, too, could be bent from something hitting it. 

You probably want to take care of this sometime soon since your gas cap is wide open and unprotected when the door doesn’t shut.  Plus, it’s possible that the door could be torn off completely.  Often a stuck open fuel door can be fixed fairly inexpensively and quickly depending on the type of mechanism your vehicle has. Looks like it’s an open and shut case.

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

A Door No One Can Step Through (Fuel Door Repair and Maintenance)May 15, 2022

Your vehicle has lots of doors including that one usually near the back on the vehicle’s side.  That’s the fuel door, something you use every time you gas up.  These endure hundreds of open-and-close cycles, usually without any problems.  But when they act up, it can be a major inconvenience for you.

When they stick in the “open” position, it can present real dilemma.  You can still pump your gas, but do you just drive around with that flap sticking out the side? What happens if someone steals the gas cap or it gets damaged? What happens if it rains? Yep, it’s decision time.

A fuel door that sticks open can be due to a number of factors.  The hinge on the door may have broken, possibly from corrosion or it may have been hit sometime.  Some vehicles have a cable that operates the door and it could be loose.  The latch that holds the door shut could have broken or it, too, could be bent from something hitting it. 

You probably want to take care of this sometime soon since your gas cap is wide open and unprotected when the door doesn’t shut.  Plus, it’s possible that the door could be torn off completely.  Often a stuck open fuel door can be fixed fairly inexpensively and quickly depending on the type of mechanism your vehicle has. Looks like it’s an open and shut case.

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

How Tired Are Your Tires? (Tire replacement)May 8, 2022

Of the things you think about most, your tires are probably pretty far down the list. That’s understandable because today’s tires are engineered to do their job without needing you to pay too much attention to them. But they DO wear out, and worn tires can contribute to skidding in bad weather, not being able to stop, a ride full of uncomfortable vibrations and, even a sudden blowout. Yikes. Let’s figure out right now how to know if your tires need replacing!

Let’s face it. Most of us don’t know the first thing about tires. So, the best way to make sure what shape yours are in is to take your vehicle to a qualified service facility to have the tires checked out by a trained technician.  Here are things they’ll check:

  • Tread.  Tread is the part of the tire that touches the road surface.  Different tires have different tread patterns and something called tread blocks – the raised rubber parts that contact the road. The longer a tire has been on a vehicle, the more of that rubber wears off.  The technician will check to see if there’s enough of that tread left on your tire for sufficient traction to accelerate, steer, and brake.
  • Pressure. It’s important your tires be inflated properly so your tires will perform the way they’re designed while driving.  If your tires have low air pressure, the technician will check to see why, perhaps cracks in the sidewall from age, a nail in the rubber picked up on the road, or bulges. It’s also important your tires are not overinflated too.
  • Wear.  Your tires should wear evenly.  If they haven’t, the uneven wear can cause vibrations that you can feel in the steering wheel.  Maybe the whole vehicle shakes at a certain speed.  Your vehicle may require other services such as balancing, alignment, or suspension repairs to prevent future tire damage.
  • Age.  Your tires may have adequate tread, but if they’re too old, it’s time for new. Rubber gets old, and when it does, it loses its elasticity.  Ever find an old rubber band and tried to stretch it? It’s brittle and will break easily. Hotter climates will age rubber—and tires—faster. All tires have their date of manufacture stamped on them, so your service adviser will be able to see when your tires were made.

If it’s time to replace your tires, you’ll find you have many choices for new ones: different brands, models, designs, etc.  Your service adviser can help you figure out which ones are right for you. It’s much better—and safer—to do it before one of them fails at the least opportune time.

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