Low Power Mystery (Ignition Coil Service)May 31, 2020

It’s no fun when your vehicle just doesn’t run the way it used to.   You may notice (especially in cold weather) the engine won’t start easily or when it does start, it doesn’t run smoothly. It may not have much power at all. You also may have had to stop at the gas station more often, a sign your fuel economy isn’t what it used to be. 

There could be a few different things that cause those symptoms, but one culprit could be a bad ignition coil. The coil takes the voltage from your battery and multiplies it before that power is sent over to a spark plug. That allows the plug to fire off a good jolt of electricity that ignites the fuel in your cylinder and powers the engine. 

There’s usually one ignition coil for each cylinder (or sometimes for a pair of cylinders). If only one of them is not pushing out enough electricity, it can cause big trouble with your engine performance.  Other signs of a bad ignition coil include engine backfire, an oil leak and your Check Engine light coming on.   When that light comes on and you have some of those other signs, you need to have your repair facility check things out fairly soon because you may be damaging your engine and wind up with a far more expensive repair.

A technician will check for a computer code to pinpoint which cylinder is having the problem.  Using other diagnostics, the technician can rule out other components that might be causing the engine to misfire.  Ignition coils usually last 100,000 miles/160,000 km, but other engine conditions can cause them to fail before then. 

Your service advisor may suggest getting all your coils replaced even though only one is malfunctioning. That’s probably a good idea in a higher mileage vehicle since the other coils may be close to failure, too. It’s also wise to do that if your vehicle’s coils are located in a hard-to-reach spot so you likely won’t have to spend the money for that labor again when another one fails.

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

No Fueling! (Fuel Filler Location)May 24, 2020

If you’ve ever gotten in an unfamiliar vehicle, maybe a rental car, you may have pulled up to the gas pump and wondered, “Which side is the fuel filler on?” Here’s a tip for you.  There is usually a little arrow on the instrument panel near the fuel gauge that points to the side where the fuel filler is. 

But why are the fuel fillers not all on the same side, anyway? There are lots of reasons.  At one time, many manufacturers tried putting them in an easy-to-reach spot: in the center of the vehicle’s rear end.  Some even hid them behind a hinged license plate door.  Cool place, but it turned out not to be a good idea.  When a vehicle with a fuel filler in the rear was hit by another vehicle from behind, it was much more prone to catch fire and explode.

Safety regulations now dictate that the fuel filler doors be placed within crumple zones and away from where they can drip fuel on hot exhaust pipes or near electrical connections.  But why do manufacturers put them on either side?

Some say it should be on the side away from the road.  That way if you run out of gas and have to add a little from a gas can as your standing at the side of the road, you’ll be a little farther away from passing traffic.  So some companies from North America and many European firms with left-hand drive put their fillers on the right side.

Some manufacturers think convenience for the driver is paramount, so they put their fuel fillers on the driver’s side.  If you have a vehicle with a cable release for the fuel door inside the cabin, it’s usually on the same side as the steering wheel.  As you can see, there’s no standardization.

Fuel doors need regular maintenance such as lubrication, and your gas cap (if your vehicle has one) should seal properly.  Have your service facility inspect those regularly. Wherever your fuel filler is, it’s obviously important that you can get at it easily because you have to fuel up sometime. Otherwise, you’re not going to go too far!

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

Your Biggest Fan (Radiator Fan Problems)May 17, 2020

Your vehicle’s engine makes a lot of heat when it’s powering you down the road, so it needs a way to get rid of that energy.  That’s why your vehicle has a cooling system, complete with a radiator and one or two radiator fans, also called cooling fans.  Those fans make sure air keeps moving across the radiator so that the heat stored in the coolant can be dissipated outside when the vehicle is stopped or not traveling fast.

Radiator fans can develop problems and can stop working properly or stop working altogether.  Some signs to look for? If you’re driving slowly and idling and you see your temperature gauge moving toward the red or hot zone, that could spell trouble.  Another thing you may notice when a radiator fan is failing is that there may be a loud noise coming from the engine compartment.

There are two types of radiator fans.  One is mechanically connected to the engine and uses the engine’s rotational energy to turn it.  The other is an electric fan and is the type used in most newer vehicles.  In the electrical type, one of the components, such as a relay or fuse, may fail, causing the fan to stop turning.  In the mechanical type, since it’s driven by a pulley/belt mechanism, one of those components may break or stop working properly.  A clutch can wear out or a belt may slip or break. 

When your cooling fan isn’t working properly, it may cause your engine to overheat which could lead to expensive damage. That’s why it’s important to make sure you visit your service facility if you notice any of these symptoms.  A technician is trained to diagnose the problem and make sure your radiator fan is doing its job.  When it comes to your vehicle, your radiator fan really is your biggest fan.

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

Taking the Heat (Batteries in Hot Weather)May 11, 2020

Quick question.  Which is tougher on a vehicle’s battery, the heat or the cold? Believe it or not, it’s the heat.  Think about it.  The battery often sits in the engine compartment next to that motor generating lots of heat.  That can accelerate corrosion in the battery and may even cause water in it to evaporate.  That will weaken the cranking power of your battery and shorten its life span.

To take care of your battery, here are a few suggestions.  It’s a good idea to have it checked out to see what shape it’s in.  At your vehicle service facility, they have diagnostic equipment that can evaluate its condition.  That can help you know how long you can expect it to last before having to replace it.  At the same time, you should have your charging system evaluated.  If your battery is not getting charged properly, it can be in great shape but not very useful when it comes to starting your vehicle.  A technician will also check the cable connections that should be free of corrosion and tight.

Keep in mind that under certain conditions, a vehicle battery can cause an explosion if close to an electrical spark.  This is why the safe way to go is to have a qualified, trained technician do the work. 

Your battery is important both in hot and cold weather.  When it comes to starting your vehicle, make sure it’s always up to the job.

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

Cooling System ComponentsMay 3, 2020

Today we want to talk about a system in our vehicles – the cooling system. It’s one of those things that Rowlett auto owners don’t give much thought to until it fails and then they’re stranded by the side of a road in TX.

Cooling systems fail more often than any other mechanical system – usually because of neglect. Don’t you hate it when something breaks and you could have done something to prevent it?

The good news is that if Rowlett drivers take care of their cooling systems, they can keep working for the life of their car.

Here at Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett, we emphasize preventive maintenance services like replacing your coolant according to the factory schedule. But the various parts that make up the cooling system need attention too. The major components of the cooling system are the water pump, freeze plugs, the thermostat, radiator, cooling fans, the heater core, the pressure cap, the overflow tank and the hoses.

It sounds complicated, but we Rowlett residents don’t have to be experts – we can leave that to our friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Lewis Complete Auto Repair. But, having an overview will help us remember how to take care of your car’s cooling system.

Most Rowlett folks would be surprised to know that burning fuel in your engine produces up to 4,500 degrees F/2,500 degrees C of heat. And all that heat has to be dealt with. If the heat can’t be drawn off the engine, the pistons will literally weld themselves to the inside of the cylinders – then you just have to throw the engine away and get a new one. That would cost thousands of dollars.

Now the water pump is what forces the coolant through passages in the vehicle engine to absorb heat. The pump is driven by a belt that needs replacement from time to time. And the water pump will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. Spending some cash on replacing the belts and water pump is much less than the cost of repairing the extremely massive damage that can be done when an engine seizes.

There’s another little known but important part of the coolant system that protects the engine. It’s called a freeze plug. If you remember from high school chemistry, water expands when it freezes. In very cold areas, the coolant can actually freeze when the vehicle is left sitting.

It is hard to believe, but the expanding frozen coolant is enough to actually crack the engine block. The freeze plugs fit into the engine block. They fit tight enough to withstand the pressure of a running engine, but can expand or pop out if the coolant freezes. These little things save a lot of engine blocks.

The team at Lewis Complete Auto Repair can check your cooling system and make any necessary adjustments or repairs. Give us a call.

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