When Your Air Bag Light Comes On (Illuminated Air Bag Light)January 24, 2021

There are some dashboard lights you should pay more attention to than others.  One is the air bag light.  If it’s on and your vehicle is in an accident, your air bags probably won’t do their job.

Automakers began installing air bags in the late 1990’s since they were mandatory in the United States, and manufacturers have included them in Canadian vehicles as well.  Safety experts say using a seat belt in combination with an air bag gives passengers the best chance of surviving a crash and minimizing serious injury.

The air bag warning light takes a few different forms.  Some look like a picture of a belted passenger with an inflated air bag from a side view.  Or there may be a warning light that says something like “Air Bag,” “SRS” (for supplemental restraint system), “Airbag Deactivated” or “Air Bag Off.”

Different things cause the air bag light to come on.  Your vehicle may have been in an accident during which, while the air bags didn’t inflate, crash sensors were activated.  Some of them may be connected with your vehicle’s seat belts.  A technician can reset the air bag if this has happened.

Fuses can also blow which will cause the air bag light to come on.  Another possible cause? A sensor that tells the vehicle’s computer whether or not there is someone riding in the passenger front seat may be malfunctioning. 

Air bags are not for the do-it-yourselfer.  They are sophisticated systems that require specialized training and equipment to diagnose and repair.  If an air bag light is on, take it to a qualified service repair facility.  One more thing: remember that safety experts have designed air bags to work in conjunction with seat belts for maximum protection in accidents.  So always wear your seat belt.  

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

Fears and Gears (Signs of Automatic Transmission Problems)January 17, 2021

Automatic transmissions rule. The old days of shifting your own gears are a thing of the past for most drivers.  But automatic transmission trouble can be a big inconvenience for any driver if it comes at the wrong time in the wrong place.  Here are some signs to look out for that may mean you are having transmission issues.

When you are driving, your vehicle seems to slip in an out of gear without you touching anything.  That’s what some call, not surprisingly, a “slipping transmission.” 

When your vehicle shifts from one gear to the next, you hear a loud “clunk.” Transmissions are supposed to be nearly silent when they shift, so that noise is telling you something is wrong. 

If you notice there’s a puddle of some fluid under your vehicle, your transmission could be leaking fluid.  Try to figure out what color it is (try putting a piece of cardboard underneath to capture some of the fluid).  If it is red or brown, that’s a sign it could be transmission fluid. Sometimes you may smell the transmission fluid, too; it has what some consider a “sweet” odor.

You may have a warning light that goes on when your transmission fluid is low (it could be a special transmission symbol or simply the Check Engine light).  That light could also mean the fluid is too hot or has low pressure.

If you shift your vehicle into D (for Drive) and it doesn’t move or slowly engages after some delay, you may be seeing the start of a serious problem.

Of course, you don’t want a malfunctioning transmission to strand you at some inopportune time. So if your vehicle is showing any of these signs, arrange a time for a technician to check it out.  Not only are broken transmissions an inconvenience, they can be a safety hazard, too. 

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

I Had No Idea! (Four Things You Didn’t Know About Vehicles)January 10, 2021

Bet you didn’t know:

Some of the earliest rearview mirrors were marketed as “Cop Spotters” so drivers would know when police were following them. Who wants a ticket, anyway? According to eBay Motors, Elmer Berger first patented a rearview mirror that was mounted on the front fenders, on the spare tire secured to the side of the car of at the top of the driver’s door frame. 

About 80 percent of your vehicle is recyclable. So says The Balance. That means four-fifths of most vehicles can be recycled.  Much of that recycling is done by automotive aftermarket recyclers.  Between the U.S and Canada, they reclaim enough steel to produce 13 million new vehicles.

The man who invented the first modern cruise control couldn’t even drive a car because he was blind! His name, says Smithsonian.com, was Ralph Teetor.  Blinded at a young age by a knife accident, Teetor was inspired to create a speed control by a couple of things.  One, the U.S. imposed a mandatory 35 mph/55 kph during World War II to conserve fuel and tire rubber, and Teetor wanted drivers to go a safe and steady speed.  Plus, a chauffeur who drove him around used to randomly slow down and speed up which irritated Teetor.  So he invented a speed control to encourage drivers to drive at a more constant and safer speed.

The first grooved tires were invented in 1904 by Continental.  But that was a big improvement over the very first “tires” which were actually metal hoops that made riding in the first cars a pretty rough experience.  The first rubber tires were solid rubber, not inflatable like today’s tires.  Things have come a long way.  Modern tires are made with sophisticated rubber compounds that can deal with heat and cold.  Plus their tread patterns help drivers get better traction on wet roads when it storms.  Still, it’s important to make sure yours have enough tread and are properly inflated for maximum safety and performance.

Quite frankly, there’s a lot we don’t understand about the vehicles we drive.  They’re much more complicated than the old horse and buggy that preceded  them.  Leave your vehicle’s maintenance and service to highly trained technicians who DO understand how to maintain, diagnose and repair today’s modern, sophisticated vehicles. 

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

A Sticky Brake Situation (Parking Brake Service and Maintenance)January 3, 2021

We’ve all been there.  You park your vehicle on a steeper than usual hill and worry about it rolling down while you’re running your errands.  So you decide you’ll use the parking brake.  When you get back, you release the parking brake, hit the ignition, put it in gear and—uh, oh—you can feel the parking brake is still on.  It’s stuck.  What do you do now?

Welcome to the world of infrequently-used parking brakes.  Yes, they do stick for several reasons. It’s common for components to corrode and get locked up.  Sometimes if you have applied it extra hard, it can jam.  Could be a rusty cable, could be a spring that doesn’t return the brake to its disengaged position.  Some pieces just break when they’re stressed for the first time in a while. A caliper or the pivot arm it’s on can also stick.

There are a few things you can try to unstick it.  Carefully rock your vehicle by putting it first in drive and then reverse.  You have to be careful doing that, though, because sometimes you can damage the transmission.  You can try working the parking brake control a few times to see if that will loosen the corrosion.  If you can’t unstick it, you can try driving slowly a short distance to a repair facility near you.  Sometimes it won’t cause damage to the brakes but it depends on how tightly the parking brake was applied and what was stuck.  You may also have to have your vehicle towed to a repair facility.

In any case, once you’ve seen these symptoms, have your vehicle brakes looked at by a professional who can fix the root of the problem.  Better yet, don’t let your vehicle get in this condition; regular maintenance and inspections by a trained technician should prevent you from getting in a jam somewhere thanks to a stuck parking brake.  You could use a “brake” like that.

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

Change is Good (Oil Change)January 1, 2021

You’ve heard that expression, change is good.  When it comes to your vehicle’s oil, change is not only good, it’s vital for the health of the engine.  But there’s one question that puzzles many drivers: how frequently should my vehicle’s oil be changed? There is not one simple answer, but here are some guidelines that will help.

It used to be pretty much a rule of thumb that vehicles got their oil changed once every 3 months or 3,000 miles/5,000 kilometers.  But times have changed.  Oil formulations have gotten better and engine designs have made longer oil change intervals possible. 

Most experts advise you to read the recommendations that come from the manufacturer that designed and built your vehicle.  Their designers and engineers know more about your vehicle than anyone else.  They spell out their recommended oil change interval and type of oil in your owner’s manual.  Many automakers say you can go at least 5,000 miles/8,000 kilometers between oil changes and many recommend even longer intervals now.  If you use synthetic oil, it doesn’t have to be changed as often. 

Ever wonder why you have to change your oil?  Your vehicle lives in a dirty environment.  Contaminants build up in your engine oil and, after time, they inhibit the lubricating properties of the oil.  Without optimal lubrication, increased friction inside the engine starts wearing down the metal parts, shortening the engine’s life.

Not only do vehicle manufacturers recommend oil change intervals in the manual, many also now alert drivers by a light or other electronic indicator on your dash.  It doesn’t exactly say, “Hey, time get your oil changed. This oil’s starting to wear on me.” But it does give you a pretty good hint.  Some of these warning systems simply measure the distance you’ve traveled.  More sophisticated vehicles have sensors that measure temperature, driving time and engine revolutions to determine when the oil is getting past its useful life.  Here’s one situation where it’s easy to see the light.  Do yourself a favor and don’t wait too long before coming in for an appointment at Lewis Complete Auto Repair. 

Oh, and driving habits matter, too.  Short trips with a lot of stop-and-go driving will stress your engine and oil more than longer trips at highway speeds. 

And here’s one more plus side to getting your oil changed regularly at Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett.  Our technician will also keep an eye on the rest of your vehicle to spot anything that might need attention.

The bottom line is this: Oil changes are good for your vehicle in so many ways and probably the most important maintenance service you can get.

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