Some New Boots (Suspension Maintenance)August 1, 2021

There are some boots that don’t come in a shoe box and aren’t worn on your feet.  They are called axle or CV boots, and they can be important parts for many vehicles.

That CV stands for constant velocity.  CV axles are mainly used in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles. They’re also used in some rear-wheel drive vehicles with independent suspensions.  They have two CV joints, one inner and one outer, placed between the axle and the drive wheels.  That way the vehicle’s engine power can drive the wheels, no matter what angle they are.  They also adjust for the different speeds wheels turn as they go around corners. 

Because roads are full of all sorts of hazards (dirt, oil, water, grime), these CV joints need to be protected.  They also have grease in them to keep the bearings moving smoothly.  That’s the job of the rubber boots that are supposed to keep that debris out.  These CV or axle boots are made of rubber or plastic and usually last a long time without any problem.  But sometimes they fail, either from being hit by debris or age causing the rubber or plastic to deteriorate.  That can allow the grease to leak out of the joint and the moisture to get in.  And that’s where the trouble is.

So it’s important to have a vehicle’s CV boots checked periodically, especially when they begin to have more than 100,000 miles/160,000 kilometers on them.  A technician inspects them for tears or cracks.  Sometimes if the problems are found early enough, the boots can be replaced and the joints can be re-packed with grease. 

But sometimes the CV joint can wear out even though the boot is intact.  When the CV joint fails, you might hear a grinding, humming or clicking noise and feel vibration.

Some of these can be difficult to access for service, so many service advisors will recommend replacing the joints and boots at the same time.  Just remember, new CV boots won’t make a fashion statement, but they will keep your vehicle going down the road for years to come.

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

Singing a Different Tune (Up) (Tune Ups)July 25, 2021

Engines required a lot more maintenance in earlier times.  You’d have to have your spark plugs, wires, rotors, caps, distributor points, fuel and air filters changed periodically.  There were mechanical adjustments of a vehicle’s timing, dwell, spark gap and idle mixture, too. Unless you like to tinker with old cars, a lot of those terms won’t mean much to you. 

That service was called a “tune up” back then, and you can see why.  But now, computers have reduced the number of maintenance items, and a tune up is a whole lot different than it used to be.  In fact, in some vehicle service facilities, that term is also a thing of the past. 

A tune up of today would more accurately be called simply periodic maintenance. Now, most vehicles still have spark plugs and wires, fuel filters, air filters and PCV valves, and they should be inspected tested and/or replaced at regular intervals.  Your vehicle’s manufacturer has made recommendations on how often that should be. But it depends on your driving habits. Do you regularly tow a trailer? Do you drive on dusty roads often? Are you driving mostly stop and go in the city?  Depending on your answers, to those maintenance intervals might have to be more frequent.

Your service advisor will likely remind you about those “must check” items such as spark plugs and wires, air filter and oxygen sensor.  And now that the old-fashioned tune ups don’t require you to take your vehicle in for maintenance as often, you can get the same benefit from scheduled oil changes or tire rotations.  When your vehicle is in for those, a technician can keep an eye on your other systems (fuel, emissions, ignition) to make sure they are operating correctly.

One thing to remember.  When you take your vehicle in for regular service or a specific issue, don’t ever hesitate to ask you service advisor to explain what’s being done and why.  Hey, “In Sync” may have been a boy band of an earlier era, but it’s always good for you and your service advisor to be “in sync” when it comes to what maintenance is good for your vehicle.

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

Engine Hydration for Rowlett Drivers: Role of Your Water PumpJuly 18, 2021

The cooling system in an engine has five components: the radiator, the radiator cap, the hoses, the thermostat and the water pump. The water is literally the heart of the system. Just as your own heart keeps your blood circulating through your body, the water pump keeps coolant circulating through your engine.

The water pump is driven by a belt, chain or gear and only operates while the engine is running. It has a limited life span and sooner or later will have to be replaced. You can check your owner’s manual to find out how long your water pump should last. Some can fail at only 40,000 miles (64,000 kilometers), but almost all of them fail by 100,000 miles (160,000 kilometers).

Water pumps don’t gradually wear out; they fail. In other words, they’re either working or they’re not. A failed water pump has to be replaced.

Water pumps can fail in two ways: they can spring a leak or their bearings fail. Leaks can come from a cracked pump but usually develop at the gasket where the pump attaches to the engine.

If you hear a low-pitched grinding sound coming from the water pump, it’s time for a new one. If you see coolant leaking in the area near the pump, it needs to be replaced. Also, coolant on the driveway could indicate water pump failure. Many water pumps aren’t visible because they’re under a plastic cover, so you may have to take your vehicle to Lewis Complete Auto Repair to know if the water pump has failed. If your water pump is run by the timing belt, then it should be replaced when you replace the belt. Most timing belts need to be replaced at around 60,000 to 90,000 miles (100,000 to 150,000 kilometers). The labor for replacing a timing belt is about 90% the same for replacing a water pump, so it’s cost-effective to take care of them both at the same time. Also, if your water pump develops a leak (if it’s powered by the timing belt), you have to replace the timing belt as well since contamination by coolant fluid damages the belt. It just makes sense for Rowlett residents to replace both of these parts whenever either one needs it.

Replacing a water pump at Lewis Complete Auto Repair is a vehicle care issue that almost all of us Rowlett residents face eventually. They don’t last forever. On the other hand, we can extend the life of most of the components of our vehicle through preventive maintenance. Just as exercise and diet keep our heart healthy, regular check-ups and fluid changes will keep our vehicles healthy. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable Lewis Complete Auto Repair service advisor.

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

Don’t Do It Yourself (Perils of DIY Vehicle Repair)July 11, 2021

Your vehicle is a complicated machine, and yes, it would be nice if you could take care of all of its problems yourself.  There was a time when vehicles were simpler and it wasn’t too hard for a weekend mechanic to replace brakes, adjust a carburetor or perform a tune-up.  But vehicles are far more complicated these days, with traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes, air bags and fuel injection just a small sample of the new technologies. 

Like a lot of things these days, technology changes in leaps and bounds.  Anyone who repairs vehicles has to stay up on the latest computers, sensors, suspensions, steering, electronics, hydraulics and more.  Many power steering, braking and heating and air conditioning systems that used to be mechanical are now being replaced by electronic systems.  Computers are an integral part of  much of the latest automotive technology, something you didn’t see a lot of until as recently as the 1990s.

Today’s most highly-trained technicians are able to keep up with how to perform the latest repairs and service by continuing education about their craft.  When once an auto repairman could do fine with a lift and a good set of tools, now specialized electronic analysis equipment and tools are must-haves when it comes to vehicle repair.

Because of how fast technology changes, access to the latest repair databases and manuals is also important.  Manufacturers require certain service procedures to be performed precisely, and any other way can leave a vehicle compromised when it comes to performance and safety. 

Your vehicle is capable of traveling at high speeds on challenging surfaces with ever-increasing traffic issues and unpredictable obstacles.  You need your vehicle to be working up to its engineered potential.  That’s why you should leave repairs and service to professionals.  They work on vehicles every day, and years of experience with hundreds of repairs equip them to deal with the unexpected as well as the routine. 

When you develop a trusting relationship with a reputable service facility, you can have confidence that the maintenance, service and repairs are being done by people who know what they’re doing.  Your safety and your vehicle’s performance and reliability are well worth it.

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