Don’t Neglect Your Spare (Spare Tire Care)April 24, 2022

If you’ve ever had a flat tire, then you know welcome it is to have a spare tire that is properly inflated, in good shape and easy to get to.  Problem is many of us don’t even give our spare tire (if we even have one) a second thought.

If you have an SUV or truck with a spare, it may be mounted outside the vehicle, such as on the tailgate or underneath the vehicle.  All of them, especially those underneath, take the brunt of debris, moisture, salt and dirt from the road surface, a potpourri of corrosion potential.  The hardware that holds these on can rust into a solid mess, making it hard for you or even a roadside assistance service to get off. 

If you have one of those, have it checked and maintained at your vehicle repair facility on a regular basis.  They should be lubricated and cleaned periodically, and some recommend doing this service every time you have your tires rotated.  If the spare is the same size as the tires on the vehicle, it may be a good idea to have it rotated with the others. 

Some vehicles have compact spares that are in a small well in the trunk or some other spot. Most drivers don’t pay any attention to them.  Over time, air leaks out of those spares, leaving them flat when you most need them.  When you have your vehicle in for service or routine maintenance, ask your service advisor for his or her advice on making sure the spare is inflated properly and cleaned, usually at least twice a year.

You may not know it, but your vehicle may not have any spare at all.  Instead, it may have an inflator kit that you are supposed to use to inflate and seal a flat tire.  That sealant has a limited life span and should be replaced every few years.  Check with your service advisor to make sure the kit is up to date and will do the job when called upon.

Manufacturers know a flat tire’s always a possibility.  No matter what contingency solution they’ve included with your vehicle, keep it in shape and in good working order.  When you need it, you’ll be very glad you did.

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

Before You Buy that Used Vehicle (Having a Used Car Inspected Before Buying)April 17, 2022

Let’s face it.  New vehicles are expensive, so finding a good used one can save drivers a lot of money.  It’s tempting to look through ads, find a private seller who has what you’re looking for and pay a price you think is a great deal.  But when you go over to look at a used car, do you really know what to look for to uncover potential problems with it?

The answer is probably no.  Used cars can look great on the outside, maybe even have lustrous paint and a super clean interior. But is it possible that vehicle’s been in an accident? Does it have electrical problems you can’t detect easily? Is any fluid leaking that you don’t know about?

Think about it.  You are about to spend thousands of dollars for a complex machine and you’re considering judging its condition without much expertise.  That’s why it makes sense to have a qualified technician inspect any used vehicle you’re considering buying.

Many vehicle repair facilities will do it for around $100-$200.  They’ll check to see what’s working right and what’s not working.  They’ll check for leaks and how strong the battery is; they’ll look for signs it’s been in an accident or has been painted. They’ll look in places you’d find inaccessible, and they’ll take it for a test drive to see what noises, vibrations and smells might give clues to any major problems.  An inspection usually takes about an hour.

You should have an inspection done by a technician you know and trust.  They’ll have your best interests in mind.  And the inspection should be done before you start negotiating a price with the seller.  It’s money well spent to either give you peace of mind that you’re getting a good vehicle or steer you away from a lemon. 

One sign a used vehicle isn’t a good deal? If the buyer refuses to let you have it inspected.  That says just about everything that needs to be said.    

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

Don’t be Fuelish (Signs Fuel Pump is Failing)April 10, 2022

A driver of a large SUV loaded with equipment was heading on a 7-hour work trip when he stopped at a gas station to refuel.  When he went to restart his SUV, it turned over but wouldn’t catch.  Try as he might, he was never able to get it started again. 

Of course there are many things that can cause those symptoms, but the next day he had his SUV towed to a service repair facility.  Using their test equipment, they were able to pinpoint the problem.  His fuel pump had failed.  The pump, which was located in the fuel tank, had to be replaced, and after awhile he was back on the road, delayed, but happy to be up and running again. 

What had happened is that the pump was not strong enough to deliver adequate  fuel to his engine, vital to being able to start it.  It had delivered just enough pressure in the morning to get it started the first time, but it was on its last legs.  He had been having trouble starting his SUV in the days leading up to this trip, a clue that something was wrong. 

The engine relies on a certain pressure of fuel from the pump to run properly, and there are some other signs to be aware of that your fuel pump may need to be replaced.  If you are putting strain on your engine, such as going uphill or hauling a big load, and the engine sputters, it may be a sign that the pump isn’t delivering that consistent pressure.  Another warning sign is if your engine is running hot and then stalls.  That could mean your fuel pump is getting weak.

Sometimes you might notice your vehicle suddenly speeds up on its own or your fuel economy goes from good to poor in a short time.  If your fuel gauge shows you have plenty of fuel in the tank and your engine stalls, that’s another possible sign of a failing fuel pump. 

Technicians have special equipment to see where the fuel problems are, and there are many possibilities.  Have your vehicle checked before you’re left stranded.  Oh, and one more tip to prolong the life of your fuel pump.  Since it is cooled and lubricated by the fuel in your tank, make sure you keep at least a quarter of a tank of fuel at all times.  Avoid your “low fuel” light going on and you may be helping yourself avoid having to replace your fuel pump. 

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

It Wears on You (Tire Rotation)April 3, 2022

If someone told you there was a fairly inexpensive way to improve your vehicle’s handling, fuel economy and extend the life of your tires, you’d probably ask, “What do I have to do?” The answer is to rotate your tires.  But you have to do it regularly.

A lot of drivers think skipping tire rotation is a way to save money.  But when you don’t rotate your tires, they will almost certainly wear unevenly.  That’s because when your tires touch the surface of the road, the friction and traction causes miniscule parts of the rubber to come off.  And that process isn’t exactly the same on each corner of your vehicle.  Some vehicles have the drive wheels in the front, some in the rear and some on all wheels.

Rotating your tires at regular intervals minimizes the differences in the way the tires wear.  The amount and pattern will be spread out equally if your tires spend time at all different positions.  The more even the wear, the more consistent traction, handling and braking will be.  All four tires will last longer this way, and when it is time to replace your tires, they’ll all be worn out the same so you can replace all four with the same model tire.

Some people who choose not to rotate their tires find that one or two will wear much faster than the others, and often they’ll replace just the worn ones.  While you can find similar tires, they won’t all be the same and will certainly not have the same amount of wear. 

There are different tire rotation patterns depending on several factors: front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, directional tires/wheels, different sized wheels/tires on front and rear axles.  Also keep in mind that when your tires are new, some tire manufacturers require you to rotate them or else they won’t honor the warranty. 

Your manufacturer recommends intervals for tire rotation, so it’s best to follow their suggestion.  Your vehicle service facility can advise you when you need to get your tires rotated.  And many facilities include free tire rotation for as long as they’re on your vehicle if you buy your tires at their shop.

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

Steer Me Right! (Failing Power Steering Hose)March 27, 2022

Most drivers love how easy it is to turn their vehicles, and they have power steering to thank.  Engineers have figured out a way to take some of your engine’s power to help you turn. Without it, steering can be quite a chore.  New power systems are electric, but there are still plenty of the older hydraulic power steering systems out there, and it’s wise to keep them working the way they should so you don’t find yourself stranded without power steering.

Those hydraulic power systems use a fluid under pressure that is pumped to a device that helps you turn your wheels more easily.  It’s that pressure that presents the challenge.  After your vehicle’s seen a few years on the road, you may find your steering isn’t quite as easy as it was.  You may hear a groaning or humming sound when you turn. 

One component that can fail is the pressure hose that carries that fluid from the power steering pump to that turning assist mechanism.  The hose is made of rubber and can leak, crack, get damaged by heat and debris or just get too old.  If yours is ten years old or older, it’s likely getting close to the end of its life.

If you think you can just wait until it fails completely, think of these possible consequences.  If the hose or a coupling fails, power steering fluid can blow all over the hot engine.  That fluid is flammable and can start a fire.  Or if you’ve been driving for a few weeks with low power steering fluid, that could ruin your power steering pump. Replacing the pump is an extra expense you can probably  live without.

A technician will replace the necessary parts and make sure air and contaminants are bled or flushed from the system.  Then, he or she will check for leaks.  Just think how important a properly working power steering system is for safe operation of your vehicle.  Make sure you keep yours in top shape for your safety’s sake and the safety of others on the road around you.

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