What’s in a Number? (What Tire Numbers Mean)September 20, 2020

You’ve probably never paid much attention to the writing on the sides of your tires, but they contain a wealth of information.  There’s a long combination of letters and numbers that can tell you a whole lot about what tires your vehicle was designed to be riding on.  Let’s check out this example found on an SUV: P245/70R17 108T.

The first letter, P, means it’s intended for passenger vehicles.  If there’s no letter, it means it’s a metric tire.  If there’s an LT at the beginning or end that means a tire designed for light trucks.

Moving on to our example, the 245 shows how wide the tire is in millimeters from sidewall to sidewall.  The number that follows in our example, 70, means the height of the tire is 70% of its width.  The letter after that in our example, R, describes the type of tire (on this vehicle, radial).  Following that is the diameter in inches, in our SUV example, 17 inches. 

How much load the tires’ sidewalls are designed to take is what that next number is all about (108 in our example).  The higher the load index, the more weight the sidewalls can take.  And the last letter is the speed rating of the tire, in our example, T.  The further along in the alphabet that letter is, the higher its speed rating.  So now you know what those letters and numbers mean.  But why are they important?

When you are getting ready to replace those tires, those numbers are telling you what the original equipment was when your vehicle was new.  Sticking with the same rated tires is always a good idea.  If you don’t know what you’re doing, trying different sized tires and wheels can cause real issues when it comes to performance and safety, considering all the computerized systems now found on vehicles.  When in doubt, consult your service advisor when it comes to buying new tires.  He or she knows what those tire numbers and letters mean… and a whole lot more.

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

Your Vehicle is Talking to YOU (Service Warning Signs)September 13, 2020

Your vehicle may be like that famous battery bunny, the one that just keeps going and going.  But while it may seem sometimes like you never need to take your vehicle in to be worked on, there are some things you should keep your eyes, ears and nose out for. They are warning you about something that needs attention at your vehicle service facility.

  • If a warning light is on, don’t ignore it; do something about it.  There are warning lights for battery, oil, engine heat, tire pressure… you name it.  And the manufacturer put them there for a reason.  They’re telling you something isn’t normal. So when one goes on, have it checked out soon, especially the blinking Check Engine light.  The earlier you have any warning light issue diagnosed, the more likely you are to avoid a more serious problem.
  • If your vehicle is vibrating or shaking, it’s not only annoying, it could signal trouble.  You can bet your vehicle didn’t do that when it came out of the factory! If you can feel a vibration in the seat of your pants or shaking in the steering wheel, head on over to your service facility and have them diagnose what is causing it.
  • Smoke coming out of anywhere in your vehicle is a signal (smoke signal, get it?) that there may be a troubling issue.  Likewise if you can smell something burning (like oil), the nose knows there’s something amiss.  Time to find out what.
  • If you aren’t getting the distance you used to out of a tank of gas, it may not simply be your lead foot. A lot of vehicles will give you a digital readout of your latest mileage.  If your fuel economy takes a dip, take a trip over to your service facility.  You might have a sticky brake caliper… or it might be something as simple as your tires need more air.
  • Yes, you know the dreaded puddle of something under your vehicle can be a bad sign.  It could smell sweet, it could feel oily.  But it means something is leaking.  Go get it checked.  Sooner is better when it comes to locating the source of a leak.
  • If your brake pedal travels further than it used to while stopping, that could be compromising your ability to stop safely.  Also, if the brakes are making odd sounds, pulsating, grinding or squealing, they’re screaming at you for attention.  Proper braking is a must for your safety and those drivers around you.

An old 80s TV show called “Knight Rider” featured a talking car.  You already have a vehicle that’s telling you things all the time.  Give it a listen and it will keep you going safely down the road for many years to come.

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

A “Mounting” Problem (Motor Mounts)September 6, 2020

You know how heavy your engine and transmission are, so you can imagine how tough the parts that hold them onto your vehicle’s sub-frame must be.  Not only must they support the weight, they also have to isolate vibrations and noise from the passenger cabin.  Pretty tall order, wouldn’t you say?

The parts that face that task daily are called the motor mounts, or engine mounts.  They are usually made of rubber with steel brackets.  Others contain a liquid for vibration and sound isolation. 

Most vehicles have three or four motor mounts, and while rubber or hydraulic liquids do a good job of damping the vibrations from the engine, they also have their limitations.  The problem with rubber is that it gets old and brittle.  Plus, if there’s an oil leak anywhere in your engine and oil gets on the rubber motor mounts, rubber will deteriorate even more quickly.  As for the liquid motor mounts, they can develop leaks and stop working. 

Here are signs a motor mount is going bad.  You may hear a loud clunking or banging sound under the hood.  That means the weight of the engine is shifting around enough to bang against other metal parts.  You may feel bad vibrations, and the engine may feel like it’s moving around in a strange way.

When things get to that point, your vehicle can be damaged from that heavy engine knocking against things, and its time to replace one or more motor mounts.  Schedule a visit to your vehicle service facility. There, a technician will assess your motor mounts; if one bad one is found, it’s not unusual that others are likely to fail soon and should be replaced before they do.

Because all vehicles are configured differently, some motor mounts are easily replaced.  But others can be much trickier, take a lot longer and therefore are more expensive to replace. 

It’s important for your engine’s health to make sure motor mounts are sound and solid.  You will maintain that quiet, vibration-free ride and could save your engine and transmission from major wear and tear.

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

The Best Book that’s Not a Best-SellerAugust 30, 2020

Sometimes the movie is better than the book, sometimes it’s the other way around.  But when it comes to your vehicle, the best book of all is the owner’s manual. The plot is simple: Owner wants long life and dependable performance from the vehicle, manual has the way to achieve that long life and dependable performance.

And yet, it’s amazing that some people will own a vehicle for years and never even crack this book.  They’ll only read it when they absolutely have to, for things like finding out how to change the clock. 

Ok, so you’re probably not going to rush right over to your glove box and start reading the owner’s manual cover to cover.  We know that.  But just think of what you can get out of it.

Consider this.  Those who wrote or helped write this book include the engineers who designed it and the people who tested and refined it.  They know more about your vehicle than anyone, period.  They know how long a part is likely to last and what you need to do to take care of it. They know how far a distance or how long a time you can drive before you have to change certain fluids in it.  They know what temperature it can reach before things will start to break.

And they’ve put your vehicle model through torture, testing it in the absolute worst conditions to see how to make it stand up to more abuse than it will ever receive.  They’ve then torn it down, examined it and, in many cases, redesigned the parts to make them even better. 

And they’ve put down—in fairly minute detail—this blueprint that, if you and our experts at Lewis Complete Auto Repair follow their suggestions, will make it very likely that your vehicle will serve you well for a long time.  If you don’t follow those suggestions, all bets are off.

We didn’t even mention that the owner’s manual tells you how to operate everything in your car.  How to adjust the heat and air conditioning, how to pair your smartphone with the audio system, how to program your key fob so it won’t sound the horn when you lock your vehicle.

Have you lost your manual or did you buy a vehicle that didn’t come with one?  Many are available either online or in paper form. If you don’t know where to begin with such a long book, try a couple of pages a week, just three minutes.  You’ll discover your vehicle does things you never even knew it could do.  And the movie will never be as good.

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

That Vexing Vapor Venting (Vapor Coming out of Vents)August 23, 2020

You may have noticed sometimes on a hot and humid day, vapor will come out of your vehicle’s vents when you have the air conditioning on.  Is that something to be concerned about? Well, it depends.

Sometimes that steam or vapor can be caused by water accumulating in the vent system after it has condensed.  And sometimes water can pool at the bottom of a vent.  When you turn on the blower mower, the air hits the water and may create steam or vapor that you can see in the cabin.

One thing to check is if that vapor smells like anything.  If it doesn’t, that’s a good sign. You may be able to run the fan for a while and the issue may just go away when things dry out.  But moisture collecting in the ventilation hoses in a hot vehicle may be a breeding ground for mold, and that can have health consequences.

There’s another possibility. Ventilation systems often have drains to get rid of any accumulated water, and debris can sometimes clog them.  A technician can clean out those drains and you’ll be back in business.

One thing to nose around for is a sweet smell coming out of your vents.  Sometimes the heater core (a component of your vehicle’s heater system) can develop very tiny holes.  That sweet smell may be coolant that’s been vaporized by those tiny holes entering your cabin. 

It’s always a good thing to mention to your service advisor any abnormality you’re seeing—or smelling—in your vehicle.  By venting a little about your vents, a technician can get to the bottom of the problem before it starts “clouding” the issue.

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