The Cable Guy (Battery Cables and Maintenance)August 15, 2021

If you’ve ever noticed your vehicle’s lights are dim or not working at all, the problem could be many things.  But one possibility is your battery cables aren’t doing their job.  A power outage in your vehicle is similar to one in your house and needs to be repaired to get things back to normal.

Battery cables connect your vehicle’s battery to the vehicle itself.  There is a positive cable when provides the power and a negative cable that connects to the vehicle chassis and provides a ground for electrical components. 

A failing battery cable may cause your vehicle not to start.  Your starter may turn over very slowly.  Or you may just hear a series of clicks.  One other clue is on your dash—the battery warning light. 

There are many things that can cause power issues in a vehicle, but it’s important to keep battery cables clean and maintained.  Salt and corrosion are enemies to any power system.  A technician can keep things in top shape, disconnecting the cables, inspecting them and cleaning their ends and the battery terminals.  Cables, by the way, are often made up of smaller strands of wire.  If they are frayed, some of those smaller wires can touch metal parts of the vehicles that they shouldn’t.  The result? Electrical system malfunctions.

So if you see any of these signs that something is not quite right with the power in your vehicle, consult your service advisor and get it checked out.  Feel the power!

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

Mercury Rising (Hot Weather Vehicle Concerns)August 8, 2021

The heat is on, and your vehicle takes a beating when it is.  Several of your vehicle’s systems are under extra stress in hot weather, so here are a few to make sure are getting the care and maintenance they need.

It makes sense that the cooling system is one to make sure is in top shape.  Vehicle breakdowns in summer are often due to a problem with one of the cooling system’s components.  Coolant levels have to be up to specs, the ratio of coolant to water must be correct and the hoses, pumps, belts and radiator must all be working properly in order to prevent vehicle overheating.

Summer is also hard on your air conditioning system.  You might find that no air is blowing out of the vents or maybe only hot air is coming out.  Air conditioning equipment is best diagnosed and repaired by a trained and experienced technician.  The problem could be in any number of components, including the condenser, compressor or blower motor.

You may think the battery gets a break in the summer, but heat will shorten the life of your battery more quickly than cold.  Your service facility can analyze the condition of your battery and tell you whether it’s healthy or needs replacing.

Tires take a beating in heat, too.  Pavement can be scorching hot, and the sun’s rays break down the rubber.  Watch inflation pressure in hot weather, too, since air expands the hotter it gets.  Your technician can check air pressure, tread depth, cupping and other uneven wear and diagnose the source of any problems. 

And don’t forget brakes.  One video online says brakes on a car that were driven hard on a track reached temperatures as high as 500°C/932°F.  Heat can reduce stopping power.  A technician should periodically inspect pads, rotors, drums, lines and other components to find a problem before you lose the ability to stop.

Finally, engine oil is really put to the test when it gets hot.  Your vehicle service facility will make sure you have enough oil and the proper kind to keep your engine’s components properly lubricated.  Help your vehicle beat the heat.

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

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