The Best TestDecember 20, 2020

Would you buy a jacket without even trying it on? Probably not, but it might surprise you that one study shows about half the people buy a vehicle after a short test drive around the block or none at all.  If you’re in the market for another vehicle, make sure you check out the most important things so you’ll know if that’s the right vehicle for you.

Check out the gadgets.  Love a good sound system? Then turn it up loud.  Does it have enough bass for you? See how you like its navigation system if it has one.  Try pairing your Bluetooth smartphone with the vehicle.  Test out how to set the cruise control and how steady it keeps the speed. Back up and check out the rearview camera. If you buy this vehicle, you’ll have to live with all of these things every time you drive.

Test the vehicle on roads you know.  See how it handles bumps and potholes, how it takes that tight curve that you drive every day to and from work.  Driving on familiar roads gives you a chance to compare what you know with what you’re thinking about buying.

Check the fit.  One suburban driver drove a full-sized SUV and loved it until they got it home and realized it was too high for her old garage.  Remodeling the garage would be the only answer! Try installing your child seats.  Size matters, especially in a vehicle.

Gauge the fuel economy. Many vehicles have a trip computer that will calculate fuel economy quickly.  Here’s a tip: you can reset it before your test drive and when you’re finished, check it and see what fuel economy you got.  It will be a smaller sampling than would be ideal, but it will give you an idea.

Take as much time as you can.  A lot of sellers will pressure you to restrict your test drive to 10-15 minutes.  Ideally, you’d like to have that vehicle for a week, but that’s usually not possible. So try for something in between. Remember, this could be your vehicle for years to come.

Keep in mind that every vehicle will feel strange to you at first. Buying a vehicle is a little like getting married.  You want that marriage to be happy, and you want it to last, so take the time to get to know it as well as you can.

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

Getting from E to F (Fuel Gauge Problems)December 13, 2020

Who thinks about their fuel gauge?  You probably don’t… until it doesn’t work any more.  Then you have to guess how much fuel is in your tank, and that’s no way to live life on the road. 

Fuel gauges, like every other part in your vehicle, can fail.  And when yours stops working, you will probably want to head over to your service facility soon, because no one relishes running out of fuel.

The fuel gauge system is much more than just the gauge you can see on your instrument panel. Most systems have a float inside the fuel tank that goes up and down depending on the fuel level.  It’s called the fuel sending unit, and it sends an electrical signal to the gauge (on the dash) telling it to display how much fuel is left in the tank. 

So, what could go wrong?  Well, a few things.  For one thing, corrosion from bad fuel can cause it to stick and it won’t move up and down any more.  So you could fill up your tank and the gauge would still read Empty.  If a sending unit needs to be replaced, often the parts can be costly. The good news is that fuel sending units rarely fail and most drivers will never have one go bad.

Other things that can go wrong? An electrical problem could cause a fuse to blow and you won’t get a reading at all.  A technician can figure out where that electrical problem is and how to repair it.  Finally, it’s possible for the gauge itself (on the instrument panel) to fail.

One thing to keep in mind is if your fuel gauge isn’t working, you might be tempted to carry around an extra container of fuel.  That’s ok if it’s outside the cabin, such as in the bed of a pickup.  But if you carry it inside the cabin or trunk, fuel fumes can be very dangerous for your health, even fatal.

A working fuel gauge gives you peace of mind… so you’ll never have that “empty” feeling.

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

The Red Menace (How to Deal with Rust)December 6, 2020

Rust.  It’s worse if you drive in places that use salt on the roads in winter, or if you spend time driving near a body of salt water.  But any vehicle has to deal with rust after years on the road.  And it’s not just that rust can eat away your vehicle’s body and fenders.  It can be a real problem around your suspension, drivetrain or any place where there’s metal.

Rust takes its time.  You don’t see it until it’s already done its dirty work.  It can wreak havoc with your electrical system.  Sure, vehicle manufacturers do their best to keep it to a minimum, but especially with road treatments like brine around, their task is a difficult one.

The one spot everyone notices is in the paint.  You see a little bubbling under the once-smooth surface.  By the time it bubbles, it’s well involved in rotting away that spot of your vehicle.  You wouldn’t believe how just a little thing can start the process on its way.  A stone chips the paint down to the metal, moisture and salt reach the steel and rust is off and running.  It could be a scratch in the paint, a little dent, acid from a parking garage, tree sap, you name it.  If you spot it, show it to your service advisor because rust can be more than a cosmetic problem.  It can be a safety issue.

While you can see the rust destroy your vehicle’s body, you can’t see it destroying your engine.  But it can.  It can eat away at such areas as air intakes or the exhaust system.  Not only can it reduce performance, but also it can disable electrical connections.  In this day and age where just about everything in your vehicle has a computer component to it, just a small electrical problem can strand you at the roadside.

Corrosion can attack your vehicle’s chassis or frame, and they are what provide the structural strength and stability for everything attached.  Think powertrain, suspension, axles, window frames. The list goes on and on.  Structural integrity is vital to safety, so the stakes are high. 

Now you can see why rust damages more than just the good looks of your vehicle. There’s one thing to remember about corrosion – much of it is only visible from underneath the vehicle.  When you bring your vehicle in to Lewis Complete Auto Repair for service, our technician can look for any problems from that important vantage point.  It’s always a good idea to point out any spots that you think might spell trouble.  That way you can stay ahead of it and beat rust at its own game.

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

Alternator Facts (Failing Alternator)November 29, 2020

If you notice that your headlights are flickering at night, that’s something to pay attention to. While there could be many different things that could cause that problem, one possibility is your vehicle’s alternator.

The alternator takes mechanical energy from the engine and turns it into electricity, in essence a generator.  The current it makes charges the battery and supplies power to the vehicle’s electrical systems.  An alternator is made up of several different parts: a pulley, magnets, coil wires, brushes and a voltage regulator.  While your vehicle is running, these parts get a good workout and, after time, they begin to wear out.

Other symptoms of a failing alternator include your vehicle’s lights dimming, the power windows going up and down more slowly than they used to, your power seats not moving quite as fast as before. 

Another sign of a worn out alternator is engine stalling.  Vehicles with fuel injection require a certain amount of power, and when an alternator is going bad, your engine could stall because the alternator isn’t cranking out enough of it.

An alternator on its last legs can also fail to charge your battery properly.  Sometimes your battery isn’t getting enough charge from the alternator and will go dead.  It also can be the opposite problem. The battery is getting too much power and will cause the battery to get hot.  Your vehicle may give you a clue on the instrument panel.  If you see any of these warning lights, take note: Check Engine, ALT, CHARGE or one that looks like a picture of a battery.  If that light is on, it’s time to have your service facility give it a look.

As mentioned earlier, there are other components of your vehicle’s electrical system that can fail, such as a worn out serpentine belt or a malfunctioning voltage regulator.  A reputable service facility has diagnostic tools to pinpoint the causes of your problems. And when your issues are fixed, your electrical system will be back to its hard-working self.  You’ll get a real charge out of it!

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