Pinch Petroleum Pennies! (Fuel Saving Tips)April 26, 2020

If you saw a dollar bill on the ground, you’d pick it up, right? Well, whether you find that dollar on the ground or in savings at the gas pump, money is money, and here are some ways to hold on to more of it.

Slowing down is the easiest way to save fuel, especially for every speed increase over 50 mph/80 k/hr.  Tone down the speed, turn up the cash savings.  Drive smoothly (not like a race car driver) and you’ll also save money in fuel.  Aggressive, fast-start, jerky-stop habits are just pulling the bucks out of your wallet about a third more than if you drove just a little more gently.  Oh, and cruise control can help with that smooth, steady speed, so use it on the highway. Bonus!

Are you hauling around a set of dumbbells or a box of books? That extra weight is costing you dough.  Store them somewhere else.  When’s the last time you checked to see your tires were inflated properly? That’s another money saver and makes your vehicle safer.

An idle thought… don’t idle any longer than you have to.  If you will be idling for more than 30 seconds you’ll save money by turning off the engine and re-starting it.  More and more of the latest vehicles now do this automatically.

Some like it cold.  But air conditioning uses a lot of extra fuel.  If you can live with the cabin at 72 on a hot day rather than turned down to arctic freeze levels, you’ll save some cool cash.  Turn off the A/C all together can save you from 5-20 percent

The key to a fuel-efficient vehicle is keeping it well maintained.  If your spark plugs are old, your belts frayed and your brake pads worn, you’re just throwing away fuel.  Try a few of these gas-saving suggestions and while you’re at it, you’ll be helping to reduce your carbon footprint that will help everyone on Planet Earth.

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

The Need for Speed (Wheel Speed Sensor Maintenance)April 19, 2020

Today’s vehicles have some pretty amazing technology in them, including a computerized braking system we all pretty much take for granted these days.  Antilock brake systems (ABS) have been around for years but they help drivers stop in much shorter distances reliably than ever before.  When you see your ABS warning light come on, it’s important to find out what’s causing the problem. It’s a safety issue.

Often the problem when the ABS light comes on is a faulty wheel speed sensor.  (In some cases the traction control light will also come on, perhaps because of a non-working wheel speed sensor.) Your vehicle uses the speed sensors to measure the rotational speed at each wheel. That sensor sends the speed data to a computer that can then adjust braking power and prevent your wheels from locking up. 

If any of the wheel speed sensors isn’t working right, the ABS warning light will go on and the vehicle’s computer will turn off the antilock brake system.  You’ll still have working brakes, but you will lose the functionality of that computerized system.

When your vehicle warns you the ABS has a non-working sensor, you can have a technician check to see what’s going on. It could be one of the sensors is dirty and a cleaning will solve the problem.  But it also could be that one or more sensors needs to be replaced. 

A technician will use computerized diagnostic equipment to determine what and where the problem is, replace any bad parts and then check to make sure the system is fully operational. 

Antilock brakes and traction control are significant technologies that help prevent your vehicle from slipping on less-than-perfect road surfaces, especially useful during wintery weather.  Make sure they’re helping you drive the way they designed to.

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

Time for a Brake (Brake Pad Replacement)April 12, 2020

Stop! It’s one of those things your vehicle has to do consistently and reliably.  That’s why brake maintenance is vitally important, worthwhile for you to make sure stays up to date.

A brake system has many components. If your vehicle has disc brakes, they have pads that make contact with the rotors (the metal discs).  Those pads usually have a metal back, and the part that presses against the discs is made of a material which provides friction to stop the vehicle. Because of that friction, the pads are expected to wear down and eventually the rotors will, too.  But the pads usually are the part that will need to be replaced more often. But how do you know when it’s time?

There are several signs, one of which is when your brakes squeak or make a high-pitched sound when you step on the brake pedal.  Many newer vehicles also have sensors on the brake pads.  When the pads get worn down to a certain point, the sensor will tell the vehicle’s computer to turn on a light on the instrument panel.  When that light comes on, it’s time to have your service facility check out what’s going on.  If you don’t know what that light looks like, ask your service advisor or look it up in the owner’s manual.

Some vehicles also give you a reminder based on the distance you’ve traveled. It may be a message that displays on the dash or a light that illuminates. 

Your best bet is to have your vehicle regularly serviced at one shop you trust.  They will keep a record of your brake maintenance Then, when you take your vehicle in for oil changes or other routine things, they’ll check your brakes for wear.  Sometimes you’ll only need pads, but you may also need rotors or other parts replaced.  Oh, and you need pads replaced in pairs. That way stopping power will be equal on both sides and your vehicle won’t pull in one direction. 

Brakes make up a key part of your vehicle’s safety systems.  Keep them in good shape and they’ll be able to stop your vehicle when you press down that pedal.

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

The Byte Stuff (Your Vehicle’s Computers)April 5, 2020

Nobody has to tell you that computers are a part of so many things in our lives.  Smartphones, kitchen appliances, vacuum cleaners, televisions.  You name it—it has a computer in it.  And your vehicle is no exception.

The earliest cars relied on the technology of their time, and there was no such thing as a computer.  But now, it’s not unusual for a vehicle to have as many as 150 computers in it.

They perform a variety of functions. An important one is diagnosing your vehicle’s problems.  There are various sensors throughout modern vehicles that measure thousands of data points.  When something is not working correctly, they send a signal to another computer that stores that information. The data can be read by someone who has a special computer that plugs into a port in your car.  It displays certain codes that help technicians track down the culprit. 

But it’s not just the diagnostics that are computerized.  Everything from your vehicle’s fuel injection to anti-lock brakes is.  Convenience features such as power windows, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a wi-fi-hot spot, streaming video and navigation are all sophisticated computers.  Then there are the safety features; air bags, traction control, automatic emergency braking and a host of others are all dependent on computers.

It is important that those computers work correctly because they interface with many of the other computers on board.  To properly diagnose problems with those computers requires training and special equipment. Your service facility has invested considerable resources into both, and they are equipped to properly evaluate and repair and/or replace malfunctioning components. 

Some lament the days when backyard mechanics could pull out their tools and do their own repairs.  Those days are fast disappearing with the computerization of vehicles.  But look at the bright side.  Your vehicle does so much more, has so many more features and travels far more safely than those past generations drove.  And they’re bound to get better and more sophisticated down the road.

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

In the Hot Seat (Repair and Maintenance of Seat Heaters)March 29, 2020

It’s chilly outside. You flip on that switch that looks like a picture of a seat with little heat waves rising from it.  You expect soon you’ll feel that warmth but… wait! It’s not getting warmer.  Oh no, what’s wrong with my seat heater? There could be lots of reasons it’s not working, and it could be as simple as a fuse or as major as the heating element itself.  But it’s something to leave to a pro to diagnose and repair.

Let’s say it turns out to be a blown fuse.  Simply replacing the fuse may not fix it because there was a reason the fuse blew in the first place.  It’s possible the on-off switch has worn out or corroded.  Perhaps the wiring connection isn’t completing the circuit (could be corroded or full of dirt) or the voltage reaching the heating element isn’t correct. 

There’s a little sensor that keeps track of the seat heater’s temperature called the thermistor.  When the seat is hot enough, it will stop the juice from heating it any more.  Sometimes those fail.  But if all of these components are healthy, you may need a new heater element. 

Those seat-heating elements are made up of wires that get sat on.  A lot.  That can put significant strain on them.  Putting something heavy on the seat can break them. Or, if you put your knees on the seat cushion as you’re getting something in a rear seat, that can also damage the element.  Sometimes they can be repaired but often they have to be replaced.  And here is where the technician’s expertise comes into play.  That heater element is attached to the seat’s fabric and replacing it can be tricky.  It also can require disassembling a lot of the seat to access it. 

Seat heaters are a wonderful feature and they make your vehicle oh, so much cozier.  So keep them working and enjoy the warmth!

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