Taking the Heat (Heater Hose Maintenance/Repair)June 6, 2021

If you have an internal combustion vehicle, you know it has a lot of hoses that carry various fluids.  And if you have a heater in your vehicle, you’ll have heater hoses.

A heater hose connects to and from the engine so some coolant can be circulated through a little radiator called a heater core.  In cold weather, that heater core acts as a heat exchanger to heat up your cabin.

Even in the hot weather, the heater hoses can prove problematic.  That’s because they may remain pressurized even though you’re not running your heater.  Heater hoses are made out of tough materials since they must handle heat and pressure.  But even the durable rubber, plastic and metal they are made out of can crack or leak from years of use.  That means coolant can be sprayed out into the engine compartment or leak onto a driveway or garage floor. 

You may be able to see a puddle of coolant under your vehicle or perhaps smell the odor of the coolant under the hood.  Some say it has a sweet smell.  Another sign coolant may be leaking out of the heater hoses is your engine may be running hotter.   You’ll be able to tell by watching the heat gauge on your dash.  Let’s say your heat gauge usually points just slightly below halfway between the C and H (Cold and Hot) of the heat gauge.  But now it is just slightly above.  That’s enough to tell you that the coolant temperature has gone up a little, a possible sign of trouble.

This is a good time to swing by your service facility and have them take a look. If they catch the leak when it’s small, it’s a relatively simple matter of draining the coolant, replacing the hoses and replacing the coolant.  Sometimes, though, a heater hose can suddenly burst and a lot of coolant can leak out quickly.  That can, in turn, cause your engine to start to overheat.  In that case, you may see your vehicle’s temperature gauge shoot up pretty quickly.  Then it’s best to pull over and have your car towed to a repair facility since driving with no coolant can cause severe engine damage.

Preventative maintenance is your best insurance against heater hose problems.  A technician will periodically check for any signs of cracks or leaks.  You should expect to replace a heater hose at least once during the time you own your vehicle.

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

Water Everywhere (Clogged Drains)May 30, 2021

It’s bad enough when you mistakenly leave a window open in your vehicle on a rainy day and you find your carpet soaked.  But what in the world is going on when your windows are closed tight, not leaking and you STILL wind up with wet carpet? The answer could be something you might not even know your vehicle has.

And the answer is? Drains. And those drains can get clogged.  Yes, your vehicle has several drains with tubes or hoses attached to them that you really never see.  There are some in and around the hood that channel rainwater down to the ground.  There are some that take condensation from the air conditioner and allow it to flow outside.  And if your vehicle has a retractable sunroof or moon roof, there are small drains at each corner that connect to tubes that go through the vehicle body down to an exit near the ground. 

Considering all the leaves, dirt, dust and other debris your vehicle encounters on a daily basis, it’s not surprising that these drains can get blocked.  Then when it rains, that water winds up going to the place of least resistance.  Sometimes, that’s inside the cabin where it shows up as wet carpeting.

So, what’s the solution?  You may be tempted to see if you can clean out those drains yourself.  But there are many people who have tried blowing condensed air in the drains only to find that they literally blow the tubes off of their connections inside the vehicle’s body.  Reattaching those can be a time-consuming, labor-intensive, expensive proposition.

A trained technician has the equipment and knowledge to clear out those drains properly. To prevent clogged drains, regular maintenance is the key, so when your vehicle is in for other periodic maintenance like oil changes and tire rotations, the technician can make sure all drains are clear and flowing like they should.

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

QUIET TIME (Listening for Vehicle Problems)May 23, 2021

Everybody’s got friends like this.  You know, the kind who, the minute they get in their vehicle and turn the key, the sound system is deafening.  They just love to hear that music, sports, news… anything but the sound of the vehicle itself.

And maybe you’re that person, too.  Here’s something to consider: your sound system might be drowning out some valuable clues that could help you diagnose problems with your vehicle, problems that need to be dealt with. So, turn down the volume and listen for these things:

  • A clicking sound when you’re braking or turning—You could be missing some parts in your braking system, or it could be damaged. That sound could also signal that components are just plain worn out.
  • Rattling under the hood—If it sounds like metal clanking against metal, you could have something serious going on, maybe an overheating engine or your timing needs adjusting. That knocking sound could also be as simple as you’ve been using lower octane gasoline than is recommended for your engine.  Time to get that checked out.
  • A squealing or high-pitched sound coming from the engine compartment. Could be a belt is loose, wearing out, dried out or cracked. A pulley might be failing or a bearing might be on its last legs.  Better to have that fixed now than be stranded somewhere later.

Here’s our Lewis Complete Auto Repair suggestion – set a regular weekly alarm in your smartphone alerting you to listen to your vehicle once a week for five minutes.  Just five minutes without the music or the sports show or public radio… whatever your taste is. You can even use your smartphone to record any noise you might be hearing.  Between that and your description to your service advisor, a Lewis Complete Auto Repair technician should be able to diagnose the source of the noise and get your vehicle sounding healthy again. Do it before that noise turns into the sound of a serious problem. 

Who knew a little quiet time could be so useful?

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

Losing Your Spark (Spark Plug Replacement)May 16, 2021

When’s the last time you thought about spark plugs? You probably don’t remember.  That’s because spark plugs usually last a long time and don’t need much attention.  But they don’t last forever, and when they start going bad, they’ll send you a few clues.

  • Vehicle is hard to start. 
  • Fuel economy is going down
  • Acceleration isn’t what it used to be
  • Engine runs roughly
  • Check Engine light is on

There are many things that can cause those symptoms, so it’s wise to head on over to your vehicle repair facility to have them look over your vehicle.  But the problem could be your spark plugs. They do wear out, not producing a strong enough spark to ignite your fuel the way they’re designed to.  A closely related problem is failing spark plug wires, and a technician will test for both possibilities… and more. 

Your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends changing wires and/or plugs at certain intervals.  Spark plugs are made out of different materials and some last far longer than others.  Ask your service advisor to let you know when yours should be changed.  Badly misfiring plugs can cause expensive damage to a vehicle’s catalytic converter, so it’s best to take care of them before that happens.  Replacing your spark plugs and/or wires is money well spent to have your vehicle running smoothly, dependably and efficiently.  

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

‘Tis the Season (Tires)May 9, 2021

We all know about winter tires.  But did you know there is such a thing as summer tires?

Most people have all-season tires on their vehicles.  They work pretty well in a variety of weather conditions.  But if you want better handling and performance, you might consider switching to summer tires.  Here are a few things you should know about them.

Summer tires are good for high-performance vehicles like sports cars and luxury SUVs, but they don’t have to be limited to those. They have a different tread pattern than all-season tires, with generally shallower grooves and more rubber that contacts the road.  The rubber is made of a stickier compound good for taking corners at higher speeds.  Plus it is engineered so it stays firmer the hotter the temperature gets. 

Here’s a bonus.  That design also works well in warm, wet weather.  It makes sense, since more the more rubber that’s touching the concrete or asphalt when it’s slippery out, the better the traction. 

There are some things to be aware of with summer tires.  They often have asymmetrical or unidirectional tread patterns.  That sometimes limits the way these tires can be rotated on a vehicle.  Another thing to remember is it is NOT a good idea to use summer tires in any wintery conditions.  They lose traction as the temperature heads toward the freezing range and below since that rubber that’s designed to stay firm at warm temperatures gets hard as a rock when they freeze.

But in warmer weather, summer tires can increase your braking and cornering capabilities.  Plus you’ll notice more grip at faster speeds and higher temperatures than all-season tires.  So think about discussing summer tires with your service advisor to see if they’d be a good fit for the type of driving you do.  He or she will offer you some choices that are designed to meet your vehicle’s specs.

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