Don’t Miss a Beat (Importance of Regular Maintenance)May 2, 2021

In many places, license plates have to be renewed every year or else you can’t drive your vehicle legally.  Usually, you’ll get a reminder from the agency that issues the plates.

That kind of regular attention needs to be paid to your vehicle as well.  Its manufacturer has determined a schedule of service items that need to be done regularly, just like renewing your plates.

Some depend on time, others depend on distance.  A perfect example is oil changes.  It’s the most important scheduled maintenance you can have done to give your engine its longest life possible.  The manufacturer recommends the oil filter be changed at the same time.

Here are some more items.  Your engine air filter gets dirty and needs adequate air to run most efficiently.  The manufacturer recommends an interval for replacing that.  Also tires, brake pads, timing belt, oxygen sensor and other items require regular replacement. 

This is one of the reasons to find a service facility that you like and keep going there.  Many will keep records of what’s been done to your vehicle and send you reminders of when it’s time to schedule service items.  Some do it by mail, others by email.  Still others might text you or give you a phone call.  Remember, they base those reminders on the vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. 

We all have a lot going on in our lives, so these reminders can help you avoid missing important service items that are important to your vehicle’s durability and safety.  So if you move or change phone numbers or email addresses, make sure your vehicle service facility gets the word.  Otherwise you won’t get the reminders and your service advisor will wonder what’s happened to you!

At the same time, you might want to let your vehicle manufacturer know when you’ve changed your address, phone number or email address.  If there is a safety recall or your manufacturer is offering an extended warranty on some of your vehicle’s systems, they’ll need to reach you.   

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

H20 No! (Driving Through Standing Water)April 25, 2021

In a year marked by unusually heavy flooding in North America, drivers are very aware of the possibility they may find themselves driving where water has come over the road.  It can be a daunting and frightening situation.  Flooding waters can move quickly and unpredictably, so you have to keep your wits about you when you encounter that situation.

Here a sample of one vehicle manufacturer’s guidelines on what to do.  First, the vehicle is designed to go through some water, but you must be careful.  Never attempt to drive through water deeper than the bottom of your tires.

You can get out of your vehicle to check the depth of the water, but you can never be sure that you aren’t going to drive into a spot where the road has washed away.  You can’t see below the surface of the water, and suddenly you could find yourself in a place where the road drops off unexpectedly.  In swift moving storm runoff, your vehicle could literally be floating away with the current, putting your life and those of your passengers in mortal danger. 

Never go more than 5mph/8 km/hr when you drive through standing water.  That minimizes the waves you create.  If you DO find yourself in water that is touching your drivetrain components, that water can damage them.  And if you get water in your engine, it can lock up in seconds and stall.  The potential damage can be catastrophic.

You may have found yourself driving in water deep enough to reach your drivetrain components, and it’s essential that you have a technician check the fluids to make sure they haven’t been contaminated.  That includes engine oil, transmission and axle.  Driving with fluids contaminated with water can severely damage those components. 

The bottom line is to avoid driving through water at all if you possibly can.  Check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to see if there are specific guidelines for driving YOUR vehicle in standing water.  It’s information that could save your life.

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

The Neglected Windshield (Windshield Care)April 18, 2021

You look at it every day, yet you don’t really see it.  We’re talking about your vehicle’s windshield, and if you’re not seeing it at all, that’s probably a good sign.  The fact is that unless our windshields get fogged up, hazy or cracked, we don’t pay all that much attention to them.  Considering how vital front visibility is in a vehicle, paying a little more attention to your windshield will pay off in the long run.

Keep it clean!  In ancient times when gas stations had attendants who filled your tank for you, they used to clean the outside of your windshield while the fuel was being dispensed. In these days of self-serve gas, we don’t have that luxury any more.  But it’s a good idea to clean your windshield regularly, even when it’s not filthy. If you let dirt build up on the outside, it acts like fine sandpaper when you turn on your wipers when the glass is dry. Really, try to avoid turning on your wipers unless your windshield is wet.  If you must use your wipers to clear off something like bird droppings, use your washers liberally to help avoid scratches.

It’s also important to wash the inside of the windshield, too. Even if you’re not a smoker, you might notice the inside glass sometimes get a greasy film on it.  That’s the plastic inside your vehicle off-gassing petroleum products that they’re made of.  A hazy windshield when you are driving directly into low sun can blind you.  Use soaps that are made for automotive glass since they won’t streak or harm vehicle interiors.  Your service advisor can recommend some.

Keep an eye on your windshield wiper blades.  Let them go too long without replacing them and you might wind up with the metal wiper frame actually touching the glass, a recipe for major scratches when you turn your wipers on.

Finally, do a quick inspection every once in a while for chips in your windshield glass.  Catch them quickly and they can be repaired while they’re still small.  Often they will spread into a major crack, and at that point you’ll have to have the whole thing replaced. 

So there you have it. Give your windshield a little love and it will reward you back with a beautifully clear view of the road up ahead.

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

The Truth about Tire Pressure (Tire Inflation)April 11, 2021

Most light vehicles (under 10,000 pounds/4,500 kg) in North America sold from 2008 model year on have a feature that many people are confused about.  It’s the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).  You may have some experience with it yourself if you own a newer vehicle.  Vehicles with TPMS have sensors in each tire that are supposed to warn the driver when tire pressure gets dangerously low.  That’s important because tires that are significantly under-inflated can cause very serious accidents.

Unfortunately, many drivers think the TPMS does all the work keeping track of tire pressure. To them, as long as the warning light or gauge isn’t giving a warning, the tires must have the proper amount of air pressure in them.  That’s not the case.

Tire pressure monitoring systems aren’t all created equal.   Some give you a digital readout of the pressures in each individual tire.  But many simply have a warning light that looks like the cross section of a tire with an exclamation point in the middle.  If you don’t know what it is, it’s because it’s not instantly recognizable as a tire.  In fact, one company that makes TPMS, Schrader Performance Sensors, surveyed drivers.  Their study showed that more than 40 percent of drivers didn’t know that that warning light was. 

One out of 5 of the drivers who did know what the light was only looked at their tires after the light came on to see if they could see any that needed air; they never checked them with a tire gauge or had someone else do it.  Ten percent of them didn’t do anything when the light came on.

In most vehicles with TPMS, the warning comes on only when the tires are more than 25% underinflated.  The American Automobile Association says that’s under the pressure you need for safe vehicle operation.

The bottom line is once a month you should make sure your tires are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommendations.  That means each tire should be measured with an accurate, external tire gauge.  To be confident you are getting a correct reading, take your vehicle to a reputable service facility where their equipment is calibrated and they know what they’re doing.

Severely underinflated tires can contribute to an accident that kills or severely injures people.  The idea behind TPMS is well intended, but the system was never meant to replace regular inflation measurements and maintenance.  Periodically have your tires checked for proper inflation.

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

Sounds Like a Hot Rod (Noisy Exhaust System)April 4, 2021

Driving along, your exhaust system’s rumbling so loud that people turn and stare at you pass by.  You’re wondering when the police are going to pull you over for illegal noise.

Your mind immediately thinks, aha! A broken muffler. 

Well, your exhaust system is composed of many more parts than just a muffler. 

Your engine makes power because of thousands of tiny explosions from detonating fuel.  Those explosions make a racket, so engineers came up with a system that acoustically dampens that sound in addition to getting rid of harmful exhaust.

In the engine is the exhaust manifold that looks like several pipes that join up into one pipe.  It directs exhaust to the catalytic converter. The catalytic converter converts harmful gases into less harmful gases using certain chemical reactions.  Then comes the muffler that has baffles inside to quiet the sounds of your engine noise.  Finally: the tailpipe.

All of those pipes and parts are joined together by clamps and held up by brackets, and they ride over some pretty bumpy roads.  They are also exposed to the elements, like salt, water, rocks and grit.  Chances are that one of those clamps or brackets has been weakened by corrosion.  When you hit a bump, bingo! The crack widens into a gap and there’s a spot for the engine noise to come roaring out instead of being directed into the muffler’s quieting chambers.

You might be surprised to know that the exhaust system can rust from inside out.  How? Moisture is one component of exhaust, and moisture on the inside can do the same kind of damage as moisture from the outside. 

It’s a good idea to have your exhaust system looked at regularly by a technician.  He or she can evaluate the condition of the metal and recommend when it might be time to replace parts before they break.

Then you’ll have a decision to make.  Newer exhaust systems are made out of stainless steel that is much less prone to corrosion issues.  Others are made of aluminized steel that also fights rust.  You’ve probably already guessed that they can cost more, but the extra price up front may give you an exhaust system that will last much longer. 

Sure, with a repaired exhaust system, you won’t have quite the head-turning vehicle you once had.  You’ll just have to live with all the quiet.

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