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

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