Fuel Injection: It Keeps Getting Better for Rowlett DriversApril 25, 2014

Rowlett drivers know that engines need to burn fuel to operate. Fuel is pumped from your fuel tank to your truck engine where it is squirted—or injected—into your engine’s cylinders. This is the function of the fuel injectors.

There are two ways to inject fuel into an engine. Fuel needs air to burn, so in the first method, fuel is injected into a port and allowed to mix with air and before it is drawn into the cylinders. In the second method, fuel is injected directly into the cylinders and mixes with air after it enters the truck engine.

Direct injection engines burn fuel more efficiently than conventional truck engines. Some models can deliver the power of a V8 with the economy of a V6.

For example, in one family of engines, the conventional version (a V6) delivers about 250 horsepower. The direct injection version delivers over 300 horsepower and gets about the same gas mileage. The turbocharged version delivers 350 horsepower.

Fuel Injection: It Keeps Getting Better for Rowlett DriversWhy the big difference in power? Direct injection systems allow fuel to be squirted into the truck engine at hundreds of times the pressure of a conventional engine. This atomizes the fuel better (breaks it down into tinier droplets), which means more of it gets burned, which translates to more power for your engine. It also results in cleaner emissions.

Fuel injectors are precision instruments. They have to deliver the right amount of fuel at exactly the time the truck engine needs it. They are also engineered to inject fuel with a specific spray pattern. This spray pattern allows for maximum fuel efficiency and proper atomization. Direct injection engines require a much higher degree of precision than conventional engines. For this reason, they are equipped with more sophisticated computers.

When fuel injectors get dirty, their precision drops off. The spray pattern won’t be precise, and the timing of fuel delivery may be off. This decreases fuel efficiency and gas mileage as well as delivering less power to the engine.

Rowlett motorists should understand that fuel injectors are not cheap to replace. Direct injection fuel injectors are even more expensive. And we’re talking a mortgage payment to buy a set of new fuel injectors for a diesel engine.

So keeping your fuel injectors clean is just good auto advice. The best way to do this is to change your air and fuel filters regularly and practice other habits of good car care and preventive maintenance. Cleaning additives in your fuel can also help.

If you do end up with gum or varnish in your fuel system, you’ll need a professional fuel system cleaning. This will clean out your whole system, including the injectors. The good news is that with proper maintenance, Rowlett motorists will enjoy better fuel efficiency and their fuel injectors will last for a long time.

Stop It! You Need Good BrakesApril 15, 2014

Good brakes are obviously very important. If you’ve ever had your brakes go out while you’re driving around the Rowlett area, you’ll know how terrifying it can be. Today we’ll focus on how to tell when you have a brake problem, and how to make good repair choices.

Often, the first indication that something’s wrong with the brakes is an unusual sound. It could be a squeal, chatter or grinding sound.

Some brake pads have a little piece of metal embedded in them that will make a squeal or chirping sound when the brake pads have been worn down to the point that they need to be replaced. It’s an early warning indicator.

When you hear that sound, schedule an appointment at Lewis Complete Auto Repair soon.

Now a chattering sound is more urgent. That usually indicates that something is loose. It could be a brake pad or even the brake calipers. If one of those parts falls off, you could have some serious trouble stopping the vehicle. It would be a good idea to park it until you can get into the shop.

A grinding noise usually means that the brake pad is completely worn away and the metal parts of the brake are rubbing directly on the metal brake rotor. That means the rotor is being damaged and will need some work. More on that later.

Another warning sign is that your brake pedal may feel soft and spongy – or it may even feel very hard to push in. Both could mean trouble. And of course, you may get a dashboard brake warning light.

Now when it comes time to replace your brake pads, you have a choice to make. You can get the same pads that came standard on your vehicle. You can expect the same performance and durability as with the pads that came on the car from the factory.

Now you can also get a budget brake pad. Sometimes drivers insist on lower cost pads. That’s OK if the budget demands it, but you need to be aware of the trade offs. Lower grade pads are usually noisier, so you’ll have to live with more noise when you apply the brakes. They also tend to generate a lot more brake dust, you know, that black dust that accumulates on your wheels. And they probably won’t last as long either. In our opinion, that’s a lot of compromise for just a few dollars in savings.

You can also choose to buy premium brakes pads. These perform at higher specifications than the factory pads. You can expect quieter operation, less brake dust and better stopping power.

Now, getting back to the rotors. The rotors are the discs that the brake pads clamp down on to stop the vehicle. If you’ve been driving with completely worn brake pads, you’ve scratched grooves into the rotors. If the grooves aren’t too deep, the rotor can be resurfaced. A thin layer of metal is cut off the surface of the rotor to make it smooth again.

Now, if the grooves are too deep or if the rotor has already be resurfaced before, there may not be enough material to resurface and still have a rotor that’s thick enough to safely stop the vehicle. In that case, the rotor will have to be replaced.

Something that’s often overlooked is the brake fluid. Your manufacturer has a recommended schedule for evacuating the old brake fluid, cleaning the system and refilling it with fresh brake fluid. This is really important to brake performance.

So here’s the bottom line: if you suspect, inspect. If you notice any of these warning signs, have your brakes inspected. Your advisor can help you make the repair decision that’s right for you.

Fuel Saving Tip: Fuel System Cleaning Near Garland TXApril 10, 2014

A lot of gas is wasted in the Garland area by dirty fuel delivery systems.

Let’s start at the tank. The gas tank gathers dirt, rust and sediment over the years. That’s why there’s a fuel filter to clean the fuel after it leaves the tank. A dirty filter will rob the engine of the clean gas it needs to run efficiently.

Lewis Complete Auto Repair Fuel System Cleaning The fuel intake components get coated with gum and varnish over time. This results in fuel being delivered inefficiently and some of that gunk getting into the engine. A fuel system service at Lewis Complete Auto Repair will leave your intake as clean as a whistle.

The big fuel thief is dirty fuel injectors. They deliver fuel to the engine at a specified pressure and in a particular spray pattern. When they’re clogged, the fuel doesn’t get atomized the way it’s supposed to and doesn’t get burned as efficiently.

See your owner’s manual or ask your Garland service advisor at Lewis Complete Auto Repair when a fuel system cleaning is recommended.

Economics of Maintenance For Rowlett Auto OwnersApril 2, 2014

Buying a new car in Rowlett is always a big financial decision. The allure of that new car smell is powerful, to be sure. But what if your current car is still in good shape? How do you decide?

People in Rowlett who’ve been used to driving a new car every three to five years may be having second thoughts in this economy. For many, the question is, how does the certainty of a new car payment stack up against uncertain repairs for a car that may be out of warranty?

For purposes of our discussion, let’s assume you live right here in Rowlett and have a five year old vehicle. It’s now paid off. If you keep it, you fear that there’ll be some repairs over the next five years, but you really don’t know what to expect. For help we turned to Edmunds.com.

Edmunds.com has compiled maintenance and repair information for cars and trucks. With this data, they project likely service and repair costs for a particular make and model. They’re able to use manufacturer’s maintenance schedules and repair histories for the projections.

Of course, these projections can’t predict what will happen to your vehicle in Rowlett, but they do give you information to use in your decision.

Let’s look at the numbers for a five year old Toyota Camry V-6. In this example, the combined maintenance and repairs for the five year period is $5,748. This works out to an average of $96 a month. The year-by-year averages range from a low of $49 a month to $124 a month.

So compare $96 a month with a new car payment. And it’s actually better news than that; you would still have maintenance expenses with a new car, so the repair element could be less than half that figure.

Here are numbers for some other five year old vehicles from around Rowlett:

  • Ford Escape – $116 a month
  • Chevy Silverado – $131 a month
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee – $138 a month
  • Hyundai Accent – $85 a month.

Now, if your vehicle is older than five years, have a chat with your Rowlett service advisor at Lewis Complete Auto Repair. We see hundreds of vehicles through our bays every month and we know your car. See if there’s any particular problem common with your vehicle that you might see over the next couple of years.

And of course, the best way to keep future repair costs down is to take care of all your scheduled maintenance. This is especially important in older vehicles that have had time to accumulate some deposits.

There are special motor oil formulations that help clean older engines and protect and recondition their seals and gaskets.

We hope this eliminates some of the unknowns in the decision to keep or trade.

Give us a call if you have any questions:
Lewis Complete Auto Repair
5110 Grisham Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75088
972.475.4800

Make Your Battery LastMarch 25, 2014

Today’s report from Lewis Complete Auto Repair is on car batteries, why they die and what we can do to lengthen their life. Most of us have had a dead battery at one time or another. In fact, it would be very unusual if you hadn’t. You may be surprised to learn that only 30 percent of Rowlett vehicle batteries last for 48 months.

Now that’s an average. How long a battery lasts depends on many factors. You may not know that one of the biggest factors is the temperature where you live and drive around Rowlett. You might suppose that cold weather was harder on batteries because it takes more power to crank a cold engine, but the opposite is actually true.

For more information on your battery, please visit us:
Lewis Complete Auto Repair
5110 Grisham Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75088
972.475.4800

Batteries in very cold climates have a life expectancy of 51 months as opposed to 30 months in very warm climates. The reason is simple: batteries are chemically more active when they’re hot than when they’re cold.

A car battery will actually start to discharge on its own within 24 hours in hot weather. It takes several days in cold weather. When batteries are left too long in a state of partial discharge, the discharged portion of the battery plates actually, for the lack of a better word, ‘die’. Recharging the battery will not restore the dead part of the battery plate.

One of the big problems for the way most of us drive in the Rowlett area, is that our batteries are often partially discharged. The biggest job the battery does is to start the car. It takes some time for the alternator to recharge the battery after starting. If you’re driving short distances, especially if there are several starts and stops, your battery may not fully recharge.

Another issue is that vehicles are coming equipped with more and more electricity hungry accessories like navigation systems, DVD players, CD and MP3 players, heated seats, heated steering wheels and so on. And we often plug in cell phones, computers and other gadgets. Combine that with short trips and it’s no wonder that our batteries are partially discharged.

Experts say we can extend our battery life by topping off the charge periodically using a good quality battery charger. You may’ve heard these chargers referred to as ‘trickle chargers’. They’re attached to the battery and plugged into a wall outlet to slowly bring the battery up to full charge.

Now there’s some science involved with how fast a battery should be recharged. If you buy a cheap manual charger, you’ll have to tend it. Frankly a learning curve on how to do it right and requires much attention. A computer controlled charger – or smart charger – monitors the process and determines the appropriate rate of charge. And it even stops charging when it’s fully charged. It costs more than the manual charger, but the automatic model is worth it.

The suggestion is to charge once a month in warm weather and once every three months in cold weather.

Another thing to avoid is deeply discharging your battery. Something like running the headlights and stereo with the engine turned off. That’ll take months off the battery life every time you do it.

Now, as we discussed, heat is hard on a battery. A dirty, greasy battery holds more heat. You can wipe off excess dirt with a paper towel or ask your service advisor at Lewis Complete Auto Repair to clean it for you. Lewis Complete Auto Repair can even test your battery and tell you if it’s time to replace it.

Batteries are fairly expensive, so taking a few steps to make them last longer is well worth it. Of course, the battery will eventually need to be replaced. Always make sure you get a new battery that meets the factory specifications for your vehicle. If you feel you need more battery capacity than what came with your vehicle, talk with your service advisor at Lewis Complete Auto Repair about appropriate upgrades.

If you have a dead battery, be careful to inspect it before you jump start it. If the case is bulging, cracked or leaking, do not jump start it. Damaged batteries can explode or catch fire. And deeply discharged batteries can freeze. Do not jump start a frozen battery.