Keep Your Cool In RowlettDecember 3, 2013

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Rowlett drivers rely on their car’s coolant system to keep their engine cool. Coolant (also called antifreeze) mixed with water flows through your truck engine and absorbs heat. The mixture then flows out to the radiator where it’s cooled by air flowing over the radiator. From there the coolant/water mix circulates back through the engine to absorb more heat.

There’s a reason we mix coolant and water. Water alone actually does a good job transferring heat from the engine. The problem is that water boils at a temperature that’s easily reached inside your truck’s engine, so it can turn to steam which does not conduct heat as well and is harder to contain.

Also, if it’s freezing outside in Rowlett, the water in your engine could freeze while your vehicle is sitting out in the cold.

So, if you remember your Rowlett high school chemistry, you’ll know that a mixture has both a higher boiling point and a lower freezing point than either component alone.

Coolant, or antifreeze, is specially formulated to keep your engine safe in a wide range of environmental and operating temperatures in and around Rowlett.

Keep Your Cool In Rowlett Whenever the truck is running, the coolant in the cooling system is working to keep your engine from overheating. When it’s cold outside, the coolant acts as antifreeze to keep the fluid from freezing in your engine.

All that exploding fuel in your engine creates a lot of heat. Without coolant, the metal truck engine parts would expand so much that the engine would seize up and stop running. Expensive parts could be broken or warp so badly they would have to be replaced. It could even be so bad that the whole truck’s engine is ruined and has to be junked.

This is why it is critical that Rowlett drivers check coolant levels frequently and have their truck cooling system inspected for leaks. Also your truck manufacturer has a maintenance requirement for draining and replacing your coolant. These recommendations can vary widely, so check your owner’s manual or ask us at Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett.

The reason you need to change the coolant is that it has additives in it to protect the cooling system. As you can imagine, with all the heat, the cooling system’s a pretty harsh environment. The additives keep the fluid from becoming corrosive and damaging the radiator and other truck cooling system components. Over time, the additives are depleted and the coolant just has to be replaced.

Many Rowlett auto owners ask Lewis Complete Auto Repair why there are different colors of antifreeze. It is very important that you use the correct type of antifreeze. The different types of antifreeze – or coolant – are different colors so you don’t mix them up.

Auto manufacturers use different materials to make the cooling system, and they require different types of antifreeze to protect them.

So check with us at Lewis Complete Auto Repair or your owner’s manual for the right kind because using the wrong coolant can void the warranty for your truck cooling system.

Nitrogen Fill For Tires in Rowlett TXNovember 27, 2013

So, everyone in the Rowlett TX area knows how great helium is – you know, party balloons, squeaky voices. But a lot of people around Rowlett still haven’t heard about the benefits of nitrogen in your tires, and how it can help your tires. Here’s some great advice from AutoNetTV, brought to you by Lewis Complete Auto Repair.

Nitrogen has actually been around for a long time in the Rowlett TX commercial sector, but it’s just starting to catch on for private vehicles in the 75088 zip code area.

Why nitrogen in your tires? Air is air, right? Actually, it turns out there is a difference.

Contact Lewis Complete Auto Repair to learn more about nitrogen in your tires
You can find us at:
5110 Grisham Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75088
Or call us at 972.475.4800

The heart of the matter is maintaining proper tire inflation. When your tires are properly inflated, they last longer, handle better and more safely, and save you money at the gas pump.

The problem is that tires filled in Rowlett with regular air can lose a pound and a half of air pressure every month. This just happens as the oxygen in the tire seeps out. So if you don’t check your pressure for a month or two, well, you can be significantly low – low enough to actually affect your handling, shorten tire life and waste money at the fuel pump.

How does nitrogen help? Regular air contains about 78% nitrogen. Nitrogen is the largest molecule in air. It’s dry and non-flammable. Air also contains 21% oxygen, which is smaller and seeps out of the tire three to four times faster than nitrogen.

So, a tire filled with nitrogen at Lewis Complete Auto Repair will take about six months to lose as much pressure as regular air does in just one month. So it’s more forgiving for those who don’t check their pressure every week.

Also, when oxygen is at higher temperatures – like those inside your tire when you’ve been driving for awhile – it oxidizes the inside of your tire. Getting the oxygen out of your tire means that it’ll last longer.

Who’s using nitrogen? Well, let’s start with NASCAR and Indy. These racers like nitrogen’s ability to maintain consistent tire pressure and reduce tire temperatures under very demanding conditions. The US government requires all commercial aircraft to have nitrogen in their tires. NASA and the US Military use nitrogen. The mining industry has been filling those “humongous” tires with nitrogen for years. And semi trucks and trailers are starting to use nitrogen extensively.

You may have heard some detractors of nitrogen. But the studies and white papers from tire and vehicle manufacturers demonstrate that the technology really works.

In fact, a prominent consumer research group did a study where they filled some tires with air and some with nitrogen and stacked them outside for a year. They observed that the nitrogen filled tires did hold their pressure better, but they couldn’t see the economic benefit. But that particular test has very little to do with the real world. Most tires are actually holding up cars and they also get driven around and do a lot of work. So if nitrogen helps them last longer, saves gas and gives safer handling, it’s worth considering.

Learn more about nitrogen in your tires by watching our attached auto tips video from AutoNetTV.

PCV Valve Service At Lewis Complete Auto Repair In RowlettNovember 21, 2013

Today, we are talking about your PCV valve. The PCV Valve is a little, inexpensive part that does a big job for Rowlett drivers. PCV stands for Positive Crankcase Ventilation.

The crankcase is the bottom area of the engine that holds the oil. When the truck engine’s running, fuel is burned to generate power. Most of the exhaust from combustion goes out through the exhaust system. But some exhaust blows by the pistons and goes into the lower engine, or crankcase.

These hot gases are about seventy percent unburned fuel.
PCV Valve Service At Lewis Complete Auto Repair In RowlettThis can dilute and contaminate the oil, leading to damaging engine oil sludge. It can also cause truck engine corrosion, something we see occasionally at Lewis Complete Auto Repair. At high speeds on Rowlett freeways, the pressure can build up to the point that gaskets and seals start to leak.

Back in the old days, car makers simply installed a hose that vented these gases out into the atmosphere. But starting in the 1964 model year, environmental protection laws required that these gases be recycled back into the air intake system to be mixed with fuel and burned in the truck’s engine.

This is much better for air quality and improves fuel economy also. (Budget-conscious Rowlett auto owners take note!) The little valve that performs this important function is the PCV valve. The PCV valve lets gases out of the engine, but won’t let anything back in. Over time, the vented gases will gum up the PCV valve and it won’t work well. That can lead to all of the problems I’ve already described, oil leaks, excessive oil consumption and decreased fuel economy.

Fortunately, it’s very easy to test the PCV Valve at Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett and quick and inexpensive to replace. Even so, it’s often overlooked because many Rowlett drivers don’t know about it. Check your truck owner’s manual or ask your Lewis Complete Auto Repair service advisor. If this is the first time you’ve heard of a PCV valve, you might be in line for a replacement.

There’s another aspect to the PCV system. In order for the valve to work correctly, it needs a little clean air to come in. This is done through a breather tube that gets some filtered air from the engine air filter. Now some vehicles have a small separate air filter for the breather tube called the breather element. That’ll need to be replaced at Lewis Complete Auto Repair when it gets dirty.

Please ask your friendly Rowlett service advisor about your PCV valve. For the price of a couple of burger combo meals in Rowlett, you can avoid some very pricey engine repairs.

Are Modern Vehicles Maintenance Free?November 12, 2013

In our auto video today we’ll be talking with Alan Peterson about myths surrounding automotive maintenance. You can lump these myths into the statement that “modern cars are so reliable, they are virtually maintenance free”.

Any good myth has some elements of truth. No offense to Rowlett Bigfoot fans, but this maintenance-free myth has more evidence than most. If we look at some isolated areas of auto maintenance, we could conclude that maintenance isn’t so important. But other areas would just as easily lead you to believe that maintenance is more important than ever.

Here are some examples for our friends in Rowlett.

  • Some cars in Rowlett no longer require chassis lubrication. They’re made with self-lubricating materials and have sealed joints. There’s literally is no way to grease those joints.

-Chalk one up for the myth.

On the other side, some vehicles come with sophisticated variable valve timing. A lot of complicated parts up in the valve train that didn’t even exist not that many years ago. These parts are very vulnerable to oil sludge.

  • So, skipping an oil change here and there could lead to very expensive damage.

-A point to maintenance.

  • Electronic ignition has eliminated replacing points.

-Myth gets a point.

  • Fuel injectors on direct injection engines are very expensive to replace so one must be sure to get a fuel system cleaning on schedule.

-Point for maintenance.

I think you get the picture. As automotive technology advances, it eliminates or reduces some maintenance requirements. And maintenance becomes more critical for some items. Most others remain very similar to what they’ve always been.

So the maintenance mindset is still important for car owners in Rowlett if we want our vehicles to last a long time. The checklist may change over time, but there’ll always be a check list.

Let me mention a couple of items on modern vehicles that folks need to be aware of. One of the most of the most important is timing belt replacement. Used to be that all engines had timing chains – you know, metal chains. They rarely broke.

It’s cheaper to make engines with timing belts rather than chains, so replacing the timing belt is on most engines’ maintenance list. The money the manufacturer saves by using a belt is more than off-set by what the vehicle owner has to pay to replace the belt. And it’s a drop in the bucket compared to the cost of repairing the damage if the timing belt breaks.

So make sure you know when your timing belt needs to be replaced. You don’t want to miss that. If you have 60,000 miles or more, break out your owner’s manual or ask your Rowlett service advisor at Lewis Complete Auto Repair to check on the recommendation right away.

Another is sealed wheel bearing assemblies on some vehicles. As you might have guessed, it’s cheaper to make a sealed unit than one that has access to inspect or service the wheel bearings. The problem is that when the bearings fail, you have to replace the entire unit, not just the bearings. That’ll cost 5 or 6 times as much.

For our friends in Rowlett, we hope this has underscored the importance of knowing and following your maintenance schedule. Come in and see us at Lewis Complete Auto Repair. You’ll find us at 5110 Grisham Dr. in Rowlett, TX 75088. Just give us a call at 972.475.4800.

Battery Replacement At Lewis Complete Auto Repair In RowlettNovember 8, 2013

Hello, welcome to Lewis Complete Auto Repair. Today’s focus is batteries. It seems like everything in Rowlett runs on batteries. Of course, the batteries we’re most concerned with here at Lewis Complete Auto Repair are those in our customer’s vehicles. Just like the batteries in our smoke detectors or TV remote, car batteries wear out and need to be replaced. There are a couple of things Rowlett drivers should know when looking for a new battery.

Look for two measurements that come into play: cold cranking amps and reserve capacity.

Let’s start with cold cranking amps. Battery Replacement At Lewis Complete Auto Repair This can be thought of as the power output used to start a cold truck engine. The number of cold cranking amps you need depends on your vehicle and where you live in TX, specifically how cold it is. (Many TX auto owners have first-hand experience trying to start their car on a cold winter morning.) The two factors are that the colder your truck’s engine is, the more power it takes to turn the engine over to get it started. It has all that cold, sluggish oil to contend with.

The other factor is that the chemical reaction in the battery that creates electrical energy is less efficient when the temperature dips. At Lewis Complete Auto Repair, we consult the table shown below. Let’s say it’s eighty degrees Fahrenheit in Rowlett. At that temperature, 100% of the battery’s power is available. At freezing, only 65% of battery power is available, but it requires 155% as much power to start the engine as it did at eighty degrees.

As you can see from the chart, the colder it gets, more power’s needed, but the available power drops.

Percent of Power Available Celsius Fahrenheit Power Required  
100 27 80 100  
65 0 32 155  
40 -22 0 210  
25 -32 20 350  

So if you live where it’s cold in TX, you need a battery with more cold cranking amps than you do where it’s moderate or hot. The battery that originally came with your truck was based on averages. At Lewis Complete Auto Repair, we like to remind Rowlett motorists that they should always get at least as many cold cranking amps as their car makers recommend, but may want to upgrade if they live where it gets real cold.

And the type of engine you have will impact the battery you need: A six-cylinder engine requires more cold cranking amps than a four. An eight cylinder needs even more. And diesel trucks require more than a gasoline engine with the same number of cylinders.

Now on to reserve capacity: It’s a measurement of the number of minutes of reserve power the battery has at a given load. The number is more important to Rowlett auto owners these days because of parasitic drain. Parasitic drain is the battery energy that’s used when the key is off in your truck. So, the power drawn by the security system, the remote start system, even the power the computers require to maintain their memory.

Reserves are also needed when you make very short trips around Rowlett. You’re not driving long enough for the battery to recover the energy it used to start the engine. So go with the minimum recommended by your manufacturer or Lewis Complete Auto Repair and upgrade if you need more.

Talk with us at Lewis Complete Auto Repair about your options. If you need more from your battery, a larger, heavy-duty battery may be called for. At Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett, we remind our customers that it’s very important that the new battery fits your truck: the terminals can’t be touching other parts.

Batteries are a big ticket item for most TX drivers, so the warranty gives piece of mind. There’re two kinds of car battery warranties: pro-rated and free replacement. With the pro-rated, you get a credit for a portion of the battery if it fails during the warranty period. With a free replacement warranty, you get just that, a free replacement. Be sure to ask us at Lewis Complete Auto Repair about the warranty so you know what you’re getting.