Category Archives: What Customers Should Know

Cold Weather Vehicle No-Nos (Items to Avoid Storing in a Freezing Vehicle)

It's always easier to leave a few things in your vehicle so you'll have them on hand.  But in cold weather, while it's a good idea to carry items such as a phone charger, blanket and shovel, there are some things you shouldn't store in your vehicle. Medicines and drugs.  Cold temperatures can affect the chemical makeup of some drugs.  Avoid leaving them in a vehicle, especially those in a liquid form like insulin, eye drops and cough syrup. Latex paint.  They are water based, and when they freeze, they get lumpy and lousy.  Your paint job will not be what you had in mind. Cellphones and computers.  Most of these have lithium ion batteries.  If they get colder than freezing (0 degrees C, 32 degrees F), if you try to charge them, you'll more than likely ruin the batteries.  Bottled water, soda, wine or beer.  OK, here's the scoop.  All of these can freeze and split the container they're in.  Yes, soda, wine and beer will take a lowe ... read more

The Red Menace (How to Deal with Rust)

Rust.  It's worse if you drive in places that use salt on the roads in winter, or if you spend time driving near a body of salt water.  But any vehicle has to deal with rust after years on the road.  And it's not just that rust can eat away your vehicle's body and fenders.  It can be a real problem around your suspension, drivetrain or any place where there's metal. Rust takes its time.  You don't see it until it's already done its dirty work.  It can wreak havoc with your electrical system.  Sure, vehicle manufacturers do their best to keep it to a minimum, but especially with road treatments like brine around, their task is a difficult one. The one spot everyone notices is in the paint.  You see a little bubbling under the once-smooth surface.  By the time it bubbles, it's well involved in rotting away that spot of your vehicle.  You wouldn't believe how just a little thing can start the process on its way.  A stone chips the pai ... read more

In a Fog (Fogged Windows in Cold Weather)

It's bad enough in cold weather when ice and snow block your visibility.  Add to that fog on the inside of your windows and you could be driving blind.  So here are a few tips on how to keep your windows from fogging up when there's a chill in the air. You probably know fog is really condensation, when moist, warm air meets a cold surface and turns to liquid.  If your windshield fogs up, you probably turn on your windshield defroster. Most defrosters blow heated air on the windshield glass to warm it up so it won't condense the moisture.  Many also turn on the air conditioning to reduce the moisture.  That same strategy can work on the rest of the windows.  First, turn up your heater's temperature setting.  The hotter the air, the more moisture it will hold.  Also, turn off the "recirculating" setting since you want all outside air to come in. Then switch on the air conditioning.  It will remove the moisture from the outside  air that i ... read more

What is a TPS? (Throttle Position Sensor)

You know you have an accelerator pedal; step on it and your vehicle is supposed to go.  But did you know there is a part in your vehicle that keeps track of where the throttle is? It's called the Throttle Position Sensor, or TPS. The TPS is a sensor that helps your vehicle figure out the right mix of air and fuel is reaching your engine.  It does that by keeping track of the throttle and sending that information to your vehicle's computer.  Other factors play a role in how well your engine is performing, including air temperature, how fast the engine is turning over and air flow.  When the TPS isn't working right, you may find your vehicle won't accelerate or doesn't have the power you're expecting when you press on the accelerator.  In some cases, it may accelerate on its own.  Sometimes your vehicle won't go over a certain speed.  Your Check Engine light may go on. Any of these symptoms should be checked out soon.  If your TPS stops working rig ... read more

Steering You Right (Tie Rod End Replacement)

For drivers, S stands for safety.  And there are three other words that start with S that are all equally important: starting, stopping and steering. For your vehicle to be at its safest, all three functions must be in top shape.  Steering is one of those things we take for granted.  After all, you turn the wheel and your vehicle changes direction. But sometimes you might notice your steering is a little off.  Maybe you've noticed you turn your wheel slightly and your vehicle doesn't turn. You may feel a little vibration in the wheel that increases when you go faster.  You may hear a little squeak from the wheels when you steer and you may notice your tires aren't wearing evenly. These are signs that your tie rod ends may be failing. Tie rod ends help connect your vehicle's steering mechanism to the wheels.  They can wear out after you've hit one too many potholes or just from constant use.  They can cause sloppy steering and loose handling, and they ... read more

Alleviate the Creaks and Squeaks (Chassis Lubrication)

If your vehicle creaks and squeaks when you drive down the road, it may mean that some of the metal parts are rubbing against each other and need to be lubricated.  Those could be parts of the suspension, steering system and the drivetrain.  Years ago, most vehicles had to have their chassis (what you think of as the frame) regularly lubricated.  Newer vehicles are made with what some call "lifetime lubrication," but there are still parts of the chassis that need to be maintained with lubricants.  Your service advisor can help you know when that needs to be done. In your owner's manual, the vehicle's manufacturer lists components that need regular maintenance. Things like u-joints, steering joints, sway bars, bushings and joints in the suspension. Some of them may have that "lifetime lubrication," while others may not. When you bring your vehicle in for service, a technician will look for any parts that have grease fittings.  They will inspect these components ... read more

Giving CV Joints the Boot! (CV Joint and Boot Replacement)

Ever wonder how your vehicle’s transmission is connected to your wheels? After all, when you hit a pothole or some other uneven part of a road’s surface, there has to be something that can maintain the connection between the transmission and the wheel yet keep everything moving at the same speed.  That very cool device is called a CV joint, a kind of driveshaft running to each wheel.  The CV stands for constant velocity because it keeps the drive wheels moving at a constant speed (velocity).  They’re used mostly on front-wheel drive vehicles but also in rear-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles. The joints move up and down and adjust to bumpy surfaces.  Plus, they are covered in a rubber boot which protects them from road debris and also holds lubrication in.  There’s a CV joint and boot on the transmission side and one on the wheel side.  Unfortunately, the spot that usually fails first is that rubber protective cover (the boot).&nbs ... read more

Go With the Flow (MAF Sensor Replacement)

A driver brought her vehicle into the shop the other day and told us how she was getting lousy fuel economy and that the engine was running rough.  Plus, the Check Engine light was on.  Our technician checked the code the engine had generated (why the Check Engine light was on) and found the problem.  It was a faulty Mass Air Flow sensor, MAF sensor for short. This MAF sensor is an important part of your vehicle.  What it does is calculate the amount of air going into your engine.  As you may know, air is taken into your engine where it's mixed with fuel.  Then, the spark plugs fire, that explosive fuel/air mixture detonates, and all these sequential explosions together provide the power to get your vehicle moving down the road.  It makes sense that if the MAF sensor isn't sending the engine's computers the correct information on the amount of air going in the engine, the fuel/air mixture isn't going to be right. It will either too rich (too much gaso ... read more

Out with the Old (Vehicle Parts that Wear Out)

Some drivers don't pay any attention to their vehicles until something breaks.  Others take them into their service repair facility for maintenance even before a problem develops.  Still, even if you fit into the second group, there are some parts on a vehicle that will simply wear out over time. Your vehicle has gaskets in several places.  They use a flexible material to seal the gaps between metal parts that fit together. After time, that material shrinks or gets brittle and fails.  Eventually, after time, you will have to get gaskets replaced. Same goes for belts.  Your engine has belts that help take the mechanical energy of the engine to drive other parts such as the generator and air conditioner.  Heat and age will eventually cause these belts to wear out or break, so you'll need new ones at some point. You'll also find yourself buying brake pads.  As much as you may try to go easy on them, brake pads work by wearing off a little bit of them eac ... read more

Greeted by a Screech (Loud Noise when Starting Vehicle)

No one likes to be greeted in the morning by having someone screech at you.  The same goes for a loud, high-pitched noise your vehicle greets you with every time you start the engine.  If you're wondering if that's normal, no, it isn't.  And it is worth getting checked out.  The good news is that it might be nothing serious.  Then again, it may be. The first things to suspect any time you hear a high-pitched sound coming from the engine are belts.  They have tension on them and they're trying to turn lots of different pulleys, pumps and other equipment the engine needs to work properly.  The noise could come from the belts starting to wear out and dry out. If one of those belts breaks at an inopportune time, not only can it strand you somewhere, the damage to the engine could be very expensive to fix. Other things that will cause a high-pitched sound are the pulleys and tensioners.  The tensioners keep the right amount of pressure on the belts an ... read more

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