Fall Tune-Up/Winterizing Pt. III

23 10 2012

This is the final installment on our Fall Tune-Up/Winterizing series! You can find Part I & Part II here.

Pt. III – Belts, Hoses, and Filters

By now, you have a better understanding of your cooling system, including the thermostat and coolant functions. But what about the parts relatively exposed to the elements under the hood?

To carry coolant between the radiator and the engine, you have a series of hoses located between the two. These hoses are usually made of a type of rubber that allows for continuous exposure to heated fluids.

However, over time, like all other forms of rubber, it can wear from use and exposure to different elements such as moisture and humidity.

Typically, it takes a good amount of time for these hoses to wear out, but it’s fairly simple for a technician to check and ensure that they’re still functional.

Speaking of rubber parts that can wear due to regular use and exposure to moisture, what about the belts connecting different components under the hood?  Without proper functionality, those systems affected could cause your vehicle to be inoperable.

Also, it’d be a good idea to have a trained technician look at your air filter, cabin air filter, and fuel filter to make sure they’re clean; and replace those have become clogged or dirty.

Speaking of cabin air, what about the cabin heating system? As the weather gets cooler, a heater might be useful to keep you warm, and should be inspected by a trained technician to ensure it is operating properly.

All of the items covered in this series, including Part I & Part II should be addressed by a trained technician, and we at Haley Buick GMC can provide these services at a reasonable cost to keep your vehicle on the road and money in your wallet.


Fall Tune-Up/Winterizing Pt. II

16 10 2012

This is a continuation in our Fall Tune Up/Winterizing series! Pt. I can be found here.

Pt. II – Coolant Check/Flushing

So now that you understand a bit more about the radiator system in your vehicle, what about the fluid contained within?

Coolants are designed to work in most weather conditions; warm and cold, dry and humid.

Its basic function is to significantly lower the temperature required to freeze your engine – so instead of freezing at 32 degrees Fahrenheit like water, your engine is protected to a much colder temperature.

“But it’s too warm here to worry about freezing weather – I’ll just fill with water instead!”

Unlike water, they do not expose internal components to corrosion. Because of this, there’s a much lower possibility of your radiator disintegrating from the inside out, leaving you with the bill to replace it.

Coolant will eventually break down after exposed to engine heat over long periods of time – this can cause coolant sludge to build up, possibly clogging the coolant lines and leading to an overheated engine.

Most manufacturers recommend that individuals open their system and let it fully drain out, before closing it and replenishing the coolant. However, this will only drain roughly 90% of the fluids in your system.

And if you drained it yourself, you might not have a way to properly dispose of the spent coolant. This is where flushing comes in.

Performed by a trained technician, your vehicle is connected to a specialized piece of machinery that will remove 100% of fluids from your system, and fully replenish them with new coolant.

It should be noted, however, that it is not recommended by most manufacturers to mechanically flush any other fluid in your vehicle, as it’s possible to damage those systems.

But what about the hoses carrying the fluid, and other systems? (to be continued)

Fall Tune-Up/Winterizing Pt. I

9 10 2012

It’s heading into that time of year again… time to bust out the sweatshirts and pants, stow the suntan lotion, and get ready for candy corn and haunted hayrides.

And, it’s also time to start thinking about a fall tune-up and possibly winterizing your vehicle.

“But a tune-up means someone will have to rebuild my engine… and winterizing’s something you do if you’re not going to be using it. I don’t want to do that!”

In reality, not only do tune-ups not usually require any serious engine-related work and winterizing checks and changes out any fluids or parts needing to be replaced, they also can save you time and money in the long run.

Let’s take a look at some of the steps involved!

Pt. I – Thermostat Check

No matter what you drive, chances are it has an engine involving a radiator system. Its basic job is to keep your engine from overheating during normal operation.

But the mystery is how this happens – the idea of a continuously operating system poses a conundrum: if the engine is always cooled, how can it ever become warm enough to operate efficiently? And what about if the system never runs… what prevents the engine from overheating, seizing up, and becoming inoperable?

That is where the thermostat comes into play.

Its basic job is to sit on top of the radiator hose leading into the engine and regulate the temperature of the engine. Most modern engines run efficiently around 195 degrees Fahrenheit; and a properly functioning thermostat ensures this temperature can be reached and not overly exceeded by controlling the flow of coolant to the engine.

Too little warmth, the valve remains closed. Too much heat and the valve is completely opened. At normal operating temperature, the valve is slowly moving to the opening or closing positions.

Around this time of year, the change in weather starts putting a little extra strain into this system – not so much that the system will always need repair or replacing, but just enough to cause extra potential wear.

Coupled with any extremely warm weather events over the summer putting stress on your vehicle, your thermostat would be a wise thing to have checked by a trained technician – if it were to fail while driving, you could potentially end up stuck.

But this isn’t the only part of your cooling system to have checked… (to be continued)

The Cost of “Free” Diagnostics

2 10 2012

“Come in, we can diagnose your vehicle for free!”

It’s a phrase anyone’s heard after calling a service center with that all-too-familiar “Check Engine Light” (Malfunction Indicator Lamp). It’s common to wonder what exactly happens during a “diagnosis” and just how “free” it is.

Most diagnoses are formed using electronic devices.

Technicians use scanners, which are electronic tools that can be plugged into a vehicle to read vehicle computer systems information.Some scanners may have the capability of two-way communications, which aids in the diagnostic process – they can’t actually fix your vehicle though.

Like a thermometer, doesn’t cure your vehicle – just lets you know what it could be.

Error codes (diagnostic fault codes) point to possible problems, but can’t fix them.

For example, a 2011 Chevrolet Camaro might have the “Check Engine” light, and codes P0271, P0273, and P216A appear on the scanner. These codes all point to specific faulty circuits, but it’s more likely there’s an issue in the system than the individual parts associated to those circuits.

Even if a parts store has the capability to determine defective parts, they still have to determine the cause of the problem. However, you’d likely be on the hook for hundreds of dollars without knowing if the problem is solved.

Actual vehicle service diagnostics are more than codes from a machine.

Yes, the codes help pinpoint errors to take a look at, but they don’t necessarily offer solutions. By troubleshooting and finding the root source, the issue can be fixed in an efficient and cost effectivemanner. In turn, this potentially saves you from the cost of expensive parts and labor that don’t necessarily solve your problems.

Question your service center.

Don’t settle for just a parts cost estimate, but instead try to see if the technicians and/or shop personnel have any way of troubleshooting to find the root cause. Sometimes it will be one part causing the issue – but be sure that it is. After all, it is your choice; why not choose to have the correct job done right the first time?

The Modern Engine

25 09 2012

Whether an SUV’s powerful V8 or a sedan’s slim Inline 4, all engines are built for a specific purpose. Though each type of vehicle seems to have the same 4-stroke principle design engine, each model and year has a slightly different, performance-altering engine.

Thanks to modern technology and the most recent EPA emissions standards, there have been a few changes under the hood. Here are the four most notable points:

An Engine Control Module – your engine’s “brains.”

1. Computers have become the standard for engine control, which translates into better fuel control accuracy and higher power output.

2. Tolerances (the spaces between a piston and the cylinder wall) have been tightened, piston weights have changed, and the shape of the combustion chambers have been altered.

This, again, has helped produce higher power output, and always contributes to lowered emissions.

Different types of fuel injectors.

3. Direct fuel-injection systems are now favored over carburetors and other injection systems. With more precise control of fuel, your engine burns cleaner and more efficiently.

4.  Distributor-less ignition systems mean you have a more efficient system without the added hassle of an ignition distributor system.

Not only do these changes make modern vehicles more fuel-efficient and powerful, they also make your vehicle easier to service. By using computers to control the engine’s parts, error codes now point to specific errors instead of the entire system.

What this means to you is savings – saving money on regular maintenance and other required services.

Service Certifications

18 09 2012

“Our technicians are ASE Certified!”

This is the most typical boast of any service repair shop.

ASE is short for Automotive Service Excellence, a nationally recognized certification for providing a common standard of service. It certainly sounds impressive, and it can be; a certified technician must have at least two years of relevant work experience and have passed a rigorous test to be retaken every five years after initial certification.

However, this certification is basic. 

Though it may be praised, the ASE is a very basic certification that only allows a technician to make few basic repairs without specialization in any brand.

Look for manufacturer-trained technicians.

Not only can the manufacturer-trained technician perform more jobs at a more effective level, they are also certified to work on all vehicles within his dealership’s respective brands. They’re also required to take both live and online courses, and complete extensive assessment tests.

Search for certifications from other agencies.

Body repair centers will almost always have ASE certifications, but they might also have certifications from other agencies like i-Car. Different brands prove the shop’s dedication to educated service.

Find out how many technicians are certified.

It doesn’t matter how much you know about the certification process if the mechanic servicing your car isn’t certified. Discover how many technicians are certified and how often these certifications are renewed.

The most important thing to remember when selecting your shop:

ASE only certifies for service standards, while manufacturer-training and the training of other agencies provide dynamic training, more strenuous exams, and force technicians to remain current in the constantly changing world of automotive repairs.

All of these tips can be performed with a few simple questions. Never be afraid to ask; it’s your money and way of life that you’re protecting.