Considering an Alternative Fuel Vehicle in Rowlett?October 24, 2016

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There is a clear and vocal demand in Rowlett and nationally for a reduction in air pollution and our dependence on fossil fuels. This is what is driving the TX market for alternative fuel vehicles. There are a number of these vehicles on Rowlett area roads today, and many more being developed. Yet each of these vehicles has its own advantages and disadvantages. Rowlett auto owners should learn what these advantages and disadvantages are before running out and purchasing one of these alternative fuel vehicles at your nearest Rowlett dealership.

Rowlett drivers should carefully research the car care before buying an alternative vehicle, as it may or may not coincide with the standards for gasoline vehicles. You should look at costs and as well: these vehicles may help save our environment here in Rowlett, but that might not represent a savings to your wallet. You’ll need to decide what you can afford, and what will work for your lifestyle. Also, your choice of vehicle may be affected by what fuels are available in your area. Switching to an alternative fuel vehicle is not a bad decision, but it should be a carefully considered one.

Flex Fuel Vehicles
Flex fuel vehicles can run on gasoline or on a combination of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Because of the 85% ethanol content, this fuel is commonly called E85 in TX.

Ethanol is made from corn. So flex fuel vehicles lessen our dependency on fossil fuels. But they also raise the price of corn, which is a basic foodstuff in some areas of the world. Whether replacing fossil fuels with corn is a good idea is hotly contested right now.

One piece of Lewis Complete Auto Repair auto advice before we move on: do not put E85 into your vehicle unless it has an engine designed for flex fuels. Because of the high ethanol content in E85, engines need special seals and gaskets to function properly on this fuel. Running an ordinary engine with E85 can lead to gas leaks and fires.

Diesel engines are nothing new on TX freeways, and many get great gas mileage. Diesel fuel can now be made from vegetable oil and other renewable sources. A diesel fuel made from algae will soon be on the market in the Rowlett area.

Natural Gas
Natural gas is less expensive than gasoline in Rowlett and burns more cleanly. Also, gasoline engines can be adapted to run on compressed natural gas, and many natural gas vehicles are already on Rowlett roads. You can even install a special pump in your home gas line to use to fuel your vehicle. If you are interested in converting your gasoline engine to run on CNG in Rowlett, ask your Lewis Complete Auto Repair service advisor about it.

On the other hand, an engine running on natural gas is not as powerful as one running on gasoline. Also, the tank you need to store natural gas is large—it takes up nearly the entire trunk of your car. Further, refueling stations are still few and far between in some TX areas, or even unavailable, in many parts of the country.

Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicles were all the rage in TX some years ago. But their limitations were quickly realized by Rowlett auto owners. These vehicles won’t come into their own until we find ways to improve their batteries. Currently, the cars have a short range before their power runs out, and can only be realistically used close to home. However, they are easy to recharge, since they can be plugged in at home, and there are many researchers working on improving the battery technology in these vehicles. They may yet be the vehicles of the future.

Hybrids have been one of the most successful alternative fuel vehicles here in Rowlett and throughout the county. A hybrid gets its name because it has both a gas or diesel engine and an electric motor.

There are two types of hybrids. The full-hybrid relies on the electric motor for power, but the gas (or diesel) engine generates power for the battery. Thus, while still consuming fossil fuels, it uses less of them than a standard automobile, and also reduces harmful pollutants. Also, it overcomes the range problem of the strictly electric vehicle.

In a mild hybrid, the electric motor assists the gas or diesel engine in powering the car. Thus, it uses more gasoline or diesel than full hybrids and has higher emissions. But mild hybrids are available in larger body models like full-size pickups and SUV’s.

A Note of Caution about Hybrid and Electric Vehicles
One last note before we leave the subject of alternative fuel vehicles. The battery in an electric or hybrid vehicle is not as tame as the one in a standard vehicle. They carry enough voltage to kill you. These are not do-it-yourself vehicles when it comes to preventive maintenance or car care. Only a trained technician should work under their hoods.

Lewis Complete Auto Repair
5110 Grisham Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75088

What Rowlett Customers like About Us at Lewis Complete Auto RepairOctober 17, 2016

A big part of the service we provide at Lewis Complete Auto Repair for our Rowlett customers is education. We want you to feel confident with your service decisions.

And we’re always open to questions from our valued Rowlett area customers. Even though we try to be proactive in our Lewis Complete Auto Repair automotive education, we sometimes get busy fixing cars and need a reminder. Please, just ask.

We’ve found our Rowlett customers like the service reminders. They’ve grown to trust that our recommendations are based on the vehicle manufactures’ published maintenance schedules and that Lewis Complete Auto Repair is not just pulling them out of the air.

We know that people in Rowlett live a busy life with a lot more to think about than wondering if it’s time to replace the PCV valve on their vehicle. Part of our Lewis Complete Auto Repair service process is checking the vehicle manufactures’ schedule to make sure we don’t overlook service.

We hope TX drivers appreciate their courtesy inspection when they come into our Rowlett facility for service. If we find something unexpected, it’s good to know, and if we don’t find anything wrong, you get a little peace of mind.

You know, customer satisfaction is very important to us at Lewis Complete Auto Repair. We want to run a professional and friendly Rowlett automotive service operation. If we do, you’ll keep coming back and recommend us to your friends.

Give us a call at 972.475.4800.

Lewis Complete Auto Repair
5110 Grisham Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75088

Regular Schedule or Severe Service Schedule at Lewis Complete Auto Repair?October 11, 2016

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Today’s Lewis Complete Auto Repair article focuses on severe service maintenance. Many Rowlett drivers are not aware of them and yet there are also very vocal advocates in TX who think that severe service schedules apply to everyone. Somewhere between a complete lack of awareness and the dire blanket statements lies a reasonable approach to severe service maintenance at Lewis Complete Auto Repair.

To back up a little, vehicle owner’s manuals have schedules for preventive maintenance. Things like oil changes, transmission service and so on. They say you should change your oil every so many miles or after so many months. Rowlett drivers understand this very well. What they may not know is that there are actually two service schedules: the regular schedule and the severe service schedule. The mileage and time intervals are lower on the severe service schedule.

Now when you hear ‘severe service’, you may think it doesn’t apply to you because you don’t feel your driving conditions are severe or extreme – it’s just normal everyday driving in the Rowlett area. So let’s list some of the conditions that classify as severe so that you can make the judgment on your own driving.

Before we start the list, here’s a point of contrast that definitely is not severe driving. Driving down your nearest TX interstate at 65 miles per hour on a 75 degree day loaded only with your passengers. These are very easy miles for your vehicle: your engine is loafing along at low RPMs, no heavy loads to pull and moderate Rowlett temperatures. Now let’s look at some severe service driving conditions.

Most trips around Rowlett are less than four miles. When your vehicle engine cools down, moisture condenses in the engine. This water in the oil doesn’t get a chance to evaporate on short trips because the oil doesn’t get hot enough. A lot of short trips in your vehicle means a lot of water build up. And water in the oil leads to the creation of sludge which can damage the engine. Changing the oil more frequently keeps sludge from building up. By contrast, highway driving warms the engine up and gets the water burned off.

Here’s another example. Most trips around Rowlett are less than ten miles and outside temperatures are below freezing. This is the same reasoning, but in very cold TX weather it takes even longer for the oil to get hot enough to evaporate the water, hence ten miles as opposed to four.

Next, you drive in very hot TX weather. The hotter it is outside, the more cooling the engine, transmission, brake fluid and so on becomes. The environment in which the fluids reside is more hostile and the fluids simply breakdown faster. Therefore, the lower change interval.

Another: driving at low speed most of the time. Every vehicle engine has what’s called its power band. This is a range of RPMs in which it’s most efficient. Low speed driving doesn’t keep the engine in its power band so it’s working harder. This is one of the reasons that ratings are worse in downtown than on the highway.

Stop and go driving in Rowlett is another severe service condition. You’re always accelerating, which works the vehicle engine and transmission harder, and then stopping, which works the brake fluid harder, causing it to get very hot. Highway driving, on the other hand, requires far less horsepower to maintain its speed than getting a stationary vehicle from a stop light up to 25 miles per hour. A lot of this and you’ll need to follow the severe service schedule.

Also on the list is operating your vehicle in dusty, polluted or muddy conditions. Obviously, your engine air filter and cabin air will get dirty faster and need to be changed more frequently as will your breather element. Some of this dust and dirt will make its way into your fluids. They will simple get dirty faster and won’t protect the components as well as fresh fluids.

Finally, you’re driving under severe conditions in Rowlett when you tow a trailer, regularly carry heavy loads or carry a car-top carrier. This is pretty obvious. You’ll spend more time in lower gears so the engine and transmission work much harder and create more heat. Brakes will be more stressed stopping the heavier loads.

Sounds like most of us in Rowlett operate under severe driving conditions at least some of the time. How can Rowlett drivers know which schedule to follow?

Think of it as a spectrum with always driving under severe conditions on one end and never driving under severe conditions on the other end. Some will be at one extreme or the other, but most of us will fall somewhere in between.

Carefully think about your driving conditions and decide if you should do your preventive maintenance closer to the severe service recommendation or the regular recommendation. Of course, your Lewis Complete Auto Repair service advisor can help you with your decision.

Lewis Complete Auto Repair
5110 Grisham Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75088

Will Proper Auto Maintenance at Lewis Complete Auto Repair Really Save Gas?October 2, 2016

Have you ever thought about all the little things we do to keep our lives running smoothly – like vacuuming? It makes a room feel fresher and more comfortable. We may not consider that we’re also prolonging the life of the carpet by keeping it clean. But Rowlett drivers don’t always extend those good habits into the garage. Our vehicles need regular maintenance just like our rugs need vacuuming. We may not notice a difference in the feel or appearance of the vehicle, but, just as cleaning a carpet carries the hidden reward of prolonging its life, maintaining our vehicles incurs a hidden reward that becomes noticeable at Rowlett gas stations.

When it comes to reduced fuel economy, there are two culprits: increased friction and inefficient fuel combustion. That means that anything Rowlett drivers can do to decrease friction and increase the efficiency of their engines will translate to savings on fuel. Friction increases the amount of energy it takes to move something. So if we can reduce friction, we can decrease the amount of fuel it takes to run our vehicles. Engine oil is usually at the heart of friction problems in an engine. Too little oil means parts are not getting lubricated, which increases friction and dirty oil doesn’t lubricate as well as clean oil. So one secret to good fuel efficiency is to stay on top of oil changes. Don’t skip them and don’t procrastinate. The same auto advice applies to transmission fluid. Keep it full and keep it clean, and your vehicle will run with less friction and better fuel economy.

If your tires are under-inflated, it increases the friction between the tire and the road. Again, there is increased drag, and it takes more fuel to move your vehicle. Rowlett drivers should check their tire pressure every month and keep their tires properly inflated.

Alignment and brake problems can also increase friction. Besides saving fuel, keeping these systems in good repair has the added benefit of saving you on tires and brake pads since these items wear out more quickly when the alignment is off or when the brake system isn’t in good working order. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Lewis Complete Auto Repair .

The second culprit that stealthily steals our gas is inefficient fuel combustion, which depends on the engine getting the right amount of clean fuel to the right place with the right pressure at the right time in the right pattern. The key to peak engine performance is to keep the fuel system clean. Varnish and gum can build up in a fuel system, which will interfere with the fuel injectors. The fuel injectors are responsible for all those “rights” we spoke of. If they’re dirty, amounts, timing, pressure and spray patterns can all get out of whack. The result? Reduced fuel efficiency. A fuel system cleaning at Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett can get your injectors back on track, improving performance and efficiency.

There are a few other maintenance items that can improve your fuel economy. One is to replace your PCV valve when it gets sticky. This valve allows unburned fuel in your engine exhaust to return to the engine. Rowlett drivers can also replace worn spark plugs and dirty fuel filters. A well-maintained vehicle will require fewer repairs and save at Rowlett gas pumps.

Lewis Complete Auto Repair
5110 Grisham Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75088


Automotive Tips from Lewis Complete Auto Repair: Making a Battery Last LongerSeptember 25, 2016

One thing all Rowlett drivers can do to extend the life of their battery is to keep it clean. A greasy, dirty battery holds in damaging heat. Same goes for removing corrosion from the terminals. Lewis Complete Auto Repair can help maintain your battery.

Allowing your battery to be deeply depleted – like from using your headlights when the engine is off – is very harmful to your battery. Most automotive batteries can only take that about 10 times before they are ruined.

Also, making sure you have a full charge every month or so extends battery life. Either an extended drive at freeway speeds around the Rowlett are or using a battery charger will preserve your battery’s ability to hold a full charge.

Give us a call.

Lewis Complete Auto Repair
5110 Grisham Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75088