Relax When the Wind Blows in TX: Winter Car Prep for Rowlett DriversMarch 17, 2019

When autumn comes around in Rowlett, leaves fall, nights get longer and there’s a definite nip in the air. Time to unpack the boots and gloves and fold some extra blankets onto the beds. It’s also time for Rowlett drivers to winterize their vehicles.

Here is some expert auto advice for Rowlett drivers on what vehicles need to keep everyone safe and rolling throughout the TX winter months.

1. Check your antifreeze. Top it off or change it if necessary. You don’t want your radiator, engine or hoses freezing up. If your vehicle isn’t generating enough heat to keep you warm, your antifreeze might be low, or you might have a thermostat problem. Either way, you should get it checked out before the full force of TX winter sets in. If you are due for a cooling system service at Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett, get that done as well.

2. Check your brakes. The slushy wet conditions of winter increase stopping distances. Ice exacerbates the problem. Your first concern, of course, is to make sure you adapt your driving habits to winter weather: slow down, and give yourself plenty of room to stop. Get your brakes checked at Lewis Complete Auto Repair and replace any worn pads or other parts. Check your brake fluid. It can accumulate moisture and decrease your stopping power.

3. Test your battery. A battery’s cranking power drops in the cold, so if your battery is already weak, the onset of winter will do it in. The last thing you want is to be on a snowy TX road in the dark and cold with a dead battery.

4. Pack emergency supplies. Toss a blanket into the trunk. If you do find yourself stranded, your first concern will be to stay warm. If you’re traveling away from TX population centers, then pack some emergency food and water as well. Also, it’s a good idea to top off your tank in winter. That way, if you get stuck, you’ll have some fuel to burn to stay warm, and it’ll keep your gas lines from freezing up.

5. Check your wiper blades. They may be able to handle a light Rowlett summer rain shower, but they might not be up to the ice and snow that collect on a windshield in winter. If you experience particularly harsh winters or really wet ones, you can purchase special blades that resist freezing. And don’t forget to top off your wiper fluid.

6. Check your tires. Tires lose pressure over time, but they lose pressure fast when it’s cold outside in Rowlett. Tires lose about one pound of pressure every six to eight weeks; they also lose one pound of pressure for every 10°F/5.6°C drop in temperature. If the last time you checked your tires it was 80°F/26.7°C outside and it’s 40°F/4.4°C now, your tires could be down five pounds in pressure — and that’s serious. It’s a safety issue and cuts down on your fuel economy.

7. Driving conditions in the Rowlett area may warrant special winter tires. Check with your friendly and knowledgeable Lewis Complete Auto Repair tire professional to get the right tires for your area and for your driving habits. If you are getting winter tires, it’s always best to get them for all four wheels. But if you’re only going to get two, put them on the rear wheels, even if you drive a front-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle. Traction is more important on the rear of a vehicle if you want to prevent sliding or fish-tailing on slick surfaces.

So there you have it: a quick checklist to winterize your car in TX. When it comes to car care, preventive maintenance is always the best practice for Rowlett drivers, especially when it comes to winter weather. None of us want to be caught out in the winter cold.

Lewis Complete Auto Repair
5110 Grisham Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75088
972.475.4800

For 4x4s (Maintenance of 4×4 Vehicles)March 10, 2019

Some people love 4×4 vehicles, the true 4-wheel drive works of engineering like Jeeps and 4×4 pickups that allow you to seemingly go anywhere on the planet. You can climb up a 40-degree rock trail with some planning and skill (always careful to protect the environment, of course), or you can get through the deepest snow.

But with that added capability comes additional complexity, drive-train components and other systems that less capable vehicles don’t have.  And that is why when it comes to 4x4s, you have to maintain them a little differently from those vehicles that spend their lives on pavement.  Here are some of the key things to keep an eye on:

  • Transfer case—This transfers power from the engine to the wheels.  A transfer case has fluid in it that needs to be changed at intervals recommended by the manufacturer.  Your service advisor will let you know how often that is and will keep track of your service dates.  You will need to make sure the transfer case seal is working properly.  Otherwise, transmission fluid could get in and cause damage that is costly to fix.  Some transfer cases have an electric motor that shifts it through gears, and its connections are often exposed to the elements, making them vulnerable to damage and corrosion.  Proper maintenance will keep those connections working like they should
  • Front and rear differentials—These also have to have the right amount of fluid and should be checked regularly.  Your service advisor can let you know when you need that fluid changed as the owner’s manual recommends.  It’s important the service is performed correctly with the proper lubricant so it will work the way it is designed to.
  • Brake lines—Those 4x4s practically beg to go into wet spots. They also are great machines to conquer snow: road salt, brine and all.  Moisture, salt and brake lines are a recipe for corrosion, so brake lines need to be inspected regularly.  There are anti-corrosion sprays or white lithium grease that can retard corrosion.  Remember, getting there is half the fun, but not being able to stop is no fun at all.

So enjoy your 4×4 and what it can do that other vehicles can’t.  Just remember that even though it’s tough on the outside, it needs special care to keep it going.  Oh, and remember to take care of the environment when you go off-roading, too. 

Lewis Complete Auto Repair
5110 Grisham Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75088
972.475.4800

How to Get Better Gas Mileage in RowlettMarch 3, 2019

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There is no escaping it: things work better when you take care of them. Something most of us in Rowlett can relate to is our computers. You’ve probably noticed how they get slower and slower over time. It takes longer to start up and programs take forever to load. Eventually, many of us just get a new computer at our nearest Rowlett computer store. But computer experts know that there are things you can do to delay the need for a new computer purchase. You can run utilities that clean off temporary files and clean your memory registry. You can optimize your hard drive and a number of other things.

What you’re doing is maintaining your computer to make it efficient. It’s the same thing with your vehicle. You maintain it to make it more efficient. It works the way it was designed to and that means it uses less fuel while you drive around Rowlett. And you save money.

To help organize our discussion, let’s think of things that rob us of fuel economy in two ways: increased friction and inefficient fuel combustion.

Friction. Anything that increases friction increases drag or load on the vehicle engine. It has to work harder to overcome the drag – and that takes more fuel. The first thing that comes to mind is engine oil. Low oil means there’s not enough to fully lubricate the engine so there’s more friction. Dirty oil won’t lubricate as well as clean oil. The same principles apply to transmission fluid. Getting your oil changed and transmission serviced on schedule at Lewis Complete Auto Repair will reduce friction and help you get better fuel economy.

Another friction related problem is underinflated tires. When your vehicle tires are low on air, it’s like driving on TX highways through sand – your vehicle has to work harder to move every mile. Check your tire pressure at least once a month.

Wheels out of alignment and dragging brakes also increase friction. And your tires and brake pads will wear out much sooner as well. At Lewis Complete Auto Repair, we provide quality brake and wheel alignment services.

Let’s move on to Fuel. You have to get the right amount of clean fuel to the combustion chamber at precisely the right time. A dirty fuel system has varnish and gum interfering, and the fuel injectors may be unable to deliver the correct amount of fuel at the right pressure  and in the spray pattern — that the engineers intended. A vehicle fuel system cleaning at Lewis Complete Auto Repair will get all of that working right and really improve fuel economy.

Replacing your fuel filter on schedule will help keep your fuel clean. Replacing a sticky PCV valve will allow unburned fuel from the engine to be returned to the intake system to be used. Replacing worn spark plugs will burn your fuel as efficiently as possible.

All of these things can help you save money on gas at Rowlett pumps.

Give us a call.

Lewis Complete Auto Repair
5110 Grisham Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75088
972.475.4800

On Board Diagnostics for Rowlett MotoristsFebruary 24, 2019

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Some Rowlett vehicle owners wonder why Lewis Complete Auto Repair and other Rowlett auto repair shops charge a fee for vehicle diagnostics.

Receiving a diagnostic charge at Lewis Complete Auto Repair for a tricky automotive problem shouldn’t be a surprise. In the Rowlett area, automotive diagnostics can cover quite a range. If you hear a noise in your vehicle brakes when you slow down in rush-hour traffic on a busy TX road, you pull off at the next off-ramp and take a quick visual check. That is usually enough to know what needs to be done. If you’re having an intermittent problem with your vehicle engine, however, a Lewis Complete Auto Repair diagnosis may be much more involved.

Much of the Rowlett driver’s confusion comes when the problem involves the Check Engine light. The Check Engine light comes on when the engine management computer has sensed a problem.

There’s a common misconception among TX drivers that the trouble code tells the Lewis Complete Auto Repair technician exactly what’s wrong. They wonder why there is a diagnostic charge because the scanner quickly gave the diagnosis.

In reality, it is not that easy and straightforward. The computer monitors many sensors throughout the vehicle. When one of these sensors has a reading that’s out of parameters, the computer will record a trouble code and turn on the Check Engine light.

The vehicle computer’s trouble code just tells the Lewis Complete Auto Repair technician what engine parameter is out of range, not what’s causing it. The technician needs to determine the underlying problem that’s causing the malfunction.

There are many problems that could cause a troublesome sensor reading for Lewis Complete Auto Repair customers. The service advisor makes a list of the most likely causes and begins tracking down the source of the problem. This takes time.

Rowlett service centers subscribe to databases that document possible causes for all the possible trouble codes. The databases outline procedures for confirming a diagnosis and provide the documented repair. These  databases are specific to each vehicle and engine combination.

Some diagnoses are quick and easy. Others are more involved, time-consuming and difficult. Of course Lewis Complete Auto Repair wants to figure out what’s wrong with your vehicle and get you back on the road as quickly as possible.

Lewis Complete Auto Repair
5110 Grisham Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75088
972.475.4800

Automotive Tips from Lewis Complete Auto Repair: Brake NoiseFebruary 17, 2019

Your brake pads are the important parts that rub against the rotor (or disc) to slow and stop your car when driving in Rowlett. They eventually wear down.

When your pads are worn too much, they won’t stop your vehicle as well. When the friction material is worn away, metal parts of the pad are exposed and you’ll hear a squeal or grinding sound.

That’s when Rowlett drivers should replace their brake pads at Lewis Complete Auto Repair. Not only will new pads restore your stopping power, but replacing them on time will prevent damage to the rotor.

If your brakes are making noise, ask your Lewis Complete Auto Repair service advisor to inspect your brakes. Addressing problems early will restore your safety and prevent expensive brake damage.

Lewis Complete Auto Repair
5110 Grisham Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75088
972.475.4800