Distracted DrivingApril 14, 2019

When asked, most people think they are good at multi-tasking. Scientific studies, however, reveal that only around 2% of the population can truly demonstrate the capacity to effectively multi-task. For the rest of us who are not so biologically wired, no amount of practice can increase our effectiveness at multi-tasking. Turns out, multi-tasking is almost a superpower. Think of fighter pilots: capable of maintaining their orientation in three dimensional space and performing specific and highly complicated functions while accessing life threatening situations and coming up with an appropriate response. Admit it – you can’t do that.

Yet when it comes to driving, we seem to think we are very capable of safely operating a motor vehicle with myriad distractions. 77% of young adults feel somewhat confident that they can safely text and drive while 55% claim it’s easy to text and drive. Can they possibly be right? Let’s look at some statistics.

Nearly 23% of all accidents in the United States involve cell phones. Every day, 11 people are killed and over 900 are injured in texting-related accidents. In fact, texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated. Just think back at your own experiences: how many of your “near misses” as a pedestrian or in a vehicle have involved a driver with a cell phone in their hand?

There are three types of driving distractions:

  • Visual (eyes off the road)
  • Manual (reaching for something or manipulating an object)
  • Cognitive (mind off the task of driving)

Of course, texting or using a cell phone involves all three. Eating, applying make-up, arguing and working on-board features like the stereo and navigation system are all very real distractions. You may be interested to know that hands-free cell calls are not substantially safer than using a handheld phone. Any time you glance away from the road (like looking at a text or incoming phone call) your eyes are off task for at least 5 seconds. At 55 miles per hour/90 kph, you will cover the length of a football field in that time. Would you ever consent to strapping on a blindfold and driving off down the road for that distance?

So what do you do? First, accept the fact that you are not part of the 2% of all the people on the planet who can truly multi-task (if you are one of the lucky ones you would know by now because your performance does not degrade no matter how many additional tasks are added). Next, don’t EVER drive distracted. Incoming text: it will wait for later. Juicy hamburger: eat it in the parking lot. No exceptions, ever. And don’t accept anything less from drivers of vehicles in which you are a passenger.

Another way to avoid distractions is to keep on top of scheduled maintenance and necessary repairs so that your vehicle itself doesn’t become a distraction. We can help you with that.

Give us a call.

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

What to Do In Case of an AccidentApril 7, 2019

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If you’ve ever been in a vehicle accident around Rowlett, TX, even a minor one, you know how upsetting it can be. It’s hard to think straight and know what to do.

Let’s review what you should do in case of an accident in Rowlett, TX:

When an accident occurs, you should always stop. Leaving the scene of an accident is considered a crime in TX, even if it’s not your fault. And hit-and-run penalties are fairly severe, possibly resulting in steep fines, loss of your driver’s license or even jail time in our local Rowlett lockup.

Most places, including TX, require that you try to help someone who is injured by calling for help or performing first aid if you are able.

Warn other Rowlett motorists by putting out flares, using your flashers or lifting your hood.

Call 911 as soon as possible. Tell the operator if medical or fire help is needed.

Always file a police report. It’s tempting to skip this if everything seems to be ok. But without a police report, the other guy can say whatever he wants about the accident later, and you won’t have an objective report to help defend yourself.

Discuss the accident only with the police. Emotions are strong after an accident and we naturally want to talk about it – don’t. Never admit fault or guilt to anyone, including the police officer. Sometimes we may feel at fault, but in the eyes of TX law, the other guy may be responsible.

Truthfully give the officer the facts: such as, “I was going 35 miles per hour,” or, “I was going 55 kilometers per hour,” not, “I wasn’t speeding.” Remember, anything you say to the officer or anyone else can be used against you.

Also get the officer’s name and badge number and ask where you can get a copy of the accident report.

Get the facts on the driver and owner of the other vehicle:

  • Name
  • Address
  • Phone number
  • Date of birth
  • Driver’s license number and expiration
  • Insurance information

Also take down a description of the other vehicle, license plate and vehicle identification number (VIN). Most insurance companies don’t record license plate numbers, so the VIN is the best way to track the vehicle.

Ask witnesses, including passengers, to wait for the police. If they can’t wait, ask for contact information and request that they write a brief description of what they saw. If someone refuses to leave their name, write down their license plate number so the police can track them down later if necessary.

Always call your insurance agent or your TX auto insurance company’s 800 number.

Call or see your local Rowlett physician if you think you may have been injured.

We here at Lewis Complete Auto Repair hope that you never have to use this information and wish you happy travels.

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

Sniffing Out a ProblemMarch 31, 2019

Your parents probably taught you to have common sense. When it comes to your vehicle, common scents can also come in handy. Different smells may tell you about some conditions in your vehicle that need attention.

For example, you know what rotten eggs smell like.  If you smell them around your vehicle, it means sulfur can’t be far away. Here’s a surprising fact: Gasoline has a little sulfur in it.  There’s a device in your exhaust system that’s supposed to convert it to something that doesn’t pollute the atmosphere. That device is a catalytic converter.  If you are smelling rotten eggs, maybe your catalytic converter is wearing out.  But it could also be a problem with your fuel injectors.  Either way, something’s rotten that should be repaired.

Ever smell something sweet around your vehicle, maybe a little like pancake syrup? If you sniff out a little sweetness just when your engine is warming up or after you shut off your engine, you might be smelling some coolant (anti-freeze).  If it’s leaking, then you may be getting a whiff of ethylene glycol, one of the coolant’s components.  If the odor is strong inside the car, it could be a leaky heater core. This is important to get checked out because a leak in your vehicle’s cooling system can eventually cause expensive damage.

How about that distinctive smell of gasoline? You could have a leak in your gas tank, a hose that vents your gas tank or a leak in a fuel injector line.  A gasoline leak needs to be tracked down since it could catch fire.  It can also be bad for your health if you breathe it in all the time.

When you step hard on the brakes, ever smell something like a rug’s in fire? That could mean you’ve just overheated your brake pads.  If you detect that smell just driving around town, one of the brake calipers could be stuck.  To figure out which wheel has the problem, get out of your vehicle and smell each wheel.  It will likely be obvious where the problem is.

Here’s one last smell.  Ever had your oil changed and right after you picked up your vehicle it smells like something’s burning around the engine? That’s because sometimes a little oil leaks onto the metal when the filter is changed or the oil is poured in.  It’s a useful smell to know.  Because of you smell burning oil and you haven’t had your oil changed recently, that could mean you have a leak in your engine.  It could be a gasket or a seal, but it also could mean the start of more serious issues. 

All of these things are signals that you should discuss with your service advisor to get them checked out.

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

Used Cars: Lewis Complete Auto Repair Advice on What to Do After You BuyMarch 24, 2019

Used vehicles are certainly an economical choice for budget-conscious Rowlett drivers. But how can we know we’re getting a good used vehicle and not just inheriting someone else’s problems?

There are good used vehicles for sale in the Rowlett area. Vehicles are sold when families upsize, when families downsize or even when someone just wants a new ride. So the used vehicle may be just fine. But some Rowlett used vehicle owners sell them because they don’t want to deal with developing or existing problems.

When you’re considering buying a used vehicle in Rowlett, ask for service records. Check to see if the recommended schedules for preventive maintenance have been followed. If so, you probably have a great used vehicle on your hands. If there aren’t any service records, then assume the worst.

Check the vehicle for obvious signs of problems. Kick the tires if you want to but definitely check them for uneven tread wear. This can indicate alignment problems, worn shocks or suspension issues. Listen to the engine for unusual sounds and pay attention to unexpected odors. Take the vehicle for a test drive and make a list of any concerns you might have.

If the used vehicle you’re looking at is a late model vehicle with under 35,000 miles/55,000 km on it, take it to Lewis Complete Auto Repair for an inspection. This inspection will reveal many basic or developing problems. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Lewis Complete Auto Repair about concerns you had on the test drive. Get a heads-up on needed repairs or maintenance.

Previously leased vehicles are often tempting to used vehicle buyers because they are generally newer models with low mileage and have been factory-cleaned. Be cautious, however. Many Rowlett residents who lease vehicles don’t bother with preventive maintenance because they know they’ll be turning the vehicles in. Again, ask for maintenance records, take the vehicle in for a full-service oil change and consult with the pros at Lewis Complete Auto Repair about any problems the vehicle may have.

Older used vehicles are even more problematic for Rowlett used car buyers. Older vehicles simply come with more maintenance and repair issues than new ones. Take these in for a used vehicle inspection at Lewis Complete Auto Repair. Usually, a seller will let you do this before you purchase the vehicle. These inspections are very thorough and will help you know what you’re getting into. You’ll be able to make an informed decision about your purchase. That peace of mind will make the cost of the inspection more than worth your while. It’s always good auto advice for Rowlett drivers to purchase a Carfax report on any used vehicle. This report will let you know if the vehicle has been in a major accident and will give you a title history. You’d be surprised what used vehicle buyers have learned from those reports. Know before you buy.

Once you purchase a used vehicle, give it some tender loving care. Give it a thorough cleaning, inside and out — and don’t forget the engine compartment. A good wax on the outside will make it look and feel “new.” And, of course, stay on top of preventive maintenance. Used vehicles bought in TX can last a good, long time if they’re properly cared for. They’re economical to buy and can keep on saving us money if we look after them.

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

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