Bad VibesMay 19, 2019

Your vehicle has a way of letting you know when something’s wrong. Consider a vibrating steering wheel. It certainly didn’t do that when it was new, so that shake is trying to tell you something.

There are a few things that can cause your steering wheel to vibrate as you drive down the road.  One of the most common is out-of-balance tires.  You may not only feel that wobble in your steering wheel, you might also feel it in the tires.  Sometimes it’s not there when you’re driving at lower speeds through residential areas, and sometimes it starts when you hit highway speeds. 

So what is tire balance anyway?  Well, you have a rubber tire that fits around a metal wheel.  It should have the same weight all the way around.  If it doesn’t, it will start getting the shakes.  Ever load your washing machine so that all the clothes are at one side of that drum that spins?  When it hits the spin cycle, it can throw that washer against the wall. 

That’s the same thing that’s happening with an out-of-balance tire/wheel combination.  A technician has special equipment to figure out where to put small weights on the wheel to get things back in balance again.  But it could be that you hit a pothole some time ago and bent the rim.  Or your tire isn’t as round and even as it once was.  That could be due to age, damage or wear and tear. The technician will know and offer you options.

Another possibility for that vibrating wheel is a faulty brake, such as warped rotors or a sticky caliper.  All of these issues can be evaluated as part of regular, routine maintenance with us.  There are many things that cause vibrations in your wheels.  But you don’t want any bad vibes when it comes to your vehicle. 

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

Upgrade Shocks for Better Handling in RowlettMay 12, 2019

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Many Rowlett drivers probably don’t think of their shock absorbers as an important safety system; but that’s just what shocks and struts are. They’re all about ride control – keeping your vehicle tires in contact with the road and managing body motion.

Every time you hit a bump or pothole on a Rowlett road, your tire wants to bounce up. The bigger the bump, the higher the bounce. Your shocks or struts push down on the tire to maintain the traction you need to start, stop and turn.

If you’ve ever ridden in a vehicle with bad shocks, you know how it wallows on corners. The front end dives when you hit the brakes and the rear end squats when you accelerate. It’s not only uncomfortable, it is difficult to handle.

You may have heard vehicles described as having “flat cornering.” That means that when you take a corner, the body doesn’t roll very much. When shocks start to get worn, your vehicle will roll more on corners. The weight of your vehicle’s body shifts and tosses your vehicle to the outside of the turn, making it harder to control.

With good shocks, you can turn corners with confidence. When the shocks are bad, the body rolls too much and you need to slow down to maintain the same level of control. When you have to combine brake dive with body roll, you can quickly end up with an unsafe handling situation.

Shocks can break or start to leak, but they usually just wear out. After all, your vehicle shocks will move up and down over 75 million times in 50,000 miles/80,000 km. If you replace shocks at Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett, it will restore your vehicle’s original ride control and quality. You can even upgrade shocks and struts if you want better handling or towing capacity on TX roads.

Shocks are an important safety system: don’t wait until they are completely shot, perhaps risking your safety or damaging other suspension components. At Lewis Complete Auto Repair we can help you with quality shocks and struts as advised in your owner’s manual, usually at around 50,000 miles/80,000 km, for a comfortable, safe handling ride in Rowlett.

Give us a call.

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

The Lewis Complete Auto Repair Guide to Tire SpecsMay 5, 2019

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You know you need new tires, but you’re not sure what type. You look at a tire to get the size: 225, 50, R, 16, 92, H. All the way to the Rowlett service center you keep repeating it over and over. You even say it over in your mind while waiting in line. Then you get to the counter and the manager asks what size you need. Then your mind goes blank.

Tire size can be confusing for many Rowlett drivers. There’s so much on the side of the tire, and it’s hard to keep straight.

Even though there’s a lot on a tire – if you know what it all means, it’s actually more helpful than confusing for Rowlett tire shoppers. Let’s start with the size number.

For example, let’s say a tire reads: 225 50 R 16 92 H. The 225 part is the width of the tire in millimeters – the width between the sidewalls of an inflated tire with no load. The 50 is the aspect ratio – the ratio of the sidewall height to the tread width. Off-road tires will have a higher number and high performance tires will have a lower number.

The R signifies it’s a radial tire. And 16 is the rim or wheel size in inches.

The 92 is the load rating index – it’s the load carrying capacity of a tire. The higher the number, the more it can safely carry. Your empty vehicle can be safe with a lower number, but you’ll need a higher rating if you routinely haul heavy loads around Rowlett. The next letter is the speed rating. Not all tires sold in Rowlett are speed rated. The ratings generally follow the alphabet: the further up the alphabet, the higher the speed rating – with the exception of H – it comes between U and V (don’t ask why).

There’s a lot of fine print that most Rowlett area drivers probably need a magnifying glass to read. But there are a couple of other large print items of interest. One is the tread type: highway, mud and snow, all season, severe snow, etc.

And then there are the Uniform Tire Quality Grading System markings. The first is a tread wear index. 100 is the base line – a lower number is poorer and a higher number is better. All things being equal, a tire rated 200 would wear twice as long, on a government test track, than one rated at 100. These wear grades are only valid within the manufacturers product line – you can’t compare with others. And it’s important to note that a lower rating might be just what you want – a high performance, sticky tire has a softer rubber compound and won’t wear as long, but boy, will it take those corners on twisting TX roads.

The next is a traction grade. This measures the tire’s ability to stop on wet pavement in government tests. A – the best, B – intermediate, C – acceptable.

Temperature grade measures a tire’s resistance to heat buildup in government tests. A, B and C – from best to acceptable.

It’s safe for Rowlett drivers to go with the vehicle manufacturers original equipment recommendations that came on your car. But if you want to make adjustments, you’ll now be better equipped to communicate with your friendly and knowledgeable Lewis Complete Auto Repair tire professional.

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

 

Go Big or Go Home: Upsize Your Wheels at Lewis Complete Auto RepairApril 28, 2019

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A lot of us Rowlett drivers like our vehicles to reflect our personalities. We’re picky about color and body style. We’ll customize anything from floor mats to window tints to license plates. One popular way for TX motorists to customize a vehicle is to get new wheels.

Wheels come in thousands of designs. Custom wheels can add personality, style or sass to a vehicle. Many of these customizations involve getting a bigger wheel.

Fifteen or 16-inch wheels used to be the factory standard, but today, because a lot of Rowlett drivers like the look of larger wheels, many vehicles are available with 17 or 18-inch wheels. Optional wheel packages of 20 inches or more are also available in Rowlett.

If you want to upsize the wheels on your current vehicle, however, you should know it’s not a do-it-yourself project. There are factors involved in ensuring your wheel change doesn’t jeopardize the safety of your vehicle.

First of all, you need to understand rolling diameter. The rolling diameter is the overall height of a tire. If you increase the rolling diameter of your tires when you upsize your wheels, you may have to modify your suspension to make sure the larger tires fit in the space and don’t rub in turns or over bumps. If that’s more work than you’re willing to do or pay for, then you need to maintain rolling diameter when you change your wheels.

It’s not as hard as it sounds. Imagine a doughnut. That doughnut represents rolling diameter, so you can’t make the doughnut bigger. However, you can increase the size of the doughnut hole. That gives you a bigger wheel. Tires with reduced sidewall on larger wheels will preserve your rolling diameter.

Rolling diameter is important because your wheels and tires still need to fit inside the wheel well. Also, your speedometer, odometer and anti-lock brakes are all programmed to work with a specific rolling diameter. You’ll throw off the readings on your speedometer and odometer if you change your rolling diameter. And for your anti-lock brakes to work properly, your rolling diameter has to be within 3% of factory recommendations. While some Rowlett drivers who upsize may not be concerned about meter readings, throwing off the brake system is a serious safety hazard.

Further, many vehicles in Rowlett are now equipped with electronically controlled suspensions. Changing the rolling diameter will negatively affect this system as well, which can lead to a less smooth ride and lower handling performance as well as safety concerns.

Your friendly and knowledgeable Lewis Complete Auto Repair tire professional may be able to reprogram your vehicle’s computer to adjust for a larger (or smaller) rolling diameter.

So to maintain rolling diameter, you’ll need tires with a shorter sidewall. These tires will be designed to give the sidewalls the strength they need to maintain ride quality. Consider that doughnut again. As the wheel (the doughnut hole) gets bigger, the sidewall of the tire (the width of remaining doughnut) gets shorter. That means the tire holds less air. The sidewalls have to be made stiffer to compensate for the decreased air capacity.

To improve their strength, the shorter tires will also be slightly wider than your previous tires. But this means you’ll have a larger contact patch, or, in other words, a larger area of tire making contact with the road. This can actually increase your handling performance and decrease braking distances. Many TX auto buffs customize their wheels just for this reason—they want the improved performance rather than looks or style. If you drive a truck or an SUV around Rowlett, you might be interested in the extra control an upsized wheel can provide.

Now, that larger contact patch still has to fit inside your wheel well without rubbing when cornering or when bouncing over bumps or potholes on Rowlett roads. This is termed fitment, and you may need a few adjustments so your new wheels will fit properly. You may need spacers so that your brakes will fit inside the new wheels, as well.

Lewis Complete Auto Repair tire professionals are experts at mounting, adjusting and customizing wheels. They can give you a lot of good auto advice about wheels and tires and how they affect driving performance and car care. They can help you select wheels and tires that will suit your driving needs and habits.

For example, if you drive off-road around Rowlett, you should consider a higher profile tire. This type of tire will protect your rims from damage while you’re bouncing over rocks. Or, if you tow a trailer or haul heavy loads around TX, you’ll want a tire with a load rating equal to your demands. Your friendly and knowledgeable Lewis Complete Auto Repair tire professional can help you with these types of concerns.

Once you’ve got your new wheels, have your service advisor at Lewis Complete Auto Repair see if you need an alignment. You don’t want those new wheels and your higher performance compromised by poor alignment. Get the most out of your investment by getting the work done right at Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett.

Last but not least, remember tire pressure. With larger wheels, your new tires will hold less air and they’ll need slightly higher pressure. You’ll need to stay on top of preventive maintenance and keep them properly inflated. Be sure to check their pressure at least once a week. If you don’t keep your tires at their correct pressure, they will wear out really fast. It will also affect your braking and handling performance.

So smile and show off your vehicle around TX. Make it all yours. Bumper stickers, vanity license plates, custom wheels — strut your stuff!

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

Super Slick at Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett: Synthetic OilApril 21, 2019

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When you get an oil change, it’s always a safe bet to just use the type of oil the manufacturer recommends. But sometimes we’re asked if we’d like conventional or synthetic motor oil. We glance at the price tags on the two options and choose the cheaper one. But in this case, the more expensive oil might be the better bargain for Rowlett drivers.

Conventional oil is made from petroleum. Its molecules form long hydrocarbon chains. Synthetic motor oil is either more highly refined petroleum or completely man-made. Its molecules are more uniform. This provides advantages over conventional motor oil.

First of all, the molecular structure of synthetic motor oil makes it more slippery than conventional oil so it lubricates better. This translates to better wear protection for Rowlett drivers, cooler operating temperatures and more engine power.

Further, synthetic oil is more heat-resistant than conventional oil, and it doesn’t vaporize as easily. It provides better protection for severe conditions like stop-and-go driving around Rowlett and very hot or freezing TX temperatures.

Also, synthetic oil doesn’t generate oil sludge like conventional oil. This prevents small engine passageways from becoming clogged, which can significantly extend the working life of your vehicle engine.

Manufacturers are aware of the advantages of synthetic oil, and many of them are using it to fill their vehicles before delivering them to be sold. Many owner’s manuals now come with the recommendation to use only synthetic oil. Because synthetic oil wears better and protects better than conventional motor oil, it can be changed less often. If your vehicle came with a recommendation for synthetic oil, you may have noticed that the recommended period between oil changes is longer than what you’re used to. However, if you switch to conventional oil, you need to be aware that you can’t follow this longer service interval. You’ll have to change your oil more often.

On the other hand, if you are using conventional oil and you switch to synthetic oil, you may be able to lengthen the time between oil changes. You can ask the pros at Lewis Complete Auto Repair for more information. They can offer you good auto advice about oils and service intervals based on your driving habits and requirements.

Oil changes are the hallmark of preventive maintenance at Lewis Complete Auto Repair. All Rowlett drivers need them. So we should get excited about a product that reduces how often we need them. Synthetic oil is more expensive, yes, but it can pay for itself by lasting longer than conventional oil. And when you add in the hidden savings of an extended engine life and improved fuel economy, not to mention increased engine power, there’s a good chance that synthetic oil actually saves cash in the long run. All Rowlett drivers pay for vehicle care. But understanding what we’re paying for can make us more savvy shoppers.

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