Your Vehicle Is NOT Maintenance Free, Rowlett Car OwnersJuly 27, 2016

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A generation ago, Rowlett drivers seemed to be more inclined to keep their vehicle’s preventive maintenance on schedule. One reason for this may be that vehicles back then were a lot less reliable than they are today. Taking your vehicle in to your Rowlett shop every year or two for repairs seemed to be a good reminder to keep the oil changed.

For example, almost everyone in Rowlett used to take their vehicles in for regular tune-ups. Vehicles had mechanical ignition systems, which meant ignition points, spark plugs and coils had to be replaced and the timing adjusted every few years. As long as the vehicle was in for a tune-up at Lewis Complete Auto Repair, the vehicle was inspected and you took care of any needed repairs at the same time.

Today’s engines have electronic ignition systems and engine control computers. Spark plugs can last for up to 100,000 miles. Vehicle reliability has vastly improved in the last few decades, and surveys report fewer problems with new vehicles than ever before. That also means that our vehicles don’t experience a huge performance drop when they’re ready for some car care. But it doesn’t mean that they don’t need it.

Modern Rowlett drivers need to rely on calendars and mileage intervals to know when to schedule maintenance. Owner’s manuals contain recommendations on when different types of maintenance should be performed. Also, Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett can provide advice about auto maintenance schedules. At Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett, we know that benefits of staying on top of preventive maintenance are substantial. First, you’ll get better engine performance and fuel economy. Those two things alone return the cost of preventive maintenance: in fuel savings and safety. Also, routine maintenance has been proven to prevent major car repairs later on. Again, the cost savings can be significant. As the old saying goes, “Spend a penny, save a dime.”

Modern vehicle engines may be more durable and reliable than their predecessors, but they’re more sophisticated and complex as well. For this reason, preventive maintenance today is even more critical than the old tune-up. Modern engine systems have a lot of parts that have to stay lubricated. These parts can be made of aluminum, plastic or steel. Special additives in lubricants are required to keep each of these materials from breaking down or corroding. Over time, these additives are depleted, even if the vehicle isn’t driven. This makes fluid changes a critical part of scheduled maintenance if you want to keep your car on the road.

As an example, coolant fluid in your engine is a sophisticated mix that not only keeps your vehicle engine cool but also protects and maintains its components. However, this fluid gradually gets contaminated and anti-corrosion additives are depleted. It can become corrosive and actually damage the vehicle engine parts it was designed to protect. It can actually eat holes in your radiator and other engine parts. Changing the coolant could have prevented this damage, and it’s a whole lot easier and cheaper than replacing a radiator.

Timely oil changes are more critical for Rowlett drivers than they used to be. Skipping just one oil change can start the build-up of oil sludge in your engine. Sludge can clog small engine passages, which cuts off the supply of lubricant to engine parts. Just this small bit of sludge can reduce the life expectancy of your engine. If the build-up continues, it could lead to engine failure within two or three years.

One word of warning to anyone in Rowlett who purchases used automobiles: take care when buying a leased vehicle. Rowlett folks who lease vehicles only intend to drive them for two or three years, generally the years when the vehicle is least likely to experience any problems. One of the reasons people lease vehicles is that they don’t want to be bothered with maintenance or car care. Before buying a pre-leased vehicle, be sure to inspect it for signs of damage that result from lack of proper care.

We can all be grateful for the improved reliability of our modern vehicles. With proper maintenance and care, we can expect them to last longer, perform better, get better fuel economy, and require fewer repairs than ever before. We just have to be more conscientious about scheduling time for their care.

Give us a call or send us an email for more helpful tips.

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

 

 

Fall and Spring Inspection at Lewis Complete Auto RepairJuly 17, 2016

Good car care for us Rowlett residents has always meant taking our vehicles in every spring and fall for a check-up. Vehicles needed routine maintenance to prepare them for the changes in weather. Today’s vehicles aren’t quite as sensitive to seasonal changes. Older cars required different weights of oil for summer and winter. But today’s engines can run on the same oil all year. Both the engines and the oils have been improved.

Antifreeze—or coolant as it’s also called—protects the engine from both freezing and hot temperatures and thus is required by the engine year-round. Modern coolants don’t have to be changed as often as they did in the past, but there your has a recommendation for when it should be replaced to extend cooling system life.

Getting a spring and fall checkup at Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett for your vehicle is still good auto advice.

First of all, there is a lot of preventive auto maintenance involved in properly caring for a vehicle. Dropping your car off twice a year at Lewis Complete Auto Repair for a quick inspection and routine maintenance is still part of good car care. The changes in the TX seasons can provide a good reminder that it’s time to get the car serviced, just as they remind us that it’s time to take care of the furnace or air conditioner, purchase school clothes or bathing suits, or drag out or put away the coats and boots.

There are other advantages to spring and fall maintenance for Rowlett residents. Springtime signals the advent of warmer weather. Although modern coolant is designed to last longer than one season, it’s a good idea to check it regularly to ensure you have enough. While you’re at it, your vehicle should also check for leaks and worn hoses in the cooling system.

Summer is the time when most of us Rowlett residents take vacations or go on road trips. So a spring check-up for our vehicles can lead to a stress-free summer and better memories on the road.

Fall, of course, signals the advent of colder weather in the Rowlett area. This is a good time for a routine battery check. The hot weather of summer takes a toll on battery life – then comes winter. Cranking up a cold engine takes a lot more battery power than starting a warm one. So before that cold weather hits, it’s a good idea to check your battery and replace it if necessary. One part of your vehicle that isn’t completely adapted to changing weather conditions is your tires. If you live where temperatures drop below 45°F in the winter, or if your commute frequently takes you through snow or ice, you may want to consider changing to winter tires in the fall.

A fall check-up at Lewis Complete Auto Repair, just like a spring check-up, can keep you on the road no matter what TX weather brings. Consider how much a worry-free summer vacation and a less stressful Rowlett winter commute are worth to you. Then, spring and fall, reset your clocks, change the batteries in your smoke detectors and take your car in for a check-up.

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

When Do My Shocks Need to Be Replaced?July 10, 2016

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A good suspension system gives a vehicle a smooth, even ride while providing Rowlett drivers with good handling and control. But like any system on your vehicle, parts of the suspension system can wear out, leading to a lower ride quality and safety concerns. So it’s a good idea for drivers in Rowlett to remember their suspension system in their schedule of preventive maintenance. Springs do most of the work of the suspension system. The most common types of springs are coil and leaf, but air springs and torsion bars are becoming more common. The body of the vehicle is “suspended” by the springs.

If springs were the only working component in your suspension system, however, you’d spend your travel time bouncing up and down like a bobblehead. That’s where your shocks come in. They keep the rebound, or bounciness, of the springs under control. Shocks also keep your tires on the road, which keeps the driver in control of the vehicle. Some vehicles have struts in their suspension system. Struts are a compact combination of springs and shocks. They do the same job but in a single package.

Shocks wear out gradually, so it can be difficult for Rowlett drivers to notice when they need to be replaced. There’s no definitive point when a vehicle’s ride goes from smooth and controlled to a bit imprecise. To check if your shocks or struts are worn, you should first do a visual inspection on them. If they are leaking fluid, they need to be replaced.

There are other less obvious signs that your suspension system needs attention. For example, an uneven, cupping wear on your tires may indicate that your shocks are worn. If your vehicle feels “floaty” when you turn, or, in other words, you don’t feel that you have full control of the vehicle, you should check your shocks. Also, if the front end of your vehicle dips noticeably when you stop, it’s time for new shocks.

Your owner’s manual gives recommendations on how often the shocks should be checked, usually between 15,000 and 30,000 miles (24,000-50,000 km). If one of your shocks does need to be replaced, you should replace all four. This will keep your suspension even and ensure good handling of your vehicle. If you carry heavy loads, tow a trailer or drive on uneven Rowlett area terrain, you might also consider upgrading to a heavy-duty shock.

Regular shocks contain hydraulic fluid. The fluid helps them absorb the bumps or “shocks” of the road so the impact doesn’t transfer to the vehicle’s body. Premium shocks are filled with compressed nitrogen gas, which costs more but does a better job of controlling body motions. Regular shocks can develop air bubbles that reduce their effectiveness; the premium shocks don’t have this problem. So if you want higher handling performance, if you drive off-road around TX or if you just want added comfort, you should upgrading to premium shocks or struts.

Replacing struts can put your vehicle out of alignment, so an alignment check should always follow this type of repair. Talk to your service advisor at Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett for more information.

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

 

Recommended Service Intervals at Lewis Complete Auto RepairJuly 3, 2016

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Most people in the Rowlett area are aware that automotive manufacturers have recommended service intervals. Following recommended service intervals is very important. The engineers that design our vehicles have tested the various systems and components to meet durability and safety standards. Some of these standards are self-imposed and others, like those for emissions components, are government mandated for areas in TX.

The maintenance schedules are designed to achieve the standards. Think of the benefits of following recommended intervals as falling into three general categories: Protection, Efficiency and Safety.

Protection. Let’s start with motor oil. First of all, the engineers recommend a particular weight and type of motor oil for your vehicle. All of their oil change recommendations assume using the proper motor oil. Motor oil contains detergents and other additives that clean the engine and provide corrosion resistance. Over time, the additives are depleted. The oil also becomes contaminated by water, dirt and combustion gases.

Extending your interval beyond the recommendation means that your vehicle engine will be operating without the full protection of fresh motor oil. It also means that sludge can form in contaminated oil and clog up passages in the engine, starving parts from needed lubrication.

Efficiency. Some services are designed to keep automotive systems operating efficiently. For example, the fuel system gets clogged up with gum and varnish from the fuel. Fuel doesn’t flow efficiently which reduces fuel economy. A fuel system cleaning restores the fuel system’s efficiency and increases your gas mileage.

Safety. Your brakes are obviously one of the most important safety systems on your vehicle. The manufacturer has scheduled brake pad replacement as well as power brake fluid drain and replacement intervals. Because brakes are so important, a brake inspection is also on the schedule to head off problems before they result in an accident.

Check your owner’s manual for recommended service schedules or talk with your Rowlett service advisor at Lewis Complete Auto Repair by calling 972.475.4800.

You may be surprised to learn that various inspections may be on your list of factory recommendations for your vehicle. These inspections are usually at major intervals like fifteen or thirty thousand miles. They’re designed to uncover important parts that may be close to failing.

Your vehicle owner’s manual can tell you when to change your oil, but it can’t tell you that you have a radiator hose that’s bulging and about to burst. For that you need a trained auto technician. These scheduled inspections are in addition to the multi-point inspections done with a full-service oil change.

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

Introduction to Diesels for Rowlett, TXJune 28, 2016

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Something you’re going to be hearing a lot about around Rowlett, TX, is diesel engines. We’re not talking about semi-trucks and buses – We’re talking about diesel engine cars, pick-ups and SUVs.

Most people in TX are surprised to learn that around half the cars on the road in Europe have diesel engines. Nearly all import brands offer a range of diesel engines abroad – even the ultra-luxury brands like Mercedes and BMW. For the most part, these diesel engines haven’t been available in Rowlett, TX. But that’s about to change.

In the past, North American diesel fuel has had a much higher sulfur content than European fuel. Recent environmental laws have required changes in diesel formulation and emissions standards here in Rowlett, TX so we are now ready to start seeing more diesel options offered over the next few years.

Why are so many Rowlett drivers interested in diesel engines? Well first off, diesel fuel is more energy dense. There’s more power in a barrel of diesel fuel than there is in a barrel of gasoline. The result? Better performance and improved fuel economy.

Diesel powered vehicles get about 20 percent better fuel economy. And as for power – why do you think that the majority of new heavy duty pick-up trucks are being sold in Rowlett with diesel engines?

If you think back to the late 1970’s and early 1980’s, you may shudder when you think of the diesel powered cars of the day – noisy, smoky, under-powered beasts that rattled and shook their passengers. Modern diesels sold in TX have evolved considerably.

They are quiet, clean – and powerful. They’re so refined that many Rowlett drivers can’t even tell they’re riding in a diesel powered vehicle. In addition to fuel savings, diesels generally last longer than gasoline engines because of their heavy duty construction.

Another thing the Rowlett green crowd takes advantage of is the use of bio-diesel in diesel vehicles. Bio-diesel is made from vegetable oil – even recycled cooking oil from Rowlett restaurants. There is a lot of buzz about Hybrid cars in TX. Look to diesel-electric hybrids in years to come to make a good idea even better.

Every year, introduce new diesel models. Look for diesels in domestic light trucks, SUVs and passenger cars. Import brands have plans to bring more of their outstanding diesel engines to TX as well.

New Rowlett diesel owners need to know that properly maintaining a diesel engine is somewhat different than a gasoline engine. Fluid change intervals are different. Emissions control devices have to work harder to filter diesel fuel and to scrub the exhaust so you will need to pay attention to that. And the fuel injection system operates at much higher pressures than gas fuel injection systems, so it’s important to keep your fuel system clean with a diesel.

The good news is that Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett is keeping up with the new diesel technology and will be able to advise you on maintaining your diesel.

When we tell you to look for more diesels on Rowlett streets, you won’t be looking for smoky tail pipes as a clue. You also won’t be listening for that familiar big rig rattle. And, you certainly won’t be waiting for them at the stoplight, because modern diesels are as quick as their gasoline counterparts.

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