On Board Diagnostics for Your EngineNovember 6, 2017

Starting in 1996, Lewis Complete Auto Repair service technicians have been able to use a standardized diagnostic system to help determine what is wrong with a vehicle. This diagnostic system works in tandem with the Engine Control Modules for each vehicle’s engine. The Engine Control Module is a computer that monitors and controls many engine functions.

Sensors throughout a vehicle send readings to the Engine Control Module. These readings help the computer make adjustments in various vehicle systems to allow for constantly changing driving conditions and even to compensate for minor problems. However, if the computer encounters a situation it can’t adjust for, it turns on the Check Engine light. (The Check Engine light is called the “service engine soon” light on some vehicles.)

If the Check Engine light is burning steadily, it indicates a problem that needs to be taken care of soon. If it is flashing, however, the vehicle needs immediate attention at Lewis Complete Auto Repair. When the Check Engine light is flashing, the vehicle should not be driven at high speeds, haul heavy loads or tow a trailer. Rowlett drivers need to understand that doing so can cause major damage.

When a vehicle is brought to Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett because the Check Engine light is on, a technician will scan the Engine Control Module to learn why it turned the light on. The answer comes as a “trouble code.” The technician has access to software that allows him to enter the code and find out what it means. The software will also let your Lewis Complete Auto Repair technician know what might be causing the problem and how to diagnose it.

Notice that the trouble code does not tell your technician at Lewis Complete Auto Repair exactly what is wrong with the vehicle. It can only let him know where to start looking to find the problem.

Scanning a trouble code and determining what it means is fairly simple for the pros at Lewis Complete Auto Repair. But the ensuing process of actually diagnosing a vehicle’s trouble can take a skilled technician some time. Sometimes this can add up to a significant repair bill. Some vehicle owners mistakenly believe  that the “trouble code” is all they need and think they can then fix their vehicles themselves. Some have tried to save money by purchasing an inexpensive scanner, or they take their vehicles to an auto parts store that offers the scan for little or no cost.

These options are often not the money-savers they seem for Rowlett vehicle owners. They can end up costing the vehicle owner extra in unnecessary repairs and engine damage.

For example, the trouble code P0133 reads “Bank 1 sensor 1 circuit slow response.” Translated, that means the front oxygen sensor shows a slow response time in changing the mix of air to fuel. The seemingly obvious conclusion is that the sensor needs to be replaced. The vehicle owner purchases a sensor, installs it and happily goes on his way.

However, read the trouble again: a slow response time in changing the mix of air to fuel. Nowhere does this indicate that the sensor is bad. There are a lot of parts involved in changing the air-fuel mix, any of which could be causing a slow reaction time. Those include a bad or contaminated airflow sensor, an exhaust leak, a problem in the electrical system or a leak in the intake manifold. The sensor is merely relaying that the response time is slow; it doesn’t indicate where the trouble is.

So the vehicle ends up with an oxygen sensor it did not need, and the delay in repairing the actual problem may have led to further damage to the engine. Both are added costs for the vehicle owner.

Cheap scanners also don’t have the ability to read the history stored in an engine’s computer. This operating history contains clues that can help in diagnosing engine trouble since it can indicate a developing problem. Lewis Complete Auto Repair invests a lot of money in high-end diagnostic equipment so that we have access not just to service codes but also to the operating history of the engine.

On-board diagnostics, then, are a tool to help diagnose what is wrong with a vehicle. They cannot specify what part needs to be fixed or replaced, and they cannot replace a well-trained and well-equipped service technician.

Unless you are a trained mechanic, it’s good auto advice to use Lewis Complete Auto Repair for your car care. In the long run, it can save you time, unnecessary expense and frustration. Lewis Complete Auto Repair can also help you keep up with your scheduled preventive maintenance, which can also save you on repair bills by alerting you to potential problems before they get expensive.

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

Tracking True in Rowlett: Wheel AlignmentNovember 1, 2017

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At Lewis Complete Auto Repair, we occasionally see severe tire damage that could have been prevented with proper wheel alignment. During a Lewis Complete Auto Repair alignment service, your vehicle is put on an alignment rack where the tires, steering and suspension parts are inspected for problems. Then the alignment is charted and checked against the vehicle factory settings. Adjustments are made to bring the wheels back into alignment. This gets all four wheels moving in precisely the same direction.

If you don’t remember hitting a pothole, how do you know if your wheels are out? The most obvious sign is that your vehicle pulls to one side. Also, your steering wheel may not be centered when you’re going straight. If you’re in the habit of checking your tire wear regularly, you may notice the edges of one or more tires rapidly wearing down. You should have your Rowlett auto service center look it over. Of course, if you’ve been in an accident, you should get your alignment checked.

It’s not surprising that a forceful impact can seriously knock tires out, but remember that a series of smaller ones can add up. That’s why your vehicle manufacturer recommends periodic alignment checks. If your vehicle owner’s manual doesn’t advise a specific interval, once a year might be appropriate. Check with your Lewis Complete Auto Repair service advisor. As with most other preventive maintenance services, the cost of the alignment is a heck of a lot cheaper than having to purchase new tires earlier than expected.

Give us a call.

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

Talk to Lewis Complete Auto Repair About New Shoes for Your VehicleOctober 22, 2017

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Custom wheels are one way that Rowlett folks express themselves and personalize their vehicle. But they aren’t as cheap and easy as sticking decals on your back window. There are several factors that need to be considered, including cost, the fit of the wheel, modifications that will have to be made to the vehicle, how the new wheels and tires will affect the operation of the vehicle, your driving habits and, of course, the style of the wheels. Most Rowlett drivers start with the last factor: the style of the wheels. But that should be the last thing we choose.

When considering custom wheels, you should first carefully consider your budget. Some wheels may require adjustments to your vehicle suspension system, brakes, or traction systems. You need to know what you can afford before you start shopping or get your heart set on a particular type of wheel.

There are three basic ways you can change your wheels. First, you choose a wheel that is already the same size as the ones on your vehicle. Second, you can choose larger wheels and third, you can choose smaller wheels. Mounting wheels that are the same size as the ones already on your car sounds easy enough. But even though the wheel may be the same diameter as your current wheels, that doesn’t mean it will fit your vehicle. Besides diameter, wheels also have an offset. This is the measurement from the inside edge of the wheel to the point at which it bolts on. If your new wheel does not have the same offset as your current wheels, your vehicle tires can rub on the inside or outside of the wheel well. This can lead to blowouts, uneven tread wear and other mechanical problems.

The tire and wheel professionals in Rowlett at Lewis Complete Auto Repair on 5110 Grisham Dr. can help you select a wheel that has both the correct diameter and offset for your vehicle. Or, if you really want a specific wheel in spite of the offset difference, your technician may be able to install adapters that will make the wheels fit.

Mounting larger wheels is a more involved process. There are several ways of doing this. You can mount larger wheels but keep the overall tire diameter the same. Or you can “supersize” your tire/wheel combo. Mounting larger wheels while maintaining the same overall tire diameter is the easiest way to increase wheel size. You still need to adjust for offset. Generally, this alteration means that your new tires will be wider than the originals, so you will have to install adapters to keep them from rubbing on the wheel wells. Consult your service advisor at Lewis Complete Auto Repair by calling 972.475.4800.

If you want to install larger wheels and increase the overall tire diameter, it is important that the package fits in the wheel well; you may have to do some minor modifications to your suspension. More importantly, you will have to reprogram your vehicle engine’s computer to calibrate for the larger tire size. The computer calculates your speed based on the rotation of your tires, so increasing the size of the tires will render it inaccurate. Inaccurate speed calculations can mess up your anti-lock brakes and your stability control systems, as well as your speedometer and odometer.

As you can see, the more modifications you make, the more it becomes important to have your friendly and knowledgeable Lewis Complete Auto Repair tire and wheel professional help you with your car care.

If you really want those “super-sized” tires, great: just factor in the issues listed above, plus you may have to have modifications done to your suspension system.

The larger wheels and tires will add weight to your vehicle. This weight is not held up by the suspension system, so is referred to as “unsprung” weight. Adding unsprung weight affects your car differently than just adding loads inside of your car. Unsprung weight can affect acceleration and braking. Putting large wheels on your vehicle may require an upgraded brake system.

Also, you may not get the performance from your vehicle that you’ve been used to. It may be sluggish when accelerating or harder to handle when turning. You may also find that the ride is bumpier than it was before. Of course, done right at Lewis Complete Auto Repair, a good wheel job can sometimes improve a vehicle’s ride or performance. It just depends on your vehicle, the type of wheels you choose and what you are hoping to accomplish.

Now let’s suppose you want smaller wheels on your vehicle. That should be easier, right? Not really. You still have to worry about offset, and it is important that your computer be reprogrammed to account for calibration issues. And you may need adjustments to your suspension system.

Remember your budget? All of these scenarios require that you shell out some money. Perhaps now you can see why it is good auto advice for Rowlett drivers to make that consideration first, before setting their heart on a specific type of wheel.

Another consideration should always be your driving habits. Do you do a lot of off-roading on the outskirts of Rowlett? Do you carry heavy loads? Do you tow a trailer on TX roads? All of these factors must be considered when replacing your tires and wheels. Some wheels just may not be up to the work you need them to do.

For example, if you mount large rims on your vehicle, then add low-profile tires to avoid major adjustments to other systems, they won’t be able to handle off-roading as well as larger tires. There won’t be enough sidewall on the tires to absorb the impact from off-roading. You could end up with dented or broken rims.

At the end of the day, Rowlett drivers should always put safety ahead of appearance. That’s why you shouldn’t add custom wheels to your vehicle without consulting with your Lewis Complete Auto Repair tire and wheel professional. Cutting corners when installing custom wheels by not making necessary adjustments to all of the systems impacted by the change can result in dangerous operating conditions as well as repairs down the road.

The friendly and knowledgeable auto professionals at Lewis Complete Auto Repair want to remind Rowlett drivers of the basics of vehicle safety: preventive maintenance, emergency preparedness and professional repairs. Stay safe, and stay on the road.

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

Another Couple of Years: Making Your Vehicle Last With Help From Lewis Complete Auto RepairOctober 17, 2017

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A while back, the Cash for Clunkers program was all over the TX news. Rowlett people could trade in their old vehicle for a new one that got better gas mileage and receive a government rebate.

A lot of Rowlett motorists had so-called clunkers that they wanted to keep. They’re good commuters, grocery getters or toy haulers. They enjoy that fact that they’re paid off, or soon will be. They would gladly like to keep their vehicles for 200,000 miles (320,000 kilometers) or more – as long as it’s economical to do so.

There are plenty of Rowlett drivers whose vehicles are running after 150,000 or 200,000 miles (240,000 or 320,000 kilometers). We can learn from what they’re doing to keep our own vehicles on the road in TX.

The Rowlett drivers of high-mileage cars often report a common denominator of never skipping an oil change.

That may sound a bit unsophisticated, but it’s really not. First off, oil is the life blood of your vehicle’s engine and it needs to be clean to properly lubricate. Skipping oil changes leads to clogged oil filters and sludge that is bad for your engine.

There’s another reason the scheduled oil change is so important for Rowlett car owners. It’s simple – a Lewis Complete Auto Repair professional is going to be looking at your car. All of your fluid levels will be inspected and topped off so they won’t get so low that damage can be done. If there is a significant fluid loss, let’s use brake fluid as an example, your Lewis Complete Auto Repair technician can look for the cause of the loss and find the problem before it leads to an accident or repair.

Your friendly and knowledgeable Lewis Complete Auto Repair service advisor will also visually inspect your vehicle for worn belts and hoses, uneven tire wear, leaking shock absorbers and more. Problems get addressed before they lead to repairs that cost more than the car’s worth.

Realistically, things are going to wear out as your vehicle gets older. On the way to 200,000 miles (320,000 kilometers) you’ll go through several batteries, probably a couple of alternators and water pumps, a set of shocks and likely some brake rotors.

Of course, these things cost some money, but they are less than new vehicle payments in Rowlett. With proper service at Lewis Complete Auto Repair and regular inspections, you’ll keep surprise repairs to a minimum and more money in your wallet.

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

Automotive Tips from Lewis Complete Auto Repair: Air Conditioning InspectionOctober 8, 2017

Most auto manufacturers recommend an interval for an air conditioning system inspection. The inspection uncovers leaks, worn hoses and assesses the condition of the other components.

Environmental laws in some around Rowlett require leaks to be repaired before refrigerant can be added. Also some parts manufacturers require other components to be replaced along with certain failed parts in order to maintain the new part warranty. This is because a given failure may be the result of another worn or damaged part that will, if not replaced, prematurely damage the new component.

Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett is fully equipped to restore your flow of cool air.

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