Hold the Oil! (Oil Pan Gasket Replacement)July 9, 2018

You’ve likely heard how important oil is to your vehicle’s engine. Did you know that there’s one part that’s responsible for holding that oil so you can use it every day? It’s called the oil pan, and it sits at the bottom of the engine.

The oil pan is a vital, though simple, part of your engine’s lubrication system. Oil circulates through parts of your engine to keep them lubricated. It reduces friction so everything works smoothly. Without oil, friction would quickly destroy your engine. The oil pan keeps that oil contained in the lubrication system, so it’s important that the oil doesn’t leak out. Since it’s a metal part attached to another metal part, there is a gasket between the oil pan and the part of the engine it attaches to.

Various things can put stress on the oil pan and gasket, including weather extremes, the speed you’re traveling and the condition of the oil. You may drive over a couple of bad roads and kick up debris onto your oil pan. All this wear and tear, heat and time can take their toll. So after a while, the gasket can just wear out and start leaking. It usually starts pretty slowly. If you see oil visible under your vehicle where you park it, that might be a sign of a leaky oil pan gasket. Another sign? You smell burning oil coming from your engine. If the leak is bad and your engine has lost a lot of oil, you may eventually see the oil light go on.

Let your service advisor know if you are experiencing any of these things. Driving with insufficient oil can badly damage your engine. And it can do it quickly. A Lewis Complete Auto Repair trained technician will check to find the source of the leak. It may just be a gasket, but it also could be the oil pan is damaged and needs replacing as well.

This is a repair you should get taken care of. Your engine needs its lubrication system intact to provide you many years of service.

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

Rowlett Drivers Severe Service Maintenance SchedulesJuly 2, 2018

Since driving requirements and lifestyles differ among Rowlett drivers, your vehicle manufacturer publishes two auto maintenance schedules: the regular schedule and the severe service schedule. Which schedule should Rowlett drivers follow? Here are some questions to ask yourself:

Are most of your trips less than four miles/six kilometers around Rowlett?
Are most of your trips less than 10 miles/16 kilometers in below-zero TX temps?
Are most of your trips off-highway in TX?
Do you drive often in dusty Rowlett areas?
Do you regularly tow a trailer or carry heavy loads around Rowlett?
Do you drive in very hot or very cold TX weather?

Think about your typical week. Do you live by your nearest Rowlett on-ramp and enjoy a non-stop commute? Or, do you drive the neighborhood car pool in stop-and-go traffic on Rowlett surface streets?

Let’s suppose your owner’s manual says the severe service oil change recommendation is 3,000 miles/5,000 kilometers and the standard recommendation is 5,000 miles/8,000 kilometers. You know that you need to change the oil somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 miles/5,000 and 8,000 kilometers. Analyze your driving patterns and Rowlett weather and road conditions to determine which end of the spectrum you’re closer to.

Why should Rowlett residents care about this? Normal condensation causes moisture accumulation in the engine oil. Short trips around Rowlett or winter driving means that the engine doesn’t heat up enough for the moisture to evaporate. The water in the oil turns to oil sludge that clogs up your engine and doesn’t let the oil protect it adequately. That’s why TX residents need to change their oil more often – to clean the sludge out before it causes problems.

Carrying heavy loads (with or without a trailer) in TX summer weather causes your engine and transmission to run at higher temperatures and with more stress. The fluids will break down more quickly. Additives that clean and prevent corrosion will be depleted sooner. Air pollution and dust cause fluids to get dirty faster. Ditto for filters. All of these things can lead to premature wear and eventual repairs. If you want some expert advice, talk with your friendly and knowledgeable Lewis Complete Auto Repair service advisor. We can help you restore your vehicle to good working order and help you know the best schedule to follow.

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

Speak Up: Talking with Your Lewis Complete Auto Repair Service AdvisorJune 25, 2018

About 80% of the vehicles on Rowlett roads today are behind on their preventive maintenance schedules. That translates to about 160 million vehicles in the United States that aren’t performing as well as they could be – thousands right here in TX. Some of the maintenance issues are minor. Others represent serious safety concerns.

There are many reasons Rowlett drivers neglect their routine car care. Some of the more common ones are complacency, lack of confidence, lack of trust and budget issues.

Modern vehicles are amazingly reliable compared to their older counterparts. They can run for years without any repairs, and we sometimes translate that to mean they don’t need any maintenance. The trouble is that without maintenance, parts in the vehicle are gradually wearing out, fluids are getting dirty, oil is developing sludge — a lot of stuff is happening that we can’t see, and it is destroying the vehicle. The first time we learn there is a problem, we have a major repair bill on our hands.

Older vehicles just couldn’t keep going without frequent maintenance; they broke down without timely vehicle care. Modern vehicles are designed to keep running even when they’re not fully healthy. Unfortunately, that convenience has led some of us to become complacent and ignore vehicle care — until we have to fix something. And fixing something today takes a whole lot more than it used to.

Some people in Rowlett just don’t feel comfortable taking their vehicles to their local Rowlett service center. They don’t know much about engines or auto mechanics, so they don’t know what questions to ask. They don’t want to appear foolish or ignorant.

Your physician doesn’t expect you to understand what a ligament is or how it works. But if you have a problem with one, she’s going to explain to you what it is, what’s wrong with it and how it can be fixed. It’s in her best interest as well as yours to do so. You’ll both feel more comfortable with the treatment.

That’s what you can expect from the pros at Lewis Complete Auto Repair. They have to be highly trained and work with a lot of complex, high-tech systems. They don’t expect their Rowlett customers to understand car care. So ask questions. You need auto advice from a service specialist, just as you need medical advice from a doctor and financial advice from a financial advisor.

Which brings us to the next concern: trust. A lot of rumors fly around Rowlett about auto repair scams. You may have heard about some local auto shops taking advantage of customers and replacing parts that weren’t broken. Frankly, this is just bad business practice. Rowlett auto service centers won’t stay in business long if they’re engaged in this type of activity.

It’s in the best interest of Rowlett service centers to diagnose a problem correctly and fix it right the first time. That’s how they keep their businesses open.

Trust must be earned. But just as it took time for you to establish a relationship and rapport with your doctor, it will take time to build a relationship with your service center.

Also, realize that when your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Lewis Complete Auto Repair recommends routine maintenance, he is generally relying on your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations. In other words, your trust lies both with your service advisor and your vehicle manufacturer. You’ll find that most of the service recommendations from Lewis Complete Auto Repair you receive coincide with what’s in your manual.

Those recommendations were set up by the engineers who designed your vehicle, not Lewis Complete Auto Repair. The team at Lewis Complete Auto Repair is just offering you a friendly reminder — a helpful reminder really, since most of us don’t post our owner’s manuals to our calendars.

Money is behind most neglect of vehicle maintenance. First, they worry that they can’t afford it. Second, they worry that they’re being overcharged.

The simple truth is, car care is like health care. We can’t afford not to have it. Preventive maintenance is cheap compared to repair work. It extends the lives of our vehicles and saves us money on fuel. It also makes our vehicles safer to drive, which can prevent accidents. Putting off preventive maintenance can be very expensive.

Rowlett area service centers have to be competitive. Like any business, they can’t afford to overcharge customers or they go out of business. But vehicle care today does cost more in TX than it used to. Vehicles are more sophisticated, complex and high-tech. That means technicians have to be better trained. They have to purchase high-tech diagnostic equipment and tools. They have to keep up with the latest advances in vehicle engineering and subscribe to computer databases. Like any business, they also have labor costs, insurance, rent, utilities, taxes, office supplies, etc.

If you are strapped for cash, Lewis Complete Auto Repair can offer auto advice to help you keep your car running safely and manage your budget. For example, let’s say you need new brake pads, transmission service and a new cabin air filter. A technician can’t ethically recommend you delay brake service: that creates a safety hazard for you and other Rowlett drivers. You need to get that done now. But they can let you know if the transmission service can wait a month and how long you can put off changing the cabin air filter. They can also estimate what these services will cost. That gives you the time and information you need to save up for the other services.

The key to modern car care is preventive maintenance. Our modern vehicles are safer, more fuel efficient and more reliable than ever before. But to keep them that way Rowlett drivers have to be more proactive about caring for them. It’s good to know there are knowledgeable professionals at Lewis Complete Auto Repair who can help us do just that.

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

How Much is Enough for Rowlett Auto Owners? Tire Tread DepthJune 17, 2018

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Most Rowlett drivers know that tires wear out and that the wear has to do with tread depth. Most of us have heard that “bald” tires are dangerous, but most of us picture a tire with no tread at all when we think of a bald tire. And when we take our vehicles in for preventive maintenance, the technician tells us they’re need to be replaced long before all the tread is worn off. Just <a href="” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>how much tire tread wear is too much? And how can you tell? Tires are and their condition is important to the safe handling of a vehicle, so it’s for Rowlett vehicle owners to know the answers to these questions.

First of all, it’s important to understand that there may be a legal limit to tread wear. If your tires are worn past this limit, you have to replace them to be in compliance with TX auto safety laws. That’s why measuring your tread wear is part of a vehicle safety inspection.

In some jurisdictions, tread must be at least 1.6 millimeters or 2/32 of an inch thick. This standard has been in effect since 1968. But this standard has recently been called into question, and some TX professionals are arguing that it be changed.

The safety issue that has brought this standard under scrutiny is the ability of a vehicle to stop on a wet surface. When a vehicle has trouble stopping, most Rowlett drivers immediately look at the brakes as the source of the problem. But tires are crucial to safe stopping distances because they provide the traction required in a stop.

A tire’s contact with the road surface creates traction, which allows for effective braking. On a wet surface, a tire only has traction if it can get to the road’s surface. So tire tread is designed to channel water out from under the tire to allow it to stay in contact with the road. If the tire can’t shift the water, then it starts to “float.” This condition is called hydroplaning. It is very dangerous for Rowlett drivers since the vehicle won’t stop no matter how hard the driver presses the brakes. Steering control is also lost.

A recent study tested the stopping ability of a passenger car and a full-sized pick-up on a road surface covered with only a dime’s depth of water (less than a millimeter). The vehicles were traveling at 70 mph (112 kph) when they stopped on the wet surface. At 2/32 (1.6 mm) tread depth, the stopping distance was double that of a new tire. The passenger car was still traveling at 55 mph (89 kph) when it reached the stopping distance it experienced with new tires.

Let’s suppose that you’re on a busy Rowlett road in a light drizzle and a vehicle stops suddenly in front of you. You just bought new tires and you brake hard, missing the vehicle with only inches to spare. If you hadn’t bought those new tires, you would have crashed into that vehicle at 55 mph (89 kph). That is a major difference.

What if your tires had a tread depth of 4/32 (3.2 mm)? You would have crashed into that vehicle at 45 mph (72 kph). Still not a good situation. But it’s better.

Now what if you were driving that pick-up truck? You wouldn’t have missed that vehicle in the first place, and you would have crashed at higher rates of speed in both of the other scenarios. The heavier your vehicle, the longer its stopping distance. It’s a matter of physics.

The results of this test has led Consumer Reports and others to ask that the standard for tread wear be changed from 2/32 (1.6 mm) to 4/32 (3.2 mm). The increased standard will improve safety on the road and save lives here in TX and nationally.

Of course, until the standard changes, you’ll have to decide whether you’ll be willing to replace your tires a little sooner.

You can use an American quarter to tell if your tread wear is down to 4/32 (3.2 mm). Place the quarter into the tread with George’s head toward the tire and his neck toward you. If the tread doesn’t cover George’s hairline, you’re under 4/32 (3.2 mm). With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the digits of the year.

You can measure the 2/32 inch (1.6 mm) tread wear with a penny. If the tread touches the top of Abe’s head, it’s at 2/32 (1.6 mm). Tires are super important when it comes to vehicle care. But their condition has a major impact on safety. We need to decide whether to sacrifice safety for economy. Keeping our tread wear above 4/32 in (3.2 mm) is good auto advice.

Lewis Complete Auto Repair
5110 Grisham Dr.
Rowlett, TX 75088
972.475.4800
http://lewis-complete-auto-repair.autotipsvideo.com

Why Is My Check Engine Light On?June 12, 2018

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The Check Engine Light strikes fear into the hearts of some Rowlett drivers, and is totally ignored by just as many. Just what it means is a mystery to most people.

Let’s get the urgency issues out of the way first. If your Check Engine light is flashing, that means that something is wrong that could cause engine damage. Naturally, you need to get that taken care of right away. If your check engine light is flashing, you shouldn’t drive at high speeds, tow or haul heavy loads. Take it easy all the way to your Rowlett service center.

<a href="” target=”_blank” rel=”noopener noreferrer”>Why

If the light is glowing steadily, you should keep an eye on it for a day or two. If the light doesn’t go off, schedule an appointment with your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Lewis Complete Auto Repair to get it checked out.

Some more information on how the Check Engine light works may be helpful for Rowlett drivers. Most of your engine functions are controlled by a computer, not surprisingly, called an engine control computer. The computer is able to adjust many engine parameters for environmental conditions, engine condition and even the way you drive.

In order to make these adjustments, the computer relies on a network of sensors to provide data. The computer knows the proper operating range for each sensor. When a sensor reading is out of range, the computer runs some tests and may turn on the vehicle’s Check Engine light.

A simple example is a loose or missing gas cap. This may cause one of the sensors to read out of range. The computer doesn’t know if it’s a serious condition that caused the reading or just a loose gas cap, so it stores a trouble code and turns on the Check Engine light.

Now when you tighten up the gas cap, the sensor readings will be in the correct range. The computer will keep checking on the report for a day or two. Since a bad reading didn’t come up again, it turns off the Check Engine light. The computer will also try to make adjustments to compensate for some readings. If it can do so, it’ll then turn off the Check Engine light.

If the problem can’t be resolved then the light will remain on, and you should get your vehicle looked at. Your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Lewis Complete Auto Repair will plug a scanner into the on-board diagnostic port and read the trouble code stored in the computer. The trouble code will give the technician a starting place as he diagnoses the cause of the problem.

 

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