Automotive Tips from Lewis Complete Auto Repair: Air Conditioning – Common ProblemJanuary 7, 2018

Your auto air conditioning system cools and conditions the air in your passenger compartment when you are driving around Rowlett. It also removes moisture from the air to keep your windows from fogging up.

A common A/C problem for Rowlett drivers that visit Lewis Complete Auto Repair is contaminated refrigerant (the gas that cools the air). The inside of the A/C hoses deteriorates over time and tiny fragments of rubber clog passages. This makes the system less efficient and overworks various components.

Leaks can develop at seals and gaskets and may reduce the amount of refrigerant, causing the system to work too hard to compensate. Dirty components can have the same consequences.

Ask your Lewis Complete Auto Repair service advisor for an air conditioning system inspection to make sure everything is up to spec.

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

 

Drive Train – What You Need to Know in RowlettJanuary 3, 2018

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One Rowlett automotive service issue that doesn’t get much attention is driveline service. Drivelines don’t get talked about very much around Rowlett, but they’re very important. First let’s define what the driveline is:

Taking a small step back, the power plant is comprised of the engine and transmission. The driveline starts there and includes all of the components that transfer power from the transmission to the wheels.

That’s not really a lot of components, but they handle the full force of the engine. Without the driveline you’re not moving. So Rowlett residents need to take good care of it. The driveline components differ depending on whether your vehicle has front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, all wheel drive or four wheel drive. For purposes of our discussion, we’re going to have to oversimplify a bit.

If you are ready to have your drive train looked at, give us a call at 972.475.4800.

Let’s start with front wheel drive. The point where the transmission stops and the driveline begins is a little blurred with front wheel drive because the transaxle houses both the transmission function and the differential function. The half shafts that send power to each front wheel come out of the transaxle. The shaft is connected to the wheel by a constant velocity, or CV, joint. The CV joint is protected from dirt and water by an airtight, flexible rubber boot.

So, Lewis Complete Auto Repair driveline service would include properly servicing the transaxle and inspecting the cv boot to see if it’s torn or loose. If it is, it needs to be replaced and the CV joint inspected for damage. Repairs may be in order. Besides visual damage to the airtight CV boot, you might hear a clicking noise when turning. Recommended maintenance for the transaxle and CV joints will be spelled out in your owner’s manual, or check with your friendly and knowledgeable Lewis Complete Auto Repair service advisor.

On to rear wheel drive. The driveline for a rear wheel drive vehicle starts with the driveshaft – that long tube that connects the transmission with the differential on the rear axle. Some vehicles in Rowlett have a two piece drive shaft. The shafts are connected to the transmission and the differential with big universal joints. Most Rowlett residents have probably heard the term ‘u-joints.’ These joints can wear out, just like the CV joints in front wheel drive vehicles. You may hear some clunking or feel a jolt when shifting into drive or reverse – if you do, get your driveline inspected at Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett.

The differential on the rear axle sends power out to each rear wheel through half shafts in the axle. The differential fluid needs to be drained periodically and replaced with clean fluid. When the seal on the end of the axle is damaged or leaks, the axle will need to be serviced. The routine maintenance item here is differential service. Be sure to check your owner’s manual or Rowlett service advisor for intervals.

Now let’s go on to all wheel drive. Remember that the difference between all wheel drive and four wheel drive is that an all wheel drive vehicle is essentially providing power to all of the wheels all of the time. The vehicle may be able to shift more of the power to the front or to the back depending on where you need traction. All wheel drive vehicles are designed to work well on dry pavement. Even some high-end sports cars from makers like Lamborghini and Porsche have all wheel drive.

Some all wheel drive vehicles are designed to work well off-road in Rowlett, but all hard-core rock crawlers are four wheel drive. These guys thrive in mud, sand, rocks and hills – but they don’t work well on dry pavement when they’re in four wheel drive. So they have the option to shift to rear wheel drive only on dry pavement.

Most all-wheel drive vehicles are very similar to front wheel drive when it comes to the front end. They also have a center differential that transfers power to the rear differential. Connecting it all is a shaft from the transaxle to the center differential and another from the center differential to the rear differential. So all of the normal front wheel drive service is recommended as well as service to the center and rear differentials.

Four wheel drive can be thought of as a rear wheel drive vehicle that can also send power to the front axle. There’s a transfer case in the middle of the vehicle that can be shifted to send power through a drive shaft to a differential on the front axle. So Rowlett residents need differential service for the front and rear differentials and for the transfer case as well.

The bottom line for Rowlett residents is that the maintenance schedules are in your owner’s manual. Your Rowlett service advisor can answer any questions you’ve got. If this is the first time you’ve heard some of this stuff – it’s time to ask someone at Lewis Complete Auto Repair if any of it needs to be done now.

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

Ask Lewis Complete Auto Repair: What Happens When a Serpentine Belt Breaks?December 17, 2017

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The serpentine belt is aptly named since it snakes around under your hood. It may lack its namesake’s fangs, but it sure packs a wallop when it breaks.

The serpentine belt powers a lot of engine systems. It runs the alternator, which charges the battery; the water pump (on some vehicles), which cools the engine; the air conditioning, which cools the driver and passengers; and the power steering pump, which allows for easier steering. When the belt breaks, all of these systems shut down.

Okay, so maybe you can live without air conditioning and power steering for a while, but your battery can’t live very long without an alternator, and when the cooling system goes down, your vehicle engine will overheat. That’s why Rowlett drivers should never wait to get a serpentine belt replaced.

Serpentine belts are fairly inexpensive at Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett. And they look downright cheap when you compare them to the cost of an overheated vehicle engine, a tow truck, time lost on the road, inconvenience, and the potential safety consequences of being stranded.

Good car care means never putting off preventive maintenance. Do yourself a favor. Ask your friendly and knowledgeable Lewis Complete Auto Repair  technician to glance under your hood and give that serpentine belt a quick look-over.

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

Diagnosing Your Vehicle at Lewis Complete Auto Repair in RowlettDecember 10, 2017

When we Rowlett residents get a car repair bill, we really shouldn’t be surprised to find “diagnostic fees” as one of the line items. When we get a computer fixed, there is usually a charge for the time it takes to diagnose the problem. When we go to a medical doctor, most of his fee is for his ability to diagnose what’s wrong. It’s no different with our vehicles.

Some diagnoses are fairly simple. Brake repairs at Lewis Complete Auto Repair usually require only a visual inspection, for instance. But other problems are much more difficult to diagnose. An intermittent engine problem, for example, takes time and expertise to pinpoint.

Modern vehicles have multiple computers that monitor a variety of sensors throughout the vehicle. When one of those sensors has a reading that is higher or lower than the standard parameters, the computer turns on the Check Engine light. Technicians at a service center such as Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett can scan the engine’s computer for a trouble code. This code tells the technician which reading is too high or too low.

That’s where some Rowlett residents get confused. They think that this reading concludes the diagnosis, and they don’t understand why the diagnostic fee is as much as it is when all the technician did was to scan the computer. But the truth is the trouble code is only the beginning of the diagnostic procedure.

Remember, the trouble code only tells which reading is out of parameter. It doesn’t say what is causing the reading to be too high or too low. Your Lewis Complete Auto Repair service technician still has to find the underlying problem. It’s a lot like going to the doctor. He can take your temperature and discover that you have a fever, but that doesn’t tell him what is causing your fever.

Automotive diagnostic technology can cut down the time it takes to figure out what’s wrong with a vehicle that isn’t running right. But it doesn’t do away with the need for your friendly and knowledgeable Lewis Complete Auto Repair service technician to make a proper diagnosis. Car care, like medical care, still requires the human touch.

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

The Maintenance Free MythDecember 4, 2017

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Sometimes we hear people in Rowlett say, “What’s up with all this maintenance stuff? Modern cars just don’t break down.” While it is true that today’s vehicles are extremely reliable, they are also becoming increasingly complicated and use more exotic materials than ever before. All that complexity demands higher tolerances for everything. For example, most Rowlett drivers don’t realize how high tech automotive fluids have become,  fluids such as engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant and brake fluid.

Did you know that a modern engine would not run for more than a few months using motor oil formulas from 30 years ago? Today’s automotive fluids contain a much higher percentage of additives to protect your vehicle’s components from premature wear and corrosion. Time and distances march on for all of our cars. Please don’t think we’re using scare tactics to get you to take care of your maintenance – but here are some personal stories we’ve heard to emphasize and show how important it is to get things done when they are due. Names are withheld to avoid embarrassment to those who should know better. Even though they should know better, it usually comes down to real life: time and money. But they are tales of a stitch in time saves nine.

The first comes from someone who bought a used pick-up truck for his son. The oil was clean and all the fluids were topped off. A short time later, the truck overheated on a highway in TX and shut down. The repair shop diagnosed the problem: the radiator pan was corroded and dumped the coolant. Even though the coolant level was correct, it was clear that the coolant had never been completely replaced – just topped off from time to time. While this kept the engine cool, all of the anti-corrosion additives had worn out; the coolant became acidic and ate through the radiator pan. The cost: hundreds of dollars and four days in the shop. This demonstrates the need to get your coolant exchanged on schedule.

Another story involves the true cost of skipping an annual inspection. This guy took his SUV in for the TX safety inspection to renew his registration. At the Rowlett inspection station, he learned that the law had changed and that his newer rig only required an inspection every two years. He was very happy to save the money. The problem was, his rear brake pads were very worn. Two months later, it was bad enough that he could hear the grind – over the radio, DVD player and the kids. He took it in to get the bad news. Both of the rear brake rotors were damaged. The left one could be resurfaced. The right had to be replaced. So saving a little on his safety inspection turned into an extra $500 over what brake pad replacement would have been. Moral of the story for Rowlett drivers: don’t skip your annual inspections. The irony is that many Rowlett service centers would have done a brake inspection for free.

Next: a teenage daughter and a curb. Daddy’s little princess smacked a curb when she turned into a shopping center and popped the tire. The problem came when Dad didn’t get an alignment. The impact was hard enough to ruin the tire – so it was enough wreck the alignment. But instead of an alignment after the first tire, Papa ended up buying a second tire a few months later – and then an alignment.

Situation: son and wife with cars from the same vehicle manufacturer with essentially the same engine. Our staffer checked the son’s maintenance schedule and saw that it needed a timing belt replacement at 90,000 miles/145,000 km. He had it done – it cost several hundred dollars. His wife’s car had about 60,000 miles/97,000 km, so it should be ok for a while. Right? Wrong. The problem was that the wife had the turbo charged version. Its belt was scheduled for replacement at 60,000 mi/97,000 km. At 63,000 mi./101,000 km, the belt snapped on the interstate. The valves all crashed down into the cylinders at high speed, the entire head was shredded and it had to be replaced. The cost: several thousand dollars. Does he wish he had checked the vehicle manufacturer’s maintenance schedule? You bet he does – every time he passes a big-screen TV.

The team at Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett recommends taking care of little things before they become big things. And when you take care of the little things, you can make your car run better.  Plus, it is more economical to operate in TX. Remember to save those maintenance records. It’ll show potential buyers that you’ve taken care of your vehicle and it will help you get a better price. Or when you buy a used car, check those records. If there aren’t any, assume that the maintenance hasn’t been done and take it to Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett for an inspection. Take care of unperformed routine maintenance sooner rather than later.

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