Keep Your Rowlett Car Breathing Free: Engine Air FilterNovember 11, 2018

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Hey Rowlett – this is something really amazing: Your vehicle uses 12,000 times as much air as fuel when you drive it. All of that air has to be filtered to keep your engine clean.

That’s like 100 gallons (380 liters) of air every block! The engine air filter is just another example of a very important but inexpensive part that has to do a tremendous amount of work. And when it works, everything goes well. But, when it doesn’t, well, it can lead to problems. Of course, your vehicle manufacturer recommends how often to change your air filter. But like most service intervals, where and how you drive your vehicle in TX affects when your filter needs to be changed.

Dusty conditions around Rowlett or polluted city driving means you’ll need to change your filter more often. Our trained professionals at Lewis Complete Auto Repair can check your filter for you. In fact, it’s often a routine part of an oil change.

When you think about it, a clogged air filter won’t allow as much air through as a clean filter. Your vehicle needs this air to efficiently burn its fuel, giving you better fuel economy and performance.

Dirtier filters don’t work as well as clean ones. A filter can only hold so much; after that, it allows dirt to pass right into your engine. Air filters come in all shapes and sizes. They also come in different grades. There are high performance air filters available for most vehicles. These high performance filters cost a little more, but they increase horsepower and may improve fuel economy to boot.

So it’s important for Rowlett drivers to make sure and have their air filter checked. If it needs replacing, it doesn’t cost very much at Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett and it should easily pay for itself in better fuel economy before your next oil change.

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

 

Cruisin’ on Down Main StreetNovember 4, 2018

When automakers first came out with cruise control, it was a real luxury item.  The older cruise controls used a mechanical vacuum system but it worked.  Well, some of the time. 

Now days, cruise control is all electronic, thanks to computers.  It’s reliable and a real convenience on long trips.  Cruise control is offered on most vehicles and standard on a lot of them.  Because it’s electronic, when it breaks, it’s usually some electronic component.  Your vehicle’s cruise can be the victim of a blown fuse. Or your vehicle’s speed sensor, which—not surprisingly—measures your vehicle’s speed, can also stop working.  And that will cause your cruise to stop cruising. 

Vehicles with cruise control also have a built-in feature that, when the brakes are applied, turns off the cruise.  With electronic cruise control, that happens thanks to the brake pedal switch, and if a problem develops in that switch, the cruise might not work.

The newest cruise control is called “adaptive.” What that means is that it will maintain your vehicle’s speed as well as the distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you.  That means if a car ahead of you slows down, your vehicle will slow down to the same speed and even stop if the car ahead stops.  Pretty cool, right? As you can imagine, adaptive cruise control is more sophisticated and has many more components than standard cruise.  The systems vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but they use on-board radar units and cameras to calculate what your vehicle should do to maintain a safe distance and speed. 

Finally, there are still some of the older style cruise controls out on the roads.  They’ll stop working when the vacuum actuator develops a problem, a vacuum hose starts leaking or breaks or the cable between the actuator and the throttle kinks, breaks, seizes up or becomes detached. 

If your cruise control isn’t working, your service repair facility will be able to determine what kind your vehicle has and what it will take to fix it.  Good news for the cruise blues.

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

 

Tacky or Techie? The Tachometer.October 28, 2018

There’s a gauge that many vehicles have that says RPM on it.  And there are a lot of people who either don’t pay any attention to it or don’t even know what it is. Here’s why it’s a good gauge to know about.

It’s called a tachometer, and that “RPM” label means it is measuring how many revolutions per minute (RPM) the engine is turning.  Automotive experts know that a vehicle’s engine can be damaged if it turns too fast (revving too high) or too slowly (“lugging” the engine).

A tachometer (sometimes called a tach) is almost a “must-have” gauge for vehicles with a manual transmission; the driver has to manually change gears; the tach helps the driver know when revolutions are in the optimal range.

Some say you don’t need a tachometer if you drive a vehicle with an automatic transmission. It’s true that most drivers of automatics don’t even look at it.  But there are times when paying attention to the tach can help you prevent an expensive repair.

Here’s a good example.  Manufacturers now build many of their automatic transmission vehicles with shift paddles.  They let you shift gears without a clutch. That’s manual shifting, and drivers need to know they’re not revving the engine too high. That’s where the tachometer comes in, since it shows you visually when you are in the red zone (RPM too high).

Here’s another way the tach can help you: fuel economy. Generally speaking, the lower the RPM, the better the fuel economy. It’s not good to go too low, of course, and the tachometer will help you find that spot of maximum efficiency.

You can also spot problems by paying attention to the tach.  When your vehicle stays in first gear longer than usual (higher reading on the tach), then the RPM dip lower than usual after shifting, it may be that your vehicle’s transmission is skipping a gear.  Plus, if your vehicle’s RPM go up but your speed doesn’t, it could mean your transmission is slipping.  Either situation should be checked by a trained technician.

If your commute takes you down some long grades, you might like to put your vehicle in a lower gear to help slow down the car (and not burn up the brakes). Having a tachometer keeps tabs on when your engine is revving too high.

So, consider the tachometer a “bonus” gauge.  It’s one more helpful assistant that can help you spot and prevent problems in your vehicle.

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

Keeping Your Car Young in RowlettOctober 22, 2018

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As Rowlett consumers, we live in a disposable society. It’s amazing all the stuff we throw away.

New stuff comes out so fast in TX, and much of it is fairly cheap, so we just toss the old and move on. It seems like when we were kids our parents were real sticklers about taking care of our stuff – especially parents who grew up in the Depression. You know, hang up your clothes, polish your shoes, put away your toys. If something got lost or ruined by neglect, tough; we had to do without. 

We couldn’t afford new cars very often, so we tried to make them last as long as we could. It’s a good thing that cars are more reliable these days. They just don’t break down as often. And the good news for us Rowlett penny pinchers is that a modern car can easily go 200,000 miles (320,000 km) with proper care. The engineering’s there and so is the manufacturing quality. The missing ingredient is us making sure we follow the vehicle manufacturer’s maintenance schedules.

Is it really that bad for Rowlett motorists to get off schedule? Well, it all adds up. Every time you go a little longer than the recommended interval  between oil changes, you’ve created an opportunity for  sludge to form and clog passages. Then some parts don’t get oiled and they start to wear out faster. 

Skip a cooling system service, and the corrosion inhibitors become depleted; the radiator starts being damaged, one step closer to a failure. The same thing is true for transmission service, power brakes, fuel system cleaning – really everything on your schedule.

It’s also even more important for older vehicles in the Rowlett area. Those engines and other systems have had more time to get dirty, so they’re working harder anyway. But it’s never too late for Rowlett drivers to get back on track with maintenance and to hold off further damage.

It’s just another example of our parents knowing what’s best. (Surprising how often that happens.) And it really does start with the oil change, just like Dad said. When you get a full service oil change they top off all your fluids and check for other items that are on your maintenance schedule. That’s like your safety net; go in for oil changes on time, and let the pros at Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett help you keep track of the rest.

Of course, it is inevitable for vehicles that some things are going to wear out along the way, like alternators, water pumps and such; they don’t last forever. But that stuff is cheaper than a new car payment. And taking care of problems early means they have less time to cause other problems. It’s like having high cholesterol; you don’t want to wait for a heart attack before you address it.

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

 

Keep It Flowing with a Fuel Filter Replacement at Lewis Complete Auto RepairOctober 14, 2018

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The function of the fuel filter is pretty self-explanatory. It filters your fuel. The fuel filter is in the fuel line somewhere in between the fuel tank and the engine. Both gas and diesel vehicles around Rowlett use fuel filters.

For more information about your fuel filter, visit Lewis Complete Auto Repair at 5110 Grisham Dr. in Rowlett, TX 75088.
Please call 972.475.4800 to make an appointment.

Generally speaking there’s not a lot of dirt in our Rowlett area auto fuel supply, but there is enough that you want to screen it out. The problem actually gets worse the older your vehicle becomes. That’s because dirt, rust and other contaminants will settle out of the fuel and onto the bottom of the fuel tank. After your vehicle is five years or older, it can actually have a fair amount of sediment built up.

That just means that the fuel filter has to work harder as your vehicle ages. It’ll get clogged sooner and need to be replaced more often.

A symptom of a clogged fuel filter is that the engine sputters at highway speeds or under hard acceleration. That’s because enough fuel is getting through around town, but when you need more fuel for speed, enough just can’t get through the filter. Obviously, that could be dangerous if your car or truck can’t get enough power to get you out of harm’s way.

For just that reason, fuel filters have a bypass valve. When the filter is severely clogged, some fuel can bypass the filter all together. Of course that means that dirty, unfiltered fuel is getting through to be burned in the engine.

This dirt can then clog and damage your fuel injectors. Now injectors are not cheap to replace, so you don’t want to cause them damage just because you didn’t spend a few bucks to replace a fuel filter.

You know, in a way, the fuel filter can be the poster child for preventive maintenance. It’s a little part, it’s simple and it’s cheap to take care of. But if it’s neglected, it could lead to thousands of dollars in repair bills.

Those auto service schedules in your owner’s manual are there for a reason. If ever you don’t understand a recommended service, just ask your Rowlett service advisor at Lewis Complete Auto Repair. We’ll be happy to explain.

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