Sniffing Out a ProblemMarch 31, 2019

Your parents probably taught you to have common sense. When it comes to your vehicle, common scents can also come in handy. Different smells may tell you about some conditions in your vehicle that need attention.

For example, you know what rotten eggs smell like.  If you smell them around your vehicle, it means sulfur can’t be far away. Here’s a surprising fact: Gasoline has a little sulfur in it.  There’s a device in your exhaust system that’s supposed to convert it to something that doesn’t pollute the atmosphere. That device is a catalytic converter.  If you are smelling rotten eggs, maybe your catalytic converter is wearing out.  But it could also be a problem with your fuel injectors.  Either way, something’s rotten that should be repaired.

Ever smell something sweet around your vehicle, maybe a little like pancake syrup? If you sniff out a little sweetness just when your engine is warming up or after you shut off your engine, you might be smelling some coolant (anti-freeze).  If it’s leaking, then you may be getting a whiff of ethylene glycol, one of the coolant’s components.  If the odor is strong inside the car, it could be a leaky heater core. This is important to get checked out because a leak in your vehicle’s cooling system can eventually cause expensive damage.

How about that distinctive smell of gasoline? You could have a leak in your gas tank, a hose that vents your gas tank or a leak in a fuel injector line.  A gasoline leak needs to be tracked down since it could catch fire.  It can also be bad for your health if you breathe it in all the time.

When you step hard on the brakes, ever smell something like a rug’s in fire? That could mean you’ve just overheated your brake pads.  If you detect that smell just driving around town, one of the brake calipers could be stuck.  To figure out which wheel has the problem, get out of your vehicle and smell each wheel.  It will likely be obvious where the problem is.

Here’s one last smell.  Ever had your oil changed and right after you picked up your vehicle it smells like something’s burning around the engine? That’s because sometimes a little oil leaks onto the metal when the filter is changed or the oil is poured in.  It’s a useful smell to know.  Because of you smell burning oil and you haven’t had your oil changed recently, that could mean you have a leak in your engine.  It could be a gasket or a seal, but it also could mean the start of more serious issues. 

All of these things are signals that you should discuss with your service advisor to get them checked out.

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

Used Cars: Lewis Complete Auto Repair Advice on What to Do After You BuyMarch 24, 2019

Used vehicles are certainly an economical choice for budget-conscious Rowlett drivers. But how can we know we’re getting a good used vehicle and not just inheriting someone else’s problems?

There are good used vehicles for sale in the Rowlett area. Vehicles are sold when families upsize, when families downsize or even when someone just wants a new ride. So the used vehicle may be just fine. But some Rowlett used vehicle owners sell them because they don’t want to deal with developing or existing problems.

When you’re considering buying a used vehicle in Rowlett, ask for service records. Check to see if the recommended schedules for preventive maintenance have been followed. If so, you probably have a great used vehicle on your hands. If there aren’t any service records, then assume the worst.

Check the vehicle for obvious signs of problems. Kick the tires if you want to but definitely check them for uneven tread wear. This can indicate alignment problems, worn shocks or suspension issues. Listen to the engine for unusual sounds and pay attention to unexpected odors. Take the vehicle for a test drive and make a list of any concerns you might have.

If the used vehicle you’re looking at is a late model vehicle with under 35,000 miles/55,000 km on it, take it to Lewis Complete Auto Repair for an inspection. This inspection will reveal many basic or developing problems. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Lewis Complete Auto Repair about concerns you had on the test drive. Get a heads-up on needed repairs or maintenance.

Previously leased vehicles are often tempting to used vehicle buyers because they are generally newer models with low mileage and have been factory-cleaned. Be cautious, however. Many Rowlett residents who lease vehicles don’t bother with preventive maintenance because they know they’ll be turning the vehicles in. Again, ask for maintenance records, take the vehicle in for a full-service oil change and consult with the pros at Lewis Complete Auto Repair about any problems the vehicle may have.

Older used vehicles are even more problematic for Rowlett used car buyers. Older vehicles simply come with more maintenance and repair issues than new ones. Take these in for a used vehicle inspection at Lewis Complete Auto Repair. Usually, a seller will let you do this before you purchase the vehicle. These inspections are very thorough and will help you know what you’re getting into. You’ll be able to make an informed decision about your purchase. That peace of mind will make the cost of the inspection more than worth your while. It’s always good auto advice for Rowlett drivers to purchase a Carfax report on any used vehicle. This report will let you know if the vehicle has been in a major accident and will give you a title history. You’d be surprised what used vehicle buyers have learned from those reports. Know before you buy.

Once you purchase a used vehicle, give it some tender loving care. Give it a thorough cleaning, inside and out — and don’t forget the engine compartment. A good wax on the outside will make it look and feel “new.” And, of course, stay on top of preventive maintenance. Used vehicles bought in TX can last a good, long time if they’re properly cared for. They’re economical to buy and can keep on saving us money if we look after them.

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

Relax When the Wind Blows in TX: Winter Car Prep for Rowlett DriversMarch 17, 2019

When autumn comes around in Rowlett, leaves fall, nights get longer and there’s a definite nip in the air. Time to unpack the boots and gloves and fold some extra blankets onto the beds. It’s also time for Rowlett drivers to winterize their vehicles.

Here is some expert auto advice for Rowlett drivers on what vehicles need to keep everyone safe and rolling throughout the TX winter months.

1. Check your antifreeze. Top it off or change it if necessary. You don’t want your radiator, engine or hoses freezing up. If your vehicle isn’t generating enough heat to keep you warm, your antifreeze might be low, or you might have a thermostat problem. Either way, you should get it checked out before the full force of TX winter sets in. If you are due for a cooling system service at Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett, get that done as well.

2. Check your brakes. The slushy wet conditions of winter increase stopping distances. Ice exacerbates the problem. Your first concern, of course, is to make sure you adapt your driving habits to winter weather: slow down, and give yourself plenty of room to stop. Get your brakes checked at Lewis Complete Auto Repair and replace any worn pads or other parts. Check your brake fluid. It can accumulate moisture and decrease your stopping power.

3. Test your battery. A battery’s cranking power drops in the cold, so if your battery is already weak, the onset of winter will do it in. The last thing you want is to be on a snowy TX road in the dark and cold with a dead battery.

4. Pack emergency supplies. Toss a blanket into the trunk. If you do find yourself stranded, your first concern will be to stay warm. If you’re traveling away from TX population centers, then pack some emergency food and water as well. Also, it’s a good idea to top off your tank in winter. That way, if you get stuck, you’ll have some fuel to burn to stay warm, and it’ll keep your gas lines from freezing up.

5. Check your wiper blades. They may be able to handle a light Rowlett summer rain shower, but they might not be up to the ice and snow that collect on a windshield in winter. If you experience particularly harsh winters or really wet ones, you can purchase special blades that resist freezing. And don’t forget to top off your wiper fluid.

6. Check your tires. Tires lose pressure over time, but they lose pressure fast when it’s cold outside in Rowlett. Tires lose about one pound of pressure every six to eight weeks; they also lose one pound of pressure for every 10°F/5.6°C drop in temperature. If the last time you checked your tires it was 80°F/26.7°C outside and it’s 40°F/4.4°C now, your tires could be down five pounds in pressure — and that’s serious. It’s a safety issue and cuts down on your fuel economy.

7. Driving conditions in the Rowlett area may warrant special winter tires. Check with your friendly and knowledgeable Lewis Complete Auto Repair tire professional to get the right tires for your area and for your driving habits. If you are getting winter tires, it’s always best to get them for all four wheels. But if you’re only going to get two, put them on the rear wheels, even if you drive a front-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicle. Traction is more important on the rear of a vehicle if you want to prevent sliding or fish-tailing on slick surfaces.

So there you have it: a quick checklist to winterize your car in TX. When it comes to car care, preventive maintenance is always the best practice for Rowlett drivers, especially when it comes to winter weather. None of us want to be caught out in the winter cold.

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

For 4x4s (Maintenance of 4×4 Vehicles)March 10, 2019

Some people love 4×4 vehicles, the true 4-wheel drive works of engineering like Jeeps and 4×4 pickups that allow you to seemingly go anywhere on the planet. You can climb up a 40-degree rock trail with some planning and skill (always careful to protect the environment, of course), or you can get through the deepest snow.

But with that added capability comes additional complexity, drive-train components and other systems that less capable vehicles don’t have.  And that is why when it comes to 4x4s, you have to maintain them a little differently from those vehicles that spend their lives on pavement.  Here are some of the key things to keep an eye on:

  • Transfer case—This transfers power from the engine to the wheels.  A transfer case has fluid in it that needs to be changed at intervals recommended by the manufacturer.  Your service advisor will let you know how often that is and will keep track of your service dates.  You will need to make sure the transfer case seal is working properly.  Otherwise, transmission fluid could get in and cause damage that is costly to fix.  Some transfer cases have an electric motor that shifts it through gears, and its connections are often exposed to the elements, making them vulnerable to damage and corrosion.  Proper maintenance will keep those connections working like they should
  • Front and rear differentials—These also have to have the right amount of fluid and should be checked regularly.  Your service advisor can let you know when you need that fluid changed as the owner’s manual recommends.  It’s important the service is performed correctly with the proper lubricant so it will work the way it is designed to.
  • Brake lines—Those 4x4s practically beg to go into wet spots. They also are great machines to conquer snow: road salt, brine and all.  Moisture, salt and brake lines are a recipe for corrosion, so brake lines need to be inspected regularly.  There are anti-corrosion sprays or white lithium grease that can retard corrosion.  Remember, getting there is half the fun, but not being able to stop is no fun at all.

So enjoy your 4×4 and what it can do that other vehicles can’t.  Just remember that even though it’s tough on the outside, it needs special care to keep it going.  Oh, and remember to take care of the environment when you go off-roading, too. 

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

How to Get Better Gas Mileage in RowlettMarch 3, 2019

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There is no escaping it: things work better when you take care of them. Something most of us in Rowlett can relate to is our computers. You’ve probably noticed how they get slower and slower over time. It takes longer to start up and programs take forever to load. Eventually, many of us just get a new computer at our nearest Rowlett computer store. But computer experts know that there are things you can do to delay the need for a new computer purchase. You can run utilities that clean off temporary files and clean your memory registry. You can optimize your hard drive and a number of other things.

What you’re doing is maintaining your computer to make it efficient. It’s the same thing with your vehicle. You maintain it to make it more efficient. It works the way it was designed to and that means it uses less fuel while you drive around Rowlett. And you save money.

To help organize our discussion, let’s think of things that rob us of fuel economy in two ways: increased friction and inefficient fuel combustion.

Friction. Anything that increases friction increases drag or load on the vehicle engine. It has to work harder to overcome the drag – and that takes more fuel. The first thing that comes to mind is engine oil. Low oil means there’s not enough to fully lubricate the engine so there’s more friction. Dirty oil won’t lubricate as well as clean oil. The same principles apply to transmission fluid. Getting your oil changed and transmission serviced on schedule at Lewis Complete Auto Repair will reduce friction and help you get better fuel economy.

Another friction related problem is underinflated tires. When your vehicle tires are low on air, it’s like driving on TX highways through sand – your vehicle has to work harder to move every mile. Check your tire pressure at least once a month.

Wheels out of alignment and dragging brakes also increase friction. And your tires and brake pads will wear out much sooner as well. At Lewis Complete Auto Repair, we provide quality brake and wheel alignment services.

Let’s move on to Fuel. You have to get the right amount of clean fuel to the combustion chamber at precisely the right time. A dirty fuel system has varnish and gum interfering, and the fuel injectors may be unable to deliver the correct amount of fuel at the right pressure  and in the spray pattern — that the engineers intended. A vehicle fuel system cleaning at Lewis Complete Auto Repair will get all of that working right and really improve fuel economy.

Replacing your fuel filter on schedule will help keep your fuel clean. Replacing a sticky PCV valve will allow unburned fuel from the engine to be returned to the intake system to be used. Replacing worn spark plugs will burn your fuel as efficiently as possible.

All of these things can help you save money on gas at Rowlett pumps.

Give us a call.

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