How to Know When to Change Your Oil At Lewis Complete Auto RepairFebruary 27, 2013

Today in the Lewis Complete Auto Repair auto care blog, we’re going to talk about oil change intervals. It seems that as engine technology advances, recommended oil change intervals have gotten longer for Lewis Complete Auto Repair customers. High quality oil in a well-engineered truck engine has lead to extended intervals. But it’s also lead to some confusion among Rowlett motorists.

The old mantra “change your oil every three months or three thousand miles, whichever comes first” once applied to every vehicle on Rowlett expressways. Time and miles take their toll on motor oil. But now, you could have a different oil change recommendation for every car or truck you own.

Rowlett motorists are like everybody else, they have a tendency to follow the oil change schedule of the vehicle with the longest interval. Of course, that can lead to problems. How to Know When to Change Your Oil At Lewis Complete Auto RepairFor example, recently four of the world’s largest auto makers shortened the published intervals for several of their engine models. They originally published intervals that extended out to a much as 8,000 miles.

In real world Rowlett driving, the oil started to sludge up before the recommended change interval. Oil sludge is a thick jelly-like substance. Quite literally petroleum jelly – like Vaseline. This goop was clogging truck small engine passages so the oil wouldn’t flow to some parts of the engine. This resulted in engine damage. We see it too often at Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett.

The auto makers began to offer an extended warranty to cover sludge damage. But there was a catch: the vehicle owner had to follow a new, lower service interval, and provide proof of oil changes in order to make a warranty claim.

So here’s the bottom line: with longer oil change intervals, it’s essential to follow them closely. Back in the day of 3 months or 3,000 miles, if you went an extra month or an extra thousand miles, your oil was still fresh enough that it didn’t have time to build up much sludge.

But if your recommended interval is 6,500 miles and you go over another thousand, you’re getting into heavy sludge territory. You absolutely need to follow mileage intervals very closely. And don’t forget your severe service schedule. If you do a lot of stop and go driving in TX, short trips, drive in dusty or polluted Rowlett conditions, hot or cold weather, or haul heavy loads, you’re driving in severe service conditions. Your Lewis Complete Auto Repair advisor can help you determine which schedule to follow.

So check your truck owner’s manual or talk with your Lewis Complete Auto Repair service advisor about where and how you drive in Rowlett. Should you change your oil closer to the regular schedule, or the severe service schedule? You need to make the call.

Let me give you an example of this. Some newer trucks have an oil change indicator. It has a sophisticated computer algorithm that tracks number of cold starts, engine temperature, RPMs, mileage, and many more variables to come up with a recommendation for when to change the oil.

Depending on driving conditions, the indicator in one test vehicle came on at anywhere from 2,500 miles to almost 7,000 miles. It’s typically just over 4,000 miles. Clearer sometimes, we’re driving easy miles that are easy on the truck – like a long road trip. Sometimes, we’re driving hard TX miles – like towing a heavy trailer or a lot of around town driving. But, usually, it’s a combination of both.

Once again, it’s up to you to make the call as to when to change your oil at Lewis Complete Auto Repair to protect your truck engine. Another place where TX motorists can go wrong is with the type of oil they use. More and more new cars are coming to Rowlett owners filled with synthetic oil. Without going into a lot of detail right now, let’s just say that synthetic oil lasts longer and is very resistant to oil sludge.

But it also costs quite a bit more, so some Rowlett people are tempted to use conventional oil for their oil changes. Now, it’s always best to use the oil recommended by your manufacturer. Check your owner’s manual see if a conventional oil alternative is allowed.

But getting back to the problem, if your truck came from the factory with synthetic oil, the recommended oil change interval is for synthetic oil. If you use conventional oil, you can’t use the synthetic interval. You need to shorten it.

TX Balance: Wheel Balancing and Tire RotationFebruary 21, 2013

Everyone in the Rowlett area wants our tires to last as long as possible. Two ways to maximize tire life are wheel balancing and tire rotation.

When wheels are out of balance, they wobble a bit. That makes the tires wear in a cupping pattern. And they vibrate. To fix this, your service technician at Lewis Complete Auto Repair puts weights on your wheels to balance them out. If a front wheel is out of balance you’ll feel it in the steering wheel. If it’s a rear wheel you’ll feel it through your seat.

That brings us to tire rotation. The front tires on a car wear out more quickly than the rear tires. As they push through turns from Rowlett to Sachse, the shoulders of the front tires wear down. So rotating front and rear tires allows them to all wear at about the same rate over the life of the tire.

Proper tire inflation will also help your tires last longer. Under-inflated tires wear excessively on the shoulder and may even overheat. This could cause tire damage or a blow out. Over-inflated tires wear to fast in the middle.

Four wheel drive trucks and SUV’s tend to wear their tires more unevenly so rotation is even more important with them. Give us a call to get our recommendation on your truck.

See your owner’s manual or ask your service technician at Lewis Complete Auto Repair for your recommended tire rotation schedule. It’s usually every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.

Tires cost a lot and they are one of the most critical safety components on your vehicle. Take care of them and they’ll take care of you.

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

Clean Air for Your Engine: Engine Air Filters In RowlettFebruary 12, 2013

Every Rowlett car owner who has taken their car in for an oil change has been told that their engine air filter’s dirty.

Here’s what goes into the determination of when to change the filter: First, your truck owner’s manual will have a recommendation of when to change the filter. Second, a visual inspection by your Rowlett technician may determine that your filter it is visibly dirty and needs to be changed.

Clean Air for Your Engine Rowlett Engine Air Filter

So between your owner’s manual and your Rowlett technician’s inspection there’s really no guesswork involved.

Now, most air filters purchased in Rockwall, Garland, or Sachse don’t cost a lot to replace. It’s just that TX people hate getting caught with an unexpected expense. On the plus side, though, changing a dirty air filter at Lewis Complete Auto Repair can often save enough on gas to pay for itself before your next oil change in Rowlett.

Think about a dirty furnace filter in your Garland home. When it’s all clogged up, enough clean air can’t get through. In your truck, that means that your engine can’t get as much air as it needs to burn the fuel efficiently. So it makes do with less air and has to use more expensive TX gas to move your vehicle around Rowlett roads.

Your truck actually needs about 12,000 gallons of air for every gallon of gas it burns. Engine air filters don’t cost much in Rowlett at Lewis Complete Auto Repair. When it’s time to change yours, just get it done. You’ll buy less fuel, have better performance and protect your engine.

Rowlett Customer Detective WorkFebruary 7, 2013

One might say the most challenging part of being an automotive service technician at Lewis Complete Auto Repair in Rowlett TX is diagnosing a problem before it can be fixed.

Cars are made up of a bunch of complex systems. There usually could be a number of reasons for any given symptom. So it’s challenging to track down the actual cause of the problem. And it can be frustrating for the vehicle owner because it can take time and money to get to the bottom of a problem. If it’s not something obvious, it’s easy for the customer to focus on the fixing and not the diagnosing.

Let us introduce you to something we’ll call Customer Detective Work – that is helping your Rowlett TX technician find clues to what’s wrong.

We start with the detective basics: What, Where and When. Play along with me. You come in to Lewis Complete Auto Repair and your car is making a funny sound.

  • Q: Where’s the sound?
  • A: Around the right front wheel.
  • Q: What kind of sound?
  • A: Kind of a clunk, clunk sound.
  • Q: When do you hear the sound?
  • A: When I turn and accelerate.
  • Q: Right and left? Forwards and back?…

Do you see where we’re going? You’re gathering additional information to help your Rowlett TX technician know where to start. Based on your car and the tech’s experience, he’ll know where to look and can start with the obvious suspects.

You can see how that would be more helpful than dropping the car off with a note that says “making a funny noise”.

When you think you need to bring a vehicle in, make some notes about the problem. Rather than just saying “it’s leaking”, tell the tech the color of the fluid, and approximately where under the car you see the puddle.

Things like ‘the car is stalling or sputtering’ are often very hard to diagnose because they’re intermittent. They may not happen every time you drive and usually aren’t happening when you actually bring the car in. So, it is a big help for you to describe what’s happening in as much detail as possible.

Your Rowlett TX technician at Lewis Complete Auto Repair will need to be able to duplicate the problem if possible so he needs to know details, like ‘it stalls after it’s been driven for about 20 minutes and I go over 50 miles an hour’.

If the tech can experience the problem personally, he’s better able to make a diagnosis and repair. And, then test to see if the repair solved the problem.

Lease verses BuyJanuary 29, 2013

Lease? Or buy? It’s always a tough question for residents in the Rockwall area. But here are a few ideas that’ll make the choice more clear.

Either option gives you a choice of how you might finance your car. If you buy, you’ll pay the full cost of the car, with maybe an initial down payment, then monthly payments on the balance that pays down the loan principal, and the finance charge.

If you lease, you’re financing the portion of the cost of the car that’s used up during the term of the lease. When the lease is up, you return the car to your local Rockwall area dealership. You’ll pay some money upfront; fees, security deposit, first month’s payment and maybe a capital reduction. The month payments include a depreciation cost and a finance charge.

So how do you decide?

First, how big a down payment can you make? A lease would require a smaller down.

How much monthly payment can you afford? Again, lease payments will be much lower for any given down payment.

A lease needs you to have better credit, so that’s a factor.

How long will you keep the car? If you tend to keep your cars around for a while, buying is cheaper. But just two or three years? Then leasing is the way to go.

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

If your car might suffer a ding or two, like, say a work truck would, then buying’s better. The leasing company will want their merchandise back at the lease end in tip top shape, and if repairs are needed, you’ll pay.

How many miles do you drive in and around the Rockwall area? Important to consider because leases have a mileage limit, and if you go over, you pay a hefty charge per mile when the lease is up. So high mileage means a buy.

Will the car be used for business? Check with your accountant, but both financing options have different tax benefits, depending on your circumstances.

Over the short term, leasing is much cheaper. Medium term, leasing and buying costs are about the same. Over the long haul, leasing is always costs more.

Leases may sound a bit complicated, and the typical lease decision weighs more on the monthly payment, rather than price. So sometimes leasers may pay on a higher purchase price than a buyer would.

Here is a tip: If a salesman asks if you’ll be leasing or buying, say you’re not sure yet. Make your best deal, then look at financing options.

Here’s another: With a buy or a lease, if you total the car, you’ll owe the full amount of the loan, or the balance of the lease payments, and usually, it’s less than the car’s fair market value – and that’s all your insurance company will pay. But ask your agent about gap insurance, which pays the difference between fair market value and what you owe. Big consideration for a lease.

Remember, you have to return your leased vehicle in excellent condition, and may need to do all manufacturer’s recommended service and maintenance, or face penalties. So see your local Rockwall service center on a regular basis, get the required work done and save the service records. It’s well worth it.