Deciphering the Lewis Complete Auto Repair Menu BoardDecember 28, 2012

Let’s talk about deciphering the auto service menu board. Rowlett, TX service centers like Lewis Complete Auto Repair have a board that lists the routine services they provide. But some people don’t know what these services really are unless they ask. Let’s go down a typical list, in alphabetical order, starting with air conditioning service.

Feel free at any time to give Lewis Complete Auto Repair a call at 972.475.4800 to learn of the many services we offer, or stop by our Rowlett, TX auto center at 5110 Grisham Dr. 75088.

First remember that all of these services are recommended by vehicle manufacturers. They set how often or at how many miles the service should be done.

Air conditioning service involves purging the old refrigerant and capturing it for proper disposal. Then fresh refrigerant is installed. The fresh refrigerant will lubricate the system and will also help it cool better.

Alignment. Service centers like Lewis Complete Auto Repair make sure all four wheels are lined up and track with each other. This reduces tire and suspension wear and improves safety and handling.

Battery service. Service centers like Lewis Complete Auto Repair inspect the battery for corrosion, leaks or damage. Test the battery’s ability to hold a charge. If the battery’s still strong, clean it up. If not, replace it.

Brake service. This could be two things. A brake inspection to see if the brakes are working well mechanically and to see if the pads are still safe. If not, replace the pads and make any repairs that might be in order.

The other thing is to evacuate the brake fluid, clean out the system and replace it with fresh fluid. This is important, but often over looked.

Cabin air filter. The cabin air filter is the filter that cleans the air that comes into the passenger compartment. It works like the filter on your furnace at home. It gets dirty and needs to be changed often.

Cooling system. This is the cooling system for your engine. Replace the old coolant with fresh to protect your radiator and other cooling system components from corrosion.

Differential service. Every vehicle has at least one differential. They don’t require service very often, so people don’t think of them much. The differential transfers power from the drive train to your wheels. Drain the old fluid and add fresh lubricant.

Engine air filter. This filters the air that’s burned in the engine. It also gets dirty and needs to be replaced often.

Fuel filter. This filter cleans the fuel before it gets to the engine. Like the other filters, it too gets clogged and needs to be replaced in order to maintain good flow.

Contact Lewis Complete Auto Repair, your Rowlett, TX auto repair center, by calling us at 972.475.4800.

Fuel Saving Tip: Car Weight And Your TX DrivingDecember 20, 2012

Weight is the enemy of fuel economy. Everyone from here to Sachse knows this makes sense.

Some of us in the Sachse area carry a bunch of unnecessary weight, and I’m not talkin’ what you see in the mirror.

truck Weight Guys; sports equipment and tools. Ladies; well, just take a look around the passenger compartment and trunk. I think my car has about forty-five pounds of French fries on the floor.

All that extra weight wastes gas as you drive between here and Sachse, and everywhere else.

Lose the junk and save some money.

…And you really only need one of those spare tires.

Rowlett Exhaust And Emissions ServiceDecember 11, 2012

Sometimes when we talk about exhaust service in Rowlett, we think about exhaust pipes and mufflers. And if you can see smoke, or if it’s too loud. But, exhaust service at a place like Lewis Complete Auto Repair is really a lot more comprehensive these days.

For example, in the U.S., the federal government mandated catalytic converters for all cars in Rowlett in 1976 and on-board emission control computers in 1990. TX and federal emissions requirements have forced manufacturers to come up with much more sophisticated ways to comply with environmental regulations. Cars sold in Canada follow the same guidelines.

So, exhaust service has really become exhaust and emissions service. High-tech computer-controlled emissions devices are now a big part of that. And because it’s so sophisticated, your vehicle manufacturer recommends having your emission system checked out by a qualified technician, like the ones we have at Lewis Complete Auto Repair, regularly to make sure everything’s working right – which is usually every six months or 6,000 miles.

If your ‘check engine light’ comes on while you are driving around the Rowlett area, especially if it’s flashing, then you need to get your car looked at right away. Chances are it’s an emission related problem. You might have exhaust or emissions trouble if your car is hard to start, runs rough, or if it’s noisy or smoking.

So let’s review the exhaust system. Everything starts with the exhaust manifold. That’s the part that attaches to the engine and collects the exhaust from the cylinders and directs it into the exhaust pipe.

The exhaust gaskets help seal the connection with the manifold and other joints along the way. Now, if the manifold is cracked or loose, or a gasket is leaking, then dangerous gases could escape into the passenger compartment, where you ride. Carbon monoxide can be deadly, so it’s important that your exhaust system doesn’t leak.

The exhaust pipes connect the various components. They can rust or be damaged by a rock, so they need to be inspected periodically.

Next comes the catalytic converter. This part actually looks like a muffler. It changes chemicals that are dangerous to your health, and to the local TX environment, into harmless carbon dioxide and water. Now it doesn’t require any maintenance itself. But eventually they wear out. If it has, you’ll probably find out when your car fails an emissions inspection.

Now the muffler. Its main job is to quiet engine noises. Mufflers work by either absorbing or baffling sound. And you can actually customize your car’s sound with different mufflers – which is pretty cool because you can change the look of your car, and the way it sounds.

Rusted or road-damaged mufflers can actually leak and they need to be replaced right away. The exhaust system is attached to the car by a series of hangers and clamps that hold the system in place. And when these hangers come loose or break then hot exhaust components can touch and melt wires, hoses and lines. Just think of the damage a hot curling iron can do – but worse. It’s not good to have that waving around.

And finally, we end at the tailpipe. Appropriate name. This is the final outlet for the exhaust. And one other component is the oxygen sensor. It monitors the oxygen content of the exhaust so the engine-control computer can adjust the fuel-to-air mix to keep the car running right.

We hope this hasn’t been too ‘exhausting’ of a discussion, but these things impact everything from life and death safety due to exhaust leaks, to just fine-tuning the sound of your ride. And talk with your service advisor at Lewis Complete Auto Repair if you feel you need any of these items inspected on your vehicle, because a quick look can sure save a lot of pain down the road.

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Your Well Trained Technician At Lewis Complete Auto RepairDecember 6, 2012

When your truck breaks down, or just needs some routine service, you might get a little nervous. Your car’s so important to your life in Garland, you need to back on the road as soon as possible – with the problem fixed right the first time.

If you’ve ever checked into some of the technician training Lewis Complete Auto Repair professionals receive, you may be surprised at how much knowledge and skill goes into diagnosing and repairing a modern car. Let me give you some perspective. Today there are four cylinder engines that make more power than the V-8’s in luxury cars twenty years ago. I mean a new V-6 Toyota Camry could beat Sonny Crocket’s Ferrari in a race to sixty.

Your Well Trained Technician At Lewis Complete Auto Repair

Our engines are more and more powerful and at the same time their fuel economy keeps inching up – even with steep Garland gas prices. And they’re so reliable. This is all due to engineering. But the advances come at the price of simplicity. The modern cars driving around Garland roads are so much more complex from a mechanical standpoint that it makes your head spin – not to mention the electronics.

Some cars have several networked computers controlling most of the engine functions and many other vehicle functions as well. Garland motorists take all of this sophistication for granted – but somebody has to fix it when it breaks. It’s a real challenge for Lewis Complete Auto Repair technicians to keep up, but we work hard to stay ahead of the technology. It requires a high level of commitment on the part of the technician and the Garland service center as well.

In addition to the training, there’s the financial commitment to purchase the diagnostic and repair tools. Lewis Complete Auto Repair technicians receive training through a combination of formal classroom training, training provided at Lewis Complete Auto Repair by parts and equipment manufacturers, on-line courses and home study courses.

There are many independent certifications available at Lewis Complete Auto Repair all the way up to Master Technician. The ability to repair your truck requires a strong combination of training and resources. No one can know everything, so Garland auto service centers subscribe to data services, technical libraries and even on-line communities that can help them when they run into a difficult problem.

It’s like those medical diagnosis shows on TV. Here are the symptoms – what’s the diagnosis and treatment? Diagnosis is every bit as much an art as a science. At Lewis Complete Auto Repair, we want everything to be simple, straightforward and cheap – but sometimes it just isn’t.

So try to be more relaxed next time you bring us your truck. You’re in good hands.

Lewis Complete Auto Repair Tire Safety: Washington vs. LincolnNovember 30, 2012

Welcome to the Lewis Complete Auto Repair blog. Today, let’s talk about the effect of tire tread depth on braking. When talking about stopping power, most of us Sachse drivers tend to focus on our brakes. But our tires are where the rubber meets the road. So having good brakes isn’t enough. Safe Sachse drivers need to have tires with enough traction to translate braking power into stopping power.

Lewis Complete Auto Repair Tire Safety Washington vs. LincolnLet’s focus on stopping in wet Sachse conditions. In order for a tire to have good contact with the road, it has to move the water out of the way. If it can’t move the water, the tire will actually ride on top of a thin film of water.

That’s called hydroplaning. If it’s really bad, Sachse drivers can actually spin out of control. At best, you won’t stop as fast.

So how does a tire move water? It has channels for water to flow through. Look at your truck tire and you’ll see channels: channels that run around the tire and channels that flow across the tire. They’re designed to direct water away from the tire so it can contact the road better.

And the deeper the channel, the more water it can move. A brand new Lewis Complete Auto Repair tire has very deep channels and can easily move a lot of water. As the tire wears down, the channels become shallower and can move less water. When it wears down enough, it can seriously affect your ability to stop your truck on wet Sachse roads.

So that’s why it’s so important to replace our truck tires when they get worn. Consumer Reports and other advocate groups call for a standard of 3/32 of an inch and they have the studies to prove it.

By comparison, you’ve probably seen the wear indicator that’s molded into tires. When tires are worn 3/32 of an inch, the tread wear bar is visible. So the recommended standard has twice the tread depth as a completely worn out truck tire.

At Lewis Complete Auto Repair, we want our customers to know that the deeper recommended tread depth makes a big difference. Stopping distances are cut dramatically on wet Sachse roads. A safe stop from TX freeway speeds with 4/32 of an inch of tread would result in a crash with worn out tires.

There’s an easy way to tell when a tire’s worn to 4/32 of an inch. Just insert a quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn’t cover George Washington’s hairline, it’s time to replace your truck tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.

Many Sachse car owners have heard of this technique using a penny and Abe Lincoln’s head. That measure gives you 2/32 of an inch – half the suggested amount. Of course, truck tires are a big ticket item. Most of us in Sachse want to get as many miles out of them as we can. But there’s a real safety trade-off. It’s your choice.