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

 

Beware of Cheap Tires in RowlettOctober 7, 2018

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Do you like to shop for shoes in Rowlett?
When buying a running shoe, is quality important?
Does durability matter as long as the shoes look fabulous?
Would you rather have one pair of long lasting shoes or two pairs of lower quality shoes at the same price?

Is the warranty important when buying tires?

Rowlett drivers should also think about the safety aspect of tires. The tires do a lot of work – they carry the weight of the vehicle and you and your passengers. You want to be sure they hold the road and provide good traction on TX freeways and surface streets. If you carry heavy loads or tow a trailer on TX highways, the tires need a high load rating.

Ask your friendly and knowledgeable Rowlett tire professional at Lewis Complete Auto Repair. I think it’s important that Rowlett residents understand the effect of price on a tire’s quality, performance and durability. When I was a kid, my dad would say, “Pay twice as much and buy half as many.”

The same principle applies to tires. The major tire brands that you’re familiar with in Rowlett are known as Tier 1 tires. These tires are high quality and well-engineered. Comparable vehicle Tier 1 tires are usually priced similarly.

Stepping down, you come to private label tires. Some large TX tire store chains carry tires with their own brand. It’s important to know that most private label tires are built by the same Tier 1 companies that you are familiar with – so you are pretty safe in choosing them. To be sure, you can ask your Lewis Complete Auto Repair tire professional which manufacturer makes their private brand.

The lowest priced tires on the market in Rowlett are Tier 3 tires which are usually imported from China or South America. Since you get what you pay for, you can’t expect a Tier 3 tire to deliver the same performance and durability as the others.

What’s the difference in the tires with high mileage warranties? It’s the rubber compounds and the amount of tread material. As you might expect, you’ll pay more for the longer-lasting tire.

Your tires are the only parts of your vehicle that touch the road. You’re only as safe as your tires are well built. Buy value – not price.

Give us a call.

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

 

Rowlett Car Owners Ask: Why Do I Need to Change My Serpentine Belt?September 30, 2018

Any Rowlett driver who understands preventive maintenance knows that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is bad auto advice. Replacing a part before it breaks is much less costly for Rowlett residents than repairing the engine damage that comes after a part breaks or fails. A good example of this is the serpentine belt.

The serpentine belt gets its name because of its circuitous path around the engine. The serpentine belt is driven by the engine and powers a number of systems, as follows:

1. The serpentine belt spins the compressor that generates the cool air for the air conditioning system.
2. The serpentine belt powers the alternator. The alternator generates electricity for use in the vehicle’s electrical systems and to charge the battery. Without the alternator, the battery wouldn’t last more than a few miles.
3. In many Rowlett residents’ vehicles, the serpentine belt runs the pumps for both the power steering and the power brakes. In other vehicles, the power steering pump may be electric and the power brakes may use a vacuum boost.
4. On many vehicles, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump keeps coolant circulating through to maintain appropriate operating temperatures. In some TX vehicles, a timing belt runs the water pump.

When a serpentine belt fails, all of these systems fail as well, which can lead to engine impact.

Replacing parts before they break saves money for Rowlett residents by preventing more repairs and the frustration of having your vehicle in the shop for an extended period of time. If you’re looking for an adage to apply to good car care, you might remember the old story of how “for want of a nail, the kingdom was lost.”

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