108 Weaver Dr.
Dickson's 1st Auto Repair Blog
|Posted on June 22, 2011 at 7:29 AM||comments (248)|
During the summer months, the temperature inside of a vehicle sitting in the sun can easily reach 130° or more. Keeping you and your passengers comfortable during the hottest weather is the job of your automobile's air conditioning system.
The air conditioning system works by removing the heat from air inside your vehicle and transferring that heat to the outside air. What is left when the heat and humidity have been removed is cooler, more comfortable air
In most of today's vehicles, a air intake filter is used to clean the air much like your home a/c unit. This filter needs to be replaced at the start of each season or approximately every 20,000 miles. This will prevent mildew build up in your evaporator and that stale odor you may have noticed.
For this system to work correctly and be ready for the hot weather, it needs to be free from leaks so that the refrigerant stays in the system. Although A/C systems are resistant to leaks and contamination, they are not leak-proof. Over time, contamination or leaks can appear and affect the cooling performance of your A/C system.
In fact, the most common cause of inadequate cooling is when the refrigerant leaks through worn seals and o-rings, loose fittings and connections. To make sure all the parts and components of your A/C system are working properly, we recommend having your A/C system checked at the beginning of the warm season.
Check with your local auto service center and schedule an appointment to have your system checked. Your drive time will be much more enjoyable.
|Posted on January 24, 2011 at 7:36 PM||comments (32)|
With today's advancement, many are searching for ways to extend the time between services to save on vehicle costs. This can be a dangerous and sometimes costly practice. No any when you perform an oil change as regular maintenance, you also inspect belts, hoses, filters and brakes. Also tires need a regular schedule for rotation to to ensure the maximum in life. Extending time between oil changes in theory seems like a great idea. But in fact it may cause harm in areas you do not even know your technician is looking.
Nothing in your engine workers harder than your oil. With hundreds of moving parts, and thousands of explosions every minute, it’s no wonder that engine oil needs to be changed frequently!
You’ve probably heard the old rule of thumb: Change your oil every 3,000 miles or 3 months, whichever comes first. But some car manufacturers have introduced extended oil change intervals. They figure that a modern vehicle driven under the right conditions can go for 5,000 miles or more between oil changes.
The key phrase here is “under the right conditions”. If you look at your owner’s manual, you’ll see two different maintenance schedules: one for “normal” driving conditions and one for “Severe Service”. Severe service driving conditions include stop and go, short trips, towing, hauling, hot, cold, and dusty driving. That’s why at we often refer you to the severe service schedule in your owners’ manual, because, for most of us, that’s the way we use our cars in everyday life.
Recently, four of the largest auto manufacturers in the world have extended engine warranty coverage for engine damage caused by oil sludge resulting from longer oil change intervals. They found that real-world conditions require more frequent oil changes than the 7,500mi interval they were recommending. They subsequently recommended more frequent oil change intervals and proof of timely oil changes in order to qualify for the extended warranty.
Oil sludge is the culprit. Sludge is oil that has turned to a thick, jelly-like consistency. Sludge can block passages in the engine, preventing oil from lubricating vital engine parts. Parts wear more quickly and may fail prematurely.
Sludge is caused by several factors. The first one is simply – time. The engine oil is contaminated by exhaust gas that eventually leads to sludge. That is where the recommendation to change your oil at least every three months comes from. Sludge can also come from oil that gets contaminated by water from normal condensation. A few minutes of driving at freeway speeds allows the oil to heat up enough for the water to evaporate. The problem is we often run errands or take other short trips that don’t allow the engine to warm up enough for the water to evaporate. This is especially true in winter. Sludge also forms when the engine gets too hot, causing the oil to breakdown. Stop and go summer driving, towing and hauling are all prime conditions for creating harmful sludge. And every engine has hot spots that create sludge.
Given all of these factors, estimating when to change your oil is pretty complicated.
A couple of manufacturers have computer programs built into their vehicles that record the number of cold starts, how many times the cylinders fire, engine temperature and other factors. From that, the computer estimates when you should change your oil and flashes a warning. But what if you do not have a vehicle with this feature? How do you know when to change your oil? We’re not sure you really can. Which is why it is better to be safe than sorry. 3,000 mi/5,000 km or three months – whichever comes first .
In short, There is no doubt that today's lubricants can and will hold up longer than ever before, but if your technician only sees your car every 6, 8 or 10,000 mile, there are a lot of things that may go unnoticed until its too late.
|Posted on January 20, 2011 at 10:37 PM||comments (32)|
It pays to beware of these 10 Most Wanted Car Killers, the corrosive agents of your car’s destruction from within. They tend to be stealthy killers, often escaping the notice of even the most careful car owners.
Thankfully there's a way to protect your car. Get to know your car’s 10 worst enemies. Then ask your service advisor about Scheduled Maintenance. There’s a quality service specifically designed to protect your car from each one of the 10 Most Wanted Car Killers.
Oxidation of engine oil produces harmful sludge that can reduce engine cooling, accelerate component wear and plug passages necessary for proper oil circulation and lubrication. Abrasive material then accumulates within the engine, which can destroy bearings and promote seal leakage. Likewise, oxidative by-products of fuel reduce the volumetric efficiency of fuel pumps and filters, and can result in costly fuel injector failure. Higher tailpipe emissions and poor fuel economy always follow in the footsteps of damaging fuel deposits.
Heavy carbon residues build up on fuel injectors, thus reducing their optimal efficiency. This leads to a poor fuel spray pattern, reduced injector cooling and flow, and inefficient combustion. If left unattended, this condition can rob an engine of power and will produce excess exhaust gas smoke, poor power and fuel economy and shortened injector life.
Rear differential ring and pinion gears can suffer scoring, fretting and pitting due to lack of lubrication and corrosion. Stress cracks may develop that serve to weaken the gear surface and promote further damage. Also, excessive gear and bearing noise may indicate that abrasive metallic wear is occurring within your gear set. Progressive gear wear within this unit will have a negative effect on seals, causing fluid leakage.
Gummy residues derived from residual fuel vapors have a tendency to accumulate within the air intake (plenum) over time. These deposits restrict air flow and disrupt combustion air swirl and dispersal. This all serves to decrease engine efficiency and fuel economy. Engine devices like MAF sensors, Idle Air Controllers and critical throttle plate clearances are also impeded by these gummy deposits.
Transmissions operate under widely adverse conditions and expose the transmission fluid to wide swings in temperature. As Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF) ages, it forms sludge, which reduces fluid circulation and transmission cooling. Abrasive metal particles generated from aged ATF will ruin seals and cause irreversible damage to internal transmission components. A customer may eventually experience erratic shifting, excessive vibration or noise, or even transmission failure.
High pressure power steering units require excellent lubricants to function properly. Damage to gears, seals, O-rings, bearings and bushings, and spool valves are dramatically increased by poor quality lubricants. Critical brass and other soft alloys rely on the proper balance of lubricant additives to ensure long power steering life and trouble-free operation.
Minerals found in tap water have the tendency of combining with the additives found in automotive coolant. When this happens, they form a chemical complex called “phosphate scale,” which coats the heat transfer surfaces of the radiator and heads, resulting in decreased heat-transfer efficiency. When this occurs, your car will overheat and run much hotter than it was designed to. This scale can also lead to the destruction of water pump bearings.
The gradual deterioration of brake fluid over time happens by exposure to heat, pressure, and moisture contamination. As the brake fluid additives deplete, the fluid breaks down at an increased rate, resulting in corrosion of brake parts, poor compressibility and eventual loss of brake function.
Mildew, mold and spores can inhabit your automotive climate control system. The presence of moisture in air conditioning ducts is common since the air leaving the air conditioner evaporator is saturated with it. Air conditioning used continuously during hot weather provides little time for ducts to dry out. High moisture in ducts can cake with dirt and provide an environment for mold to grow. This situation leads to serious indoor air contamination problems, resulting in symptoms of illness such as headaches, watery eno, nausea, skin disorders and fatigue.
Slower than normal cranking may be a sign that your battery is holding less than it’s optimal electric charge. Oxidation of the battery terminals and build-up of exterior dirt and corrosion accelerate the loss of current through the case of the battery, thus prematurely discharging it.
|Posted on January 13, 2011 at 7:53 PM||comments (543)|
The pains many automobile owners are feeling at their local service station isn't just at the pump -- prices for general maintenance is also increasing. Petroleum based products, such as oil and tires, are heading north with the price of gasoline. Demand for steel has also pushed up prices on various automotive parts. That means consumers are seeing larger bills from their auto repair specialists, even when their exhaust doesn't require three people to install. Instead, many are choosing to squeeze pennies and skimp on elaborate repairs in order to stay on the road. AAA says the average vehicle owner will spend $8,121 to operate their automobile. That is up nearly $300 from last year.
With prices trending upward, regular maintenance can become an area easy to postpone. This practice can become costly. A well maintained vehicle will operate more efficiently as well as last longer. With today's vehicles, it is not unusual to see mileage in excess of 300,000 miles. Just think, no car payment. Isn't that nice. In the United States, the average down payment for a car is $2,400, the average amount financed is $24,864 and the average monthly payment is $479, according to Edmunds.com. The most popular loan term is now a payment-stretching six years.
Annual mileage is going to be different for everyone. Granny may only put 3,000 miles a year on her Buick driving to and from church, but a traveling businessperson could easily rack up 30,000 miles in a year.U.S. Census data lists passenger cars as traveling an average of 12,500 miles per year. Trucks, SUVs and vans come in at an average of 11,000 miles per year. These numbers are the most current ones from the government, but in recent headlines we’ve read reports of Americans driving less because of high gas prices and generation shifts.
Using this data, keeping your vehicle maintained properly, can save you a bundle over the life of your car. Again just imagine, no car payment. What a thought. So why not spend $100 a month on service instead of $479 for a payment. I enjoy investing my money for myself, not for the loan officer.
|Posted on December 6, 2010 at 9:54 PM||comments (22)|
Poor fuel economy can be caused by a multitude of problems. Driving habits and enviroments play a significant role in fuel economy. Prior to diagnosing this symptom, you should drive for at least two full tanks of gas to ensure there is a problem rather than an intermittent condition, such as mountainous driving. Poor fuel economy is usually the result of lack of routine maintenance.
You should start your diagnosis by determining what service has been performed on the vehicle. Routine spark plug replacement is necessary to maintain good fuel economy. Spark plugs provide the ignition source to initiate the combustion process to burn the fuel. If the spark plugs are worn they will not provide a good ignition source for the fuel and can degrade the fuel economy. Dirty or improperly maintained fuel system will also degrade mileage. There are many additives sold for routine cleaning of fuel systems. While these are beneficial, these are not capable of complete system cleaning. This must be done by a professional with proper equipment. The air filter filters the air that enters the engine. It is designed to remove the harmful dust and debris that would otherwise enter the engine. An air filter that is only partially plugged can restrict the air entering the engine and reduce the fuel economy. Inspect the air filter and replace it even it is only moderately dirty. A new filter can go a long way in improving fuel economy. Do not attempt to blow out the filter with compressed air. New filters rely on small fibers to "grab" the incoming dirt particles. Blowing out the filter will remove these fibers and reduce the filters effectiveness. Tire inflation should be checked. Low tire pressure can reduce fuel economy drastically. Tires provide the necessary traction to prevent the vehicle from skidding and sliding. At the same time, tires provide a low rolling resistance so that the engine can easily propel the vehicle. If the tires are low, the rolling resistance is increased and will require the engine to consume more fuel to generate the same amount of power. You should ensure the tires are inflated evenly and to the proper pressure. Proper ignition timing is critical to maintain good fuel economy. Most newer vehicles have computer controlled ignition timing. On these systems, the timing is not adjustable. On vehicles that have adjustable ignition timing the timing should be checked. You should consult the under hood emission control label for instructions on ignition timing adjustments. Engine oil can also affect your vehicles fuel economy. You should ensure you are using a multi-viscosity oil as recommended by your vehicles manufacturer.
With today's fuels, good maintenance practices are a must. With the introduction of Ethanol fuel mileage suffers quickly. Attached is a short clip of an example service to help keep your mileage at its peak. For more information, gives us a call and we will be glad to help.
|Posted on December 2, 2010 at 6:17 PM||comments (121)|
Cold weather is nearing. If you own a car, truck, or tractor, it*s time to check the freeze level of the coolant in the radiator and cooling system or replace with new coolant mixture if the mixture has not been changed according to your maintenance schedule.
Most of the antifreeze products on the market currently are ethylene glycol base material with additives to prevent corrosion, lubricate seals and water pumps and aid in heat transfer to the coolant from the metal of the engine. Antifreeze should be mixed with distilled water (tap water contains high amounts of minerals such as calcium and iron that can precipitate and coat internal parts) at the ratio of one part antifreeze to one part water. This gives freeze protection down to minus 34 degrees and boil-over protection up to +265 degrees. Never use pure antifreeze in a cooling system without using at least 30 percent water in the mixture. Most antifreeze products sold for the past several years have been the traditional "green" coolant. This type is good for two to three years and up to 30,000 miles. The green antifreeze contains silicates, phosphates and / or borates as corrosion inhibitors to keep the solution alkaline. As long as the solution remains alkaline, corrosion is controlled and the system is protected. Over time, the corrosion inhibitors will be depleted and the corrosion protection is lost. It is for this reason that green antifreeze should be changed every two years or so. Aluminum is especially vulnerable to corrosion and many vehicles have heads, radiators and other aluminum components in the cooling system.
An alternative to tradition green antifreeze is. "Orange" antifreeze. An extended life antifreeze is used to increase the life of engine coolant. It is ethylene glycol base as is the green antifreeze. The difference between the two colors is that orange antifreeze contains a different type of corrosion inhibitor that has a much longer service life than silicates, phosphates and borates. Orange antifreeze contains organic acids that protect engine parts from corrosion. Silicate (green) type antifreeze does not mix with orange type antifreeze. Never mix the two colors in a cooling system. The organic acids in orange types will cause precipitation of silicates in the green type and corrosion protection is greatly reduced. Orange type antifreezes are good for up to five years or 100,000 miles in newer vehicles. They can be used in many older vehicles if all of the green mixture is flushed from the system and is replaced with the orange mixture. Useful life is about four years or 60,000 miles in older cars.
Toyota uses a red antifreeze and should not be confused with the orange type long life antifreezes. It is basically the green type of antifreeze that contains red dye to give it the red color. If you have doubts about switching from the red or green type of antifreeze to the new orange extended life antifreezes, call us and ask about compatibility with your engine parts and cooling system.
The freeze protection level of a coolant mix has little to do with the corrosion protection of the coolant mix. The freeze level of the mixture may test to a satisfactory level, but corrosion protection may have degraded. Change your coolant mix on a schedule based on the color of the antifreeze you are using. Severe corrosion to engine and cooling system components can occur with resulting expensive repairs
|Posted on December 1, 2010 at 7:24 PM||comments (253)|
Did you know that each month 3 out of 4 drivers wash their car but, only 1 out of 7 check their tire pressure. That is only 15% of all drivers.
Proper tire maintenance is an important safety function often neglected. The importance of properly maintaining your tires cannot be overemphasized. Remember, tires are the only contact between your vehicle and the road.
Under inflation is the leading cause of tire failure. Using the interactive tire pressure demo you can easily see how a tire can be as much as 50% under inflated before it is visibly noticeable. Not only are under inflated tires more prone to damage and failure, but they can lead to higher fuel costs by as much as 3 to 5¢ per gallon.
|Posted on November 30, 2010 at 5:59 PM||comments (220)|
It is very important you get your brakes inspected and fixed when something goes wrong. You can avoid getting scammed by taking your car to a reliable auto repair center for a quality brake inspection or brake repair. A car's brake system is complex, so it needs proper care and maintenance.
If you suspect that there may be a problem with your brake system, you should get it checked out soon. The experts say that brakes should be checked every 6 months. If your brakes are making loud noises, squeaking, grinding, going down too low, or not functioning correctly, you need to get it checked out. If you need to put a lot of pressure to make the brakes work, you probably need to fix them. If you ignore these symptoms you can hurt yourself or someone else, so be careful. Keep in mind that brake pads also need to be replaced after a while. If you do not replace your pads when they wear out, you will damage your rotors.
If you are experiencing a problem, it may mean that you are low on brake fluid. If your brake fluid level is low, top if off as soon as possible or tell your brake repair mechanic to do it for you.
When you take your car to an auto repair center or brake repair mechanic, make sure he also checks your brake fluid. If you are low on brake fluid, you may experience problems.
You will save money and prevent a lot of serious damage by inspecting your brake system twice a year and fixing problems when they arise. Bear in mind that most mechanics complete brake repairs on the same day.
Your brake system is one of the most important parts of your car, so make sure they are in good working order. If you fix your brake problems, you will feel good knowing that you and your family are safe on the road. The truth is that when you drive, the brakes bring your car to a complete stop. If you drive with defective brakes, you may encounter a serious problem or situation.
Oil or grease on the brakes can cause brake failure because it interferes with friction. Also, when the brakes overheat to a high degree, the metal develops spots. These spots resist friction from the brake pads, which leads to a loss of brake power.
To that end, if you have a brake problem, weak brakes, loud brakes, or a mushy pedal, take your car to a good mechanic. A good mechanic will diagnose the problem and fix it for you. Make sure you get your brakes inspected by a certified mechanic. An experienced mechanic has kept up with schooling and keeps up with the newest technologies in the automotive industry. Furthermore, a great mechanic or reliable auto service center usually offers a warranty on their work, so take your time when you are shopping around for a technician.
Feel free to give us a call at anytime with any questions you may have ar 615-446-8959. We will be glad to help.
|Posted on November 29, 2010 at 11:22 PM||comments (17)|
f you were to ask your car where it would want to live, and it just so happened to be a talking car, it would most likely say "Southern California." "It's warm there, the roads are fairly decent, and I might get to see a movie star," it would say. If you were to ask it where it wouldn't want to live, it would reply "Detroit." Or in a broader sense, it wouldn't want to live where it's cold, snowy, and just generally yucky.
Wintertime is very unfriendly to a vehicle. Cold temperatures make it harder for an engine to work properly. Snow and ice limit traction. Potholes damage wheels and tires. Salt causes rust and gravel pits the paint. But there are things you can do to help your vehicle in this time of duress. Following are some easy steps to "winterize" your car. In fact, they are so easy, a talking car could figure them out! Remember, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
1.Consider using snow tires. The condition of your car's tires is critical during the winter. If the tires are worn, or they are high performance tires, braking, acceleration and handling are all negatively impacted while driving on slippery roads. Because of reduced vehicle capabilities, the likelihood of a crash increases.
The tires mounted on this beat-up Ford we spotted were a joke. If you have the cash, consider buying a set of winter tires. Winter tires are optimized for snow and ice. They aren't magic tires -- even with winter tires, your car will still be worse on slick roads than dry ones. But winter tires do help to improve traction on slick surfaces more than all-season tires.
2.Check the tire pressure. Tire pressure is especially important during the winter. Traction is often at a minimum due to wet or snowy conditions. It is critical to have properly inflated tires, as this guarantees the best possible contact between the tire and the road. A properly inflated tire will also help protect against wheel damage that might occur as the vehicle is driven over potholes. Read your owner's manual to find the correct tire pressures.
Because of wintertime's lower temperatures, the air pressure in a cold tire will drop. Why? Because air is a gas, and gas contracts when it cools. Keep this in mind if you are checking tire pressures. Generally, for every 10-degree Fahrenheit change in ambient temperature, your tire's inflation pressure will change by about 1 psi (up with higher temperatures and down with lower temperatures).
3.Make sure your vehicle's four-wheel-drive system is working properly. A big selling point for SUVs is that they offer 4WD, which improves traction in slippery conditions. But most people don't use their 4WD systems during the summer. And while a four-wheel-drive system requires minimal maintenance, it's still a good idea to check that it works properly before the onset of winter.
Make sure the system engages and disengages smoothly, and that there are no strange noises emanating from the drivetrain when the system is in use. Check to make that the transmission and gear oil levels are correct.
If there are multiple drivers for your SUV, make sure each of them knows how to operate the 4WD system. The owner's manual will state at what speeds and environments the 4WD can be activated.
4.Change the engine oil and adjust the viscosity grade. This isn't nearly as hard as it sounds. Viscosity simply refers to how thick or thin the oil is. Tar has a higher viscosity than orange juice, for example. Engine oils are sold with different levels of viscosity. When winter arrives, the outside temperature drops. And just like you, the oil inside your vehicle's engine isn't feeling too perky after sitting in the cold all night. The colder an oil is, the thicker it will be. A thicker oil doesn't circulate as well in an engine during start-up as a thinner oil would. If the oil is too thick, the engine doesn't get the proper lubrication. Also, dirty oil doesn't circulate as well as clean oil.
To solve this wintertime problem, you can change your vehicle's engine oil to one that is thinner to begin with. Even when the thinner oil is cold, it is still not too thick for proper engine lubrication. Keep in mind that an engine oil can be too thin.
Determining what type of oil your car should have during the winter is easy. Simply read your vehicle's owner's manual. The manual will list the manufacturer's oil recommendations for different climates. If you have a dealership or local garage perform the oil change, you can ask the manager what type and viscosity of oil they are putting into your vehicle. Pretty much all modern cars have recommended oil grades of 5W-30, 10W-30 or 10W-40. For more information on what these numbers mean, check out www.engineoilinfo.com.
5.Inspect the belts and hoses. The belts and hoses in modern cars lead long lives. But that doesn't mean they don't die. Cold temperatures can accelerate the demise of a belt or hose. Before winter starts, have the belts and hoses inspected on your vehicle.
6.Inspect the wipers and wiper fluid. Visibility is particularly key in winter, as it is often compromised by precipitation, salt buildup on the windshield and reduced daylight. The life expectancy of a wiper blade is one year. If your car's blades are older, replace them.
Also check and fill your wiper fluid reservoir. A harsh winter storm is the worst possible time to run out of wiper fluid or to discover your blades aren't performing properly.
7.Check the battery. A battery gives little notice before it kicks off. And it absolutely loves to croak when you can least afford it doing so. Very cold temperatures can reduce a vehicle's battery power by up to 50 percent. If your vehicle battery is older than three years, have it tested at a certified automotive repair facility. Also, make sure the posts and connections are free of corrosion.
8.Check antifreeze mixture. The ideal mixture of antifreeze (coolant) and water inside your vehicle's radiator is 50:50. If the mixture deviates from this norm, then hot- and cold-weather performance can be compromised.
If you were to put pure water in your vehicle's radiator, it would freeze at 32 degrees Fahrenheit. But if you combine the water with an equal amount of antifreeze, the new mixture won't freeze until -34 degrees Fahrenheit!
You can check the composition of a radiator's mixture by using an antifreeze tester. You can find these at all auto parts stores, and they are inexpensive and easy to use. If the mixture is off, adjust it by adding either coolant or water.
9.Carry an emergency kit inside the car. Wintertime requires you to load more junk into the back of your vehicle. But hey, better safe than sorry, right? Things you might want to consider carrying: