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Archive for the ‘Midtown Auto Service Blogs’ Category

Houston Auto – Car Maintenance T.V. Interview Channel 11 – Winterizing Your Car – Midtown Auto Service & Repair Houston 2011

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

How to prepare a car for winter

Your car has a lot to endure during winter – cold weather, slippery roads, salt and sand on the streets. Any hidden problems your car may have will get worse during cold winter. An old battery, engine oil that hasn’t been changed for awhile, worn out spark plugs, a bad thermostat are the types of things that could cause a problem on cold mornings. Winter driving is very demanding and bad tires or worn out wipers can compromise your safety. Here are few tips how to prepare your car for winter:

• Pre-winter maintenance
• Consider winter tires
• Check tire pressure
• Battery
• Wipers
• Protecting your car’s body
• Lubricate door locks
• How to prevent door seals from freezing
• Other thing to know
• Winter Road Kit
• Adjust your driving habits
Pre-winter maintenance

A number of things in your car need to be checked out before winter: the condition of the battery, battery terminals, the engine cooling system, the condition of the engine antifreeze, all the belts, brakes, the tires, the windshield wipers, lights, the spare tire, etc. All the fluids need to be checked and topped up or changed if needed. Check you owner’s manual for more specific information.
Any problems with your car need to be taken care of before the winter because the cold temperatures will make almost any problem worse.
It’s a good idea to change the engine oil before winter – the fresh oil will make the engine to start easier during cold weather. Check your owner’s manual – some cars may require winter grade oil during cold season.
Take your vehicle to your mechanic or a local dealer for an oil change and have the car inspected. Visiting one of the quick lube places will not be enough, since things like brakes, steering and suspension can only be inspected when the car is lifted on the hoist.
Have your mechanic check the freezing point and condition of the engine coolant.
Any problems with the cooling system need to be addressed before winter. You don’t want to be without heat in the winter, and a simple problem such as a bad thermostat or even a small leak will result in a long warm-up time and little heat from the heater on the highway.
Winter tires

Consider installing good-quality winter tires. Winter tires are specifically designed to improve traction on snow-covered or icy roads. Many dealerships will store your off-season tires if you purchase tires with them. There may be a small fee, but it’s worth it for the convenience.
If you have alloy wheels, especially those with wide performance tires, consider purchasing winter tires pre-installed on steel rims instead of changing tires only – it’s easy to damage alloy rims during winter and they are usually not repairable. There is less labour involved in changing tires that are already installed on the rims, so the charge is usually less. Winter tires need to be installed on all four wheels. Don’t skimp on safety.
While winter tires have better traction on winter roads than all-season tires, they are not foolproof; drive carefully in winter conditions. Winter tires wear faster on dry roads in warm weather; don’t forget to remove them when the winter season is over.
Tire pressure

Check tire pressure regularly during winter – proper pressure is important to maintain better traction. You can find recommended tire pressure in the owner’s manual or on the tire pressure placard.

Unfortunately, there is no way to tell when the battery will decide to quit – sometimes it happens unexpectedly with no prior signs. However, if you feel that cranking speed is slower than before, the battery is probably close to its end. Have your battery tested by your mechanic, especially if it is more than 2-3 years old. A dead battery is one of the most common causes for a no-start during winter. Make sure the battery terminals are tight and not corroded. Corroded terminals will cause troubles.
Wipers, windshield washer fluid

Windshield wipers are very critical to winter driving; consider installing winter wipers.
Make sure you replace summer washer fluid with special winter windshield washer fluid that won’t freeze.
If the washer jets don’t spray properly, clean and adjust them. Good visibility is important – don’t forget to clean your windshield and other windows from inside as well.
Protecting car body

Winter is harsh on your car’s body: moisture, sand and road salt damage the exterior paint and speed up the corrosion process. If road salt is common on the roads in your area during the winter, consider rust proofing your vehicle.
It’s good idea to wax your car before winter – wax will help to preserve the paint. Check our How to wax a car tips.
Scratches and stone chips will more likely be corroded after winter, so touch up or repair any damages to your car’s paint before winter.

Remove the leaves and other debris accumulated during the fall under the cowl panel below the windshield and in other areas. The leaves block water drains and collect moisture. This will cause corrosion and extra humidity inside the car, as the air intake for the cabin heater is usually located under the cowl panel.

Wash your car more often during winter. Moisture, salt and dirt get accumulated inside the wheel wells, under the doors and other areas, which can cause corrosion. I like washing my car at a self-service coin car wash with the high-pressure gun, as it washes off the dirt and salt from hard to reach areas and from underneath the car.

Check our Car body care page for more tips.
Lubricate door locks

Lubricate the door and trunk locks, as well as the hood locking mechanism so they won’t freeze. It’s also a good idea to lubricate hinges of the hood, doors and the trunk.
Clean and lubricate the door rails if your vehicle has sliding doors.
How to prevent door seals from freezing

To prevent rubber door seals from sticking in freezing weather lubricate them with special lubricant for rubber door seals. Usually it’s called ‘weatherstrip lubricant’. I use the spray from Würth called “Rubber Care”.
Other things to know

– Synthetic oil will help your car to start easier in extreme cold.
– If your “Check engine” light is on, have the problem checked and fixed – it will only get worse in the winter.
– If major a tune up is due soon based on the maintenance schedule, it’s better to do it before winter – worn out spark plugs or bad ignition cables are more likely to cause problems with starting in cold weather.
– Vehicles with a diesel engine need special attention – a simple thing like dirty fuel filter or bad heater plug could cause a lot of troubles on a cold day.
– Consider buying winter floor mats – they will help to keep the water from leaking under the car’s carpet, which could cause corrosion to the wiring and electronic components. Modern cars have a lot of electronics under the carpet.
Winter kit

Winter weather is unpredictable and you need to be prepared for any situation. Here are the recommended items you should keep in your car: basic tool kit, an ice scraper, a shovel, sand or kitty litter, tow cable or chain, traction mats, road flares or warning light, an emergency sign, a flashlight, booster cables, a fire extinguisher, extra windshield washer fluid, fuel line antifreeze, first aid kit, a charged cell phone, an emergency food pack, a bottle of water, warm clothing and footwear for each passenger, a warm blanket for each passenger, matches in a waterproof container, a reflective vest.
I take my winter kit with me whenever I have to travel by car during winter and a couple of times I already had to use some of the items.
Adjust your driving

Winter road conditions are unpredictable and you need to adjust your driving habits. Don’t forget that if you have a 4WD vehicle, it accelerates and handles better in slippery conditions but its braking ability is pretty much the same as of any other vehicle. If you have options like ABS, Traction Control or Stability control and you haven’t used them yet, take some time to study your owner’s manual, as there are some specifics in handling a car equipped with these options.
I’d also recommend to check more winter driving tips that you can find at your Automobile Association or Transport Safety Authority websites.
By Vlad Samarin

Midtown Auto Service – Car Care Repair / Service – Houston Pothole TV Interview

Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010


While a bumpy road may be a minor nuisance to car drivers, a road littered with potholes can cause expensive car care auto repair / service costs to your car and even result in a car accident. Potholes are bowl-shaped openings in the road that can be up to 10 inches deep and are caused by wear-and-tear and weathering of the roads. They occur when the top layer of the road, the asphalt, has worn away and exposed the concrete base. Once a pothole forms, it can grow to several feet, with rain water accelerating the process.

We experience too many of these conditions just by driving our cars. Now, imagine that it is late at night, and there are no warning signs or overhead lighting. The speed limit is 40 miles-per-hour and, just before two cars meet, one car goes over a pothole, loses control and spins out directly in front of the other car driver and causes an auto accident.

Top-10 Worst U.S. Urban-Area Roadways For Potholes

San Jose
Los Angeles
Bay Area
Kansas City
New Orleans
San Diego
St. Louis
New York City

With five major cities in the top seven, California residents will need to know about the dangers of potholes.
Potholes put a huge strain on your car’s suspension and shocks (which absorb most of the impact of bumps and potholes). It can cause expensive damage to your car and cause you to make an unexpected appointment with the auto mechanic. They can also cause an impact similar to that of a 35-mph car accident, if deep enough.

Sometimes, when a pothole is so severe, or your car is not equipped to handle the blow, it will cause you to lose control of your car. This leads to car accidents that, many times, have caused wrongful deaths. Motorcycle drivers are at special risk of injury if they ride over a pothole. Having just two wheels on the ground and a lower weight than cars, motorcycles are ill-equipped to handle potholes. Coupled with fewer safety features, motorcycle accidents caused by potholes are very deadly. Cars and truck are also at risk, as well, to get into an auto accident after running over a pothole.
Some Helpful Hints For Reporting Potholes To State Highway Authority
Give the exact location of the pothole.
Be prepared to describe it (length, width, depth).
Try to remember if you saw or heard rain water in the hole.
Ask if the hole in a bus route or on trolley or railway tracks.
It is always important to remember that, when dealing with potholes, you will have to expect the unexpected. Since a dangerous situation can arise out of nowhere, it is important to make sure that you are not speeding and are making safe decisions; otherwise, hitting a pothole could cause a car accident. Careful drivers have the best chances of avoiding car accidents. A careful driver will also be more likely to avoid an auto accident after hitting a pothole.

Auto Car Care Repair Service Interview-Febuary 2010, Channel 11-Houston,TX

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

How Auto Car Repair / Service / Care Insurance Works in Houston
Similar to car auto insurance, an auto repair / service / care insurance in Houston policy is a contract between a vehicle owner and the car insurance company, which binds the company to pay for all repairs done on the vehicle for a fixed length of time.
Coverage varies widely from company to company and few states in the U.S. regulate auto insurance coverage. So it’s important to become familiar with auto repair insurance terms and industry requirements, while also understanding how auto repair insurance is regulated in your state.

What It Covers
A standard auto repair insurance policy typically covers the breakdown and the wear and tear of your car, although the two are not always mutually inclusive. Some companies may only offer breakdown coverage, which means they are only liable to pay for repairs necessitated by breakable parts. If you want a wear and tear policy as well, which covers parts that wear out over time, you may need to purchase that from a separate company or shop around for a car insurance company that offers both.

There are also auto repair insurance policies that cover the engine, transmission, and other parts of a vehicle through which oil flows. However, this would be least preferable in terms of coverage, since it does not include a majority of a vehicle’s components.

Bumper-to-bumper policies are also available from some car insurance companies, which cover nearly all the mechanical systems of a vehicle (from bumper to bumper). If there are any exclusions, the policy will list the parts that are not covered. For instance, policies do not cover parts like brake pads and windshield wipers. Likewise, most policies do not cover overheating resulting from a faulty radiator.

Before you buy your auto repair insurance, make sure you know exactly what is covered, as well as how much you will be paying by way of deductibles. Even if the manufacturer’s warranty has lapsed, you can still receive coverage on vehicles that have done less than 100,000 miles. But keep in mind that as your vehicle clocks up the miles, the cost of a policy will increase, as will repair costs.

A perk you’ll want to know about: if you buy a transferable policy, you can actually leverage it to increase your car’s resale value.

While most people are very aware of the benefits of having auto insurance, few understand how auto repair insurance can protect you from unexpected repair bills. Now you have a better understanding of how it works so you can make an informed decision on whether this type of insurance is right for you.

Winterize Your Automobile / Car – Midtown Auto Service – Houston Texas

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

Ten Steps in Winterizing Your Automobile / Car:

Car Care Houston
Car Service Houston
Automobile Car Care Houston
Automobile Car Service Houston

By Laura T. Coffey

1. Get the right kind of oil change. Are you approaching the time for a 30,000-mile full service for your vehicle? If so, don’t procrastinate! Among other things, the service should include an oil change, and the oil used should have the right viscosity, or thickness, for your vehicle at this time of year. Oil tends to thicken as it gets colder, and if it’s too thick it won’t do the best job of keeping your engine lubricated. Check your owner’s manual for guidance about which oil to use in different climates and temperatures.

2. Make sure you can see. When’s the last time you replaced your windshield wiper blades? They usually work effectively for about one year, so be sure to invest in some new ones if you’re due. Here’s another important step to take before you find yourself struggling to see in a blinding storm: Fill up your windshield washer reservoir with windshield washer fluid. (Plain water won’t do the trick at this time of year because it freezes.) Also check to see that your heater and defroster are working properly so you can keep the windshield nice and clear.

3. Give your battery a little TLC. This is an ideal time of year to make sure your battery’s posts and connections are corrosion-free and that your battery has all the water it needs. If your battery is more than three years old, have a certified repair shop test its ability to hold a charge. Granted, you might be able to find a Good Samaritan to help you jump-start your vehicle in the middle of a blizzard — but wouldn’t you rather avoid such a scenario altogether?

4. Examine your belts and hoses. When you have that full service done on your vehicle, make sure the belts and hoses get checked for wear and tear — even if you’re driving a modern car. Cold weather can do a number on belts and hoses, so they deserve attention.

5. Check your tire pressure. Your tires must be properly inflated to ensure you’ll have the best possible traction as you drive along — and traction is often severely jeopardized in wet, snowy or icy conditions. The air pressure in your tires has likely dropped as the weather has gotten colder, so it’s important to see where things stand now. (You can generally expect that you’ll lose 1 pound per square inch whenever the temperature drops by 10 degrees Fahrenheit.) Again, your trusty owner’s manual will tell you what your target tire pressure should be.

6. Think about switching to snow tires. Do you live in a hilly place that gets its fair share of snow? Then you might want to improve traction even more by investing in winter tires and using them over the next few months instead of your usual all-season tires. When shopping around for snow tires, ask about all the fees that might come into play, such as fees for mounting and balancing. You can accomplish this easily and make accurate cost comparisons by asking each store for the “out the door charge.”

7. Do you have four-wheel drive? If so, it’s important to check the status of your four-wheel-drive system and be sure it’s working correctly — especially because most drivers don’t use their 4WD systems in the pleasant summer months. Be sure that the system engages and disengages easily, and that all drivers in your household know how and when to activate the system.

8. Get the antifreeze mixture just right. Aim for having a 50-50 mix of antifreeze (coolant) and water inside your radiator. This will prevent the mixture from freezing even at ridiculously cold temperatures. It’s easy to check the status of the mixture with an inexpensive antifreeze tester, which you can pick up at any auto parts store. If the mixture is off, your cooling system should be drained and refilled or flushed. Be sure you’re equipped to dispose of your old antifreeze properly if you do this job yourself. It can’t just be poured down the drain.

9. Prepare an emergency kit. Store this stuff in your trunk during the winter months, especially if a road trip is in your future:

a blanket
extra boots and gloves
an extra set of warm clothes
extra water and food, including hard candies
an ice scraper
a small shovel
a flashlight
windshield washer fluid
windshield wipers
jumper cables
a tool kit
tire chains
a tire gauge
a spare tire with air in it
tire-changing equipment
a first-aid kit
paper towels
a bag of abrasive material such as sand, salt or non-clumping kitty litter, which can provide additional traction if a tire gets stuck in snow.
Also, keep the gas tank as full as you can to prevent the gas lines from freezing.
10. Know what to do if you get stranded. Don’t wander away from your car unless you’re completely sure about where you are and how far away help is. Light two flares and situate them at each end of your vehicle to call attention to your plight. Put on the extra clothes and use the blanket to stay warm. If you have enough gas in the tank, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes for each hour you’re waiting for help. Leave at least one window open a little bit so that snow and ice don’t seal the car shut. Suck on a hard candy to prevent your mouth from getting too dry.

Auto Car Care Repair Maintenance-PART II: Channel 11 KHOU TV-AAA APPROVED AUTO REPAIR HOUSTON FACILITY Auto-Car Talk With ASE Master Auto Technicians September, 16 2009

Monday, October 5th, 2009

Keep Your Auto Car Engine Properly Tuned
Fixing a car that is noticeably out of tune or has failed an emissions test can improve its gas mileage by an average of 4 percent, though results vary based on the kind of repair and how well it is done.
Fixing a serious maintenance problem, such as a faulty oxygen sensor, can improve your mileage by as much as 40 percent.
Fuel Economy Benefit: 4%
Equivalent Gasoline Savings: $0.10/gallon

Keep Tires Properly Inflated

You can improve your gas mileage by around 3.3 percent by keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure. Under-inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.3 percent for every 1 psi drop in pressure of all four tires. Properly inflated tires are safer and last longer.

The proper tire pressure for your vehicle is usually found on a sticker in the driver’s side door jamb or the glove box and in your owner’s manual. Do not use the maximum pressure printed on the tire’s sidewall.

Fuel Economy Benefit: up to 3%
Equivalent Gasoline Savings: up to $0.08/gallon

Use the Recommended Grade of Motor Oil

You can improve your gas mileage by 1-2 percent by using the manufacturer’s recommended grade of motor oil. For example, using 10W-30 motor oil in an engine designed to use 5W-30 can lower your gas mileage by 1-2 percent. Using 5W-30 in an engine designed for 5W-20 can lower your gas mileage by 1-1.5 percent. Also, look for motor oil that says “Energy Conserving” on the API performance symbol to be sure it contains friction-reducing additives.

Fuel Economy Benefit: 1-2%
Equivalent Gasoline Savings: $0.03-$0.05/gallon

Replacing a Clogged Air Filter on Modern Cars Improves Performance but Not MPG
A new study shows that replacing a clogged air filter on cars with fuel-injected, computer-controlled gasoline engines does not improve fuel economy but it can improve acceleration time by around 6 to 11 percent. This kind of engine is prevalent on most gasoline cars manufactured from the early 1980s onward.
Tests suggest that replacing a clogged air filter on an older car with a carbureted engine may improve fuel economy 2 to 6 percent under normal replacement conditions or up to 14 percent if the filter is so clogged that it significantly affects drivability.
The effect of a clogged air filter on diesel vehicles will be tested in the near future.

Note: Cost savings are based on an assumed fuel price of $2.58/gallon.

Some leading maintenance companies keep this car maintenance interval program to themselves; now it’s revealed for you. This breakthrough method will couch you on how to keep a diligent maintenance interval schedule that can save you maintenance costs.

Preventive car maintenance interval program is an important solution to your vehicle maintenance problems. If you use the car maintenance interval scheduling, you can track your vehicle expenses and at the same time monitor the vehicle performance. To begin a car maintenance interval program, start by setting up your vehicle maintenance reminder parameters where you can record the vehicle fuel economy and performance. This can also include monitoring the dash gauges of every vehicles and equipment you want to maintain. A periodic check up can be set so the various vehicle maintenance functions can be monitored. As an example, you can include any warranty appointments that maybe needed by the vehicle dealerships. This can give you a guideline when to bring the vehicle to an authorized dealer for routine check ups which can ultimately help your over all maintenance cost.
It is worthwhile to mention that when car maintenance interval program is applied, there can be longer oil and filter changes when optimum gas is used, including keeping the tires longer, fixing break downs when they occur, replacing shock absorbers which can be used only when maintenance is needed. If you like, use also the synthetic oil as soon as the 3rd or 4th oil change is done. Parts like distributor cap, rotor, air filter, plug wires must be watched closer and only replaced when needed. For reference, you can use 24,000 miles for distributor cap and rotor for replacement schedule and 12,000 miles for air filters. For vehicle fluids such as your transmission, monitor it by checking the color of the trany fluid.
Car maintenance interval program should include changing the engine oil to performing engine tune ups including having the ability to set the desired schedule recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. When a maintenance work is done, it can be recorded and filed or archived as a vehicle maintenance history. This way, it can be access later and monitor what was done to a vehicle such as PM, repairs, parts and labor to determine over all operating cost. This will help calculate future vehicle problems to avoid repeating the same repairs which can be expensive. As a general rule, always follow the vehicle manufacture maintenance schedule recommendation.
When used successfully, car maintenance interval program can help you avoid major expensive engine repairs by doing routine maintenance jobs such as changing timing belts and oxygen sensors. Other parts required can be found by using the recommended parts suggested by the vehicle manufacturer. This is your insurance so you can get maximum amount of performance, reliability and extended service life from your vehicles. Including in this practice is the cleaning of the fuel injectors which is often over looked. When not done, it could plugged up the injectors and result in poor mileage and performance. Also, if the intake side of the engines are not regularly cleaned, it can lead to build up of dirt to collect in the throttle bodies which can fail later on. This will result to poor engine responsiveness and bad fuel consumption.
Still, some car maintenance interval program can warn you if the check engine light in the dash occurs. It can even recommend what parts to be used to hasten the fixing of the vehicle and prevent down time.
Click back to Car Maintenance

Discover the basic auto maintenance program for your vehicle and save in maintenance costs.

When evaluating that the cost of vehicle neglect, usually the cost is in the hundreds or thousands of dollars when you take them to a mechanic that is why it is important that we should know the basic auto maintenance. When doing this maintenance, start by using the vehicle maintenance owner’s manual to determine the best maintenance schedule for the vehicle you have. If the manual is not available, you can buy the electronic version usually found in the internet for reasonable fee.
Some important highlights of basic auto maintenance are:
Performing regular maintenance check ups will help prolong the life of your vehicle tires, parts, brakes and other vehicle components. When servicing the brakes, always ensure to gather the old brake parts for recycling. The brake fluids does not need to be replaced unless there is a presence of brake fluid contamination or if a brake leak is detected. On most newer brake system, a sensor is used to monitor the brake fluid level or determine if the brakes needs some work or not. This is usually activated in the master cylinder where the sensor is located.
Most newer vehicle has front wheel drive axle system and as such, has a CV joint used to transfer the engine torque to the front tires. This CV joints should be monitored and greased if possible. The most common failure for this part is the cracking or breaking the rubber cover. As soon as this is detected, the CV joint rubber must be covered to prevent dirt contact with the bearings.
Among common maintenance used are engine oil change, tires checks and rotations, belts inspection, brakes inspection, spark plugs and wires check ups and replaced if necessary including fuel injector servicing. A better way of getting a tune up is now done by having a complete engine analysis that can also checked the over all safety of the vehicle. Actually, an emission test is the best way to check engine performance by scanning all the engine sensors. Such sensors such as oxygen , tps, coolant, idle air control sensors can be tested by the scanner before they break down. This is the most important step necessary to make sure the engine parts are in top shape.
Under inflated tires can lower gas mileage by 0.4 percent for every drop of 1 psi of tire pressure. In essence, a proper inflated tires not only save you gas but give you safer driving environment.
It is a good practice to monitor the battery condition all the time. Check for signs of corrosion in the battery post and make sure to check it for cracks and boiling which shows that the charging system is over charging.
Always check your engine belts like the ones used for steering, water pump, alternators and crankshaft drive pulleys. When serpentine belt is used, monitor them for belt noise which shows that the belt tensioner is worn (serpetine belt is a multiple groove belt used to replaced the old multiple belt system).
Servicing the transmission is usually done by dropping the trany oil pan at suggested vehicle maintenance interval. When done, the trany can be checked for signs of trany oil discoloration or presence of debris in the old oil which suggest that the trany itself is failing. After inspection, a new trany oil filter should be installed to increase the life of the transmission. On some vehicle models, the trany solenoids can be tested whenever the trany oil pan is dropped.

Saving Money
Five Ways To Keep Your Car Running At Peak Fuel Efficiency
By Andrew Stoy, 9:00 AM on Sat Jun 21 2008, 53,192 views (Edit, to draft, Slurp)

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Back in the good ol’ days of $2.50-per-gallon gasoline, you could ignore simple car maintenance. After all, what was it costing you? A buck here and a buck there? But when prices hit the $4 mark, things changed. Now, every cent counts, and you can save a surprising amount of scratch by performing a few simple maintenance tasks yourself. We’ve put together a quick list of five basics from Jalopnik’s “How To” series, ranked from easiest to most difficult, that can help any vehicle owner squeeze a few extra MPG (Miles Per Gallon) out of their daily driver.

1. Fill Up Smart
It doesn’t get easier than this. Fill up your vehicle during the coolest part of the day. With older pumps that don’t have a temperature-compensating flow meter, fuel is denser when it’s cool, so you actually get more for your money when you pump gas in the early AM instead of filling up at 5:30PM on your way home from work. Also, if you really want to penny-pinch, and you don’t need to be using premium fuel in your car, ditch the premium gas and use the cheaper stuff. Finally, stay away from E85 — the ethanol-mixed fuel provides lower fuel economy than the pure stuff.

2. Keep Your Car Clean
First off, wash and wax your car — it doesn’t just look good, it actually lowers the wind resistance of your vehicle. No, not by much, but every little bit helps, remember? More importantly, clean out the inside of your vehicle, particularly any unnecessary boxes of heavy junk you have in the hatch/trunk/backseat. By removing weight, you can improve fuel economy. Just keep the baby seat installed.

3. Check Your Tire Pressure
Underinflated tires take more energy to push down the road so check your tire pressure often. Invest a few dollars in a good dial-type tire pressure gauge and use it to check your tire pressure once a week. Even if the pressure is only a couple PSI low, you’re burning a lot more fuel than you need to.

4. Change The Air Filter
If your engine’s wheezing and has to work harder bringing in the air it needs to burn fuel efficiently, it doesn’t complain to you. It simply burns more fuel. By replacing your air filter annually, or biannually if you live in a dusty area, you’ll ensure the engine can breathe freely. Consult your owner’s manual for filter changing instructions — it’s usually a straightforward process. While it won’t save you dollars per fill-up, it could save you at least the price of an air filter each year depending on your mileage.

5. Replace Your Spark Plugs
Worn spark plugs can’t ignite the air/fuel mixture in your engine as effectively, resulting in more fuel used for a given amount of power produced. Depending upon the vehicle you drive, your spark plugs may need to be changed as often as yearly or as rarely as once a decade or so. Again, consult your owner’s manual for details. Note that we’re now getting into “real work.” If you drive an older vehicle with an inline engine, changing plugs can be done in as little as an hour. A transverse V6, like that commonly found on minivans and domestic sedans, can be an entirely different story involving bloody knuckles, part removal, flex sockets, and extensive cursing. If your car is due for plug replacement and you’re not up to the task, a competent shop should be able to do the work for a reasonable fee.


Importance of Auto Car Care Repair Maintenance: Channel 11 KHOU TV-AAA APPROVED AUTO REPAIR HOUSTON FACILITY Auto-Car Talk With ASE Master Auto Technicians July 29, 2009

Friday, July 31st, 2009

The Importance of Car Maintenance

Car Maintenance Tips to Protect Your Investment:

Many people consider car maintenance to be a necessary evil. Fortunately, there are several things you could do to protect your investment and save some money. Like children, each vehicle requires different needs that the owner should consider. Car maintenance should be a top priority for any vehicle owner.

Oil Is Not Optional

Let’s start with the most universal car maintenance task: oil changes. Unless otherwise directed by the oil manufacturer, every car needs the oil changed around every 3000 miles or 3 months, whichever occurs earlier. Your two basic choices are to take your car to the dealer for service or use an independent service center. Looking at the bottom line, using an independent service center will be cheaper. However, your dealer may have specials that are not widely advertised. These specials typically are a fixed percentage off oil changes or when your bill goes over a certain dollar amount. Consider going to the dealer for you oil changes.

Tires Experience Wear and Tear

Another item that will wear out eventually is your tires. There are several places, including your new car dealer, that sell and install tires. Most new car dealers will perform some type of computerized tire alignment with the installation of the new tires. More likely than not, your cheapest place to buy tires will be at large discount chains, such as Wal-Mart, Coscos, Kmart etc. With tires, you must rotate them roughly every 6,000 miles to promote their longevity. Without tire rotation, your tires will not meet their expected mileage lifetime. If you skip getting your tires aligned, you might have to buy a new pair of tires much sooner. Make sure you take the time to schedule this necessary component of car maintenance.

Keeping up with car maintenance can really protect the money you’ve invested in buying your new car. Savvy consumers don’t neglect car maintenance and neither should you.

So far we’ve tackled the numerous ways by which you can easily conduct effective car/vehicle reparations and some ways on how you can easily maintain the various parts of your ride. Let’s take a break from the technicalities of repair and automobile upkeep to focus on the importance of vehicle maintenance.

While learning to repair your vehicle is a great way to cut costs, there are also a number of undeniably important reasons why it’s just as vital for you to conduct regular maintenance on your car, SUV or truck. The following are some compelling arguments on the value of vehicle maintenance.

By carefully maintaining your vehicle, you increase driving safety. You can be the world’s most effective and skillful driver, but with a rotten ride, you and your vehicle become accident-prone. Every year, thousands of accidents become a result of vehicle neglect. It’s not just bad driving that causes accidents, in fact when it comes to the majority of automobile accidents around the world, you have faulty brake systems, worn wiper blades and tires, exhaust buildups and leaking gas tanks to blame.

You help reduce pollution with vehicle maintenance. Most countries around the world have anti-smoke belching campaigns to help save the environment. Each year, your vehicle’s noxious emissions contribute directly to global pollution. A well-maintained vehicle will easily limit the amount of dangerous fumes and automotive fluids released into the air and local water tables.

Another reason why you should maintain your vehicle is it definitely lowers your cost of operation. It’s common sense, I know, but it never hurts to point out good advice, right? The point is a well-maintained car wouldn’t need too many repairs. Meaning, you won’t have to keep on heading to your car mechanic and ordering car parts or truck accessories if you keep your vehicle in excellent condition.

A hidden advantage behind careful maintenance is that in case you do decide to sell your used vehicle, you’re going to get a better price. Most buyers value excellent vehicle performance and condition over the car model. So it only follows that a well-maintained five-year-old vehicle is going to fetch a more handsome price compared to an ill-maintained and broken-down two-year-old car.

If you keep your vehicle well-maintained, expect it to perform better. You lengthen your vehicle’s great performance if you keep a careful eye on its vital fluids, oil and various parts. If you don’t maintain your vehicle well, expect it to quickly show signs of internal wear. Your car will also be more dependable if you make sure that it is always in good condition.

And lastly, a well-maintained vehicle will mean less roadside emergencies. There’s nothing more frustrating then having your vehicle break down in the middle of nowhere with no tools at hand. Lessen your chances of getting stranded due to a cracked radiator, bad tires or a malfunctioning battery by making sure your vehicle is in excellent condition prior to a long trip.

Remember, these are just some of the main reasons behind keeping your vehicle well-maintained. In the next few days, I’ll be featuring more vehicle maintenance tips to ensure that you get the best performance out of your ride.

Houston Car AC Repair: Midtown Auto Service and Repair

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Auto Car Service and Repair Tech Tips-Auto Belts-Auto Hoses Inspection-Houston,Tx

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Tech Tip: Belt and Hose Inspections

By Gary Goms

Although belts and hoses are still classified as expendable parts, their durability has increased to the point that many import shop owners and technicians are now neglecting to perform routine belt and hose inspections. From a historical perspective, belts and hoses have moved from a recommended replacement interval to an inspection interval. This means that, unless otherwise required, there is generally no recommended replacement interval for belts and hoses. The consequence of moving from replacements to inspections is that many shops are missing potential profits in belt and hose replacements.

Just recently, I had a 2001 Asian import come in for a check engine light issue that illustrates what is happening in the belt and hose markets. Because the import wasn’t a popular brand in my area, many shops had turned down the diagnostics. So, after working with a vacuum schematic, I found the cause for the diagnostic trouble code to be a clogged vacuum line.

Of even more concern was that the owner was ready to leave on a long trip with a badly cracked alternator belt. The vehicle had just been “serviced” and, in the owner’s mind, was ready for his long trip. That wasn’t the case, however, because the belt was ready to shred its way off the pulleys within a few hundred miles of high-speed driving.

Unfortunately, in their haste to sell wiper blades and fluid flushes, many quick-lube mechanics overlook expendable items like belts and hoses. Although replacing the belt wasn’t difficult for a well-tooled tech, it would have been difficult for any repair facility that didn’t have the metric wrenches needed to fit under a tight-fitting intake manifold and power steering bracket.

The A/C compressor and power steering belt also had to be removed before the alternator drive belt could be accessed. Years of corrosion made removing the A/C compressor belt more challenging than it should have been, and an even greater array of tools was required to budge the tensioning pulley from its corroded mounting. Perhaps this example explains why many quick-service facilities give hose and belt inspection a relatively low priority on their service menus.

Belt inspections aren’t difficult. The first clue to a bad belt, for example, is a belt squeal heard during engine start-up. The second clue might be a belt squeal heard during parking maneuvers or during an alternator load test. The last clue is the fraying and cracking associated with a worn-out belt (See Photo 1). A frayed belt might indicate a pulley alignment problem, so it’s important to include some diagnostic time for inspecting and possibly correcting pulley alignment.

Many import manufacturers promote standards that might include the number of cracks per inch present on the inside of the belt. In addition to whatever standard might be published, I inspect the outside of the belt for signs of glazing or pulley slippage. If the original part numbers and markings are still visible, all is well with the belt and pulleys. On the other hand, if the belt is glazed or frayed, an idler or drive pulley bearing might be seizing up (See Photo 2).In most cases, any belt running past 100,000 miles might be running on borrowed time. Of course, many belts do last longer because of the variables that affect belt life, including the amount of torque transmitted by the belt, underhood heat, and exposure to oil and atmospheric ozone.

If, for example, the engine has separate accessory belts, the alternator belt will tend to crack and harden first because the alternator is continuously laboring to operate accessories and keep the battery charged. The air conditioning compressor drive belt might be the next to fail in warm climates. Here again, if the compressor is overcharged or is seizing up, belt life will suffer accordingly. Hydraulic power steering pump belts usually last the longest simply because they transmit maximum torque only under demand. Last, separate water pump belts transmit very little torque and are the most likely to incur the least wear.

Many years ago, the average water-cooled import had only four or five hoses including the upper and lower radiator, heater inlet and return, and a water pump bypass hose. In most cases, the lower radiator hose had a wire reinforcement to keep the hold from collapsing at high engine speeds. Imports built during the past several decades may have a dozen or more small coolant hoses that perform diverse duties, like heating the throttle plate assembly or warming up thermostatic idle speed controls.

In general, the upper radiator hose on a conventional cooling system is the first to fail because it endures the hottest coolant temperatures. The lower radiator hose, on the other hand, may operate at lower temperatures and, thus, may last much longer. The same can be said of the auxiliary hoses, including the heater outlet and smaller-diameter intake manifold hoses that have minimal exposure to underhood heat.

Hose inspections are relatively simple if, when the engine is fully warmed up, we begin by looking for any unusual swelling or seepage around the connection point of the hose. If the sides of a hose feel mushy or spongy at full operating pressure and temperature, the hose should be replaced (See Photo 3).

Similarly, if traces of coolant leakage are found around a hose connection, the hose has hardened and will likely leak if it’s reinstalled. If the cooling system is depressurized and the hose isn’t wire-reinforced, the radiator hoses can be evaluated by squeezing the sides together. Again, the rubber should feel firm to the touch. If the rubber feels soft or spongy, the hose is a candidate for recommended replacement. If the hose is so hard that it has lost its elasticity, it also becomes a candidate for replacement (See Photo 4).

Let’s face it: Because of the complexity of modern cooling systems, hose access issues and today’s relatively higher labor rates, it’s tough to sell a complete cooling system hose replacement. In many cases, a complete replacement isn’t absolutely necessary because most of the hoses might be in good condition. On the other hand, if a component like a heater core, water pump, radiator or engine is being removed or replaced, the only significant cost to the consumer is the cost of the hoses themselves.Keep in mind that re-clamping an old, hardened hose brings with it a potential liability issue. If you’re the shop that reinstalled that old hose, perhaps you’re not pursuing what is called “due diligence” in performing a reliable repair. If an engine is ruined because the old hose fails, you may not be following due diligence principle, at least not in the eyes of some legal experts.

Economic times are tough, and it’s a demanding process to write an estimate for hose replacement that’s both profitable and competitive. Unlike other components, labor charges aren’t really an issue in many belt and hose replacements because belts and hoses must be removed to gain access to other components like a water pump, timing belt or the engine itself. Because the labor for belt and hose replacement is included in the replacement of another part in most labor guides, it simply doesn’t make economic sense to reinstall old, worn-out belts and hoses.It’s also important to emphasize to the customer how much more expensive it will be to replace the hoses at a later date when the issue of hose accessibility must be fully addressed. On some imports, accessibility issues might account for hours of additional labor time, not to mention the difficulty of performing a reliable installation within the confines of a tight engine compartment.

Last, remember that having good belts and hoses is a security issue for most drivers. While having good belts and hoses on the family’s “beater” car isn’t a primary issue for most, having those new belts and hoses under the hood of their primary transportation becomes not only a security issue, but also a dollars-and-cents issue if the vehicle is stranded on a long trip due to a belt or hose failure.

Auto Engine Repair- Car Engine Electrical Diagnostic Skills/Diagnostic Tools for Auto Service-Houston,Tx

Saturday, April 25th, 2009

Tech Tip: Make Sure You Have the Tools and Equipment Needed to Service Today’s Electrical Systems

One day we are fat, dumb and happy using a piece of wire with a 12-volt bulb on the end of it to test things with. Now we are faced with deciding between using the 10 meg-ohm computer safe test light, the power injector or a logic probe complete with polarity protection, audible alarm, light and 20-foot memory cord. Geeesh! How did things get so confusing so fast? Progress my boy! That is the root of our problem here! As the cars and systems have gotten more and more complicated, so have the tools and equipment needed to work on those cars ….


Today’s professional technician is expected to be able to understand electrical theory, electronics, physics, as well as understand and interpret readings from complex electrical test equipment. Add to that volts and amps and ohms…OH MY!The good news is that there are some general classifications of electrical test equipment that can at least narrow down the choices to a more manageable number of tools to consider. There are generic system testers, there are specialty testers and there are diagnostic testers. These main three groups are a good starting place to think about the tools and equipment needed to test today’s modern automotive electrical systems.

Generic or general testers normally are designed to perform a range of tests or work on a variety of vehicles and systems. These testers might include such things as multimeters, battery load testers and voltage test lights. Again, the main thing about these tools is that they can work on different vehicles, and perform general tests on different systems.

This is the largest category of electrical testing tools and equipment. These tools provide the foundation for all the more complex testing that may be necessary later on. A technician will do well to start building his or her collection of tools here. The basics are still necessary even on the most complicated vehicles. The basics should include a 12-volt test light, a multimeter that is capable of performing a host of tests including the basics such as volts, amps AC and DC current measurement, diode testing, rpm, temperature and starter draw testing.

The meter should have overload protection via fuses, it should also be able to store min/max values on data, and meters that show a graphical representation are needed to perform many tests today. From here, a tech should consider a collection of ancillary items to support and complement the multimeter. These items might include an rpm inductive pickup, a K-style temperature probe and an amp clamp adapter (this allows for starter draw testing). Once these items are in place, make sure that the kit includes an assortment of test leads and extensions, back probes, clamps, etc. These items ensure that the technician can always hook his or her test equipment to whatever item is being tested.Another incredibly powerful tool is a power injector. These tools allow the technician to provide power to a component for testing. Most of these units have a ground wire available directly next to the power source. These tools are some of the best productivity tools in the current technician’s toolbox. These tools have features such as lights, audible alarms and polarity indication.

Specialty Test Equipment
Specialty testers such as oxygen sensor testers, ABS wheel speed sensor testers and fuel injection signal testers are designed to do one specific test. These tools are indispensable for verifying a diagnosis prior to replacing an expensive component. Many of these testers aren’t used every day, but on those occasions where you really need it, you will be glad you have it.

Diagnostic Test Equipment
This is some of the most expensive, complicated and powerful equipment and tools that a technician can purchase. The true value of this equipment is in the description. Diagnostic test equipment will actually provide the user with possible answers or diagnosis of what might be wrong with a vehicle. These tools are different from other test equipment in that they usually have the ability to receive, interpret and analyze multiple sources of data input.

One example of diagnostic test equipment is the latest generation of battery testing equipment. These tools are incredibly complex, they are using microprocessors and, in some cases, are performing multiple tests at one time to verify the condition of a battery. The early battery testers placed a load on a battery and then the user was left with making a decision based on the analog results of that test. Compare that with today’s testers, which are evaluating the battery on several levels including state of charge, voltage, amperage, percentage of life left, maximum potential power output and many other tests. This is just one example of a diagnostic tester used for electrical systems on today’s modern vehicles.Regardless of a technician’s knowledge level, picking test tools is not an easy task. Many times the testers that are available today are so complicated that even the professional sales and tool people can’t always know all the features and benefits of a specific tool or piece or equipment. The best course of action in those cases is for the technician to contact the supplier directly to learn more about the tool before making a buying decision. Another great way to learn about test tools is by attending seminars and continuing education programs. These are opportunities for the tech to see, touch and use the tool in a relaxed environment.

Midtown Auto Service: Auto Repair Houston Texas – Diagnostic Codes

Friday, March 27th, 2009

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