Engine Air Filter

What’s the harm in putting off replacing your engine air filter a little longer?

That’s a fair question because the harm takes a while to manifest.  Let’s take a small step back and talk about what an engine air filter does.

The air all around us contains dust, dirt, pollen, spores, etc.  Some areas and times of the year have more contaminants in the air.  The job of the air filter is to keep that stuff out of your engine.  The benefit of that is obvious.

Now your engine uses a lot of air – like 12,000 gallons of air for every gallon of fuel – so the engine air filter has a big job to do.  When the filter gets full and can’t hold any more dirt, all that air still has to get to the engine, so dirt gets forced through the filter and heads on downstream.

The air flows passed the mass air flow (MAF) sensor on its way to the engine.  The MAF sensor tells the engine control computer how much air is coming so the computer can send the proper amount of fuel into the engine to maintain the correct air-to-fuel ratio. 

When dirty air is flowing past the filter, dirt starts to build up on the delicate MAF sensor elements causing incorrect air flow readings.  The computer then sends the wrong amount of fuel to the engine.  This can rob power from the engine.  But the harm comes from unburned fuel passing out through the exhaust system and getting caught in the catalytic converter leading to damage. 

A primary cause of catalytic converter failure is improper engine management, often triggered by a dirty MAF sensor which was contaminated because the engine air filter had not been replaced as recommended.

Now you can buy several cases of engine air filters for what it would cost to replace a catalytic converter.  So, when it’s time to replace your engine filter keep in mind the potential long-term effects of putting it off.

Give us a call today!

#carrepair #mechanic #localshop #automotive

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March Specials

We’re having some technical difficulties in updating the specials on our website this month. Sorry about any confusion! We are offering a FREE Vehicle Inspection with an Oil Change. Read more about it below right.

Please feel free to give us a call if you have questions or want to schedule your vehicle. 

 

Spark Plugs

The days when drivers changed their spark plugs every couple of years has ended. Back in the day, spark plugs really did wear out that often. A couple of things are different now…

First, spark plugs are made of better materials that last longer and they’re designed better. The second reason spark plugs used to have to be changed in vehicles and other autos was that they were fouled up with carbon deposits. The deposits built up when fuel wasn’t burned completely. With modern engine management controls that just doesn’t happen as often.

Engine control computers precisely time when fuel is injected into the engine and when spark plugs fire. Unless something’s wrong, spark plugs just don’t foul like they used to.

Electricity from the battery goes into a coil that allows power to build up to anywhere from 12,000 to 45,000 volts, depending on the vehicle. The engine management computer tells the coil when to release the power to the spark plug. The electricity travels through a wire from the coil to the spark plug. At the tip of the plug, a spark jumps between two electrodes and ignites the gas in the combustion chamber.

Some engines have more than one coil. Coils wear out and need to be replaced occasionally. Also, spark plug wires can wear out and need to be replaced.

Modern engines are delivering more power and better fuel economy all the time. That’s largely credited to fast engine control computers, advanced sensors, electronic ignition and improvements to the lowly spark plug.

It’ll be interesting to see where future developments take us. One last thought: it’s to have the right kind of spark plug for your vehicle. Because engines are designed to run with different internal temperatures, spark plugs have different designs to work properly within those temperatures. Douglas Automotive Repair will be able to get the right plugs for your vehicle. And we’ll be able to advise you on when you should replace your spark plugs as well.

Give us a call today!

#gotspark #automotive #carrepair #mechanic #localshop

Battery Upgrade

When that car battery finally gives up the ghost and it’s time to replace it – you have options.  First let’s be clear that you should always get a replacement battery that meets or exceeds your vehicle manufacturer’s specifications.  But you may have some special needs. 

When they first put the battery into your vehicle at the factory, they had no idea where it would end up over its life or how YOU would use it.  That battery was chosen to meet the needs of a wide range of motorists.  Replacement time is a good opportunity to talk with us about how you use your vehicle, so you can get just the right battery.

An obvious criterion is where you live.  Cold starts require a lot of power from your battery.  The colder the climate, the more power needed.  This comes from a combination of cold sluggish oil and the slower chemical reaction within the battery itself when it is cold.  If this sounds like you, ask about a battery with more Cold Cranking Amps. 

The next consideration is reserve capacity.  This is the number of minutes of reserve power the battery has under a load.  If your driving is mostly short stop-and-go trips, your battery may not have time to fully recharge while driving.  You may need to tap into those reserves to get started again.  Also, modern vehicles have a lot of always-on systems that draw on the battery – things like the security system, remote sensors, and vehicle computers.  These combined with the electronic entertainment system, sensors, heated seats, and even chargers for phones, tablets, and computers put a high load on the battery.  We can give you our thoughts on the reserve capacity you might need.

Most standard batteries are “wet-cell” meaning they are filled with liquid battery acid.  New Absorbed Gas Mat (AGM) batteries are “non-spill” which makes them safer.  They also have a longer life span and greater cycle life than wet-cell batteries.  Off-roader’s like these batteries because their performance is not affected by steep inclines and odd angles.  They are also well suited for use in RV’s and boats.

A final consideration is warranty.  Premium batteries often come with a longer warranty.  Warranties are typically either full-replacement (the battery is replaced if it fails within the warranty period) or pro-rated (a partial credit is given for the failed battery depending on how far into the warranty period you are when it fails).

When the battery is replaced, our technician may need to recalibrate some accessories such as power windows and sunroofs.  Also, some vehicles may need to have the battery registered into the engine computer.

Your service advisor can help you decide which battery is right for you and your vehicle.

Give us a call today!

#localshop #carrepair #automotive #mechanic

Axles

Your axles are the last link in transferring power from the engine to your wheels.  They’re strong parts that last a long time – but they can run into trouble.

Axles just wear out over time and need to be replaced.  And sometimes axle seals leak, causing the axle to wear out prematurely.  Lubricant leaks out, and water and dirt can get in and contaminate the gears.  When this happens you might hear strange noises coming from your axle. 

If you have a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the sound would be at the rear end.  If you have a front-wheel drive vehicle, the sound would be up front.  Of course, with an all-wheel drive, the sound could come from either front or back.  It might be a groaning sound or clunking when turning.

There are different kinds of axles, each with their own potential problems.  Your technician knows this and checks for things like leaking seals, torn CV boots, worn axle joints.  An inspection will reveal if there are any problems or if a part is nearing failure.

When there is a concern with the axle shaft, it will be removed and inspected.  If it’s damaged, the shaft will have to be replaced.  If the shaft is in good shape, it’ll be cleaned, lubed and reinstalled.  Damaged CV boots are replaced as well.

It’s important to take care of this work as soon as you become aware of a problem.  Waiting only makes the damage worse and more expensive to repair later.  If the axle fails completely, it could lock up.  This could severely damage other things like your transmission – very expensive.  It could also contribute to an accident, which nobody wants.

Taking care of your axles when they need it saves money in the long run, and helps keep you safely on the road.

Give us a call today!

#carrepair #localshop #automotive #mechanic

Disc Brakes

Your brakes are extremely important as you drive around town. Having good brakes just keeps you out of trouble, and you’ll want to carefully maintain your brakes. With disc brakes, brake pads rub on a disc – or rotor – to slow the wheels.

The brake pads are attached to a caliper that squeezes the pads against the rotor. It’s kind of like how squeezing the handbrake on a bicycle pushes the brake pads against the wheel of the bike.

Now pads just wear away with use – kind of like a pencil eraser wears out. The good news is that replacing brake pads is a straightforward repair.

If you hear squealing or grinding when you use the brakes, Douglas Automotive Repair can check them out. We’ll have a technician perform a thorough brake inspection to see what needs to be done. We check for signs of brake problems and go over other brake components to see that they’re working properly.

We can tell you if it’s time to replace the pads or if there are other issues with your brakes that should be addressed. Some people ignore the warning signs and keep driving long after the pads are completely worn out. When that happens, metal brake components will grind on the rotor, damaging it enough that it needs to be resurfaced or replaced.

Rotors can also warp or crack, in which case they’ll need to be replaced. Brake calipers also wear out over time. They can develop leaks or the caliper pistons can freeze open or closed; either way, it’s not good. When this happens, it’s time to replace the calipers. A thorough brake inspection will reveal worn bearings or seals as well.

The new brake pads we put on your vehicle will restore your brakes to manufacturers’ specifications. Or we can install upgraded parts to increase your stopping power and reduce brake noise and brake dust. We have several options to meet your braking requirements and your budget.

Taking care of your brakes keeps them working safely, and you could prevent premature brake repairs down the road.

Give us a call today!

#Gotbrakes #localshop #mechanic #automotive #carrepair

Serpentine Belt

I was told I need a new serpentine belt, but I don’t see any cracks in it.  Does it really need to be replaced?

We appreciate your concern.  Old-style neoprene belts would crack with age, making it pretty obvious when they needed to be replaced. Nowadays, serpentine belts are made from a different material that doesn’t crack or glaze the way neoprene did.

Stepping back, the serpentine belt transfers power from the engine to various accessories like the alternator, power steering pump, and air conditioning compressor – even the power brakes and water pump on some vehicles.  Modern serpentine belts have several grooves running their length.  These grooves mate with the pulleys on the accessories.  When the belt is within its useful life, it spins the accessories at the designed speed.

Over time, belt material is worn away.  When as little as 5% of the material is lost, the belt can slip and not properly spin the accessories leading to stress and damage.

Using a special tool, our technician can measure the material lost in your serpentine belt.  He can determine if it needs to be replaced.

It’s important to realize that the serpentine belt is part of the accessory belt drive system which also includes the serpentine belt tensioner and any idler pulleys.  The belt tensioner has the same service life as the belt itself, so if it is time to replace the belt, you should also replace the tensioner and idler pulleys as well.

A worn belt tensioner can cause belt slip and enough belt-slap to really hammer the accessory upstream from the tensioner.  Running too long with a worn belt, tensioner pulley, or idler pulley can cause excessive heat at the accessory pulleys, resulting in inefficiency, damage and premature replacement.

Douglas Automotive Repair can perform an inspection to see if your belt or tensioner is worn and should be replaced.  Ask us if it’s time for a serpentine belt system replacement.

Give us a call today!

#checkbelts #carrepair #automotive #localshop #mechanic

 

4 Ways to Help Your Vehicle Service Go Well

Let’s face it, vehicles are complex machines, and hats off to our technicians who can diagnose and repair them when things go wrong.  Here are four tips to follow when you bring your vehicle in.

  1. Describe the problem thoroughly and accurately.  When you tell friends how your day at work was, you probably go into a fair amount of detail: the boss yelled at you because you were late, the computer froze up and lost five reports you were working on, and you over-microwaved your lunch.  Details, details, details.  The same works when you’re telling us the issues you are having with your vehicle.  Give as many facts as you can.  Did you smell something burning?  Did your vehicle make a noise?  Where was the noise coming from and what sounds does it make?  Your powers of observation can be very helpful.  Consider writing these things down so you won’t forget anything.
  2. Make sure your vehicle is T-C-E:  tidy, clean and empty.  There’s a practical and a psychological reason for this.  The practical reason is the technician may have to access several areas of your vehicle to diagnose and fix the issues.  If your trunk is full, for example, the technician may not be able to reach the battery that is back there. Or if there are toys piled in the passenger seat footwell, the technician may not be able to get to the components under the dash.  So, keep those areas tidy and empty.  The technician will also appreciate a clean space in which to work.  The psychological reason is that it demonstrates that you care about your vehicle’s appearance and condition.  Taking it in for service means you also care about function, too, and you want everything to work the way it should.
  3. Be sure to remove personal items that you want to keep private from the glove box and other areas.  It is a good idea to remove medications.  Those who have a legally concealed weapon should not leave it anywhere in the vehicle.
  4. As much as you may want to “watch our technicians work”, for safety our customer’s aren’t allowed in the back while your vehicle is being serviced. If you drop off your vehicle, you’ll be notified when it’s time to pick it up.  If you prefer to wait, you’re welcome to hang out in our waiting area to watch TV, read, or get some work done.

Douglas Automotive Repair is dedicated to keeping your vehicle safe and at peak performance.

Give us a call today!

#localshop #mechanic #carrepair #automotive

 

What’s Shakin’ With My Brakin’? (Brake Rotor Service)

If you feel your vehicle vibrating when you’re braking, or if you don’t stop in as short a distance as you used to, it may be time to have your brakes checked. All newer vehicles have disc brakes in the front, and more manufacturers are using disc brakes all around (instead of an older technology called drum brakes), so there’s a pretty good chance at some point you’ll find yourself facing a disc brake repair when yours begin to wear out.

Before we go any farther, here’s how disc brakes work.  If you’ve ever had a bicycle with hand brakes, you know there is a caliper that pushes pads on each side of your bicycle wheel when you squeeze the brake handle.  Disc brakes are similar, but there’s a metal disc (called a brake rotor) there instead of the bike wheel’s rim. In disc brakes, the vibration you feel when you are stopping is often because the surface of the rotor is not flat, or the rotors have an uneven thickness.

Sometimes, the rotors can be re-surfaced or “turned” (basically shaving them off until they are straight and even).  But newer vehicles are using thinner, lighter rotors with a slightly different construction.  So, when the rotors are not true, shaving the metal off may make them thinner than the manufacturer deems safe.  The only option for them is replacing the rotors. 

In most cases, it’s wise to replace the brake pads when replacing the rotors because the rotor damage was either caused by worn pads or the damaged rotor has caused uneven pad wear.

Some drivers will decide to replace rotors with the same type that was on the vehicle originally.  Others may decide to upgrade with premium rotors that provide better performance than the original equipment. Depending on your vehicle and driving habits, Douglas Automotive Repair can suggest the high-quality brake parts that are the best choice for you and your vehicle.

Give us a call today for your all your braking needs!

#localshop #gotbrakes? #carrepair #mechanic #automotive

 

Importance of Maintenance Schedules

Your vehicle isn’t the only aspect of life with recommended intervals: you have dental cleanings, physical exams, laundry, mowing the lawn and paying the bills.

What would happen if you didn’t follow these intervals? Well, you’d get more cavities. You might miss health issues that benefit from early detection and treatment. And you’d wear dirty clothes, be embarrassed by your overgrown lawn and have your utilities shut off.
We realize there are some things in life that we have to take care of regularly. If we don’t, there are negative consequences. For drivers who want to be more proactive with their car care, here are some simple ways to remember what has a maintenance interval.

First: Fluids. If it’s liquid, it’s got a replacement schedule. Oil, transmission fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, differential fluid, etc. We can take care of all of these for you at Douglas Automotive Repair.

 

Then think Tires. They need air, rotation, balancing and alignment. And while you’re thinking tires, think brakes and shock absorbers.

And what makes your vehicle go? Air and Fuel. Air filter replacement, fuel filters and fuel system cleaning. Of course there are more items, but if you remember to take your vehicle in for these things, we will help you with the rest.

And if drivers don’t follow recommended service intervals? Your fuel economy will decrease, your vehicle won’t perform as well, your safety could be compromised and you’ll spend more in the long run. Reason enough to follow recommended service intervals.

Give us a call today for your vehicle maintenance!

#vehiclemaintenance #localshop #mechanic #carrepair #automotive