Archive for August 2020
On Board Diagnostics for Your EnginePosted August 30, 2020 9:50 AM
Starting in 1996, Madison Automotive service technicians have been able to use a standardized diagnostic system to help determine what is wrong with a vehicle. This diagnostic system works in tandem with the Engine Control Modules for each vehicle's engine. The Engine Control Module is a computer that monitors and controls many engine functions.
Sniffing Out a ProblemPosted August 25, 2020 1:47 AM
Your parents probably taught you to have common sense. When it comes to your vehicle, common scents can also come in handy. Different smells may tell you about some conditions in your vehicle that need attention.
For example, you know what rotten eggs smell like. If you smell them around your vehicle, it means sulfur can't be far away. Here's a surprising fact: Gasoline has a little sulfur in it. There's a device in your exhaust system that's supposed to convert it to something that doesn't pollute the atmosphere. That device is a catalytic converter. If you are smelling rotten eggs, maybe your catalytic converter is wearing out. But it could also be a problem with your fuel injectors. Either way, something's rotten that should be repaired.
Ever smell something sweet around your vehicle, maybe a little like pancake syrup? If you sniff out a little sweetness just when your engine is warming up or after you shut off your engine, you might be smelling some coolant (anti-freeze). If it's leaking, then you may be getting a whiff of ethylene glycol, one of the coolant's components. If the odor is strong inside the car, it could be a leaky heater core. This is important to get checked out because a leak in your vehicle's cooling system can eventually cause expensive damage.
How about that distinctive smell of gasoline? You could have a leak in your gas tank, a hose that vents your gas tank or a leak in a fuel injector line. A gasoline leak needs to be tracked down since it could catch fire. It can also be bad for your health if you breathe it in all the time.
When you step hard on the brakes, ever smell something like a rug's in fire? That could mean you've just overheated your brake pads. If you detect that smell just driving around town, one of the brake calipers could be stuck. To figure out which wheel has the problem, get out of your vehicle and smell each wheel. It will likely be obvious where the problem is.
Here's one last smell. Ever had your oil changed and right after you picked up your vehicle it smells like something's burning around the engine? That's because sometimes a little oil leaks onto the metal when the filter is changed or the oil is poured in. It's a useful smell to know. Because of you smell burning oil and you haven't had your oil changed recently, that could mean you have a leak in your engine. It could be a gasket or a seal, but it also could mean the start of more serious issues.
All of these things are signals that you should discuss with your service advisor to get them checked out.
2457 Covington Pike
Memphis, TN 38128
Hitting The Brakes In MemphisPosted August 25, 2020 1:47 AM
Hello Memphis, let's talk about brakes. But the mechanical aspects of the brakes themselves are just one issue. There's also the power brake pump and brake fluid. And then there are the tires, which are critical to the effectiveness of the brakes.
Do you have a Clue (Get the Most Out of a Service Visit)Posted August 25, 2020 1:47 AM
When you head to the doctor, you probably have it in your mind what you're going to say about why you don't feel good. That way your doctor can use that information to diagnose your problem. You might want to think of that same approach when you take your vehicle in for a repair.
Experts say what will help the service advisor most is for you to bring in some well-organized descriptions about your vehicle's issues. You might even want to write them down so you don't forget. Is there an unusual smell? What does it smell like? Does the problem happen first thing after starting out? If there's an odd sound you hear, is it dependent on speed? Does it change when you turn a corner?
Keep your expectations realistic. Some conditions may take a long time to diagnose and repair. If you go thinking you'll be in and out in no time, you might be disappointed when you're told there are other customers ahead of you and you may have to come back tomorrow. If you can make alternate plans to have someone pick you up and take you back when the vehicle is finished, that way you won't feel like you've wasted your time.
Most importantly, be available for any communication from the service advisor. If they have your cell phone and they have a question or need an approval for a repair, the sooner they reach you, the sooner things can move forward.
The service facility wants your experience with them to be good just as you do. With a little help from you, they'll get your vehicle back on the road and you'll have a smile on your face.
Memphis Drivers Severe Service Maintenance SchedulesPosted August 25, 2020 1:47 AM
Since driving requirements and lifestyles differ among Memphis drivers, your vehicle manufacturer publishes two auto maintenance schedules: the regular schedule and the severe service schedule. Which schedule should Memphis drivers follow? Here are some questions to ask yourself:
Let's suppose your owner's manual says the severe service oil change recommendation is 3,000 miles/5,000 kilometers and the standard recommendation is 5,000 miles/8,000 kilometers. You know that you need to change the oil somewhere between 3,000 and 5,000 miles/5,000 and 8,000 kilometers. Analyze your driving patterns and Memphis weather and road conditions to determine which end of the spectrum you're closer to.
Carrying heavy loads (with or without a trailer) in TN summer weather causes your engine and transmission to run at higher temperatures and with more stress. The fluids will break down more quickly. Additives that clean and prevent corrosion will be depleted sooner. Air pollution and dust cause fluids to get dirty faster. Ditto for filters. All of these things can lead to premature wear and eventual repairs. If you want some expert advice, talk with your friendly and knowledgeable Madison Automotive service advisor. We can help you restore your vehicle to good working order and help you know the best schedule to follow.
Charge It in Memphis for Extended Battery LifePosted August 25, 2020 1:47 AM
Here's an interesting statistic for our in Memphis, TN, drivers: Only 30 percent of car batteries make it to 48 months. And the life expectancy varies by where you live. It ranges from 51 months in extremely cold areas to just 30 months in extremely hot climates.
The Right Oil for the Season (Engine Oil Viscosity)Posted August 25, 2020 1:47 AM
As the temperatures plunge, certain types of engine oil may not flow as easily as they did when it was warmer. Makes sense, doesn't it? Just like molasses gets thicker as the temperature goes down, engine oil does the same thing. So, maybe you're wondering if you have to change your oil as the seasons change so it's just the right thickness to lubricate your engine parts.
How well engine oil flows is called its viscosity. There are different types of oil—some that have just one viscosity and others called "multigrade" oils. Here's the difference.
A single viscosity oil will flow better when it's hot but not as well when it's cold. A multigrade oil is engineered so that its flow properties at cold temperatures are different than they are at warm temperatures. In other words, a multigrade oil can start out in colder temperatures acting like a thinner oil and then behave like a thicker oil when it's warm. That's a pretty cool trick and it's why multigrade engine oil is used in nearly all vehicles. Your vehicle's manufacturer has the correct viscosity of oil for your particular model included in the owner's manual.
Another choice you have to make when it comes to engine oil is whether you use conventional oil, synthetic oil or a blend of the two. Synthetic oils have some advantages over conventional, such as resisting breakdown better and withstanding higher temperatures.
Check with your service advisor to see which viscosity and type of oil is recommended for your vehicle. It's important that in cold weather, the oil flows through your engine at the right thickness so that parts are being properly lubricated. That will make sure you'll get good fuel economy and performance, no matter what the temperature is.
No Strain, No Gain (The Basics of Oil Filters)Posted August 25, 2020 1:47 AM
Ever wonder what one of the best things is to ever happen to your vehicle's engine? It's the little thing that usually looks like a can, the oil filter.
Just like your kitchen sink strainer filters out errant particles of food from clogging your drain, the oil filter cleans out small particles that could cause your engine harm.
Your engine operates in a dirty, hot environment and gathers a lot of tiny contaminants like dirt, dust, little metal shards and unlucky bugs that get sucked in. Get those things circulating in your engine and those little particles can cause friction, which starts wearing out those finely machined metal parts.
You know how important it is to change your oil regularly. It's vital that you change your oil filter at the same time to keep the oil as close to brand new as possible.
Most oil filters look like a metal can with some holes in the bottom. Inside there are carefully chosen materials that can screen out the contaminants while at the same time allow the lubricating oil to pass through. Early oil filters had steel wool, metal mesh or actual screens. Then they tried fabric filters using material such as linen and cotton. Finally, a less expensive disposable filter using paper and cellulose did the trick.
Cellulose or other synthetic media are used in most oil filters today. Cellulose is inexpensive and effective. Fibers filter out particulates and let the oil flow. The other synthetic media have the ability to screen out even tinier particles while not significantly restricting the oil from getting through. Engineers continue to work on even more advanced filter material.
Choosing the right oil filter is something our pros at Madison Automotive can help you with because there are a lot of them out there. Factoring into that decision are your driving habits, how far you drive and the temperatures to which your engine will be subjected. While some filters will cost more than others, they may be worth it to extend the life of your engine.
But most important is remembering to come have your oil changed at Madison Automotive regularly at the intervals recommended by the vehicle's manufacturer. Just like you wouldn't want to have a plumber come over to fix a clogged kitchen drain, you certainly wouldn't want to have to pay for major engine repairs if they could be prevented by regular oil and filter changes.
Madison Automotive Maintenance Tips: The Belt Goes OnPosted August 25, 2020 1:47 AM
All Memphis service advisors know that without the alternator, the battery will go dead in a few miles.
The serpentine belt may also run the pumps for both the power steering and power brakes. And on many vehicles, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine to keep it within normal operating temperatures. (On some vehicles, the water pump is powered by the timing belt instead of the serpentine belt.)
So you can see the serpentine belt does a lot of work. And it if breaks, it affects a lot of systems. That's why your vehicle manufacturer and your service advisor at Madison Automotive have recommended that it be changed every so often so that it doesn't fail.
Fuel Filter ReplacementPosted August 25, 2020 1:47 AM
Mercury Rising (Hot Weather Vehicle Concerns)Posted August 25, 2020 1:47 AM
The heat is on, and your vehicle takes a beating when it is. Several of your vehicle's systems are under extra stress in hot weather, so here are a few to make sure are getting the care and maintenance they need.
It makes sense that the cooling system is one to make sure is in top shape. Vehicle breakdowns in summer are often due to a problem with one of the cooling system's components. Coolant levels have to be up to specs, the ratio of coolant to water must be correct and the hoses, pumps, belts and radiator must all be working properly in order to prevent vehicle overheating.
Summer is also hard on your air conditioning system. You might find that no air is blowing out of the vents or maybe only hot air is coming out. Air conditioning equipment is best diagnosed and repaired by a trained and experienced technician. The problem could be in any number of components, including the condenser, compressor or blower motor.
You may think the battery gets a break in the summer, but heat will shorten the life of your battery more quickly than cold. Your service facility can analyze the condition of your battery and tell you whether it's healthy or needs replacing.
Tires take a beating in heat, too. Pavement can be scorching hot, and the sun's rays break down the rubber. Watch inflation pressure in hot weather, too, since air expands the hotter it gets. Your technician can check air pressure, tread depth, cupping and other uneven wear and diagnose the source of any problems.
And don't forget brakes. One video online says brakes on a car that were driven hard on a track reached temperatures as high as 500°C/932°F. Heat can reduce stopping power. A technician should periodically inspect pads, rotors, drums, lines and other components to find a problem before you lose the ability to stop.
Finally, engine oil is really put to the test when it gets hot. Your vehicle service facility will make sure you have enough oil and the proper kind to keep your engine's components properly lubricated. Help your vehicle beat the heat.
The Truth about Tire Pressure (Tire Inflation)Posted August 25, 2020 1:47 AM
Most light vehicles (under 10,000 pounds/4,500 kg) in North America sold from 2008 model year on have a feature that many people are confused about. It's the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS). You may have some experience with it yourself if you own a newer vehicle. Vehicles with TPMS have sensors in each tire that are supposed to warn the driver when tire pressure gets dangerously low. That's important because tires that are significantly under-inflated can cause very serious accidents.
Unfortunately, many drivers think the TPMS does all the work keeping track of tire pressure. To them, as long as the warning light or gauge isn’t giving a warning, the tires must have the proper amount of air pressure in them. That's not the case.
Tire pressure monitoring systems aren't all created equal. Some give you a digital readout of the pressures in each individual tire. But many simply have a warning light that looks like the cross section of a tire with an exclamation point in the middle. If you don't know what it is, it's because it's not instantly recognizable as a tire. In fact, one company that makes TPMS, Schrader Performance Sensors, surveyed drivers. Their study showed that more than 40 percent of drivers didn't know that that warning light was.
One out of 5 of the drivers who did know what the light was only looked at their tires after the light came on to see if they could see any that needed air; they never checked them with a tire gauge or had someone else do it. Ten percent of them didn't do anything when the light came on.
In most vehicles with TPMS, the warning comes on only when the tires are more than 25% underinflated. The American Automobile Association says that's under the pressure you need for safe vehicle operation.
The bottom line is once a month you should make sure your tires are inflated to the manufacturer's recommendations. That means each tire should be measured with an accurate, external tire gauge. To be confident you are getting a correct reading, take your vehicle to a reputable service facility where their equipment is calibrated and they know what they're doing.
Severely underinflated tires can contribute to an accident that kills or severely injures people. The idea behind TPMS is well intended, but the system was never meant to replace regular inflation measurements and maintenance. Periodically have your tires checked for proper inflation.
The Key Won't Turn! (Ignition Problems)Posted August 25, 2020 1:47 AM
You've just arrived at the store shopping and you're ready to head home. You put your key in the ignition and… oh, no! The ignition won't turn! What do you do now?
Don't panic. There are some things you can do to get going again. The first thing to do is see if you have a locking steering wheel, an anti-theft feature that was introduced around 1970. Sometimes it sticks. Move the steering wheel side to side while you try to turn the key and you might be able to get it to release.
Another thing to check is to see if your vehicle is in gear. Most vehicles will only allow you to start the ignition if it's in park or neutral. If you have an automatic transmission vehicle and it is in park, try jiggling the shift lever and try the key again. Sometimes the safety mechanism doesn't properly make contact or gets a little sloppy.
If both of these don't work, it could be your vehicle's battery is dead. Some newer electronic systems require power so the key can turn. Others have alarm systems that detect if doors are open.
Other issues that can cause key problems include something jammed in the lock cylinder. Or some of the springs or pins inside may be stuck. Consider that it may be the key itself. Sometimes they get bent or simply wear out from the number of times they've been put in and taken out of the cylinder.
No matter what the cause, the first time this happens you should have your repair service facility check it out. That’s because if it happens once, it can happen again. Even if you were able to get going again on your own, your ignition/key has warned you that something's wrong. Have it checked out by a pro so you’re not locked into a bad situation.
Don't Do It Yourself (Perils of DIY Vehicle Repair)Posted August 25, 2020 1:47 AM
Your vehicle is a complicated machine, and yes, it would be nice if you could take care of all of its problems yourself. There was a time when vehicles were simpler and it wasn't too hard for a weekend mechanic to replace brakes, adjust a carburetor or perform a tune-up. But vehicles are far more complicated these days, with traction and stability control, anti-lock brakes, air bags and fuel injection just a small sample of the new technologies.
Like a lot of things these days, technology changes in leaps and bounds. Anyone who repairs vehicles has to stay up on the latest computers, sensors, suspensions, steering, electronics, hydraulics and more. Many power steering, braking and heating and air conditioning systems that used to be mechanical are now being replaced by electronic systems. Computers are an integral part of much of the latest automotive technology, something you didn't see a lot of until as recently as the 1990s.
Today's most highly-trained technicians are able to keep up with how to perform the latest repairs and service by continuing education about their craft. When once an auto repairman could do fine with a lift and a good set of tools, now specialized electronic analysis equipment and tools are must-haves when it comes to vehicle repair.
Because of how fast technology changes, access to the latest repair databases and manuals is also important. Manufacturers require certain service procedures to be performed precisely, and any other way can leave a vehicle compromised when it comes to performance and safety.
Your vehicle is capable of traveling at high speeds on challenging surfaces with ever-increasing traffic issues and unpredictable obstacles. You need your vehicle to be working up to its engineered potential. That's why you should leave repairs and service to professionals. They work on vehicles every day, and years of experience with hundreds of repairs equip them to deal with the unexpected as well as the routine.
When you develop a trusting relationship with a reputable service facility, you can have confidence that the maintenance, service and repairs are being done by people who know what they're doing. Your safety and your vehicle's performance and reliability are well worth it.
Good Timing: Proper Timing Belt Replacement Saves Money for Memphis DriversPosted August 25, 2020 1:47 AM
Knowing how their engine works can help Memphis drivers make informed decisions about auto care and prevent repairs to their vehicles. This is especially true when it comes to timing belts.
Not So Cool (Air Conditioning Systems)Posted August 25, 2020 1:47 AM
There's nothing quite like getting in your vehicle on a hot day, switching on the air conditioning and having warm air blow out of the vents. You may have had no problem for months and then, one day, you are driving around in a sauna. You're hot stuff, but not in a good way!
So what goes wrong when the AC isn't working? It could be a lot of things because the system has many different components. One thing that's a common cause is the vehicle is low on refrigerant (it used to be called Freon). If that's the case, it's not as simple as simply adding more. Sure, it may fix it quickly for a short time, but it's more likely than not that the refrigerant will just leak out again.
The original Freon used in air conditioners was destroying the Earth's ozone layer, so that's not used much any more. But the one that's currently used also contributes to global warming, so it's important that as little of that escapes as possible. So a technician will determine if there's a leak in your system, where it is and fix that before adding new refrigerant.
Your vehicle also has an evaporator or two, and those can fail. Leaks are often the problem with them as well. The big component that can go bad is the compressor, often a victim of age, wear or neglect.
A technician will also check to see that the blower is working correctly. That's what blows that cool air into the cabin. Sometimes the motor will fail, a relay will go bad or a fuse will blow. As you can see, there are lots of different parts involved here!
The good news is that your vehicle's service facility has the special equipment to recover the refrigerant and check the system's pressure, both vital to properly servicing the air conditioning system.
As with many vehicle components, regular maintenance can go a long way to minimizing problems in the air conditioning system. It can reduce the chance of the compressor having to be replaced, too. Pretty cool, huh?
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CategoriesAir Conditioning (6)Alignment (4)Alternator (3)Auto Safety (1)Automotive News (3)Battery (4)Brakes (4)Check Engine Light (2)Cooling System (5)Dashboard (1)Diagnostics (2)Drive Train (3)Exhaust (1)Fluids (5)Fuel Economy (2)Fuel Saving Tip: Slow Down (2)Fuel System (13)Headlamps (2)Maintenance (18)Monitoring System (1)Oil Change (2)Older Vehicles (1)Parts (2)PCV Valve (2)Serpentine Belt (1)Service Intervals (4)Service Standards (3)Shocks & Struts (3)Spark Plugs (1)Steering (2)Suspension (1)Timing Belt (2)Tire Rotation and Balancing (1)Tires (2)Tires and Wheels (13)TPMS (1)Warranty (1)Water Pump (1)What Customers Should Know (23)Windshield Wipers (3)Winter Prep (1)
Patrick Bertsch, 03/23/2023
Top quality shop with professional and accommodating service. Was passing through town when our car broke down and needed the issue diagnosed and resolved to get back on the road. David and team got us in and diagnosed and back on the road with a new fuel pump and recoded fuel flow control quickly and at a reasonable cost. The team then went above and beyond to support in diagnosing and escalating a towing company damage issue which they certainly didn't have to do. Highly recommended.