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Archive for December 2021

Serpentine Belt Service at Madison Automotive in Memphis

Posted December 26, 2021 11:54 AM

If you've ever heard a squealing sound under your vehicle hood, chances are it was your serpentine belt. More importantly, the belt powers the alternator. The alternator creates electricity that's used by your vehicle's electrical systems and also charges the battery. Without the alternator, the battery will go dead after a short distance.

The serpentine belt may also run the pumps for both the power steering (some are electric) and power brakes (some use vacuum boost).

And, on most vehicles, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine to keep it within optimal operating temperatures. On some Memphis vehicles, the water pump is powered by the timing belt instead of the serpentine belt.

When they understand what it does, Memphis drivers realize that if it breaks, it affects a lot of systems. That's why vehicle manufacturers outline recommended replacement guidelines in the owner’s manuals. If this important maintenance component is not included in your owner’s manual, come see us at Madison Automotive.

At Madison Automotive in Memphis, your professional technician can perform a visual inspection of the belt to see if it has any cracks that signal the belt could fail soon. If the belt has more than three or four cracks every inch or couple of centimeters, has deep cracks that penetrate half the depth of the belt, is frayed, is missing pieces or has a shiny, glazed look, it needs to be replaced regardless of age or mileage.

If it has lost a significant amount of thickness, it also needs to be replaced. Talk to your service advisor at Madison Automotive. There's a special spring-loaded pulley attached to the engine called the tensioner pulley. Its job is to make sure there's a constant tension on the serpentine belt so that it doesn't slip. The spring can become worn and no longer provide the necessary pressure to keep the belt tight. At Madison Automotive, we recommend that the tensioner be replaced at the same time as the serpentine belt.

As mentioned, a squealing sound could alert you that the serpentine belt needs to be replaced. It may be loose if you hear a slow, slapping sound when idling your vehicle.

All in all, the serpentine belt is very important to the operation of your vehicle. And it's not that expensive to replace at Madison Automotive – so it's good to do so before it fails.

Madison Automotive
2457 Covington Pike
Memphis, TN 38128
(901)386-9600
http://www.madisonautomotive.net



A Cold Day in Memphis ? Air Conditioning Service at Madison Automotive

Posted December 19, 2021 9:44 AM


Most Memphis drivers worry about a breakdown or a tire blowout on a busy TN highway, but don't worry too much about failure of their air conditioning system. A breakdown on the side of the road can be a miserable and dangerous affair during Memphis rush hour, but so can a long ride in a hot vehicle.

A lot of Memphis drivers judge their vehicles' air conditioning systems as “non-essential” and so may neglect them in favor of repairs and maintenance that keep the vehicle running. But preventive maintenance of an air conditioning system is simple and inexpensive, while auto a/c repair can be very expensive.

Memphis drivers should have the refrigerant in their air conditioning system checked regularly to ensure it is adequate and clean. Air conditioning systems often fail because air and water have contaminated the refrigerant. Air reduces the efficiency of the refrigerant, and water can cause rusting of the system's components. If your refrigerant is contaminated, the system should be evacuated and recharged. This will actually extend the life of your air conditioning system, preventing repairs, and keep it at peak performance.

At Madison Automotive, we advise our Memphis customers to run their air conditioner periodically in the winter. This will keep the seals from drying out and cracking, saving them the inconvenience of this relatively minor repair.

Check with your vehicle owner's manual or with your friendly service advisor at Madison Automotive for information about how often your vehicle air conditioning system should be serviced.

Madison Automotive
2457 Covington Pike
Memphis, TN 38128
(901)386-9600
http://www.madisonautomotive.net



A Squirrely Problem (Animals Nesting in Engine)

Posted December 12, 2021 12:09 PM

If you park your vehicle outside, you are exposing it to all sorts of critters that would love to use it for nesting, food storage and shelter.  There are plenty of pictures online of people who've discovered there was more than an engine under the hood.  In one case, the driver of an SUV started to smell a slight burning odor when she was driving.  Turned out to be 200 walnuts and a lot of grass had been stored there by some industrious squirrels preparing for the upcoming cold weather. 

The SUV owners had their vehicle inspected not long before this happened, but it doesn't take some animals long to set up house in what they think is the ideal spot to make their winter home.   Obviously, that can create problems.  Squirrels, mice, rats and other small animals can chew through hoses and wires.  Plus what they store as food and nesting material may prevent engine parts from moving the way they are supposed to.  Imagine a radiator fan that won't turn because it's laden with heavy walnuts.  Or the fire hazard created by flammable brush on a hot manifold.

Probably the best solution is to store your vehicle inside a rodent-tight building, but that's no guarantee.  Unfortunately it doesn't take a very big hole or gap for small mice or other creatures to get in.  Some careful sealing with materials like cement or steel wool can reduce rodent access effectively, but they're always looking for access so you can't let down your guard.

If you're not able to store your vehicle inside, you may try spraying lavender or mint essence around the engine or in the wheel wells.  Rodents don't seem to like those odors very much.  If you drive your vehicle every day, you're less likely to have unwanted residents than if you leave it sit for days.  In either case, if you have experienced animal problems in the past, open your hood and inspect your engine frequently. 

Check with your service adviser for recommendations on how to keep animals out of your vehicle.  You're not the only one whose vehicle looks like the perfect winter apartment to some critters.  Preventing animals from getting to your vehicle is worth some time and expense because damage from gnawing teeth can be very costly and difficult to repair.

Madison Automotive
2457 Covington Pike
Memphis, TN 38128
(901)386-9600
http://www.madisonautomotive.net



The Maintenance Free Myth

Posted December 5, 2021 11:31 AM

Sometimes we hear people in Memphis say, "What's up with all this maintenance stuff? Modern cars just don't break down." While it is true that today's vehicles are extremely reliable, they are also becoming increasingly complicated and use more exotic materials than ever before. All that complexity demands higher tolerances for everything. For example, most Memphis drivers don't realize how high tech automotive fluids have become,  fluids such as engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant and brake fluid.

Did you know that a modern engine would not run for more than a few months using motor oil formulas from 30 years ago? Today's automotive fluids contain a much higher percentage of additives to protect your vehicle's components from premature wear and corrosion. Time and distances march on for all of our cars. Please don't think we're using scare tactics to get you to take care of your maintenance - but here are some personal stories we've heard to emphasize and show how important it is to get things done when they are due. Names are withheld to avoid embarrassment to those who should know better. Even though they should know better, it usually comes down to real life: time and money. But they are tales of a stitch in time saves nine.

The first comes from someone who bought a used pick-up truck for his son. The oil was clean and all the fluids were topped off. A short time later, the truck overheated on a highway in TN and shut down. The repair shop diagnosed the problem: the radiator pan was corroded and dumped the coolant. Even though the coolant level was correct, it was clear that the coolant had never been completely replaced - just topped off from time to time. While this kept the engine cool, all of the anti-corrosion additives had worn out; the coolant became acidic and ate through the radiator pan. The cost: hundreds of dollars and four days in the shop. This demonstrates the need to get your coolant exchanged on schedule.

Another story involves the true cost of skipping an annual inspection. This guy took his SUV in for the TN safety inspection to renew his registration. At the Memphis inspection station, he learned that the law had changed and that his newer rig only required an inspection every two years. He was very happy to save the money. The problem was, his rear brake pads were very worn. Two months later, it was bad enough that he could hear the grind - over the radio, DVD player and the kids. He took it in to get the bad news. Both of the rear brake rotors were damaged. The left one could be resurfaced. The right had to be replaced. So saving a little on his safety inspection turned into an extra $500 over what brake pad replacement would have been. Moral of the story for Memphis drivers: don't skip your annual inspections. The irony is that many Memphis service centers would have done a brake inspection for free.

Next: a teenage daughter and a curb. Daddy's little princess smacked a curb when she turned into a shopping center and popped the tire. The problem came when Dad didn't get an alignment. The impact was hard enough to ruin the tire - so it was enough wreck the alignment. But instead of an alignment after the first tire, Papa ended up buying a second tire a few months later - and then an alignment.

Situation: son and wife with cars from the same vehicle manufacturer with essentially the same engine. Our staffer checked the son's maintenance schedule and saw that it needed a timing belt replacement at 90,000 miles/145,000 km. He had it done - it cost several hundred dollars. His wife's car had about 60,000 miles/97,000 km, so it should be ok for a while. Right? Wrong. The problem was that the wife had the turbo charged version. Its belt was scheduled for replacement at 60,000 mi/97,000 km. At 63,000 mi./101,000 km, the belt snapped on the interstate. The valves all crashed down into the cylinders at high speed, the entire head was shredded and it had to be replaced. The cost: several thousand dollars. Does he wish he had checked the vehicle manufacturer’s maintenance schedule? You bet he does - every time he passes a big-screen TV.

The team at Madison Automotive in Memphis recommends taking care of little things before they become big things. And when you take care of the little things, you can make your car run better.  Plus, it is more economical to operate in TN. Remember to save those maintenance records. It'll show potential buyers that you've taken care of your vehicle and it will help you get a better price. Or when you buy a used car, check those records. If there aren't any, assume that the maintenance hasn't been done and take it to Madison Automotive in Memphis for an inspection. Take care of unperformed routine maintenance sooner rather than later.

Madison Automotive
2457 Covington Pike
Memphis, TN 38128
(901)386-9600
http://www.madisonautomotive.net



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