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Archive for October 2022

The Little Valve that Could (PCV Valve Replacement)

Posted October 30, 2022 8:28 AM

It's easy to get letters like PVC and PCV mixed up.  PVC is a plastic that's used in a lot of things, especially plumbing pipes.  And PCV is a valve that helps your engine burn off excess fumes rather than having them pollute our atmosphere. 

PCV stands for positive crankcase ventilation.  When your engine ignites gasoline in the cylinders, some of the gases produced make their way into the crankcase, where oil is held to lubricate the engine.  In earlier days, those gases would be vented out through a hose and go directly into the air.  It was a waste of gasoline (since about three-fourths of the gases were unburned fuel) and a nasty source of pollution.

So engineers devised a one-way valve that directed those gases back into the engine's air intake system to be burned again.  After a while, the PCV valve can get clogged up with gummy oil.  Not only does that reduce the recirculation of the gases, but it can also cause pressure in the crankcase to increase and possibly lead to an oil leak.

Signs your PCV valve has failed are oil leaks around the engine compartment or under your vehicle and poor engine performance. Your fuel economy will get worse. If you notice those signs, we can check your PCV valve. 

At the same time a technician inspects the PCV valve, they'll also check the vacuum hose that runs back to the air intake.  Plus, they'll make sure the vehicle doesn't have any other engine problems that might be contributing to your issues. 

Many technicians recommend replacing your PCV valve with each major tune-up, so you get ahead of any problems before they develop.  Now that you're an expert on PCV, it may be time to check out those PVC pipes in your bathroom!

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



When Are Your Tires Worn Out?

Posted October 23, 2022 8:13 AM


 

Hey Memphis area drivers, are your tires worn out? What is the standard for our TN streets? How can you tell on your vehicle?

While there may be legal requirements for the Memphis area, there are safety concerns that go beyond meeting minimum replacement mandates.

Two-thirty-seconds of an inch is the depth of the tire tread wear indicator bars that US law has required to be molded across all tires since August 1, 1968. When tires are worn so that this bar is visible, there's just 2/32 of an inch – 1.6 millimeters – of tread left. It's that level of wear that's been called into question recently.

We're referring to the tread depth on a tire, it can't move surface water out of the way and you start to hydroplane.

In a safety study, a section of a test track was flooded with a thin layer of water. If you laid a dime on the track, the water would be deep enough to surround the coin, but not enough to cover it.

A car and a full-sized pick-up accelerated to 70 miles per hour, or 112 kilometers an hour, and then made a hard stop in the wet test area. Stopping distance and time were measured for three different tire depths:

  • New tire tread depth
  • 4/32 of an inch, or 3.2 mm
  • 2/32 of an inch, or 1.6 mm

So what happened with the 2/32 inch/1.6 mm tires on the car? Get this – when the car had traveled the distance required to stop with new tires, it was still going 55 mph/89 kph. Stopping distance was nearly doubled to 379 feet/116 meters, and it took 5.9 seconds.

Wow! That means if you barely have room to stop with new tires, you would hit the car in front of you at 55 mph/89 kph with the worn tires.

Now, with the partially worn tires – at 4/32 of an inch, or 3.2 mm – the car was still going at 45 mph/72 kph at the point where new tires brought the car to a halt. It took nearly 100 feet, or about 30 meters, more room to stop and 1.2 seconds longer. That's a big improvement. We can see why Consumer Reports and others are calling for a new standard.

Of course, stopping distances were greater for the heavier pick-up truck.

How do you know when your tires are at 4/32 inch or 3.2 mm? Easy; just insert an American quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn't cover George Washington's hairline, it's time to replace your tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.

You may remember doing that with pennies. A penny gives you 2/32 inch, or 1.6 mm, to Abraham Lincoln's head. The quarter is the new recommendation – 4/32 inch, or 3.2 mm.

How do people feel about replacing their tires earlier? Well, tires are a big ticket item and most people want to get the most wear out of them that they can. But do you want that much more risk just to run your tires until they are legally worn out?

For us, and we would guess for many, the answer is "no".

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

 



Trip Inspection at Madison Automotive in Memphis

Posted October 16, 2022 7:30 AM

Memphis area drivers love their vehicles. And one of the most enjoyable things about them is taking a road trip. Freedom from daily schedules, new sights and the open road – it's great! But there's nothing like vehicle trouble to bring the fun to a grinding halt.

Now Memphis drivers can't always avoid problems, but you can take steps to reduce the probability of getting sidelined on your trip. The first step is to look at your trip plan from your vehicle's perspective. What kind of roads will you be traveling – winding TN byways? Purple mountain majesties or fruited plains? What weather conditions are you likely to encounter? How far will you travel each day? How much weight will you be hauling – passengers and luggage? Pulling a trailer, roof top carrier or ATVs? Will it be dusty?

Prepared with answers to these questions, you can schedule a trip inspection at Madison Automotive in Memphis to help you prepare your vehicle for your big adventure. A lot of our Memphis customers prefer to go through this exercise with their friendly and knowledgeable service advisor to get their input and make sure they haven't overlooked anything.

A great place for Memphis drivers to start is with the tires. Inspect them for tread wear and proper inflation. Is it time to rotate your tires? Replace them? Are they up to the job? You wouldn't want to drive regular highway tires on a muddy off-road adventure on TN rock-crawling trails. 

Shocks and struts play a major role in both driving comfort and safety. If they need to be replaced, you'll really be glad you did once you hit the road. Is it time for a wheel alignment? Fighting a car that's pulling to one side all day can be tiring and dangerous. 

And don't forget your brakes. Any strange noises, grabbing, soft or hard peddle feel? If there is any doubt, get a brake inspection at Madison Automotive in Memphis before you leave.

Moving under the hood, have a belts and hoses inspection. If something is excessively worn or near failure, the stress of a long road trip might just be the straw that breaks the camel's back. Talk to your service advisor at Madison Automotive.

Your engine air filter will be inspected. Your car's air filter will process 12,000 times as much air as the fuel burned by the engine. If the filter needs to be changed, you'll notice improvements on your trip.

How close are you to your next oil change? Will you be able to complete your trip before it's due? If not, just get it taken care of before you go so that you don't need to interrupt your trip. In fact, a full service oil change at Madison Automotive is a great idea because they will top off all your fluids and check to see if any other maintenance items are due, such as transmission or cooling system service.

Do you notice any unusual odors in your vehicle? If so, it could be as harmless as a dirty cabin air filter. But if it's an exhaust leak, it could be fatal for Memphis drivers and their passengers on a long trip. Of course you'll want to be comfortable, so get an air conditioning service if you aren't getting the cold air you’re used to. 

Are your wiper blades still working well? If not, that is a quick and inexpensive fix for Memphis drivers. Headlamps are often overlooked when planning for a trip. If you haven't changed the bulb in six months or so, replacement bulbs will really light up the night on your trip and provide the necessary after-sundown visibility.

All the items mentioned are part of any good vehicle maintenance plan. These are things that you want to take care of anyway, but they all become more important as you plan for your trip.

They will always save you money in the long run and may prevent inconvenient stops and delays on your trip. After all, you wouldn't want to miss the world's largest ball of string, would you?

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



Ethics of Automotive Repair in Memphis

Posted October 9, 2022 8:20 AM



We're going to be talking about the ethics of automotive repair. It seems like news outlets really like hit-and-run reporting; they hit everyone from groceries stores to retail to physicians. And the Memphis automotive service and repair industry hasn't been given a pass either.

Unfortunately, every profession in Memphis has some bad actors that hurt the reputation of everyone else. On the automotive side, industry associations and professional licensing organizations are very committed to high ethical standards.

Yet some people remain uncomfortable with Memphis automotive service and repair. It may start with the fact that our vehicles are a big investment and we rely on them for so much in our lives. That alone guarantees our attention. And how well we understand the recommendations really impacts our comfort level.

If we understand what's recommended and the benefits of taking care of the work – and the pitfalls of putting it off – we'll have more trust in the recommendation. So communication is key. It's like going to the doctor; If she's using medical jargon and takes a lot of basic medical knowledge for granted, we have a hard time following her train of thought. It can be like that with your Memphis service advisor too. He's so familiar with all things automotive, he may forget you don't know a PCV from an EGT.

If you don't understand what your doctor's talking about: ask some questions. If you don't understand what your Memphis automotive advisor's talking about: ask some questions.

Let's go back to those ethical standards; when we hear a repair recommendation, we always ask ourselves, "Is this really necessary?" Well, here's the industry standard:

If a technician tells you that a repair or replacement is required it must meet the following criteria:

  1. The part no longer performs its intended purpose
  2. The part does not meet a design specification
  3. The part is missing

For example, it you take your car in for a grinding noise when you step on the brakes, you may just think you need new brake pads. After the inspection, the technician at Madison Automotive says that you have a cracked rotor and need to replace it.

If you tried to get him to simply put new pads on, he would say that if you didn't want to replace the rotor; Madison Automotive would ethically have to refuse the repair.

To just put pads on a cracked rotor would have been very wrong. The brakes could've failed at anytime and needed to be repaired – not just have a band-aid slapped on them.

Now, looking at something not so serious, the technician may suggest repair or replacement if:

  1. The part is close to the end of its useful life – just above discard specifications or likely to fail soon
  2. To address a customer need or request – like for better ride or increased performance
  3. To comply with maintenance recommended by the vehicle's manufacturer
  4. Based on the technician's informed experience

Of course, the technician has the burden of making ethical recommendations and properly educating their customers. For the customer, if you are uncomfortable with a recommendation, ask some questions. More information is always a good thing.

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



Automotive Tips from Madison Automotive: Causes of Wheel Misalignment

Posted October 2, 2022 10:55 AM

When properly aligned, all of your wheels are pointed in the same direction. Your vehicle will track true and handle the way it is designed. Memphis drivers often associate our wheels being “knocked” out of alignment with an event like a major crash, hitting a pothole, curb or some other object. While these can certainly take your wheels out of alignment, the bumps and bounces of everyday Memphis driving take their toll on wheel alignment as well. Your car can lose alignment over time with just normal driving.

When your wheels are out of alignment, the team of automotive professionals at Madison Automotive in Memphis can return your wheels to the factory settings. Most owners’ manuals suggest an inspection every year or two.

Give us a call.

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



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