AUTONET TV


Archive for December 2019

A Squirrely Problem (Animals Nesting in Engine)

Posted December 29, 2019 7:00 AM

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.

AutoSurgeonInc
1820 E Kalamazoo St
Lansing, Michigan 48912
517-374-8940



The Puzzling Puddle (Leaks Under Vehicle)

Posted December 22, 2019 8:10 AM

Ever notice a little spot of liquid under your vehicle after you've parked in your driveway or garage? It may have been something as simple as water left from air conditioning condensation.  But then again, it could be a sign that there's trouble brewing in one of your vehicle's systems.

You can help your service facility diagnose the problem by getting a little sample of the drip.  At the same time, you may save yourself a tougher clean up task by preventing the leaky fluid from really messing up the driveway or garage floor.  The first thing is to put something under the vehicle. A flattened out cardboard box will do fine.  You may also want to slip a little disposable aluminum tray or pan under it to catch a bit of the fluid.  Chroma and consistency can help a technician quickly figure out what kind of fluid you're dealing with.  You can take your sample with you when you go to your service facility.

Also note how much of the substance is there over what period of time, when you started to notice it and its location relative to the vehicle.  Is it on the passenger's or driver's side? Front, middle or back? Vehicle's have different designs, so where their equipment is located will depend on make and model. 

The leaky fluid will have a certain look to it and consistency.  If it's blue, it may be windshield washer fluid and a sign that your washer fluid tank has a leak.  If it's green, it could be antifreeze.  Orange may mean rusty water or transmission fluid.  Brown? Might be oil.

There should be no leaks in your powertrain if things are maintained properly.  A small leak may not seem like a big deal, but sometimes they can get much bigger quickly.  A coolant leak, for example, may suddenly go from pinhole to flood, draining your cooling system and putting your engine in danger of overheating. 

It is a really good idea to have a professional check out your leaks as soon as you notice them.  And the more clues you can provide, the happier the technician will be as the search for the problem gets underway.

AutoSurgeonInc
1820 E Kalamazoo St
Lansing, Michigan 48912
517-374-8940



The Turn Signal Mystery (Turn Signal Problems)

Posted December 15, 2019 10:04 AM

Some problems are easy to diagnose on a vehicle; others aren't.  Figuring out what's wrong with a malfunctioning turn signal sometimes fits into both categories.  By the way, if your tempted to just leave your broken blinker broken, remember you can get a ticket for not using them, not to mention you are missing a great chance to communicate your intentions to other drivers on the road.

There can be lots of signals that your signals are on the blink.  Does only the driver's side signal not work or the passenger's side? Do your hazard signals work? Do the lights illuminate but not flash? Can you see the indicators on the dash blinking? Do your turn signals turn off after you've finished your turn or do they stay on?  These are all great clues for the technician.

Here's one common symptom to take note of.  Your signal all of a sudden starts blinking much more quickly than it used to.  It could be a simple as a burned out bulb.  But there are many different parts that go into the turn signal system.  There are fuses that blow, switches that can fail, flasher modules that go bad and light bulb sockets that can simply get corroded or dirty.  When that happens, it's possible there's no contact between the bulb and the socket.

So it's understandable how tracking down the source of the problem can involve some detective work.  Your service facility has equipment that can nail down the cause of your problems. They may also consult the repair manual.  One thing to be aware of: if your vehicle has airbags, they may have to be disabled so they don't accidentally go off.

You can make sure your turn signals are working correctly by having them checked by a trained technician.  Other drivers will thank you for showing them the courtesy of signaling your intentions.  It's a courteous and considerate thing to do, not to mention it makes the road a safer place. 

AutoSurgeonInc
1820 E Kalamazoo St
Lansing, Michigan 48912
517-374-8940



Not a Good Vibe (Driveshaft Failure)

Posted December 8, 2019 10:51 AM

When you feel your vehicle vibrating as you're driving down the road, one cause could be something you may not have ever seen: your driveshaft.  It is underneath the vehicle and most drivers don't climb under there to take a look very often.  The driveshaft is a cylindrical part that helps conduct the rotational power from your engine to your drive wheels.  If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, you may have two driveshafts. 

The drive shaft has bushings, and when they wear out, that's a likely source of the vibrations.  When the bushings are in good condition, they prevent the driveshaft from vibrating.  And if you don't get your vehicle repaired fairly soon after discovering vibrations, they'll continue to get worse and cause other components of the drivetrain to wear out.

The driveshaft is, of course, only one part of the drivetrain.  It includes other parts such as axles, transmission, differentials and joints.  They all work together and need to be maintained properly.  When a driveshaft fails, there can be symptoms other than vibrations.  They include difficulty turning, rattles, clunks and squeaks coming from underneath your vehicle. You may even feel a shudder when you accelerate from a stop.

Driveshafts can fail when they get corroded or damaged by rough roads, curbs and debris. A trained technician with experience working on drivetrains uses specialized equipment that doesn't further damage the drivetrain's other parts.  Sometimes the entire driveshaft will have to be replaced; sometimes the problems can be fixed by replacing individual components. 

Your vehicle's drivetrain was engineered to propel you smoothly down the road.  When time and distance begin to take their toll, have your vehicle looked at by your service facility. They'll know how to properly pinpoint what's causing your problems and restore your vehicle to the reliable, smooth, safe machine its designers worked hard to create.

AutoSurgeonInc
1820 E Kalamazoo St
Lansing, Michigan 48912
517-374-8940



Growing Old Together (Maintaining an Older Vehicle)

Posted December 1, 2019 8:56 AM

More and more of us are hanging on to our vehicles longer.  A company by the name of HIS Markit recently released a report that shows the average age of light vehicles in the U.S. is now 11.8 years.  Light vehicles are cars, SUVs (sport utility vehicles) and CUVs (compact utility vehicles). 

In Canada, the average life expectancy of a vehicle there is around 13 years, and in the U.S., it's around 15.  Vehicles are lasting longer these days, and there are several reasons for that.

One expert cites better technology and overall quality improvements.  While in past years, vehicles were made mainly of heavier steel components, more modern vehicles contain lighter magnesium and aluminum alloys, high-strength steel, polymers and carbon fiber.  They last longer and reduce the overall vehicle weight, and that can contribute to better fuel economy.

Modern internal combustion engine designs have been improved, and since they use more computers, they are more efficient with better performance.  Those factors also contribute to a longer-lasting powertrain.  In fact, it's not unusual to see a powertrain easily last 150,000 miles/250,000 kilometers or more with no major failures.

Drivers are also taking their vehicles in more regularly for periodic maintenance.  Choosing one service facility for all your maintenance can contribute to your vehicle's longevity, too, since technicians know your vehicle's repair and service history.

If you bought your vehicle taking out a 5-year loan and you keep it 11 years, you've managed 6 of those years without a payment, always a nice feeling.  Plus, a bonus is that you get very familiar with every aspect of that vehicle's sounds, smells, handling, stopping characteristics, visibility and limitations.  And the more familiar you are with your vehicle, the more confident you can be as a driver.

AutoSurgeonInc
1820 E Kalamazoo St
Lansing, Michigan 48912
517-374-8940



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