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Archive for August 2020

What's in a Number? (What Tire Numbers Mean)

Posted August 30, 2020 11:09 AM

You've probably never paid much attention to the writing on the sides of your tires, but they contain a wealth of information.  There's a long combination of letters and numbers that can tell you a whole lot about what tires your vehicle was designed to be riding on.  Let's check out this example found on an SUV: P245/70R17 108T.

The first letter, P, means it's intended for passenger vehicles.  If there's no letter, it means it's a metric tire.  If there's an LT at the beginning or end that means a tire designed for light trucks.

Moving on to our example, the 245 shows how wide the tire is in millimeters from sidewall to sidewall.  The number that follows in our example, 70, means the height of the tire is 70% of its width.  The letter after that in our example, R, describes the type of tire (on this vehicle, radial).  Following that is the diameter in inches, in our SUV example, 17 inches. 

How much load the tires' sidewalls are designed to take is what that next number is all about (108 in our example).  The higher the load index, the more weight the sidewalls can take.  And the last letter is the speed rating of the tire, in our example, T.  The further along in the alphabet that letter is, the higher its speed rating.  So now you know what those letters and numbers mean.  But why are they important?

When you are getting ready to replace those tires, those numbers are telling you what the original equipment was when your vehicle was new.  Sticking with the same rated tires is always a good idea.  If you don't know what you're doing, trying different sized tires and wheels can cause real issues when it comes to performance and safety, considering all the computerized systems now found on vehicles.  When in doubt, consult your service advisor when it comes to buying new tires.  He or she knows what those tire numbers and letters mean… and a whole lot more.

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



No Strain, No Gain (The Basics of Oil Filters)

Posted August 23, 2020 10:27 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 AutoSurgeonInc 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 AutoSurgeonInc 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.


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



'Tis the Season (Tires)

Posted August 16, 2020 7:45 AM

We all know about winter tires.  But did you know there is such a thing as summer tires?

Most people have all-season tires on their vehicles.  They work pretty well in a variety of weather conditions.  But if you want better handling and performance, you might consider switching to summer tires.  Here are a few things you should know about them.

Summer tires are good for high-performance vehicles like sports cars and luxury SUVs, but they don't have to be limited to those. They have a different tread pattern than all-season tires, with generally shallower grooves and more rubber that contacts the road.  The rubber is made of a stickier compound good for taking corners at higher speeds.  Plus it is engineered so it stays firmer the hotter the temperature gets. 

Here's a bonus.  That design also works well in warm, wet weather.  It makes sense, since more the more rubber that's touching the concrete or asphalt when it's slippery out, the better the traction. 

There are some things to be aware of with summer tires.  They often have asymmetrical or unidirectional tread patterns.  That sometimes limits the way these tires can be rotated on a vehicle.  Another thing to remember is it is NOT a good idea to use summer tires in any wintery conditions.  They lose traction as the temperature heads toward the freezing range and below since that rubber that's designed to stay firm at warm temperatures gets hard as a rock when they freeze.

But in warmer weather, summer tires can increase your braking and cornering capabilities.  Plus you'll notice more grip at faster speeds and higher temperatures than all-season tires.  So think about discussing summer tires with your service advisor to see if they'd be a good fit for the type of driving you do.  He or she will offer you some choices that are designed to meet your vehicle's specs.

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



A Honking Big Jam (Stuck Horn)

Posted August 9, 2020 12:20 PM

At one time or another, most drivers honk their horn at someone who might be texting at a stoplight or not paying attention when they're driving.  But what happens when you tap on your horn and all of a sudden it won't quit? Everyone's looking at you like you're an angry jerk and all you want to do is turn it off!

It helps to know the basics of what's happening when you honk your horn.  There's a switch in the steering wheel, of course, and when you press on it, it sends power to a relay which then energizes the horn.  Bingo.  Sound.  When the horn sticks on, one of these parts or the wiring has developed a problem. 

With the ear-splitting noise inside your cabin, it may be hard to keep your cool, but do your best to stay calm.  Try pushing the horn several times; it may un-stick the switch if you're lucky.  If not, there are a couple of things you can try.

First, if you can, pull your vehicle off the road and into a spot where you're not disrupting traffic.  If you feel comfortable rummaging around in your vehicle's fuse box, you might be able to pull the fuse that manages the circuit for your horn system.  A hint: the fuse boxes sometimes have a label inside showing which fuse goes to which part of the vehicle. Find the fuse that goes to the horn and pull it out (sometimes there's a fuse-pulling tool inside the fuse box).

But many people don't feel like tackling that.  Yes, you can drive over to a service facility with the horn blaring (not the best idea).  Or call your service facility and see if they might be able to send someone over to where you are so they can shut off the horn.

At the shop, a technician can check wiring, switches, relays and other components to find out what's wrong.  This is something that should be left to a professional for a couple of reasons.  First, repairs around the steering wheel can involve airbags.  Second, some horn components may be part of a vehicle's alarm system. 

The bad news is that your horn may not give you any warning before it starts blaring uncontrollably.  But the good news is that a horn doesn't malfunction all that often, and now you have a plan if it does.    

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



That Vexing Vapor Venting (Vapor Coming out of Vents)

Posted August 2, 2020 11:46 AM

You may have noticed sometimes on a hot and humid day, vapor will come out of your vehicle's vents when you have the air conditioning on.  Is that something to be concerned about? Well, it depends.

Sometimes that steam or vapor can be caused by water accumulating in the vent system after it has condensed.  And sometimes water can pool at the bottom of a vent.  When you turn on the blower mower, the air hits the water and may create steam or vapor that you can see in the cabin.

One thing to check is if that vapor smells like anything.  If it doesn't, that's a good sign. You may be able to run the fan for a while and the issue may just go away when things dry out.  But moisture collecting in the ventilation hoses in a hot vehicle may be a breeding ground for mold, and that can have health consequences.

There's another possibility. Ventilation systems often have drains to get rid of any accumulated water, and debris can sometimes clog them.  A technician can clean out those drains and you'll be back in business.

One thing to nose around for is a sweet smell coming out of your vents.  Sometimes the heater core (a component of your vehicle's heater system) can develop very tiny holes.  That sweet smell may be coolant that's been vaporized by those tiny holes entering your cabin. 

It's always a good thing to mention to your service advisor any abnormality you're seeing—or smelling—in your vehicle.  By venting a little about your vents, a technician can get to the bottom of the problem before it starts "clouding" the issue.

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



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