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Archive for February 2021

What is a TPS? (Throttle Position Sensor)

Posted February 28, 2021 7:43 AM

You know you have an accelerator pedal; step on it and your vehicle is supposed to go.  But did you know there is a part in your vehicle that keeps track of where the throttle is? It's called the Throttle Position Sensor, or TPS.

The TPS is a sensor that helps your vehicle figure out the right mix of air and fuel is reaching your engine.  It does that by keeping track of the throttle and sending that information to your vehicle's computer.  Other factors play a role in how well your engine is performing, including air temperature, how fast the engine is turning over and air flow. 

When the TPS isn't working right, you may find your vehicle won't accelerate or doesn't have the power you're expecting when you press on the accelerator.  In some cases, it may accelerate on its own.  Sometimes your vehicle won't go over a certain speed.  Your Check Engine light may go on.

Any of these symptoms should be checked out soon.  If your TPS stops working right, your vehicle may not be safe to drive.  Fortunately, most vehicles have a "limp home" mode that will allow you to get off a busy road to a safe spot. 

Your service advisor can let you know which TPS is the correct replacement for your vehicle.  Your shop may have to re-program the new TPS so it works correctly with other software in your vehicle.

It's a fact of life these days that computers control many of a vehicle's functions. The sensors that feed information to those computers help make your vehicle work the way it was engineered to and keep you motoring down the road safely and efficiently.

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



Before You Buy that Used Vehicle (Having a Used Car Inspected Before Buying)

Posted February 21, 2021 11:40 AM

Let's face it.  New vehicles are expensive, so finding a good used one can save drivers a lot of money.  It's tempting to look through ads, find a private seller who has what you're looking for and pay a price you think is a great deal.  But when you go over to look at a used car, do you really know what to look for to uncover potential problems with it?

The answer is probably no.  Used cars can look great on the outside, maybe even have lustrous paint and a super clean interior. But is it possible that vehicle's been in an accident? Does it have electrical problems you can't detect easily? Is any fluid leaking that you don't know about?

Think about it.  You are about to spend thousands of dollars for a complex machine and you're considering judging its condition without much expertise.  That's why it makes sense to have a qualified technician inspect any used vehicle you're considering buying.

Many vehicle repair facilities will do it for around $100-$200.  They'll check to see what's working right and what's not working.  They'll check for leaks and how strong the battery is; they'll look for signs it's been in an accident or has been painted. They'll look in places you'd find inaccessible, and they'll take it for a test drive to see what noises, vibrations and smells might give clues to any major problems.  An inspection usually takes about an hour.

You should have an inspection done by a technician you know and trust.  They'll have your best interests in mind.  And the inspection should be done before you start negotiating a price with the seller.  It's money well spent to either give you peace of mind that you're getting a good vehicle or steer you away from a lemon. 

One sign a used vehicle isn't a good deal? If the buyer refuses to let you have it inspected.  That says just about everything that needs to be said.    

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



Beware Dangers of Spring Driving (Seasonal Driving Tips)

Posted February 14, 2021 11:02 AM

Sure, winter is quickly fading in the rearview mirror, but the peril of icy roads is replaced with a whole new set of driving challenges in spring.

Deer and other wildlife. You are not the only one who gets spring fever.  Animals do, too, and spring is the time they start looking for mates and food.  Be extra careful at dawn and dusk when deer are especially active.  Hitting a deer (or having them jump into your path suddenly) is a frightening experience, and even a deer/vehicle collision at slow speeds can cause injury and/or loss of life for both animal and humans, let alone expensive damage to the vehicle.  Be extra vigilant during spring.

The angle of the light.  As the seasons progress, you'll notice sun angles change.  The sun is rising earlier every morning and setting later at light.  When the sun is low in the sky, that glare can render you almost completely blind.  Make sure your windows and windshield are clean; don't forget the inside glass, too, which can build up a haze over the winter. 

Potholes. The freezing and thawing of pavement is shockingly effective at busting up asphalt and concrete. The holes left behind can seem like moon craters, and if you hit one or more hard, they can cause you to lose control of your vehicle, increasing your chances of an accident.  They also can cause some significant damage to your vehicle. If you feel your vehicle pulling to one side, notice it has a rough ride or hear noises you haven’t heard before, have your suspension's integrity inspected at your vehicle service facility.    

Children playing.  Kids are excited to get back outside, running wild, playing with balls and toys… just being kids.  These newly-rediscovered outside thrills can also steal away their attention from what's going on around them and they may dart out onto the street before you know it. Spring is a time to be vigilant and devote extra concentration to roads and neighborhoods. 

Spring is such a breath of fresh air. Remember to be super careful of a whole new set of hazards winter made you forget about for a while.


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



Steer Me Right! (Failing Power Steering Hose)

Posted February 7, 2021 8:37 AM

Most drivers love how easy it is to turn their vehicles, and they have power steering to thank.  Engineers have figured out a way to take some of your engine's power to help you turn. Without it, steering can be quite a chore.  New power systems are electric, but there are still plenty of the older hydraulic power steering systems out there, and it's wise to keep them working the way they should so you don't find yourself stranded without power steering.

Those hydraulic power systems use a fluid under pressure that is pumped to a device that helps you turn your wheels more easily.  It's that pressure that presents the challenge.  After your vehicle's seen a few years on the road, you may find your steering isn't quite as easy as it was.  You may hear a groaning or humming sound when you turn. 

One component that can fail is the pressure hose that carries that fluid from the power steering pump to that turning assist mechanism.  The hose is made of rubber and can leak, crack, get damaged by heat and debris or just get too old.  If yours is ten years old or older, it's likely getting close to the end of its life.

If you think you can just wait until it fails completely, think of these possible consequences.  If the hose or a coupling fails, power steering fluid can blow all over the hot engine.  That fluid is flammable and can start a fire.  Or if you've been driving for a few weeks with low power steering fluid, that could ruin your power steering pump. Replacing the pump is an extra expense you can probably  live without.

A technician will replace the necessary parts and make sure air and contaminants are bled or flushed from the system.  Then, he or she will check for leaks.  Just think how important a properly working power steering system is for safe operation of your vehicle.  Make sure you keep yours in top shape for your safety's sake and the safety of others on the road around you.

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



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