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Archive for October 2021

Beware of Potholes! (Avoiding Pothole Damage)

Posted October 31, 2021 7:37 AM

You may live in a region where roads become pockmarked with craters known better as potholes.  They're caused by moisture seeping through a compromised road surface that can freeze, expand and literally punch holes in the road.  And when your vehicle hits one of those holes that's big enough, the impact can flatten a tire, bend a wheel or tear apart a suspension component. 

To minimize pothole damage, leave enough room between you and the vehicle in front of you so you can see the road surface and any upcoming potholes.  That way you'll have time to slow down and steer around them.  Also, if you see what looks like a puddle of water, it may be hiding a pothole underneath, so treat it as if was a pothole.

If you keep your tires inflated to the manufacturer's specifications, they're more likely to withstand hard impacts.  And the slower you're going when you hit a pothole, the less likely you are to break something.   But if you do find you've hit a pothole pretty hard, here are some signs to watch out that could signal damage.

  • Your vehicle pulls to one side
  • The steering wheel shakes
  • You hear noises or clunks coming from your suspension
  • Your steering wheel is not centered when you are going straight

 

These are all symptoms you should have checked at your vehicle repair facility as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the more damage you may be doing.

You also may find after hitting a pothole hard that the tire on that wheel is flat. Try not to drive any more on that tire since you could do a lot more damage to the tire and/or wheel. A call to roadside assistance may save you money in the long run by limiting the damage to what's already done.

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



It's Brake Time (Brake Calipers)

Posted October 24, 2021 11:39 AM

Race car drivers have demonstrated the advantages of disc brakes, so most modern vehicles use them.  Sometimes just the front wheels have disc brakes, but many vehicles now have them all the way around. 

A major component of the disc brake is called a caliper.  It works by squeezing brake pads against the disc or rotor, kind of like a bicycle hand brake.  The brake pads themselves are what contact the rotor, causing friction to build and the wheel to slow down, but it's the calipers that apply the pressure to the pads.

Caliper design has evolved over the years, and there are two common types.  One is called a floating caliper.  It has one or two pistons on one side of the disc. When you push down the brake pedal, the piston or pistons in your caliper put pressure on that one side.  A mechanism connected on the other side of the disc applies pressure as well, squeezing your disc so the vehicle stops.  Floating calipers are less expensive since they have fewer parts.

The other type is called a fixed caliper.  They use pistons on both sides of the disc, sometimes several.  They are often used in more high-performance or heavy-duty vehicles.

Calipers can have rubber seals to keep out dirt, debris and moisture, but when that rubber wears out, sometimes the calipers can get contaminated.  They can stick or start leaking; they can even rust.  Then your caliper can get stuck applying that "squeeze" when you are not pressing on the brake pedal.  Or they can get stuck in the other position, not applying stopping power when you press the pedal.

When this happens, it's not unusual to feel your vehicle pull to one side when you brake.  You might notice a burning smell from the constant friction if the caliper is stuck on, plus you may feel the heat from the wheel after you park and get out of your vehicle.  Sometimes you'll hear a high-pitched sound or clunk if your calipers are binding up. 

That's your cue to have them checked out at your vehicle service center.  If your calipers aren't working correctly, it can be a safety hazard.  Sticking calipers can affect your ability to steer and stop; this is the kind of "brake time" you need so you can get them back on track and working properly.

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



Out with the Old (Vehicle Parts that Wear Out)

Posted October 17, 2021 9:41 AM

Some drivers don't pay any attention to their vehicles until something breaks.  Others take them into their service repair facility for maintenance even before a problem develops.  Still, even if you fit into the second group, there are some parts on a vehicle that will simply wear out over time.

Your vehicle has gaskets in several places.  They use a flexible material to seal the gaps between metal parts that fit together. After time, that material shrinks or gets brittle and fails.  Eventually, after time, you will have to get gaskets replaced.

Same goes for belts.  Your engine has belts that help take the mechanical energy of the engine to drive other parts such as the generator and air conditioner.  Heat and age will eventually cause these belts to wear out or break, so you'll need new ones at some point.

You'll also find yourself buying brake pads.  As much as you may try to go easy on them, brake pads work by wearing off a little bit of them each time they help you stop your vehicle.  Do a lot of stop-and-go driving and you'll hasten the process.

No battery lasts forever, and your vehicle's battery is no exception.  It can only charge and discharge electricity so many times.  Count on getting no more than 4 or 5 years out of a battery, fewer if you live in a very hot spot.

Other parts that don't age well? Tires.  They can have plenty of tread left on them, but rubber gets old and loses its flexibility. Tires have their date of manufacturer stamped on them for a reason.

Finally, your muffler is being subject to moisture from inside and out: inside because of moisture-containing exhaust and outside from the elements outdoors. Stainless steel or other alloys will last longer, but after a while, either the moisture or constant pounding from vibrations will take their toll.

That's why it's important to maintain every part on your vehicle. You can't wave a magic wand and make everything last forever, but take care of your vehicle and it'll take care of you.


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



Breathe New Life into Your Engine (MAF sensor replacement)

Posted October 10, 2021 12:00 PM

If you’ve noticed your vehicle is hard to start, stalling, or has lost power, the culprit may be a part with an odd name: the MAF sensor.  You may have never even heard of a MAF sensor, but it’s important that it be working correctly, or you may be experiencing some fairly significant engine issues.

All vehicles bring in air and direct it through an air filter before it goes into your engine, where it mixes with fuel to provide power to get you going. There’s a tube-like device with a sensor inside it that measures how much of that mass of air is passing through. That’s why it’s called a mass air flow sensor, or MAF sensor.  If the MAF sensor isn’t working right, the engine’s computer can’t figure out the right amount of fuel to mix with it, and your engine may hesitate or stall.  Sometimes this will cause your Check Engine Light to come on, and any time it does that, make sure you have your vehicle checked by a professional, so you’ll know what’s going on.

When you take your vehicle into your service facility, a technician will thoroughly check the system to see just where the problems are.  If your air filter is dirty, your MAF sensor may get dirty too, which might be causing the problems.  You may find your fuel economy isn’t what it used to be either.

There are other things that can cause the same symptoms, too, such as a leak in a vacuum hose. It’s also possible that the electrical connector between the MAF sensor and the engine has broken. 

The technician can use electronic diagnostic equipment to help pinpoint the exact problem or problems, replace worn parts, and test drive your vehicle to make sure it’s working correctly.

It’s also a good idea to make sure your air filter is changed regularly. A dirty air filter can contribute to a MAF sensor failure. One of the big benefits of having your vehicle regularly maintained at one facility, is they know your vehicle. So, they keep track of which of your vehicle’s parts should be periodically replaced before problems develop. 

If you keep clean air heading into your engine, it can help your engine work efficiently, and with the power it was engineered to deliver. Isn’t that a breath of fresh air?

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



Cool Running (Water Pump)

Posted October 3, 2021 11:22 AM

Your vehicle is like you in a way.  When it gets hot, it needs to be cooled down.  And one of the key parts to keeping it cool is the water pump.

Now, that's a bit of a misnomer.  It IS a pump, but it's pumping coolant, not pure water.  Cooling off your engine is vital since it builds up heat when it creates power by burning fuel.  Your water pump acts as a way to recirculate that coolant.  It goes through a series of tubes and hoses through the engine where it picks up heat, then is sent off to the radiator to get rid of that heat.  Cooled off, the coolant is recycled through the water pump to start the journey again.

The water pump works by taking mechanical power from the engine, usually from a belt.  Obviously, that belt has to be in good condition and adjusted properly or else the water pump won't be able to do its job.

Here are some things to look for that will signal problems with your water pump.  If your heat gauge is erratic or showing a much higher than normal temperature, that could be a sign of trouble.  Another is if you hear a whine under the hood.  And if that gets louder when you go faster, get it checked right away.  You may see steam coming out from under the hood or coolant may be leaking. 

These signs signal that it's time for you to have a technician check to see where the problem is. Some water pumps are powered by a timing belt.  If your vehicle has that design and your timing belt is due for replacement, sometimes it's a good idea to replace the water pump too, even if it's working properly.  That's because the labor to replace the timing belt can be expensive and it may be wise to proactively take care of the water pump while it's disassembled.

Your service advisor will explain the options available and offer the best path to keeping your water pump doing its job.  Your engine's life depends on it.

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



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