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Archive for November 2021

Winter Watch List (Winter Maintenance Items)

Posted November 28, 2021 9:28 AM

Don't love winter weather? Here's a list of four things you need to keep a watch on during the winter months.

Let's start with coolant levels.  Coolant is as important in cold weather as it is in hot weather.  Think of the term "anti-freeze." Your coolant needs to be adjusted for climate and temperature so the coolant doesn't freeze when the vehicle isn't running. Your service facility will know the right mixture.

Next, windshield wiper fluid. Winter weather can be challenging when it comes to visibility, so it's important to have the correct windshield washer fluid.  Some of it is specially formulated for ice and freezing temperatures. And it won't freeze if your vehicle has to sit out in below-freezing temperatures.  And don't forget you can get winter wiper blades that stay clearer in snowy, icy weather than ordinary blades.

Don't forget your tire pressure and tread.  After all, tires are what connect your vehicle and the road.  As temperatures go down, so does the air pressure inside your tires, so it's important to keep that up to the manufacturer's recommended pressure.  Also, make sure your tires have enough tread so they can grip slippery roads. Any service facility can perform a simple test so you'll know. If you need some new tires, they can help you find those that will fit your driving patterns.

Finally, oil gets thicker when the temperatures go down, so it's important to have the proper viscosity for your climate.  Consult your service advisor who will make sure your vehicle is using what the manufacturer recommends.

Keep your vehicle prepared for winter weather and it will reward you with the safety and performance it's designed for.

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



The Right Stuff (Choosing Replacement Parts)

Posted November 21, 2021 10:55 AM

Let's face it.  Vehicles are complicated machines, each having thousands of parts.  And since they're subjected to heat, cold, vibrations, bumps and much more, these parts wear out and need to be replaced. 

When your service advisor says you need a new part, you may have many options.  Let's say you need a new muffler.  One choice would be to get exactly the same part that was installed when the vehicle was manufactured.  The advantages are that it will perform the same way as the one it's replacing and will likely last about the same amount of time as the original.

Some mufflers are made by the same companies that supplied the automaker when your vehicle was new (they call that an OEM part—Original Equipment Manufacturer).  And often those are the same as the part you'd buy from a dealer. A reputable vehicle service facility will know which ones these are because they replace mufflers all the time and do their homework.

The good news is there are many different mufflers available from several manufacturers.  These are called aftermarket parts. Some of them may use different metals or a different construction technique. Some may sound a little sportier while some may make your engine perform better.  Your service advisor will discuss what your driving habits are and help choose the part that's best for you.

You may be able to get a part that's better than the one originally installed.  Here's an example.  A repair shop discovered one owner's vehicle had developed cracks and leaks in the hoses that attach to the heater core.  They were made of plastic, and heat and pressure had caused the originals to crack.  The service advisor recommended they replace it with an aftermarket part that was made of aluminum instead, one that was more durable than the original part.

Some aftermarket parts cost more, some cost about the same or less.  Depending on how and where you drive and what you want out of your vehicle, you can decide to buy more economical parts which might be the best fit for your needs.  Or you may decide to upgrade to a better, more expensive part.

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



Start Me Up (Ignition Systems)

Posted November 14, 2021 9:46 AM

When you start up your gasoline engine car, you may not know that it's using the same ignition principles as it has for decades.  You have spark plugs that require enough power so a spark can jump across a gap at its tip.  Years ago, a vehicle's 12-volt system had to produce 15,000-25,000 volts to do that, so engineers came up with something called an ignition coil that bumps up the voltage. It also has to be done at just the right interval called timing.

The first systems had a distributor, a mechanical device with a rotating disc that switched the power to the ignition coil on and off.  That higher voltage then was sent to the spark plugs at the correct time interval. But the mechanical "points" had to be replaced and adjusted every 12,000 miles/20,000 kilometers.  Engineers later replaced the switching mechanism with solid state ones, but they still needed replacement after 120,000 miles/200,000 kilometers.

The next evolution came in the 80's when the distributor was replaced with a couple of sensors which talked to a computer.  This "DIS" (distributor-less automotive ignition system) was a big advance.  Plus, it didn't use just one ignition coil for all the cylinders.  It had coil "packs" that each provided spark to two cylinders.  That way, the voltage could be boosted even higher, to 30,000 volts, which helped engines be able to ignite a leaner fuel/air mixture.

Recently have come even more improvements.  Now instead of coil packs, there's a coil that's attached to each spark plug.  No more spark plug wires means less maintenance. Plus, a stronger, hotter spark of 50,000 volts can make an engine more reliable, increase fuel economy and reduce emissions.

No matter what ignition system your vehicle uses, your vehicle service facility has a staff of technicians trained to work on the latest technology.  Make sure to have your vehicle maintained regularly so you can take full advantage of these modern engineering marvels.

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



Cold Weather Vehicle No-Nos (Items to Avoid Storing in a Freezing Vehicle)

Posted November 7, 2021 7:23 AM

It's always easier to leave a few things in your vehicle so you'll have them on hand.  But in cold weather, while it's a good idea to carry items such as a phone charger, blanket and shovel, there are some things you shouldn't store in your vehicle.

  • Medicines and drugs.  Cold temperatures can affect the chemical makeup of some drugs.  Avoid leaving them in a vehicle, especially those in a liquid form like insulin, eye drops and cough syrup.
  • Latex paint.  They are water based, and when they freeze, they get lumpy and lousy.  Your paint job will not be what you had in mind.
  • Cellphones and computers.  Most of these have lithium ion batteries.  If they get colder than freezing (0 degrees C, 32 degrees F), if you try to charge them, you'll more than likely ruin the batteries. 
  • Bottled water, soda, wine or beer.  OK, here's the scoop.  All of these can freeze and split the container they're in.  Yes, soda, wine and beer will take a lower temperature to freeze than water, but all of these can easily freeze if the mercury plunges low enough.  The problem isn't when they're frozen; it's when they unfreeze, drip out of their containers and leave you with a colossal mess. 
  • Musical instruments.  Guitars are made of wood.  When a guitar freezes and you bring it quickly into a warm room, you may hear cracking sounds that tell you that guitar will be not-so-gently weeping from the damage that can occur.  The same goes for wind instruments and others.  Don't ever subject musical instruments to quick temperature extremes.

 

Take a little time and effort not to leave these things out in a frigid vehicle.  You'll likely spend far more time and money tending to the resulting consequences than if you'd just brought them inside in the first place.

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



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