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Archive for February 2022

Conventional or Synthetic? (Switching to Synthetic Oil)

Posted February 27, 2022 9:10 AM

If you keep up on technology trends, then you may be intrigued about synthetic motor oil.  It was introduced in the 1960s when Mobil came up with it.  Mobil's oil was different from conventional motor oil because it was first broken down to its basic molecules.  Then, Mobil removed additional impurities from crude oil and "tailored them to the demands of modern engines."

Synthetic oil is becoming more popular now because of its advantages over conventional oil. It's more resistant to sludge forming in an engine.  It is more efficient and protects engines better under temperature extremes.  Because it allows drivers to go longer between oil changes, many feel it's more convenient. 

The downside is that synthetic oil is more expensive, but because it doesn't need changing as often, the cost can be pretty comparable in the long run.

Those who drive high performance vehicles (think Audi, BMW, Mercedes) are already using synthetic oil if they're following their manufacturer's guidelines.  Other manufacturers recommend a synthetic blend.  So for those who are using conventional oil, you may want to consult your service advisor for some recommendations if you want to switch to synthetic. 

If you're the type who always waits until the last-minute or doesn't ever get in quite in time for the recommended oil change interval, the longer gap required between changes with synthetic oil may appeal to you.  In some cases, you can go up to 15,000 miles/24,000 km between changes. 

If you drive in a very cold climate, synthetic oil can flow more easily at startup and may offer quicker engine protection.  On the other hand, in hot climates, synthetic oil can resist heat breakdown better.

Or you may be one of those drivers who have been getting along fine with conventional oil changes.  Millions do.  Just remember that changing your oil is considered the most important maintenance you can do on your vehicle, so make sure it's done at the right time and with the oil that best suits your driving needs.

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



Don't Start with That (Bad Starter Motor)

Posted February 20, 2022 9:07 AM

We've all heard that expression, "That's a non starter." When it comes to your vehicle, that's not music to a driver's ears. That sickening sound when you start the ignition and instead of hearing the engine crank, you hear it slowly turn over and your dash lights go dim. 

There can be many reasons a vehicle won't start, so here's a little history of how the starter came to be an important component of modern vehicles.

You have to move the engine's components to start it. The first cars had a crank that the driver would insert into the front, then start turning things over by hand.  When the engine started, you had to release that crank immediately or risk a broken arm.  Yes, it happened many times.  So, they came up with a better idea: an electric starter, which was a big advance in automotive technology.

With this system, an electric motor rotated a series of gears that turned the gasoline engine's crankshaft so its pistons and parts moved and the engine drew in air.  While this happened, electricity went to the spark plugs and fuel headed to the cylinders.  When the gasoline engine caught, the starter quickly disengaged. Hey, no more broken arms!

Modern systems use the same principle, so when your vehicle won't start, here are a few things to look out for that might point to the starter. 

If the engine turns over s-l-o-w-l-y, it may mean the electric starter motor may just be wearing out and doesn't have enough cranking power.  Bushings, brushes, wire windings and a special switch called a commutator may be going bad.

If when you engage the ignition you hear a faint click, that could be a symptom one or more of the starter's components have failed. If you hear a loud click, it could mean that an electrical switch called a solenoid may not be switching the motor on.

If you hear your engine start to turn over but then it stops and is followed by a grinding sound, some gears may not be meshing the way they should.

There may be many more causes (bad alternator, relay, battery, engine, key fob), so this is when it's time to turn it over to your service facility.  Sometimes they can send out their own tow truck or recommend a reputable towing company.

But it's best not to let it get to this point.  Starter problems often give you advance warning that there is a problem with "almost" not starting or "almost" not turning over.  So when you see that very first sign, "start" on over to talk this one over with your service advisor.  The opposite of a "non-starter" is a starter, and that is music to anyone's ears.

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



Bad Vibes (Disc brake rotor problems)

Posted February 13, 2022 9:59 AM

If you were to name the most important safety feature on your vehicle right now, what would your answer be? A lot of driving experts would agree that it’s your brakes.  Most newer vehicles use a well-engineered and efficient style of brakes called disc brakes. 

The name disc brakes comes from one of the components: a disc attached to the wheel hub that is squeezed by parts called calipers.  If you’ve ever ridden a bicycle with hand brakes, you probably have seen how they squeeze against the rim of the bike wheel to stop the bike. It’s similar to the way your vehicle’s calipers squeeze against the disc rotor, with added parts called brake pads attached to the calipers that are what create the friction and stop your vehicle.

Here’s why disc brakes need regular maintenance.  Over time, that friction creates wear and tear on the brake pads and the rotors, and you’ll start to see the signs.  Your brakes may have one of the 3 “S” sounds: squeaking, squealing, or scraping. The sound is usually the first sign of brake pad wear which can lead to rotor damage.  Soon you may notice a pulsating or vibration when you brake. That’s because your once smooth and straight rotor disc is warping from the heat generated from friction. Or it may be due to wear.  Eventually, your brakes will take a longer distance to stop your vehicle, and the rotors can have grooves carved into them.

When you start noticing any of these signs, it’s a good idea to have them inspected by a trained technician.  They will measure the rotor thickness, check wear patterns for grooves and heat discoloration, and see how much of the brake pads remain. They will also check to make sure all brake components are moving freely, check your brake fluid, and look for corrosion.

Most vehicle manufacturers require worn or damaged rotors to be replaced, not resurfaced. It’s all part of a complete brake job, replacing pads and the brake hardware parts along with the rotors. It reduces the chance of premature failure.

How often you will need your brakes serviced depends on the manufacturer’s recommendations, your driving habits, and the environment you live in.  Your service facility can recommend the best replacement parts based on those factors. 

Regular maintenance and attention are vital for keeping your brakes performing like they are designed to. Remember, your brakes are your vehicle’s most important safety feature.

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



Some New Boots (Suspension Maintenance)

Posted February 6, 2022 10:06 AM

There are some boots that don't come in a shoe box and aren't worn on your feet.  They are called axle or CV boots, and they can be important parts for many vehicles.

That CV stands for constant velocity.  CV axles are mainly used in front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles. They're also used in some rear-wheel drive vehicles with independent suspensions.  They have two CV joints, one inner and one outer, placed between the axle and the drive wheels.  That way the vehicle's engine power can drive the wheels, no matter what angle they are.  They also adjust for the different speeds wheels turn as they go around corners. 

Because roads are full of all sorts of hazards (dirt, oil, water, grime), these CV joints need to be protected.  They also have grease in them to keep the bearings moving smoothly.  That's the job of the rubber boots that are supposed to keep that debris out.  These CV or axle boots are made of rubber or plastic and usually last a long time without any problem.  But sometimes they fail, either from being hit by debris or age causing the rubber or plastic to deteriorate.  That can allow the grease to leak out of the joint and the moisture to get in.  And that's where the trouble is.

So it's important to have a vehicle's CV boots checked periodically, especially when they begin to have more than 100,000 miles/160,000 kilometers on them.  A technician inspects them for tears or cracks.  Sometimes if the problems are found early enough, the boots can be replaced and the joints can be re-packed with grease. 

But sometimes the CV joint can wear out even though the boot is intact.  When the CV joint fails, you might hear a grinding, humming or clicking noise and feel vibration.

Some of these can be difficult to access for service, so many service advisors will recommend replacing the joints and boots at the same time.  Just remember, new CV boots won't make a fashion statement, but they will keep your vehicle going down the road for years to come.

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



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