AUTONET TV


Archive for July 2023

Don't Blow a Gasket! (Valve Cover Gasket Replacement)

Posted July 30, 2023 7:27 AM

When you head out to your vehicle after it's been parked and notice oil leaking underneath it, that's something to have looked at right away.  Oil leaks mean your oil level is probably low and running a vehicle in that condition can lead to expensive repairs.

While there are many reasons oil leaks develop, one possibility is a bad valve cover gasket.  Vehicle engines have a cover bolted over the spot where the engine valves are, and that cover keeps the oil inside the engine. In between the cover and the engine is a gasket that keeps that seal tight.  But after many years of high engine temperatures and vibrations, that gasket or the bolts that hold on the valve cover can fail or loosen, and oil can leak.

You may see dirty oil on the valve cover in the engine compartment, near the spark plugs, or around the bolts that hold the valve cover on.  All those are signs of leakage and time to bring your vehicle in for our technicians to check out.

In some vehicles, taking off the valve cover and replacing the gasket is a relatively easy job. In some models, though, other engine parts are located near that part of the engine and must be removed to get at the gasket, so repair costs can vary widely.

The technician will measure to make sure the valve cover isn't warped so it can be reused. If it is warped, they'll recommend replacing it with the gasket.  

While the technician has that area of your engine accessible, they will also check to see if other components need replacing at the same time, which could save you money.  And because valve cover gaskets usually fail in older vehicles, the technician will check for other oil leaks then, too. 

One of the best ways to be sure your valve cover is doing its job is to have your vehicle regularly maintained.  The technician will periodically look over your engine compartment and make sure you know when things are showing signs of age and wear BEFORE they fail and leave you stranded.

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



Them's the Brakes (Brake Rotor Resurfacing)

Posted July 23, 2023 8:13 AM

Your vehicle's brakes wear out.  It's inevitable. You'll notice it when you step on the brake pedal and feel it harder to stop, or there's vibration when you are braking. 

Most modern vehicles have disc brakes that each use a brake pad that press on a disc (disc brakes!) called a rotor.  The friction between them enables you to stop, and each time you do a little bit of the pad and the rotor wears down.

The original brakes on vehicles used a rotor that was thick enough to last through at least two replacements of the pads.  But vehicle manufacturers who want to save costs and weight now make them thinner, and sometimes the rotors have to be replaced after the first pad replacement.  But not always.

Vehicle manufacturers specify a minimum thickness to provide safe braking.  Sometimes rather than having to have your rotors replaced, they can be put on a lathe and resurfaced.  In other words, the surfaces of the disc can be slightly shaved off so the surface is flat and doesn't wobble. 

Whenever you bring your vehicle in to have the brakes checked, the technician will measure the thickness of the rotors to see if they can be resurfaced without leaving them too thin for safe braking. If they can, with the right tools and skill, the rotors can be resurfaced.  If not, the rotors should be replaced. 

Discuss the options with your service advisor.  Our service center can recommend replacements that are designed to help stop your vehicle as well as or better than the vehicle's original rotors.

Either way, keep in mind that keeping your brakes in top condition can supply the margin of safety that may one day save your life or the lives of those around you.

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



Plugging Away (Spark Plug Replacement)

Posted July 16, 2023 9:54 AM

If you drive a vehicle with a gasoline engine, thank the spark plugs for igniting the gasoline/air mixture in each cylinder that keeps your vehicle traveling smoothly down the road every day.  Your spark plugs work hard, firing thousands of times in a well-choreographed order, and you usually don't pay much attention to them until one of them stops working the way it should.

Signs that spark plugs are wearing out include:

  • Engine runs more roughly than it did
  • Vehicle doesn't start as easily as it used to
  • Vehicle hesitates when you press on the accelerator
  • Your fuel economy has gotten worse

When a spark plug stops working altogether, you will find your engine has likely lost a lot of its power and isn't running smoothly.  Your Check Engine light may  come on.  Then it's time to head to come to our service center to have it diagnosed.

If your plugs need to be replaced, they're usually done all at the same time. And if your vehicle has spark plug wires, experts recommend you change them as well. Different type of spark plugs last longer than others, and your service advisor can discuss what's best for your vehicle and driving habits.

A technician will also determine if there are any carbon deposits on your plugs, how healthy the ignition coil is (it's the part that supplies the high-voltage jolt that makes the spark) and will look for other signs and symptoms that may point to other problems in your engine. For instance, if a spark plug is fouled by oily deposits, it's possible oil is getting into the combustion chamber. 

They will also check all the plugs to see if there are problems in just one or all cylinders.  Sometimes a technician will find a plug that has overheated, literally melting the metal.  In that case, they may recommend they correct that problem before replacing the spark plugs.

Most spark plugs will last for a good, long time.  Even if you aren't seeing any symptoms they're wearing out, make sure you have your service advisor check your vehicle manufacturer's recommended maintenance intervals.  Preventative maintenance will keep your vehicle running reliably so you can count on it to get you where you want to go. 

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



Differential Service

Posted July 9, 2023 9:00 AM

When you're driving and turn a corner, you probably aren't aware of all that's going on with your wheels.  The outside wheels have a longer distance to travel than the inside wheels, so there are gears that allow the wheels to go at different speeds when you turn. 

That set of gears is called a differential.  In front-wheel drive vehicles, it's by the transmission and called a transaxle.  Rear-wheel drive vehicles have the differential, naturally, on the rear axle. Many all-wheel and four-wheel drives add a center differential since power has to go to the front and rear wheels. (Some newer vehicles power wheels with electric motors, but that's a whole different story.)

Time and distance traveled eventually can take their toll on the differential, and you may notice some noises you hadn't heard when your vehicle was newer.  Sometimes you'll hear a whir that might change in pitch when you turn.  You may hear clicking sounds when you're moving.  Others describe rumbling sounds coming from underneath during a turn. Another symptom of possible differential problems may be vibrations or shakes the faster you go. 

All of these could be signs that you have problems with a differential. One common cause of differential problems is the gears aren't getting enough lubrication.

These can all have serious effects on your driving.  You may find it hard to turn, or your wheels may lock up. That could put you or drivers around you in a dangerous position. 

It's better to take care of differential problems before they get too serious.  Bring in your vehicle so we can have a technician check yours out.  They can see if there are any differential fluid leaks or failing gaskets.  In some cases, we may recommend your differential fluid be replaced.  And if there are any mechanical issues, some components may need to be replaced as well. 

When your differential is maintained, you'll be doing your vehicle a good turn.  

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



A Clean Start (Battery Cleaning)

Posted July 2, 2023 7:36 AM

Your vehicle is loaded with electrical devices. Computerized components are everywhere, so good electrical connections are important.  Those begin with your vehicle's battery, so it's important that its connections are in top shape.

Ever had a flashlight that didn't work, took out the old batteries to replace them and noticed the old batteries were all corroded? The same thing can happen to your vehicle's battery. 

The battery type used in most vehicles is a lead-acid, which can be very corrosive.  Corrosion can build up around your battery's terminals that can prevent the electrical connection from being as solid as it needs to be.  You may have even seen discoloration around your battery's terminals if you look under the hood, a sign of corrosion.

Or you might notice visible signs of fraying or loose battery cables. All of your vehicle's components are affected by vibrations from the engine and road surface imperfections, and the battery cables take a lot of jostling every time you drive.  Frayed cables won't conduct as much electricity as intact ones.  Plus, there's the possibility that a frayed cable may touch a piece of metal in the engine compartment that can cause shorts and other problems.

There are some signs to watch out for that might tell you if your battery terminals are corroded or your cables aren't making good contact with them.  You might find your vehicle isn't starting as easily as it used to. You also might see the battery warning light illuminated on your dash. That light looks like a rectangle with a "-" and "+" sign inside.

Our technicians can make sure your battery and cables are at optimal operating capability with regular service and cleaning.  A technician will clean the terminals and portions of the cables that are connected to them.  They may also add an anti-corrosion agent to the cables/terminals. Nothing like giving your vehicle a clean start!

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



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