Articles:

Go With the Flow (MAF Sensor Replacement)

A driver brought her vehicle into the shop the other day and told us how she was getting lousy fuel economy and that the engine was running rough.  Plus, the Check Engine light was on.  Our technician checked the code the engine had generated (why the Check Engine light was on) and found the problem.  It was a faulty Mass Air Flow sensor, MAF sensor for short.

This MAF sensor is an important part of your vehicle.  What it does is calculate the amount of air going into your engine.  As you may know, air is taken into your engine where it's mixed with fuel.  Then, the spark plugs fire, that explosive fuel/air mixture detonates, and all these sequential explosions together provide the power to get your vehicle moving down the road. 

It makes sense that if the MAF sensor isn't sending the engine's computers the correct information on the amount of air going in the engine, the fuel/air mixture isn't going to be right. It will either too rich (too much gasoline for the amount of air) or too lean (not enough gasoline for the amount of air).

In this driver's case, the MAF sensor was damaged and needed to be replaced.  Another thing that may cause the MAF to give an incorrect reading is if its wires are dirty or faulty.  So, replacing or cleaning the wires important as well.

Other symptoms that your MAF sensor is bad? If your engine hesitates when you step on the gas, it stalls, or your vehicle is jerky when you accelerate. 

A malfunctioning MAF sensor is not just bad for performance.  Driving with your vehicle in that condition can cause more damage to your engine.  When you bring your vehicle in for us to check, a technician will thoroughly examine your engine to make sure all issues are taken care of.

Ed's Car Care Center
7811 North Clinton Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46825
2604835721
http://www.edscarcarecenter.com

The Last Gas (Fuel Pump Replacement).

You're heading down the road and you notice your vehicle is sputtering, like it's running out of gas.  But the gauge show's it's still got a quarter of a tank.  So what gives?

It could be that your fuel pump is failing, meaning your engine is not getting enough gas to run properly.  While fuel pumps are built to last a long time, sometimes they fail.  Other symptoms you may have a bad fuel pump include your vehicle stalling and then refusing to start again, the engine overheating or a hum or whirr coming from around the gas tank.  Or, your Check Engine light may come on.

Most fuel pumps are in the gas tank. They have a small electric motor in them.   When you bring your vehicle to our service center, a technician will run tests to confirm the fuel pump is getting power to it but has failed.  Some vehicles have an access panel so the fuel pump can be removed and replaced. 

But in some vehicles that don't have that access panel, the technician has to drain the fuel and take the tank out of the vehicle to be able to replace the fuel pump inside.  Some parts such as brackets that attach the pump can be reused when the new fuel pump is installed.  Most technicians will recommend replacing the fuel filter at the same time the fuel pump is changed out.

If the technician has to remove the fuel tank, they'll also check for rust and corrosion and replace any affected parts.

Keep one thing in mind - your vehicle's fuel pump is in the fuel tank because it's kept cool and lubricated by the gasoline in the tank.  Try not to let your fuel level go below a half or quarter of a tank to maximize the life of your fuel pump.  Also, try to use Top Tier gasoline that has higher standards than some other fuels.  Your engine—and fuel pump—will thank you.

Ed's Car Care Center
7811 North Clinton Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46825
2604835721
http://www.edscarcarecenter.com

Categories:

Fuel Pump

Straight to the Point (Alignment Signs of Problems)

It’s just common sense that your vehicle will drive better if all the wheels are lined up with each other and the road the way the engineers intended.  When they’re not, that is called being out of alignment.   Here are some signs that your alignment has problems.

  • Your steering wheel isn’t straight when your vehicle goes straight down a straight road. This one’s pretty easy to notice.  If your vehicle’s logo on the wheel is tilted, that’s probably not the way designers wanted it to be. Bring it in and have us check it out.
  • Your steering wheel is vibrating on a smooth road or when you are accelerating.  While this could be caused by several different things, one possibility is misalignment.  If your steering wheel is shaking, it should be examined by a trained technician.
  • Your vehicle is pulling to one side without you wanting it to.  Sometimes the configuration of the road will cause it to pull slightly left or right.  But if you find yourself constantly correcting course to keep your vehicle headed straight down the road, that’s worth having us look at your alignment.
  • You’re going through tires like there’s no tomorrow. The tread on your tires should be wearing nice and evenly from the outside to the inside of the tire.  If the wear isn’t even, it could be your vehicle needs an alignment.

We have equipment designed to quickly and accurately measure your vehicle’s alignment.  We can make precise adjustments to make sure you are headed straight where you want to go.  Have your alignment checked regularly. It can help prevent more serious problems in the future and make your vehicle drive as beautifully as you remember it used to.

Ed's Car Care Center
7811 North Clinton Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46825
2604835721
http://www.edscarcarecenter.com

Categories:

Alignment

Gas Smell! (What Causes Gasoline Odors)

If you've ever walked into your garage and noticed it smelled like gasoline, pay attention. Gasoline can be dangerous, both from the health problems fumes can cause and the fire danger gasoline presents. 

There are many things that can cause a vehicle to give off a gasoline odor.  One of the easiest to track down is the gas cap.  It could be missing or it doesn't seal well any more (they do wear out).  That can also cause the Check Engine light to light up, so those are clues to tell your service advisor when you take it in for diagnosis.

Another thing that can cause the Check Engine light to come on and produce a gasoline smell is the fuel filler neck. It's the part that goes from the place you put your fuel in to the gas tank. Over time, these can wear out and fail (they're made out of rubber or metal).  They can leak gasoline, too.

It's always a good idea to check the garage floor for any gasoline puddles.  Note the location of the puddle in relation to the vehicle. If it's near the back, that's possibly the fuel filler neck or the gas tank leaking.  In the middle of the vehicle? May be fuel lines.  Near the front? Could be fuel injectors (or carburetor if you have one) or fuel pump. 

There are other causes of gas odors, and you need an expert to figure out the source soon.  Gasoline leaks are nothing to play around with.  Gasoline is flammable, potentially explosive and its fumes can damage your lungs. A trained technician can pinpoint the cause and get your garage back to smelling like a normal garage again.

Ed's Car Care Center
7811 North Clinton Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46825
2604835721
http://www.edscarcarecenter.com

Don't Miss a Beat (Importance of Regular Maintenance)

In many places, license plates have to be renewed every year or else you can't drive your vehicle legally.  Usually, you'll get a reminder from the agency that issues the plates.

That kind of regular attention needs to be paid to your vehicle as well.  Its manufacturer has determined a schedule of service items that need to be done regularly, just like renewing your plates.

Some depend on time, others depend on distance.  A perfect example is oil changes.  It's the most important scheduled maintenance you can have done to give your engine its longest life possible.  The manufacturer recommends the oil filter be changed at the same time.

Here are some more items.  Your engine air filter gets dirty and needs adequate air to run most efficiently.  The manufacturer recommends an interval for replacing that.  Also tires, brake pads, timing belt, oxygen sensor and other items require regular replacement. 

This is one of the reasons to find a service facility that you like and keep going there.  Many will keep records of what's been done to your vehicle and send you reminders of when it's time to schedule service items.  Some do it by mail, others by email.  Still others might text you or give you a phone call.  Remember, they base those reminders on the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations. 

We all have a lot going on in our lives, so these reminders can help you avoid missing important service items that are important to your vehicle's durability and safety.  So if you move or change phone numbers or email addresses, make sure your vehicle service facility gets the word.  Otherwise you won't get the reminders and your service advisor will wonder what's happened to you!

At the same time, you might want to let your vehicle manufacturer know when you've changed your address, phone number or email address.  If there is a safety recall or your manufacturer is offering an extended warranty on some of your vehicle's systems, they'll need to reach you.   


Ed's Car Care Center
7811 North Clinton Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46825
2604835721
http://www.edscarcarecenter.com

Categories:

Maintenance

Busted! Air Conditioning (Air Conditioning Maintenance)

Your vehicle's air conditioning is something you count on when the weather heats up.  But there's bound to be a day when you turn it on and one of these things happens:

  • Only warm air blows out
  • Cold air starts blowing out but then it turns warm on its own
  • It's not blowing air at all
  • It blows smelly air out

Some people are tempted to try to make the diagnosis—and the repair—on their own.  They think it's just run out of refrigerant and they can pick up a can at a local auto parts store and re-charge it.   If only it was that easy.

A vehicle's air conditioning system is complex and made up of many parts.  A compressor, evaporator, condenser, tubing, hoses, sensors, valves… the list goes on and on.

Each of these components could be the reason for the problem.  It could be a leak that's letting the refrigerant escape, but simply re-charging the system hasn't fixed the problem. You have to find the source of the leak and fix it. Service facilities have a device called a "sniffer" which can sniff out refrigerant chemicals. And they can use black light to locate refrigerant that has an ultraviolet dye in it. 

But often other components wear out; blower motors go bad, resistors blow, tubes clog, compressors fail. And diagnosing that takes training and special equipment you'll find at your service facility.

One other thing to keep in mind.  It's always better to catch any problems in the air conditioning system before it fails. Ask your service advisor about having

the A/C checked as part of the vehicle's maintenance.  That's the cool way to go. 

Ed's Car Care Center
7811 North Clinton Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46825
2604835721
http://www.edscarcarecenter.com

Categories:

Air Conditioning

Bad Vibes (Disc brake rotor problems)

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.

Ed's Car Care Center
7811 North Clinton Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46825
2604835721
http://www.edscarcarecenter.com

Categories:

Brakes

The Cable Guy (Battery Cables and Maintenance)

If you've ever noticed your vehicle's lights are dim or not working at all, the problem could be many things.  But one possibility is your battery cables aren't doing their job.  A power outage in your vehicle is similar to one in your house and needs to be repaired to get things back to normal.

Battery cables connect your vehicle's battery to the vehicle itself.  There is a positive cable when provides the power and a negative cable that connects to the vehicle chassis and provides a ground for electrical components. 

A failing battery cable may cause your vehicle not to start.  Your starter may turn over very slowly.  Or you may just hear a series of clicks.  One other clue is on your dash—the battery warning light. 

There are many things that can cause power issues in a vehicle, but it's important to keep battery cables clean and maintained.  Salt and corrosion are enemies to any power system.  A technician can keep things in top shape, disconnecting the cables, inspecting them and cleaning their ends and the battery terminals.  Cables, by the way, are often made up of smaller strands of wire.  If they are frayed, some of those smaller wires can touch metal parts of the vehicles that they shouldn't.  The result? Electrical system malfunctions.

So if you see any of these signs that something is not quite right with the power in your vehicle, consult your service advisor and get it checked out.  Feel the power!


Ed's Car Care Center
7811 North Clinton Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46825
2604835721
http://www.edscarcarecenter.com

Categories:

Battery

Motor Oil?The Synthetic Advantage (Synthetic oil vs Conventional)

You’ve probably already heard that regular oil changes are extremely important for the health of your vehicle’s engine. That’s sound advice.  But what you might not know is when it comes to motor oil, the real thing may not be the best thing for your engine.

There are different types of motor oil:

  • Conventional oil, extracted from the ground and refined.
  • Synthetic oil, manufactured from high-quality base oils and artificially-made chemical compounds.
  • Synthetic oil blend, a mixture of conventional and synthetic oils.

The first thing you need to know is that most new engines require synthetic oil.  If synthetic oil is recommended for your car – you MUST use it.

For the rest, there are many advantages to using synthetic oil over conventional oil.

  • Synthetic oil provides better protection for your engine while helping it to perform better.
  • Conventional oil breaks down over time, while synthetic oil lasts longer.
  • Synthetics can stand higher temperature extremes, both heat, and cold.

Synthetic oil can be a better choice if you live in an extremely hot or cold climate or put a lot of strain on your engine by towing or carrying heavy loads.  It also may be good for older engines that sometimes have a tendency to develop sludge.

Synthetic oil is a more expensive option, but you likely won’t have to have your oil changed as often.  Some synthetics are recommended to last 10,000-15,000 miles/16,000-24,000 km between changes.

You might also consider a synthetic blend that gives you some of the advantages of synthetic oil at a lower cost. Have a talk with your service adviser about recommendations for what will best suit your vehicle and driving habits.

It’s interesting to note that in recent years, more than one out of two vehicle owners are opting for synthetic oil or a synthetic blend when they get their oil changed. Sounds like they’re on to something. In the long run, if you have fewer oil changes with synthetics, you’ll use less oil, a bonus for our environment.

Ed's Car Care Center
7811 North Clinton Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46825
2604835721
http://www.edscarcarecenter.com

Categories:

Oil Change

Start Me Up (Ignition Systems)

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.

Ed's Car Care Center
7811 North Clinton Street
Fort Wayne, IN 46825
2604835721
http://www.edscarcarecenter.com

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