Saturday, October 25, 2008
It's a false misconception that higher octane fuel will automatically increase fuel mileage and performance. In reality, it often does neither.
The octane rating of fuel determines how fast the fuel ignites and burns inside the engine. In older non-computerized cars fuel octane was very critical in fuel economy and the performance of the engine. Today, with modern technology and computerized fuel delivery systems your car is designed to run on just about any grade of fuel. Your cars computer system will automatically adjust ignition timing and other critical adjustments through a complex system of sensors to give you optimum performance and fuel economy on any grade of fuel.
But my owners manual says to use 91 octane of higher? Yes, some manufacturers do specify higher octane fuel, but using a lower octane fuel will not damage your engine or void your warranty. They claim that performance will be lost on lower octane fuel but the average driver will not notice any difference in performance or fuel mileage from 87 vs. 93 octane.
The Bottom Line? Unless you are driving a very high performance car don't wast your money on high octane fuel, save your hard-earned money and use the lower octane fuel!
Heat & A/C Systems (HVAC) Explained
Your vehicles heating and air conditioning system can be very confusing and involve complicated diagnostics and repair procedures. To help in your repair make sure you have a quality repair manual handy. If you plan on doing any A/C work on your own vehicle, ask The Wright Import to help you through the repair. We will be glad to take you step by step.
Without the heating and air conditioning systems in today's modern vehicles, we would all be miserable driving to our destinations. We take for granted the heat that keeps us warm in the winter months, and the cool air that refreshes in the summer time. Let's take a look at how both systems work to keep us comfortable all year round.
The heater in your car is basically a smaller version of your cooling systems radiator. Hot engine coolant is circulated through a small radiator, often times called a heater core. A fan is positioned in front of the heater core to blow cold outside air over the fins. As this air travels over the heater core, it heats up and becomes the hot air which blows out your heater vents.
Like your engines cooling system radiator, the heater core can suffer some of the same issues. If the heater core becomes clogged with rust or sludge, you will no longer have heat. Also leaks can cause a cabin full of white steam and really mess up your windows. If you smell the sweet aroma of coolant when your heater is on, chances are, you have a small leak in the heater core. Often times the heater core is buried under the dashboard, and replacing it is a major job.
The air conditioning system in your car is comprised of a compressor, condenser, expansion valve and evaporator. If you have ever used a can of compressed air to clean computer components, you will know that the bottle gets very cold in a short amount of time. This is due to the rapid expansion of the compressed gas. The same thing happens in your car's air conditioning system. Refrigerant (AKA Freon) is compressed in the compressor and turns into a hot gas. In the condenser, this hot gas is cooled to a liquid state and travels to the expansion valve. As the Freon goes through the expansion valve it returns to a low-pressure gas and rapidly cools in the evaporator. A fan blows over the evaporator and cools the air that eventually blows out your vents.
1) From time to time the A/C system needs to be recharged to bring it back up to maximum efficiency. Sometimes a leak may cause loss of refrigerant and will need to be fixed before refilling. It's difficult to tell if a leak is present without specific test equipment so leave it up to a professional.
2) In recent years, the EPA has phased out the use of R-12 Freon in all refrigeration systems and R-134 has become the new standard. If you have an older system with R-12 you may need to retrofit your system to handle the new R-134 refrigerant. Sometimes seals, hoses and even the compressor need to be changed. The problem arises when the older seals and hoses are not compatible with the new oils found in the R-134.
3) Corrosion will cause the heater core (secondary radiator) to leak. This will manifest itself by leaving steam into the passenger compartment and fogging your windows. You will know there is a leak by the sweet smell coming from your vents. Unfortunately changing the heater core is usually not the easiest job in the world as engineers tend to squeeze them into some pretty tight spaces under the dash.
The HVAC system is one of the most least understood systems in your car, you need a good repair manual to guide you in the right direction. The Wright Import can research your questions and give you the answers you need for your A/C problems.
In addition to the various forward gears, a transmission also has a neutral position which disconnects the engine from the drive wheels, and reverse, which causes the drive wheels to turn in the opposite direction allowing you to back up. Finally, there is the Park position. In this position, a latch mechanism is inserted into a slot in the output shaft to lock the drive wheels and keep them from turning, thereby preventing the vehicle from rolling.
There are two basic types of automatic transmissions based on whether the vehicle is rear wheel drive or front wheel drive.
1) On a rear wheel drive car, the transmission is usually mounted to the back of the engine and is located under the hump in the center of the floorboard alongside the gas pedal position. A drive shaft connects the rear of the transmission to the final drive which is located in the rear axle and is used to send power to the rear wheels. Power flow on this system is simple and straight forward going from the engine, through the torque converter, then through the transmission and drive shaft until it reaches the final drive where it is split and sent to the two rear wheels.
2) On a front wheel drive car, the transmission is usually combined with the final drive to form what is called a transaxle. The engine on a front wheel drive car is usually mounted sideways in the car with the transaxle tucked under it on the side of the engine facing the rear of the car. Front axles are connected directly to the transaxle and provide power to the front wheels. In this example, power flows from the engine, through the torque converter to a large chain that sends the power through a 180 degree turn to the transmission that is along side the engine. From there, the power is routed through the transmission to the final drive where it is split and sent to the two front wheels through the drive axles.
Spotting Problems before they get Worse
Watch for leaks or stains under the car:
If there is a persistent red oil leak that you are sure is coming from your car, you should have your shop check to see if it is coming from your transmission or possibly from your power steering system (some power steering systems also use transmission fluid and leaks can appear on the ground in roughly the same areas as transmission leaks.) If all you see is a few drops on the ground, you may be able to postpone repairs as long as you check your fluid level often (but check with your technician to be sure.) If transmission fluid levels go down below minimum levels serious transmission damage can occur (the same advice goes for power steering leaks as well.)
Check fluid for color and odor:
Most manufacturers require that you check transmission fluid levels when the vehicle is running and on level ground. Pull the transmission dipstick out and check the fluid for color and odor. Transmission fluid is a transparent red oil that looks something like cherry cough syrup. If the fluid is cloudy or muddy, or it has a burned odor, you should have it checked by your technician who will most likely advise you to have a transmission drain and refill or a transmission flush.
Be sensitive to new noises, vibrations, and shift behavior
A modern transmission should shift smoothly and quietly under light acceleration. Heavier acceleration should produce firmer shifts at higher speeds. If shift points are erratic or you hear noises when shifting, you should have it checked out immediately. Whining noises coming from the floorboard are also a cause for concern. If caught early, many problems can be resolved without costly transmission overhauls. Even if you feel that you can't afford repairs at this time, you should at least have it checked. The technician may be able to give you some hints on what to do and not do to prolong the transmission life until you can afford the repair.
Saturday, October 18, 2008
The tune-up was a very vital maintenance item that was needed often to keep the engine running properly. Today’s engines do not use most of the parts that use to be replaced in the basic tune-up. Spark plugs have become well advanced and usually last almost 100,000 miles. The distributor has been replaced by a non-distributor ignition system that eliminates the distributor totally. This means that the cap and rotor, points and condenser have also been eliminated.
Ignition timing is no longer adjustable manually. The vehicle’s computer keeps the ignition timing adjusted properly at all times for proper engine operation and performance.
So back to the question - "Do I need a tune-up?"
Spark plugs do need to be replaced periodically and spark plugs do go bad sometimes and cause engine misfires and do need to be replaced when this happens. All of the spark plugs need to be replaced at the same time, so if one goes bad then replace them all. It is also best to replace the plug wires when the plugs are replaced for maximum performance. Some of the most common types of tune ups will consist of:
Some of the most common tune ups will consist of the following:
There are many different areas that need to be maintained on a regular basis to keep your engine running properly. Lets look at these areas and explain what and why these items need to be serviced.
Air Filter - Replace the air filter about every 15,000 miles for normal driving conditions. A dirty air filter will not cause the engine to run bad, unless it is completely plugged. A dirty filter can cause reduced fuel economy and higher exhaust emission gases.
Fuel Filter -Fuel filters become clogged with dirt and debris during normal operation and should be replaced to increase performance, extend fuel pump life, and aid in fuel economy.
Spark Plugs - Worn or faulty spark plugs can cause misfire, poor fuel mileage, loss of power, and slow or extended starting time.
Spark Plug Wires - Spark plug wires should be replaced when replacing spark plugs to get maximum performance and life expectancy of spark plugs.
Distributor Cap/Ignition Rotor - These items should be inspected/replaced when replacing spark plugs and spark plug wires, or when a "major tune-up" is called for. The distributor cap is where the other end of the spark plug wires connects to, and the ignition rotor in underneath the distributor cap. Some newer model vehicles do not have a distributor at all. These cars are designed with Distributor less Ignition Systems (DIS.), and therefore do not have these parts. All of these items need to be checked every 15,000 to 30,000 miles. Check with The Wright Import for the proper maintenance schedule for you car or truck.
For a copy of your vehicles regular scheduled maintenance, please go to our forums and make a request. we will be happy to provide you with one for free.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
All modern vehicles have a computer or ECM (Electronic Control Module) that controls the engine operation. The main purpose of the ECM is to keep the engine running at top efficiency with the lowest possible emissions. With today's strictest emission regulations it is not very easy to achieve - the engine needs to be constantly and precisely adjusted according to various conditions such as speed, load, engine temperature, gasoline quality, ambient air temperature, road conditions, etc.
Today's cars have much more electronics than in early days - there is a large number of various sensors and other electronic devices that help the engine computer or ECM to monitor all vehicle emission-related systems. When the computer senses that there is a problem with any emission-related system or component, it stores the trouble code(s) in the memory and lights up the "Check Engine" or "Service Engine Soon" light to tell you that there is a problem and your car needs to be looked at.
The technician at the dealership or a garage then will hook up the scanner to the car's computer and retrieve the stored code(s). Then he will look it up in the service manual provided by the car manufacturer. The service manual contains the list of possible codes (about a few hundred) and describes what each code means and what needs to be tested. The code itself doesn't tell exactly what component is defective - it only says what engine parameter is out of normal range. The technician will have to perform further testing to pinpoint defective part. Remember that any parts store will will scan your vehicle for codes, but they are usually unable to identify the problem and you will have to take the codes to a service or repair shop for further diagnostics.
So, Just hook my car up to the computer!
This is a very common statement made by customers with any type of problem from a check engine light on to the rattle in back seat! They all think there is a magic computer that tells the mechanic exactly what is wrong with the car!
This is far from the way it works. First of all, the handheld scanner only aids in diagnosing emission related and electrical concerns, including transmissions and body control functions.
Most repair shops will charge a diagnostic charge (usually $50 to $100 dollars) to scan test your cars computer system and check for codes in the system.
Some problems that will turn on the check engine light can be as simple as a loose gas cap or a major problem such as an engine misfire or a slipping transmission.
Many places sell code readers so you can scan your cars computer yourself, but by the time you spend the money for the scanner you could have it scanned by a professional and have it repaired at the same time. Most repair shops will not just replace a part because you tell them its bad, they will want to charge you to complete their own diagnosis. So unless you are a skilled mechanic I don't recommed wasting your money on a code reader.Always have your vehicle checked anytime your check engine light comes on, becasue even minor problems can turn into major problems
What makes the check engine light come on?
There are many different things that can cause your check engine light to come on. If your car's OBDII system is functioning properly, the CHECK ENGINE or SERVICE ENGINE SOON light should flash briefly when you turn your car's ignition key to the on position. After the brief flash, the light should go out and remain off while you are driving.
A glowing CHECK ENGINE or SERVICE ENGINE SOON light alerts you to problems in your car's onboard diagnostic system that should be checked out as soon as possible. There's no reason to panic and in many cases, you won't notice any difference in vehicle performance.
One of the most common problems with check engine lights on today's cars is a LOOSE or uninstalled gas cap! Yes, that's right your gas cap.
First, check the gas cap to make sure it was not left loose after refueling. Sometimes, this can trigger the light. Most OBDII-equipped vehicles have a gas cap that simply snaps in place, when turned to the right. Some early OBDII-equipped vehicles have threaded caps. On these, just turn the cap to the right until it begins to click. If the gas cap was loose, the light should go out after a few short trips.
If the gas cap is not the problem and the light remains on steady, have the system checked as soon as possible. A light that flashes requires more prompt attention, indicating a more severe condition that must be checked immediately to prevent damage to the catalytic converter. When you experience a flashing light, minimize driving at high speeds or under heavy loads. When scheduling service, make sure the shop that diagnoses your car has technicians who are properly trained and certified for OBDII diagnosis and repair.
Another common problem is filling your gas tank up with the key turned to the on position. This is very easy to do today with the introduction of the DVD player in alot of today's cars, trucks, and vans. Mom and Dad pull up to the gas station turn off the engine and then turn the key back on so the kids can watch their movie. This can, but not always turn the check engine light on, so be on the safe side and always fill up with the key in the off position.
Engine Control Sensors
Sensors measure a variety of operating parameters that help to reduce emissions and also serve functions for the engine, transmission and other systems. These sensors generally include the manifold air temperature sensor, coolant temperature sensor, manifold absolute pressure sensor, airflow sensor, throttle position sensor, vehicle speed sensor and oxygen sensors.
All of these sensors provide critical operating information to the vehicle's powertrain control module, the onboard computer that compares the signals from the sensors to programmed values. Based on the signals, the computer then issues commands to various output devices to control the engine and transmission, along with reducing emissions. 1996 and newer vehicles are equipped with second-generation onboard diagnostics (OBDII) systems that put special emphasis on sensor values and emissions.
Sensors do not require regular maintenance or adjustments. Regardless of what a specific sensor measures, all operate within a range of normal values. If a sensor provides a signal outside the normal range long enough, the powertrain control module will set a trouble code, which will usually trigger the SERVICE ENGINE SOON or CHECK ENGINE light.
Remember: here at The Wright Import in Cumming,Georgia we are always available to serve you. Come by or call anytime.
The Wright Import Service Center(770) 888-0100
Monday, October 6, 2008
Start your oil change by gathering several items. You’ll need motor oil - secure about four to five quarts. You’ll also need a new FRAM oil filter, we recommend FRAM oil filters for all vehicles, old rags, a funnel, an oil-drain pan, a box wrench, and an oil-filter wrench. You may or may not need a car jack to perform your oil change. This depends on how close the bottom of your car is to the ground.
Let your engine cool off and locate the oil drain plug. If you have trouble finding your oil drain plug, refer to your vehicle manuals. Use a box wrench to remove the plug and let the oil drain into a pan. Once the oil is drained completely, replace the drain plug.
For the next step of your oil change, you’ll need to remove the old oil filter. Put the catch pan under it. Remove the FRAM filter with an adjustable oil-filter wrench and a counter-clockwise motion. Expect to get some oil on your hands; an oil change is a dirty job. Take one of your old rags and wipe the filter-mount area, checking to make sure the old filter’s seal isn’t stuck on the engine.
Take some of your new motor oil and use it to coat the rubber seal of your new oil filter. Don’t put too much on; you only need a very light coating. Install the new FRAM oil filter by hand. Typically, an oil-filter wrench is not necessary for this step. Keep it handy, however, just in case tightening by hand fails to do the job.
Now it’s time to install new oil. For this part of the oil change, you’ll need to find and remove the oil-filler cap. Look for it on top of the engine; refer to your car manual if you have difficulty finding it. Put the funnel in the exposed opening and pour the new oil into the funnel. Be sure to refer to your car manual to determine how much oil you’ll need to add.
After adding the right amount of oil, replace the oil-filler cap, turn you car on, and run your engine for a minute. Check to make certain the oil-warning light doesn’t stay on and look under the car to make sure oil isn’t leaking. Finally, use the oil dipstick to check the oil level. Use rags to wipe away excess oil; newspapers are good for this as well. Congratulate yourself, as you’ve just successfully completed your oil change
When changing oil, we recommend using FRAM oil filters FRAM ®Extra Guard®
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The most commonly used filter media is cellulose, which is a natural material that presents a random and irregular field of fibers to the oil. By itself, it can only deliver about 80% dirt-trapping efficiency.
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