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Listen…Is Your Car Crying For Help?

Posted on 09/19/2017

The car is just a machine that provides freedom to get where we need to go at a moment’s notice. Many of us in Phoenix can still remember when our car “talked to us” when it was not feeling well. What’s that you say? I’m talking about the days before we had modern technology. If the car needed spark plugs, it would idle rough, hiccup or stall. With the modern car, the computer system can mask a concern until it’s too late, resulting in an expensive repair.

Fairway Auto Repair encourages preventive service to make sure our customers don’t wait until the car needs major work. We want to keep our customers safe and their cars from coming to us via the tow truck. This is accomplished when the consumer pays attention to their machine. The driver needs to be aware of their car and the clues it gives when some component is going bad.  

  • Check the gauges!
  • Pay attention when the dashboard lights illuminate, even when the car seems to run fine!
  • When you back out of a driveway or parking space, always check for fluid on the ground.

We have a customer that noticed some very small drops of coolant on the ground. This was actually his car’s way of speaking to him. He chose to ignore the cry for help from the car and because the temperature gauge was reading normal, he was not concerned. As a result, the car slowly lost coolant and the computer kept the car going until he felt the second cry for help while driving on the freeway. The car was losing power but again it was ignored until finally the car just stopped running…while he was still on the freeway. Fortunately, the customer was able to coast to the shoulder. This customer’s engine locked and was ruined! Instead of fixing the coolant leak that would have cost a small amount of money, he had to get his entire engine replaced and at a considerable cost!

This scenario is common so when your car cries for help, please don’t ignore it. You will save money, time and aggravation if you have your car serviced regularly.  If you have questions about your vehicle, you can always call us or visit our website at www.fairwayautorepair.com.  Fairway Auto Repair has many helpful articles on our website as a way to help our customers and our neighbors in Phoenix!

Let’s Talk Lights!

Posted on 09/12/2017

The daylight hours are getting shorter now and we depend on our lights more and more.  I have noticed people driving around with one headlight out or a brake light and one can only assume a turn signal (though some people just don’t bother to use them for some strange reason!). It is a good idea to test your lights!  You can have someone assist you, ask us to check, or check them out yourself by pulling up to a building and shining your lights, or even do it in your garage.  Seeing well while driving is very important, and it is also important that others see you!

If your headlights seem yellowed, we can fix that!  Just contact us and we’ll tell you how we do this (no, it isn’t magic!).

When Your Lights Go Dim

Your vehicle’s alternator keeps the battery charged.  The alternator replaced the generator of the past.  If your car fails to start as quickly as it used to (hard or slow cranking) or your lights seem dimmer it could be a sign that your alternator needs to be replaced.  If you are used to dashboard lights telling you of a problem and you didn’t see the “alt,” “bat,” or “gen” light come on to alert you, keep in mind that the alternator is responsible for those dashboard lights!  If it isn’t working then the lights will not illuminate.

Today’s vehicles have more and more equipment that is powered by our alternators.  We have stereo systems with multiple speakers, televisions and DVD players, fancy headlights and navigation systems, rear wipers and heat and air conditioning systems.  We take for granted that all this works, but sometimes an alternator simply gets overworked and needs to be replaced. If you have a poor battery it also puts extra stress on the alternator and can even cause it to overheat because it will try to keep the voltage up.

When an alternator fails it usually does so in stages so pay attention when things start functioning abnormally.  The signs are often subtle such as dimmer lights.  You may be using all the bells and whistles at once such as the television, wipers, air conditioning and the navigation system and they seem sluggish.  When you stop using one or more of the functions the remaining ones work better. The dashboard lights may start flickering.

When you take your vehicle to your car care provider they will:

  • Perform a “load test” to check the voltage readings (measure the voltage at the alternator connector and the battery)
  • Check the belts to determine if they are old and cracked or slipping
  • Listen as an experienced mechanic can tell from a clanging or rattling noise that something is not as it should be

Alternators work long and hard for us but occasionally even the best can fail.  The battery will still run many miles on reserve power so this usually saves you from being towed in. As always, if things aren’t working as well as they normally do it is best to have it checked out before it becomes a serious problem.  This always saves you time and money!

Automotive Parts Don’t Last Like They Used To!

Posted on 09/05/2017

Why do parts fail more often than they did in the old days? Parts are made smaller and lighter to help the manufacturers meet the 50.5 MPG mandate by the year 2020. This change is imposed by the government CAFÉ standard (corporate average fuel economy). The car companies are working to increase the technology of cars with turbo charging  engines that are smaller; using direct fuel injection; and the start and stop system, just to name a few.

Car manufacturers have found it is less expensive to lighten the weight of vehicles instead of creating new technology to meet the CAFÉ standards.  The manufacturers are shedding pounds of components whenever and wherever possible!

A repair that comes to mind is having to replace an electric window motor. This repair can cost $300 to $800. One reason this part fails more often than it did in older cars is because the part is integrated with the window regulator as one unit and made half the size to in order to save weight and improve fuel mileage.

Other ways the manufacturers are making parts lighter to increase fuel mileage:

  • They are using aluminum frames.
  • Smaller transmissions with 5, 6, 7 or 8 gears.
  • Engines are designed to use extremely light oils such as 0w20 to help reduce internal part friction.
  • Brakes are very small compared to years past. 
  • Every external body part on your car is being downsized or made of plastic, carbon fiber or other composite materials.
  • Less fluid capacity in engines, transmissions, power steering and all other systems are other ways to save weight.
  • Transmissions that used to hold 10 quarts of oil, might hold 6 now. All cars also require synthetic oils in all components to help make up for the smaller capacity.

To sum it up, parts are smaller, fluid capacities are less, and the stress is greater than ever on car systems. I wish I had a silver bullet for you, but I don’t. The best advice I can give you is choose a service provider that you trust, have the car inspected regularly and service the fluids often.

HAZARDS OF RUNNING ON FUMES

Posted on 08/29/2017

Are you one of those people that wait until a warning beeps or the low fuel light illuminates?  Do you feel confident you can go several more miles before actually running out of gas?  Do you make a game of “I think I can, I think I can” meaning I think I can get to a gas station on just fumes alone? If so, read on! 

I’ve known a few people in my time who enjoy the challenge of pulling up to the gas station on fumes.  Sure…they have lost a few times and had to hoof it to the nearest station, buy a gas can and walk back to where their trusty vehicle finally stopped.  Some even brag after this experience that now they actually know for sure how many miles they can drive after the fuel warning lights up! I’m happy those people enjoy such games and challenges, but playing that game can have costly, not to mention damaging results for your vehicle.

Most vehicles have an electric fuel pump located inside the fuel tank and are actually submerged in the fuel.  The fuel pump is an electric motor that spins at a high rate of speed. Spinning mechanical parts create heat and need lubrication, which is why the pump is at the bottom of the fuel tank completely covered with fuel.

The fuel pump is always spinning as long as the engine is running, which makes it more important not to run low on gas. When your fuel gauge reads below ¼ of a tank, the fuel pump is starting to be exposed to air inside the tank, instead of the cool fuel.

If you put your hands together and rub them back and forth as fast as you can, you will create heat, when you stop, it will take a few minutes for them to cool down. However, if you put them under water they cool down immediately.  Maybe not a great analogy, but I think you get the idea.

Overheating fuel pumps is the number one cause of failure. The cost of replacing a fuel pump on most cars is roughly $600 to $1000 and some cost even more.  The best thing you can do for your vehicle is fill it up when it gets to a quarter tank.  It will save you money in the long run and keep your car running well.  Sure…it doesn’t have the same challenge as driving on fumes, but when it comes to your vehicle, it is always wise to consider damage control…both to your car and your wallet!

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