June 18, 2015

What it means to Own a Four-Wheel Drive Vehicle

When you look to purchase a new or used vehicle, one thing that you might consider is if you want a two-wheel drive or a four-wheel drive vehicle. There are some differences between the two that you may not be aware of. There are a lot of reasons you may want a four-wheel drive vehicle over a two-wheel drive vehicle. The person or the family might enjoy going off road for a little adventure in the sand or in the hills or else they might pull something behind. Four wheel drive will pull a boat or a camper a little bit better, especially if the engine is bigger. But a four wheel drive vehicle will require a little bit different kind of operational system than if you were to just be driving around on two wheeled power. Taking that specialized system to a specialist is your best bet for having it maintained properly so that no problems exist in the future. Maintaining a Four-Wheel Drive Vehicle No matter how many wheels power the car or truck you drive, it needs to have regular maintenance to make sure it is working correctly. The suspension system, the brakes, the tires themselves all need to be thoroughly checked in order to make sure all of the parts are operational and in good working order. An ASE master technician or a person trained specifically to work on four wheel drive vehicles is your best bet for getting the maintenance checks you need done properly. Maintenance could include brake fluid, getting the air adjusted in the tires or even checking that the tires have enough air in them, like any two wheeled drive vehicle would need. Why Two-Wheel Drive Vehicles are Different than Four-Wheel Drive On the most basic level, having four wheel drive is exactly how it sounds. All four tires will turn and have force to move the vehicle forward. Standard cars only have two wheels to power through and therefore not enough power to get through a snowdrift, sand or even make it through slippery conditions as well. Four wheel drive also offers a bit more stability when you are pulling heavy objects in a trailer behind you. Since there are more components required to get four wheel drive operational, the gas the engine uses will also be higher. That is why some SUVS and four wheel drives are called gas guzzlers, because they burn through it rather quickly. The Drive System Since there are more parts to power four wheel drive, it is a little more delicate to fix something when it goes wrong. Instead of wondering if any regular technician can fix something in the drivetrain, ask. Only hire someone who knows specifically what to do with four wheel drive vehicles when there is a problem. Trying to fix a problem on your own or hiring just anybody to do it could cause even more problems and be more expensive down the road. If the vehicle needs to be repaired, make sure to schedule and appointment and bring it in as soon as possible.
June 11, 2015

The History of Power Steering

When you drive your vehicle, you may think of it as second nature. There was a time that the vehicle was not as efficient as it is now. One of these items is the power steering. Without power steering, it would be very difficult to operate the vehicle. That particular operating knowledge resides within the senior population and with antique car enthusiasts and owners. Today’s population is composed of two complete generations, with an upcoming third group, that have only driven cars manufactured with power steering. As long as car owners keep up the required maintenance schedule, to include power steering service, the steering will remain flawless and easy. Those who learned to drive in the up to the early 1950s experienced the stiff hard turning and parking ratio behind a steering column without power steering. Yet there was another major component that contributed to the steering situation, the rear wheel drive. Power steering is controlled with front wheel drive, which makes maneuverability much easier and manageable. When Power Steering Started Commercial power steering came into being with the 1951 Chrysler Imperial and then with the 1952 Cadillac. The first patent to include power steering was U.S. Patent 646477, issued in April 1900. During World War II heavy military mobility equipment highlighted the need for steering maneuverability. That form of power steering greatly assisted the British and American armies. Today’s highly refined system is the result of over 130 years of research, design and improvements. How it Affects Tires and Brakes Besides not having power steering before 1951, car steering was governed by rear wheel drive. The tires had inner tubes and were not as wide as today’s all weather tubeless tires. Vehicles required a second set of tires for colder weather and were appropriately named snow tires. Brakes on the older vehicles were hydraulic. Without modern anti-lock capability brakes that got wet due to standing water on roads often would malfunction and had to be pumped to help restore usability. The Safety Features of Seat Belts and Air Bags Today’s seat belts are designed more like a harness that constrains both the seat and upper body areas of riders. The older vehicles had seat belts that only strapped across the lap. Front seats were often bench style to accommodate three people with three lap belts. There was no buckle-up law and unless something or someone obstructed the rear view window, there was no limit on how many people could ride in the back seat. Air bags are a modern safety feature that undoubtedly has saved many lives every year. The older cars were much heavier, the speeds were lower and minor accidents or fender benders caused less damage to both riders and vehicles. Today’s lighter, faster cars need the added safety features that help preserve life even when involved in minor mishaps. If you notice that there is an issue with the seat belts or air bags, make sure to have it fixed as soon as possible.
June 9, 2015

The Diagnostic Codes for Your Vehicle

Bring your vehicle in for regular vehicle inspections. By doing so, you can help keep your vehicle in ideal condition. You should also be aware for any diagnostic codes or warning lights that turn on when you drive. Sometimes when you have a big machine, it is very complicated. Therefore, in order to tell how to run it or if there is a problem running it, you need a little bit of assistance. The same goes for a car engine. In order to diagnose problems more efficiently, the car manufacturer’s came up with diagnostic codes that can help detect when there is a problem with a certain part of the car. The codes could be a light on the dashboard telling you the oil is getting low or else they could be signaling trouble within the engine. No matter what light or message flashes on your dashboard, you should have it checked out to make sure the car will keep performing like it should as you travel down the road. Check into the Message The diagnostic code can be checked in one of two ways. You can do it or you can go to a service center and have them check it out for you. The codes can be read from a machine that all automotive part stores have. However, they will not do it for you. You will have to get in to your dash and find the right wires to plug in to have the code displayed. When you go to a service center, they will perform the check for you. They will know what the codes mean and will then be able to give you an estimate of what needs to be fixed. Bring the Vehicle in at the Sign of an Issue There is a wide range of codes that could show up on the diagnostic meter. The code could signal a problem with an oxygen sensor in the exhaust system or it could be that there is a large problem developing in the pistons. The technician reading the code or the one that you give the code to will be able to look under the hood and accurately see what the problem could be. Once they look under the hood, then they can form an opinion and give an estimate as to the problem, the amount of time it will take to fix and what the projected cost will be. Diagnostic Codes are a Safety Feature If a diagnostic code flashes on your dashboard, but the engine still sounds and acts like it is fine, make sure to contact us. We can inspect the vehicle and see what the issue means. It might not be a huge problem now, but it could lead to one in the future if you ignore it. Do not ignore the codes just because the engine seems to be working fine, because you never know what problem may be lingering just under the surface. It is better to have a code checked out and find out it is a false alarm rather than continue on without checking and discover it was something that could have been prevented or even fixed earlier and easier than it can be now.