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Archive for June 2017

Distracted Driving

Posted June 28, 2017 11:06 AM

When asked, most people think they are good at multi-tasking. Scientific studies, however, reveal that only around 2% of the population can truly demonstrate the capacity to effectively multi-task. For the rest of us who are not so biologically wired, no amount of practice can increase our effectiveness at multi-tasking. Turns out, multi-tasking is almost a superpower. Think of fighter pilots: capable of maintaining their orientation in three dimensional space and performing specific and highly complicated functions while accessing life threatening situations and coming up with an appropriate response. Admit it – you can’t do that.

Yet when it comes to driving, we seem to think we are very capable of safely operating a motor vehicle with myriad distractions. 77% of young adults feel somewhat confident that they can safely text and drive while 55% claim it’s easy to text and drive. Can they possibly be right? Let’s look at some statistics.

Nearly 23% of all accidents in the United States involve cell phones. Every day, 11 people are killed and over 900 are injured in texting-related accidents. In fact, texting while driving is six times more likely to cause an accident than driving intoxicated. Just think back at your own experiences: how many of your “near misses” as a pedestrian or in a vehicle have involved a driver with a cell phone in their hand?

There are three types of driving distractions:

  • Visual (eyes off the road)
  • Manual (reaching for something or manipulating an object)
  • Cognitive (mind off the task of driving)

Of course, texting or using a cell phone involves all three. Eating, applying make-up, arguing and working on-board features like the stereo and navigation system are all very real distractions. You may be interested to know that hands-free cell calls are not substantially safer than using a handheld phone. Any time you glance away from the road (like looking at a text or incoming phone call) your eyes are off task for at least 5 seconds. At 55 miles per hour/90 kph, you will cover the length of a football field in that time. Would you ever consent to strapping on a blindfold and driving off down the road for that distance?

So what do you do? First, accept the fact that you are not part of the 2% of all the people on the planet who can truly multi-task (if you are one of the lucky ones you would know by now because your performance does not degrade no matter how many additional tasks are added). Next, don’t EVER drive distracted. Incoming text: it will wait for later. Juicy hamburger: eat it in the parking lot. No exceptions, ever. And don’t accept anything less from drivers of vehicles in which you are a passenger.

Another way to avoid distractions is to keep on top of scheduled maintenance and necessary repairs so that your vehicle itself doesn’t become a distraction. We can help you with that.

Give us a call.

Kingwood Service Center
3318 Northpark Dr
Kingwood, TX 77339
(281) 360-7323
http://www.kingwoodservicecenter.net



On Board Diagnostics for Kingwood Motorists

Posted June 18, 2017 7:35 AM

Some Kingwood vehicle owners wonder why Kingwood Service Center and other Kingwood auto repair shops charge a fee for vehicle diagnostics.

Receiving a diagnostic charge at Kingwood Service Center for a tricky automotive problem shouldn't be a surprise. In the Kingwood area, automotive diagnostics can cover quite a range. If you hear a noise in your vehicle brakes when you slow down in rush-hour traffic on a busy TX road, you pull off at the next off-ramp and take a quick visual check. That is usually enough to know what needs to be done. If you're having an intermittent problem with your vehicle engine, however, a Kingwood Service Center diagnosis may be much more involved.

Much of the Kingwood driver's confusion comes when the problem involves the Check Engine light. The Check Engine light comes on when the engine management computer has sensed a problem.

There's a common misconception among TX drivers that the trouble code tells the Kingwood Service Center technician exactly what's wrong. They wonder why there is a diagnostic charge because the scanner quickly gave the diagnosis.

In reality, it is not that easy and straightforward. The computer monitors many sensors throughout the vehicle. When one of these sensors has a reading that's out of parameters, the computer will record a trouble code and turn on the Check Engine light.

The vehicle computer's trouble code just tells the Kingwood Service Center technician what engine parameter is out of range, not what's causing it. The technician needs to determine the underlying problem that's causing the malfunction.

There are many problems that could cause a troublesome sensor reading for Kingwood Service Center customers. The service advisor makes a list of the most likely causes and begins tracking down the source of the problem. This takes time.

Kingwood service centers subscribe to databases that document possible causes for all the possible trouble codes. The databases outline procedures for confirming a diagnosis and provide the documented repair. These  databases are specific to each vehicle and engine combination.

Some diagnoses are quick and easy. Others are more involved, time-consuming and difficult. Of course Kingwood Service Center wants to figure out what's wrong with your vehicle and get you back on the road as quickly as possible.

Kingwood Service Center
3318 Northpark Dr
Kingwood, TX 77339
(281) 360-7323
http://www.kingwoodservicecenter.net



Higher Mileage Service Intervals for Kingwood

Posted June 11, 2017 7:34 AM



Kingwood drivers have probably noticed that the government mandates a lot of equipment on cars: emission devices and control computers, safety equipment like airbags and crash worthiness requirements. All of this is great for the motoring public in the Kingwood area, but it does add quite a bit to the price of a new car.

Because new cars are more expensive, Kingwood residents are driving their old cars longer. The average car is now over nine years old. 68% of vehicles on the road have more than 75,000 miles/120,000 kilometers. As cars age, their performance drops, they have difficulty idling for long periods and are more sensitive to weather extremes. Fortunately today's cars are up to the challenge - but they need a little help to keep on going.

Some owner's manuals don't outline service requirements and schedules at higher mileage. Of course, that doesn't mean it doesn't have to be done. In fact, it's more important than ever for Kingwood drivers to stay on top of routine auto maintenance for cars with more than 120,000 miles/190,000 kilometers. Just extend regular service intervals out: for instance a service that's recommended every 24,000 miles/38,000 kilometers should be performed at 24,000 mi/38,000 km; 48,000 mi/77,000 km; 72,000 mi/116,000 km, 96,000 mi/154,000 km; and on and on.

Because of the additional stress older engines experience, the severe service maintenance schedule may be more appropriate than the regular schedule. Watch for leaks - seals and gaskets dry out over time and do not hold the fluids as well as they used to. If you don't already have one, it is more important than ever to get a good technician, like any one of the automotive professionals on our team at Kingwood Service Center. There are some services and replacements that are scheduled after you put some clicks on the odometer, like timing belts, valve train adjustments, suspension, anti-lock brake service, air bags, etc. And unexpected repairs down the road are just par for the course.

Check for unusual sounds, smells or the way your car feels. These could be hints for Kingwood vehicle owners that trouble is brewing. Better to catch it early before it turns into repair. Regular wash and wax will help maintain your car's appearance. One of the things Kingwood drivers can do to really help a high mileage vehicle is to begin using high mileage formulation fluids. There are special engine oils, coolants, transmission fluids and power steering fluids that are formulated for cars that have higher mileage.


High mileage oil is designed to condition seals and gaskets, reduce wear and avoid premature burn off. Older vehicle engines are dirtier inside - and dirty engines contaminate their oil faster. High mileage oil has special additives that clean the engine, removing sludge deposits over time. The result is less stress on the engine, better fuel economy and excellent wear protection. Come into Kingwood Service Center in Kingwood for a checkup.

Studies have even shown that using high mileage fluids early will actually prevent some of the problems of high mileage vehicles. So once you hit around 50,000 mi/80,000 km, consider stepping up to high mileage formulations. The fluids cost a bit more than standard fluids in Kingwood because of the additional additives, but they can be worth their weight in gold in terms of preventing repair costs down the road.

It does cost more for  vehicle owner's to properly maintain a higher mileage vehicle in Kingwood - but it's much cheaper than a new car payment!

Kingwood Service Center
3318 Northpark Dr
Kingwood, TX 77339
(281) 360-7323
http://www.kingwoodservicecenter.net



Alternative Fuel Vehicles in Kingwood, TX

Posted June 4, 2017 9:07 AM

Let's talk about alternative fuel vehicles. In their quest to reduce the use of fossil fuels and harmful exhaust emissions in our TX environment, automakers will have a number of alternatives for Kingwood drivers very soon.

For instance, Flex Fuel vehicles are already available in the Kingwood area. Flex Fuel vehicles can run on gasoline or on E85 fuel. E85 is a mixture of 85 percent ethanol and 15 percent gasoline. The ethanol is made from corn. The benefits to Kingwood drivers are in using less petroleum and reduced pollution. The drawbacks are that E85 gets lower gas mileage and when gas prices are low, E85 can be more than straight gasoline.

Kingwood drivers should only use E85 if they have a Flex Fuel compatible engine. Flex Fuel vehicles have special seals and gaskets that can stand up to the high alcohol content of E85. Using E85 in a regular engine can lead to gas leaks and fires.

Diesel engines have been around TX  for a long, long time. Modern diesels are very refined and fuel efficient. Diesel fuel can be made from renewable sources like vegetable oil, too. Diesel fuel from algae and sunlight is reported to be pretty close to being commercially viable.

There are also a number of natural gas vehicles on our Kingwood roads. Gasoline engines are adapted to run on compressed natural gas. It's less expensive than gasoline and burns very cleanly. You can even refill it with a special pump from your gas line at home.

Plug-in electric vehicles are now available in our Kingwood area. Battery technology is the limiting factor right now. Electric cars have a limited range and are really best for use close to home. As battery technology advances, electric cars will perform closer and closer to conventional power plants.

That brings us to hybrids. There are a bunch of hybrids on our TX roads, with more to come. Hybrid technology combines internal combustion engines with electric motors.

A mild hybrid has a regular gas or diesel engine that's assisted by the electric motor. The electric motor can propel the vehicle by itself up to a certain speed under gentle acceleration. There are mild hybrids in full-sized pickups and SUVs. They deliver similar to their highway ratings.

A full hybrid will rely primarily on the electric motor for power. It'll have a small gas or diesel engine that generates electricity for the batteries.

A quick word from Kingwood Service Center about safety around hybrid and electric vehicles. Unlike the battery in your current family car, these carry enough voltage to kill you. Never mess around under the hood or with the batteries or electrical wiring. Your Kingwood service technician at  Kingwood Service Center is trained to safely disable the flow of electricity before performing maintenance or repairs on the vehicle.

Hybrids are really not do-it-yourself vehicles unless you're specifically trained on hybrid systems.

Kingwood Service Center
3318 Northpark Dr
Kingwood, TX 77339
(281) 360-7323
http://www.kingwoodservicecenter.net



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