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Archive for May 2020

Introduction to Diesels for Kingwood, TX

Posted May 31, 2020 8:37 AM



Something you're going to be hearing a lot about around Kingwood, TX, is diesel engines. We're not talking about semi-trucks and buses; we're talking about diesel engine cars, pick-ups and SUVs.

Most people in TX are surprised to learn that around half the cars on the road in Europe have diesel engines. Nearly all import brands offer a range of diesel engines abroad – even the ultra-luxury brands like Mercedes and BMW. For the most part, these diesel engines haven't been available in Kingwood, TX. But that's about to change.

In the past, North American diesel fuel has had a much higher sulfur content than European fuel. Recent environmental laws have required changes in diesel formulation and emissions standards here in Kingwood, TX, so we are now ready to start seeing more diesel options offered over the next few years.

Why are so many Kingwood drivers interested in diesel engines? Well first off, diesel fuel is more energy dense. There's more power in a barrel of diesel fuel than there is in a barrel of gasoline. The result? Better performance and improved fuel economy.

Diesel powered vehicles get about 20 percent better fuel economy. And as for power – why do you think that the majority of new heavy duty pick-up trucks are being sold in Kingwood with diesel engines?

If you think back to the late 1970's and early 1980's, you may shudder when you think of the diesel powered cars of the day – noisy, smoky, under-powered beasts that rattled and shook their passengers. Modern diesels sold in TX have evolved considerably.

They are quiet, clean – and powerful. They're so refined that many Kingwood drivers can't even tell they're riding in a diesel powered vehicle. In addition to fuel savings, diesels generally last longer than gasoline engines because of their heavy duty construction.

Another thing the Kingwood green crowd takes advantage of is the use of bio-diesel in diesel vehicles. Bio-diesel is made from vegetable oil – even recycled cooking oil from Kingwood restaurants. There is a lot of buzz about hybrid cars in TX. Look to diesel-electric hybrids in years to come to make a good idea even better.

Every year, manufacturers introduce new diesel models. Look for diesels in domestic light trucks, SUVs and passenger cars. Import brands have plans to bring more of their outstanding diesel engines to TX as well.

New Kingwood diesel owners need to know that properly maintaining a diesel engine is somewhat different than a gasoline engine. Fluid change intervals are different. Emissions control devices have to work harder to filter diesel fuel and to scrub the exhaust so you will need to pay attention to that. And the fuel injection system operates at much higher pressures than gas fuel injection systems, so it's important to keep your fuel system clean with a diesel.

The good news is that Kingwood Service Center in Kingwood is keeping up with the new diesel technology and will be able to advise you on maintaining your diesel.

When we tell you to look for more diesels on Kingwood streets, you won't be looking for smoky tail pipes as a clue. You also won't be listening for that familiar big rig rattle. And, you certainly won't be waiting for them at the stoplight, because modern diesels are as quick as their gasoline counterparts.

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



On Board Diagnostics for Your Engine

Posted May 24, 2020 8:17 AM

Starting in 1996, Kingwood Service Center service technicians have been able to use a standardized diagnostic system to help determine what is wrong with a vehicle. This diagnostic system works in tandem with the Engine Control Modules for each vehicle's engine. The Engine Control Module is a computer that monitors and controls many engine functions.

Sensors throughout a vehicle send readings to the Engine Control Module. These readings help the computer make adjustments in various vehicle systems to allow for constantly changing driving conditions and even to compensate for minor problems. However, if the computer encounters a situation it can't adjust for, it turns on the Check Engine light. (The Check Engine light is called the “service engine soon” light on some vehicles.)

If the Check Engine light is burning steadily, it indicates a problem that needs to be taken care of soon. If it is flashing, however, the vehicle needs immediate attention at Kingwood Service Center. When the Check Engine light is flashing, the vehicle should not be driven at high speeds, haul heavy loads or tow a trailer. Kingwood drivers need to understand that doing so can cause major damage.

When a vehicle is brought to Kingwood Service Center in Kingwood because the Check Engine light is on, a technician will scan the Engine Control Module to learn why it turned the light on. The answer comes as a “trouble code.” The technician has access to software that allows him to enter the code and find out what it means. The software will also let your Kingwood Service Center technician know what might be causing the problem and how to diagnose it.

Notice that the trouble code does not tell your technician at Kingwood Service Center exactly what is wrong with the vehicle. It can only let him know where to start looking to find the problem.

Scanning a trouble code and determining what it means is fairly simple for the pros at Kingwood Service Center. But the ensuing process of actually diagnosing a vehicle's trouble can take a skilled technician some time. Sometimes this can add up to a significant repair bill. Some vehicle owners mistakenly believe  that the “trouble code” is all they need and think they can then fix their vehicles themselves. Some have tried to save money by purchasing an inexpensive scanner, or they take their vehicles to an auto parts store that offers the scan for little or no cost.

These options are often not the money-savers they seem for Kingwood vehicle owners. They can end up costing the vehicle owner extra in unnecessary repairs and engine damage.

For example, the trouble code P0133 reads “Bank 1 sensor 1 circuit slow response.” Translated, that means the front oxygen sensor shows a slow response time in changing the mix of air to fuel. The seemingly obvious conclusion is that the sensor needs to be replaced. The vehicle owner purchases a sensor, installs it and happily goes on his way.

However, read the trouble again: a slow response time in changing the mix of air to fuel. Nowhere does this indicate that the sensor is bad. There are a lot of parts involved in changing the air-fuel mix, any of which could be causing a slow reaction time. Those include a bad or contaminated airflow sensor, an exhaust leak, a problem in the electrical system or a leak in the intake manifold. The sensor is merely relaying that the response time is slow; it doesn't indicate where the trouble is.

So the vehicle ends up with an oxygen sensor it did not need, and the delay in repairing the actual problem may have led to further damage to the engine. Both are added costs for the vehicle owner.

Cheap scanners also don't have the ability to read the history stored in an engine's computer. This operating history contains clues that can help in diagnosing engine trouble since it can indicate a developing problem. Kingwood Service Center invests a lot of money in high-end diagnostic equipment so that we have access not just to service codes but also to the operating history of the engine.

On-board diagnostics, then, are a tool to help diagnose what is wrong with a vehicle. They cannot specify what part needs to be fixed or replaced, and they cannot replace a well-trained and well-equipped service technician.

Unless you are a trained mechanic, it's good auto advice to use Kingwood Service Center for your car care. In the long run, it can save you time, unnecessary expense and frustration. Kingwood Service Center can also help you keep up with your scheduled preventive maintenance, which can also save you on repair bills by alerting you to potential problems before they get expensive.

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



Have You Checked Your Headlights?

Posted May 17, 2020 6:08 AM



Like everything in the TX automotive market, there have been great strides in headlight technology in recent years. TX drivers can be safer at night because of it. Good headlights improve visibility on Kingwood roads, enabling you to see farther. They also improve your peripheral vision, helping you to see the sides more clearly. The more you can see, the more quickly you can react to road conditions. This is because nearly half of traffic fatalities take place at night. And as Kingwood resident population ages, everything that helps older eyes is welcome.

Most new vehicles sold in TX come with halogen headlamps. A decade ago, halogens were exotic and expensive. Now that they are standard equipment, the price has come way down. Many luxury cars are equipped with high intensity discharge, or HID, headlamps. You have probably seen them on some Kingwood roads; they're very bright and have a bluish tint.

From behind the wheel, there is no doubt that HID headlamps are the best thing going. However, many Kingwood drivers complain about HID lights in oncoming traffic or when they approach from behind. In fact, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called for public comment, they received a record number of complaints about HIDs. This has lead to several studies - your tax dollars at work. Some expect future regulation of HID lamps.

All halogen headlamps dim over time. Your service advisor at Kingwood Service Center recommends that they be changed out once a year. We suggest you replace your headlamps in the fall at the end of Daylight Saving Time. It's easy to remember; when you change your clock, change your headlamps. Remember to replace all headlamps at the same time; then all your lights will be equally bright. You will appreciate it during those long TX winter nights.

If you have an older vehicle with old-school headlamps, you might be able to get a halogen replacement. You'll be amazed at the difference this upgrade will make.

In addition to regular halogen lamps, Kingwood vehicles can upgrade to premium lamps that filter some of the yellow light, making a bright white light that's more like natural sunlight. This light's easier on the eyes and should improve reaction time.

Now, you may be able to step up to HID headlamps, depending on the kind of car you drive. These lamps should last the life of your car, but cost several hundred dollars a pair. If you want other Kingwood vehicles to think you're running HID lamps, you can even buy regular halogens that have a bluish tint. Does she or doesn't she? Only her Kingwood Service Center technician knows for sure.

Over time, plastic headlight covers can get cloudy or yellowed. In fact, AAA reports that nine out of ten headlights are dirty or yellowed, greatly reducing vision. In addition to helping you replace your headlamps, many service centers such as Kingwood Service Center in Kingwood, TX, can restore headlight covers. Headlights can be restored at a fraction of the cost of replacing them.

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



Cooling System Components

Posted May 10, 2020 7:56 AM

Today we want to talk about a system in our vehicles – the cooling system. It's one of those things that Kingwood auto owners don't give much thought to until it fails and then they're stranded by the side of a road in TX.

Cooling systems fail more often than any other mechanical system – usually because of neglect. Don't you hate it when something breaks and you could have done something to prevent it?

The good news is that if Kingwood drivers take care of their cooling systems, they can keep working for the life of their car.

Here at Kingwood Service Center in Kingwood, we emphasize preventive maintenance services like replacing your coolant according to the factory schedule. But the various parts that make up the cooling system need attention too. The major components of the cooling system are the water pump, freeze plugs, the thermostat, radiator, cooling fans, the heater core, the pressure cap, the overflow tank and the hoses.

It sounds complicated, but we Kingwood residents don't have to be experts – we can leave that to our friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Kingwood Service Center. But, having an overview will help us remember how to take care of your car's cooling system.

Most Kingwood folks would be surprised to know that burning fuel in your engine produces up to 4,500 degrees F/2,500 degrees C of heat. And all that heat has to be dealt with. If the heat can't be drawn off the engine, the pistons will literally weld themselves to the inside of the cylinders – then you just have to throw the engine away and get a new one. That would cost thousands of dollars.

Now the water pump is what forces the coolant through passages in the vehicle engine to absorb heat. The pump is driven by a belt that needs replacement from time to time. And the water pump will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. Spending some cash on replacing the belts and water pump is much less than the cost of repairing the extremely massive damage that can be done when an engine seizes.

There's another little known but important part of the coolant system that protects the engine. It's called a freeze plug. If you remember from high school chemistry, water expands when it freezes. In very cold areas, the coolant can actually freeze when the vehicle is left sitting.

It is hard to believe, but the expanding frozen coolant is enough to actually crack the engine block. The freeze plugs fit into the engine block. They fit tight enough to withstand the pressure of a running engine, but can expand or pop out if the coolant freezes. These little things save a lot of engine blocks.

The team at Kingwood Service Center can check your cooling system and make any necessary adjustments or repairs. Give us a call.

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



Shake It up in Kingwood!: Why Wheel Balancing

Posted May 3, 2020 9:53 AM

Our vehicles are not massage chairs. While we may enjoy a good vibration in an overstuffed recliner, we generally want as smooth a ride as possible in our vehicles. One way to achieve this is to keep a vehicle's wheels in balance.

When a tire is mounted onto a wheel, it is usually out of balance. This means that as the wheel spins, there is a slight wobble to the path of the tire. For best handling performance and safety on the road, Kingwood drivers want to minimize this wobble as much as possible. So we balance our tires. To balance a tire, your technician at Kingwood Service Center spins it on a machine or drum to determine where it is off-balance. He then attaches weights that counter-balance the uneven weight. Most people in Kingwood are surprised at how much balancing improves the smoothness of their ride.

High-quality tires generally hold their balance well. But over time, wear and tear take their toll and tires can become unbalanced. Kingwood drivers can tell when a front tire is unbalanced if they feel a vibration in the steering wheel. If a back tire is unbalanced, you'll feel a vibration in your seat. You may not notice these vibrations until they get fairly serious — or until someone else drives your vehicle — because they usually develop slowly. If a vibration starts abruptly, it usually means you've lost a balancing weight.

The average tire rotates at about 850 revolutions per minute at 60 mph/97 kmh. When a tire is out of balance, it actually hops down the road, rather than rolling. So at 60 mph/97 kph, it is slamming into the pavement 14 times a second. That's what creates the vibration. When tires are out of balance, they wear out more quickly. The lack of balance also causes extra wear on shocks, struts, steering components and suspension parts.

Getting a balance job at Kingwood Service Center in Kingwood can prevent repair bills and even an accident. It will improve the safety of your vehicle as well as its handling performance. When you change your rims or get a flat repaired at Kingwood Service Center, you'll need to get your tires balanced as well. When you rotate your tires, you may want to have them balanced, too.

Some Kingwood vehicle owners, however, only balance their wheels every other rotation. You can check your owner's manual to see what is recommended for your vehicle. Balancing your tires is part of preventive maintenance. It keeps your vehicle in good repair and prevents damage to many of its components. So practice good vehicle care and make it a point to keep your tires balanced. It's quality auto advice from Kingwood Service Center. Massage chairs may vibrate away our worries, but unbalanced tires will just rattle Kingwood drivers' nerves.

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

 



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