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Archive for October 2022

A Hot Mess (AC System-Compresser)

Posted October 30, 2022 9:49 AM

Air conditioning used to be a real luxury in a vehicle, but now it's standard in most.  Your vehicle's air conditioning system is built to last a pretty long time, but like anything mechanical, sometimes it fails. 

It helps to know a little about how the A/C works. There's a compressor that pressurizes the refrigerant (you probably recognize the term Freon).  That makes it hotter, so it then goes through a condenser that cools it off.  Then another component takes out impurities and humidity before the Freon goes to a device that makes it lose pressure before it goes to the evaporator.  That's where it gets colder and takes the humidity out of the air. Then your vehicle's ventilation system blows air over the evaporator, cooling the cabin air that gives you such relief on a hot day.

Of all these parts, one that does a lot of work is the compressor.  It has to compress that refrigerant and circulate it through the system.  It turns on and off several times when it's working. The good news is that if it's going to fail, it sometimes lets you know. 

One of the signs that your air conditioning compressor is going bad is a noise under the hood when the engine is on, sometimes a squealing or grinding sound. It usually is pretty noticeable. Compressors have a bearing that can seize up after time, causing the belt that drives it to squeal when it's trying to turn something that won't turn.  It will sometimes cause that belt to break. 

Your service advisor can tell you if your compressor is repairable or must be replaced.  In the case of a broken belt (often a serpentine belt that drives several components) the belt will have to be replaced as well.

The compressor also has a clutch that turns the compressor on and off so it doesn't have to run all the time. Sometimes that clutch can fail, too, and your service advisor will often recommend you replace the compressor and the clutch at the same time. Our technicians can help make sure your air conditioning system keeps its cool, and you along with it. 

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



Don't be Fuelish (Signs Fuel Pump is Failing)

Posted October 23, 2022 8:07 AM

A driver of a large SUV loaded with equipment was heading on a 7-hour work trip when he stopped at a gas station to refuel.  When he went to restart his SUV, it turned over but wouldn't catch.  Try as he might, he was never able to get it started again. 

Of course there are many things that can cause those symptoms, but the next day he had his SUV towed to a service repair facility.  Using their test equipment, they were able to pinpoint the problem.  His fuel pump had failed.  The pump, which was located in the fuel tank, had to be replaced, and after awhile he was back on the road, delayed, but happy to be up and running again. 

What had happened is that the pump was not strong enough to deliver adequate  fuel to his engine, vital to being able to start it.  It had delivered just enough pressure in the morning to get it started the first time, but it was on its last legs.  He had been having trouble starting his SUV in the days leading up to this trip, a clue that something was wrong. 

The engine relies on a certain pressure of fuel from the pump to run properly, and there are some other signs to be aware of that your fuel pump may need to be replaced.  If you are putting strain on your engine, such as going uphill or hauling a big load, and the engine sputters, it may be a sign that the pump isn't delivering that consistent pressure.  Another warning sign is if your engine is running hot and then stalls.  That could mean your fuel pump is getting weak.

Sometimes you might notice your vehicle suddenly speeds up on its own or your fuel economy goes from good to poor in a short time.  If your fuel gauge shows you have plenty of fuel in the tank and your engine stalls, that's another possible sign of a failing fuel pump. 

Technicians have special equipment to see where the fuel problems are, and there are many possibilities.  Have your vehicle checked before you're left stranded.  Oh, and one more tip to prolong the life of your fuel pump.  Since it is cooled and lubricated by the fuel in your tank, make sure you keep at least a quarter of a tank of fuel at all times.  Avoid your "low fuel" light going on and you may be helping yourself avoid having to replace your fuel pump. 

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



No Fountain of Youth (Aging Tires)

Posted October 16, 2022 7:19 AM

Can you think of anyone who enjoys aging?  Wrinkles where you don't want them, gray hair, eyes that won't focus any more, no stamina. 

Believe it or not, your tires age, too, and they don't get better the older they get.  And here's the important thing to know, even if they can still pass a tread depth test, they may simply be too old to be safe 

Here's the best way to understand this.  Have you ever found an old deck of playing cards with a rubber band wrapped around them?  Try stretching the rubber band.  SNAP! It's all cracked and brittle.  And you haven't stressed that rubber one bit since the time you put them in that drawer.

Now you know what's happening to your tires.  Rubber ages.  Just like us, the day we come into the world, we start to go downhill (no pun intended).  Oh, engineers are able to make a tire last longer than ever before.  But that gas that keeps us alive—oxygen—seems to love to chemically mix with some components in rubber.  Oxidation causes rubber to become hard and brittle.  The rubber band test.

Is there an age test that can tell you when a tire is tool old to roll? Well, not really.  They don't all age the same.  Hot climates can make tires wear out more quickly.  Some experts say a tire can last up to 10 years but should be inspected every year after the age of five.  Others say tires should have an expiration date at six years old.

Since no one would ever ask a tire its age, how do you know how old one is? Believe it or not, tires made after the year 2000 have a date code stamped on either the inside or the outside of the sidewall.  It's a four-digit numbers; the first two tell you the week, the second two tell you the year. So if it has the number 1916, it was made in the 21st week of 2016. 

Another way to find out if your tires still have enough life in them is to have your vehicle service facility inspect them.  They look for signs of age, such as developing cracks in the rubber, the condition of the sidewalls and, of course, that old standby: tread.  If it's time to "retire" them, discuss options with your service advisor.


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



Kingwood Road Trip Preparation

Posted October 9, 2022 9:14 AM

People from Kingwood, TX, love their cars. And nothing goes with cars better than a TX road trip. Freedom from daily schedules, new sights and the open road – it's great! But there's nothing like car trouble to bring the fun to a grinding halt.

You can't always avoid problems, but you can take steps to reduce the probability of getting sidelined on your trip.

Heading out on a TX road trip? Stop by Kingwood Service Center before you head out to make sure everything is in good repair.

Let's look at some of the auto maintenance related problems you might encounter on a road trip in TX and what you might do to avoid them.

The most common vehicle component to fail is the tires. Of course, you can't always avoid a road hazard that leads to a flat, but you may be able to head off some maintenance-connected tire problems.

A good tire inspection at Kingwood Service Center will start with looking over the condition of the tire itself. Are there signs of uneven tire wear? Are the tires properly inflated? Is the tread worn to the point that the tire should be replaced? The answers to these questions may lead to a recommendation to balance or rotate your tires. It may also be time to have an alignment service.

Your brakes should be inspected for function as well as to determine how much life is left in your brake pads. You'll also want to know if it's time to service your brake fluid. Over time, water and contaminants make their way into your brake fluid and the system needs to be flushed, cleaned and filled with fresh fluid.

While you're out seeing the sights, you'll want to make sure you can see the sights. Replace your windshield wipers if they aren't working well. And don't forget your headlamps. They gradually lose their brightness and you don't even realize it. Many people replace their lamps once or twice a year.

All the items mentioned are part of any good vehicle maintenance plan. These are things that you want to take care of anyway, but they all come into focus as you plan for your trip. They'll always save you money in the long run and may prevent inconvenient delays on your trip. After all, you wouldn't want to miss the world's largest ball of string, would you?

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



Straight Ahead (Wheel Alignment)

Posted October 2, 2022 11:19 AM

If every road was straight and smooth, we wouldn't have to worry much about wheel alignment. But they're not, so we do.  Hitting potholes or driving on rough pavement can knock your vehicle out of alignment and you'll notice it in one of several ways.

Your steering wheel may not be centered when you're driving straight ahead, or your vehicle may pull to one side.  You may find your tires wearing on one side or they may squeal.  All are signs that could point to you needing an alignment.

Your wheels should be perpendicular to the road and parallel with each other.  If not, your tires will wear out faster and your vehicle won't go straight on a level straightaway.

In alignment, there are several factors that must be checked.  One is camber.  Your wheels should be straight up and down if you look at them from the front. If not, you'll wear your tires unevenly on one side.

Another factor is caster, the angle of the steering pivot.  Most vehicles have what's called positive caster, when the top of the steering pivot leans toward the rear.  Proper caster balances steering effort, stability on the highway and cornering.

You may have heard the term "toe" in reference to your wheels.  If you looked at your front wheels from straight above, for example, imagine your wheels were your feet.  If you were to turn your toes in toward each other, that would be toeing in.  The toe of your vehicle should be set to manufacturer's specifications so your vehicle handles well and doesn't prematurely wear out tires.

It's a good idea to have your alignment checked periodically since it can get knocked out by one hard knock or a lot of little knocks.  It's not just about tire wear, it's about ride comfort and safe handling. You may say a vehicle aligned just feels divine.


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



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