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Archive for December 2022

I'm Cool With That (AC Exchange)

Posted December 25, 2022 11:08 AM

On a hot day, you want your vehicle's air conditioning to work.  When the air blowing out of your vents isn't cold, it's easy to think, "I'll just take it by the shop and have them top off my refrigerant." But while some people think air conditioning is that simple, it's actually not.

If your refrigerant is low, something has to have happened for it to be depleted.  Perhaps there's a leak in the system.  Or some hoses or clamps have failed.  If the system isn't evaluated by someone who knows air conditioning, it's possible that adding refrigerant will just be a band-aid solution.

It's also possible that contaminants have gotten into the refrigerant, such as carbon dioxide, nitrogen, argon, or air.  Some of those gases do not condense like refrigerant does which can increase the pressure inside the system and strain the lines and other components. At that point, the best course of action may be to have the old refrigerant (with its contaminants) bled from the system and have your AC recharged with new refrigerant.

Bring it to us, and we can inspect and test the system and all its components.  That will include a pressure test for leaks.  Most vehicle manufacturers don't have a service schedule for air conditioning systems, so one way to know when you should have it looked at is when it's not behaving the way it used to.  For example, it may not get cold as fast as it did before or even at all.

So, when hot air is exiting your vents when you want it to be cold, schedule an appointment and have a trained technician take care of it.  Are you cool with that?

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



Always on Guard (TMPS)

Posted December 18, 2022 10:06 AM

One of the most important things you can do to keep your vehicle running safely is to make sure your tires are properly inflated.  If one or more is vastly over- or underinflated, that has the potential to cause major handling problems and may result in a dangerous accident.

All vehicles in recent years are equipped with Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems, or TPMS.  One system uses small sensors in the tires that continually check the pressure in each tire.  That sensor sends a signal to computers in your vehicle which turns on an instrument panel light warning of low pressure when at least one is very low. Or it may update a numeric reading on your instrument panel which gives you an approximation of how many PSI (pounds per square inch) of air is in each tire. 

Another system works with your antilock brake system to measure the size of your vehicle’s tires.  When one wheel is going faster than another, it will spin faster. A computer sees that and alerts you that tire’s diameter is smaller than the others and therefore must be underinflated.

No matter what system you have, it’s also helpful for you to know how much pressure each tire is supposed to be inflated to.  You can find that on a label on the driver’s side door sill. In addition, the TPMS system should not be used as a substitute for checking your tires with a tire gauge since the TPMS accuracy usually isn’t quite as precise.  Keep in mind that tire sensors can fail, so each system acts as a backup for the other. 

Since many vehicles these days don’t have spare tires, it’s good to know that your TPMS can warn you if you have a leak in one of your tires.  If you get a low-pressure warning, many systems will tell you which tire is low, so you can do your own visual check.  Often you can see if you’ve picked up a nail or a screw if it’s sticking out of the tread or near the sidewall.

Being able to receive an early warning from your vehicle of abnormal tire pressure may give you a chance to safely drive to a service center before your tire slowly goes completely flat (which can ruin the tire and badly damage the rim). It also may ultimately prevent you from being stranded somewhere with a flat tire or, most importantly, having a sudden blowout on the road. 

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



What Is an EGR Valve? (EGR Valve Service)

Posted December 11, 2022 7:23 AM

If you've ever felt your vehicle hesitate, go, then hesitate again, you might think there's something wrong with the transmission.  After all, it's not moving smoothly  down the road.  But there are plenty of malfunctions that can cause those symptoms, one of them being something you may have never heard of: the EGR valve.

EGR stands for Exhaust Gas Recirculation. It's a system that channels small amounts of exhaust back into the engine to cool down the cylinders and reduce polluting gases.  Those include nitrogen oxides that can cause smog. The EGR valve regulates how much of the vehicle's exhaust gas is recirculated. After years and long distances traveled, that valve can get clogged or fail. Sometimes the EGR valve can stick open.  When the EGR valve isn't working properly, your vehicle can start releasing those nitrogen oxides and pollute the air.

The symptoms of a malfunctioning EGR valve include:

  • Engine losing power
  • Engine idling roughly
  • Pinging and knocking sounds in the engine
  • Stalling and hesitation
  • Fuel economy decreasing
  • Check Engine light illuminated

 

Depending on its condition, the EGR valve can be cleaned or it may need to be replaced.  Consult with your service advisor to see what options are recommended to you.

The EGR system is part of your vehicle's pollution and emissions control equipment. If you care about keeping our planet's atmosphere clean, you'll want to make sure it's doing its job—for everyone's benefit.

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



Regular Schedule or Severe Service Schedule at Kingwood Service Center?

Posted December 4, 2022 7:21 AM

Today's Kingwood Service Center article focuses on severe service maintenance. Many Kingwood drivers are not aware of them and yet there are also very vocal advocates in TX who think that severe service schedules apply to everyone. Somewhere between a complete lack of awareness and the dire blanket statements lies a reasonable approach to severe service maintenance at Kingwood Service Center.

To back up a little, vehicle owner's manuals have schedules for preventive maintenance: things like oil changes, transmission service and so on. They say you should change your oil after a certain distanced traveled or after so many months. Kingwood drivers understand this very well. What they may not know is that there are actually two service schedules: the regular schedule and the severe service schedule. The mileage and time intervals are lower on the severe service schedule.

Now when you hear 'severe service,' you may think it doesn't apply to you because you don't feel your driving conditions are severe or extreme – it's just normal everyday driving in the Kingwood area. So let's list some of the conditions that classify as severe so that you can make the judgment on your own driving.

Before we start the list, here's a point of contrast that definitely is not severe driving. Driving down your nearest TX interstate at the highway speed limit on a 75 degree F/24 degree C day loaded only with your passengers. This is an easy trip for your vehicle: your engine is loafing along at low RPMs, no heavy loads to pull and moderate Kingwood temperatures. Now let's look at some severe service driving conditions.

Most trips around Kingwood are less than four miles/six and a half kilometers. When your vehicle engine cools down, moisture condenses in the engine. This water in the oil doesn't get a chance to evaporate on short trips because the oil doesn't get hot enough. A lot of short trips in your vehicle means a lot of water build up. And water in the oil leads to the creation of sludge which can damage the engine. Changing the oil more frequently keeps sludge from building up. By contrast, highway driving warms the engine up and gets the water burned off.

Here's another example. Most trips around Kingwood are less than 10 miles/16 km and outside temperatures are below freezing. This is the same reasoning, but in very cold TX weather it takes even longer for the oil to get hot enough to evaporate the water, hence 10  miles/16 km as opposed to 4 miles/6.4 km.

Next, you drive in very hot TX weather. The hotter it is outside, the more cooling the engine, transmission, brake fluid and so on becomes. The environment in which the fluids reside is more hostile, and the fluids simply break down faster. Therefore, the lower change interval.

Another: driving at low speed most of the time. Every vehicle engine has what's called its power band. This is a range of RPMs in which it's most efficient. Low speed driving doesn't keep the engine in its power band so it's working harder. This is one of the reasons that ratings are worse in downtown than on the highway.

Stop and go driving in Kingwood is another severe service condition. You're always accelerating, which works the vehicle engine and transmission harder. Then you're stopping, which works the brake fluid harder, causing it to get very hot. Highway driving, on the other hand, requires far less horsepower to maintain its speed than getting a stationary vehicle from a stop light up to 25 mph/40 kph. A lot of this and you'll need to follow the severe service schedule.

Also on the list is operating your vehicle in dusty, polluted or muddy conditions. Obviously, your engine air filter and cabin air will get dirty faster and need to be changed more frequently as will your breather element. Some of this dust and dirt will make its way into your fluids. They will simple get dirty faster and won't protect the components as well as fresh fluids.

Finally, you're driving under severe conditions in Kingwood when you tow a trailer, regularly carry heavy loads or carry a car-top carrier. This is pretty obvious. You'll spend more time in lower gears so the engine and transmission work much harder and create more heat. Brakes will be more stressed stopping the heavier loads.

Sounds like most of us in Kingwood operate under severe driving conditions at least some of the time. How can Kingwood drivers know which schedule to follow?

Think of it as a spectrum with "always driving under severe conditions" on one end and "never driving under severe conditions" on the other end. Some will be at one extreme or the other, but most of us will fall somewhere in between.

Carefully think about your driving conditions and decide if you should do your preventive maintenance closer to the severe service recommendation or the regular recommendation. Of course, your Kingwood Service Center service advisor can help you with your decision.

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



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