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Archive for March 2024

Road Ready (Trip Inspection)

Posted March 31, 2024 9:03 AM

Maybe you've been cooped up for a while and are yearning for a change of scenery.  Or maybe you need to visit a relative who lives far away.  You choose not to fork out the big bucks for airline tickets, so it's time for a road trip.  Make sure you're road ready by having your vehicle professionally inspected before the big drive.

One of our technicians can check out several of your vehicle's most important systems so you can be more confident that you'll be able to go the distance without a breakdown.  Here are a few things a trip inspection may include:

Your vehicle stops with brakes that, in turn, stop the tires.  They must both be in sound condition. The technician can look at your tire tread, the condition of the sidewalls, and note the tires' age.  Brakes have pads and rotors that should meet certain specs, so an expert inspection of their condition is important, too.

A technician can check other vital fluids such as engine coolant, power steering, transmission, and windshield washer fluid. Your wipers must be in good condition so you can see, and they're often one of the most neglected parts of a vehicle. 

Your headlights must work correctly and be aimed properly so you can see and so that you're not blinding oncoming drivers. They're powered by your battery, and a technician will check how old yours is and how well it holds a charge, all important for reliable starting. 

For cabin comfort, your climate control system needs to work correctly, which means both heat and air conditioning.  If things need to be repaired - before the trip will be a lot more convenient than trying to do it while you're traveling.

The technician can inspect hoses and belts, two things that frequently fail on a long trip.  And the big advantage of having a pro look over your vehicle is that they not only know what to look for but also can make the repairs the right way.  Now that's the ticket to being road ready.

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



Breathe New Life into Your Engine (MAF sensor replacement)

Posted March 24, 2024 9:12 AM

If you’ve noticed your vehicle is hard to start, stalling, or has lost power, the culprit may be a part with an odd name: the MAF sensor.  You may have never even heard of a MAF sensor, but it’s important that it be working correctly, or you may be experiencing some fairly significant engine issues.

All vehicles bring in air and direct it through an air filter before it goes into your engine, where it mixes with fuel to provide power to get you going. There’s a tube-like device with a sensor inside it that measures how much of that mass of air is passing through. That’s why it’s called a mass air flow sensor, or MAF sensor.  If the MAF sensor isn’t working right, the engine’s computer can’t figure out the right amount of fuel to mix with it, and your engine may hesitate or stall.  Sometimes this will cause your Check Engine Light to come on, and any time it does that, make sure you have your vehicle checked by a professional, so you’ll know what’s going on.

When you take your vehicle into your service facility, a technician will thoroughly check the system to see just where the problems are.  If your air filter is dirty, your MAF sensor may get dirty too, which might be causing the problems.  You may find your fuel economy isn’t what it used to be either.

There are other things that can cause the same symptoms, too, such as a leak in a vacuum hose. It’s also possible that the electrical connector between the MAF sensor and the engine has broken. 

The technician can use electronic diagnostic equipment to help pinpoint the exact problem or problems, replace worn parts, and test drive your vehicle to make sure it’s working correctly.

It’s also a good idea to make sure your air filter is changed regularly. A dirty air filter can contribute to a MAF sensor failure. One of the big benefits of having your vehicle regularly maintained at one facility, is they know your vehicle. So, they keep track of which of your vehicle’s parts should be periodically replaced before problems develop. 

If you keep clean air heading into your engine, it can help your engine work efficiently, and with the power it was engineered to deliver. Isn’t that a breath of fresh air?

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



Sounds Like a Hot Rod (Noisy Exhaust System)

Posted March 17, 2024 9:47 AM

Driving along, your exhaust system's rumbling so loud that people turn and stare at you pass by.  You're wondering when the police are going to pull you over for illegal noise.

Your mind immediately thinks, aha! A broken muffler. 

Well, your exhaust system is composed of many more parts than just a muffler. 

Your engine makes power because of thousands of tiny explosions from detonating fuel.  Those explosions make a racket, so engineers came up with a system that acoustically dampens that sound in addition to getting rid of harmful exhaust.

In the engine is the exhaust manifold that looks like several pipes that join up into one pipe.  It directs exhaust to the catalytic converter. The catalytic converter converts harmful gases into less harmful gases using certain chemical reactions.  Then comes the muffler that has baffles inside to quiet the sounds of your engine noise.  Finally: the tailpipe.

All of those pipes and parts are joined together by clamps and held up by brackets, and they ride over some pretty bumpy roads.  They are also exposed to the elements, like salt, water, rocks and grit.  Chances are that one of those clamps or brackets has been weakened by corrosion.  When you hit a bump, bingo! The crack widens into a gap and there's a spot for the engine noise to come roaring out instead of being directed into the muffler's quieting chambers.

You might be surprised to know that the exhaust system can rust from inside out.  How? Moisture is one component of exhaust, and moisture on the inside can do the same kind of damage as moisture from the outside. 

It's a good idea to have your exhaust system looked at regularly by a technician.  He or she can evaluate the condition of the metal and recommend when it might be time to replace parts before they break.

Then you'll have a decision to make.  Newer exhaust systems are made out of stainless steel that is much less prone to corrosion issues.  Others are made of aluminized steel that also fights rust.  You've probably already guessed that they can cost more, but the extra price up front may give you an exhaust system that will last much longer. 

Sure, with a repaired exhaust system, you won't have quite the head-turning vehicle you once had.  You'll just have to live with all the quiet.


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



How Much is Enough for Kingwood Auto Owners? Tire Tread Depth

Posted March 10, 2024 1:08 AM

Most Kingwood drivers know that tires wear out and that the wear has to do with tread depth. Most of us have heard that “bald” tires are dangerous, but most of us picture a tire with no tread at all when we think of a bald tire. And when we take our vehicles in for preventive maintenance, the technician tells us they're need to be replaced long before all the tread is worn off. Just how much tire tread wear is too much? And how can you tell? Tires are and their condition is important to the safe handling of a vehicle, so it's for Kingwood vehicle owners to know the answers to these questions.

First of all, it's important to understand that there may be a legal limit to tread wear. If your tires are worn past this limit, you have to replace them to be in compliance with TX auto safety laws. That's why measuring your tread wear is part of a vehicle safety inspection.

In some jurisdictions, tread must be at least 1.6 millimeters or 2/32 of an inch thick. This standard has been in effect since 1968. But this standard has recently been called into question, and some TX professionals are arguing that it be changed.

The safety issue that has brought this standard under scrutiny is the ability of a vehicle to stop on a wet surface. When a vehicle has trouble stopping, most Kingwood drivers immediately look at the brakes as the source of the problem. But tires are crucial to safe stopping distances because they provide the traction required in a stop.

A tire's contact with the road surface creates traction, which allows for effective braking. On a wet surface, a tire only has traction if it can get to the road's surface. So tire tread is designed to channel water out from under the tire to allow it to stay in contact with the road. If the tire can't shift the water, then it starts to “float.” This condition is called hydroplaning. It is very dangerous for Kingwood drivers since the vehicle won't stop no matter how hard the driver presses the brakes. Steering control is also lost.

A recent study tested the stopping ability of a passenger car and a full-sized pick-up on a road surface covered with only a dime's depth of water (less than a millimeter). The vehicles were traveling at 70 mph (112 kph) when they stopped on the wet surface. At 2/32 (1.6 mm) tread depth, the stopping distance was double that of a new tire. The passenger car was still traveling at 55 mph (89 kph) when it reached the stopping distance it experienced with new tires.

Let's suppose that you're on a busy Kingwood road in a light drizzle and a vehicle stops suddenly in front of you. You just bought new tires and you brake hard, missing the vehicle with only inches to spare. If you hadn't bought those new tires, you would have crashed into that vehicle at 55 mph (89 kph). That is a major difference.

What if your tires had a tread depth of 4/32 (3.2 mm)? You would have crashed into that vehicle at 45 mph (72 kph). Still not a good situation. But it's better.

Now what if you were driving that pick-up truck? You wouldn't have missed that vehicle in the first place, and you would have crashed at higher rates of speed in both of the other scenarios. The heavier your vehicle, the longer its stopping distance. It's a matter of physics.

The results of this test has led Consumer Reports and others to ask that the standard for tread wear be changed from 2/32 (1.6 mm) to 4/32 (3.2 mm). The increased standard will improve safety on the road and save lives here in TX and nationally.

Of course, until the standard changes, you'll have to decide whether you'll be willing to replace your tires a little sooner.

You can use an American quarter to tell if your tread wear is down to 4/32 (3.2 mm). Place the quarter into the tread with George's head toward the tire and his neck toward you. If the tread doesn't cover George's hairline, you're under 4/32 (3.2 mm). With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the digits of the year.

You can measure the 2/32 inch (1.6 mm) tread wear with a penny. If the tread touches the top of Abe's head, it's at 2/32 (1.6 mm). Tires are super important when it comes to vehicle care. But their condition has a major impact on safety. We need to decide whether to sacrifice safety for economy. Keeping our tread wear above 4/32 in (3.2 mm) is good auto advice.

Kingwood Service Center
3318 Northpark Dr
Kingwood, TX 77339
(281) 360-7323
kingwoodservicecenter.autotipsblog.com



The Engine Gets a Boost (Turbocharged Engine Maintenance)

Posted March 3, 2024 12:16 PM

If someone told you that your vehicle could have the same power but with a smaller engine, wouldn't that sound like great idea? Just think, a smaller engine would save you money at the gas station and you'd still get the same horsepower.

The technology to do just that has been around for a long time. It's called a turbocharger.

Race cars and other performance vehicles have been using turbochargers for years. It gives them a power boost without the need of a bigger engine, saving them fuel and pit stops.

Automakers have offered turbo gasoline and diesel engines for years, but there were problems with durability. Plus drivers had to make some driving adjustments with the way turbos delivered power. Newer turbos, though, have been vastly improved, and manufacturers are including them in more models. For example, Jeep offers its 2019 Cherokee with a choice of two engines that each make about 270 horsepower. One is a 4-cylinder turbocharged engine and the other is a 6-cylinder conventional gasoline engine. The general rule of thumb is: the fewer the cylinders, the better the fuel economy.

A turbocharged vehicle uses a turbine that is turned by exhaust gas. That compresses air that goes into the engine, which then allows it to use more fuel per second, increasing power. One advantage of a turbo is that it is only engaged when the driver demands more power from the engine by stepping on the throttle harder.

One thing to remember, though, is that turbocharged engines have additional parts and are more complex. That means they can be more expensive to maintain. The upside? You'll likely save fuel.

Like any complex machine, it's important that you maintain your turbo vehicle so it will give you more years of service. Kingwood Service Center technicians are trained to inspect and service the systems associated with a turbo engine. If you already drive a turbocharged vehicle, keep up your regular maintenance schedule to get the longest life and performance out of it.

Because of the advantages these powertrains offer, turbo engines are definitely here to stay.

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



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