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Archive for September 2020

It's Brake Time (Brake Calipers)

Posted September 27, 2020 1:16 AM

Race car drivers have demonstrated the advantages of disc brakes, so most modern vehicles use them.  Sometimes just the front wheels have disc brakes, but many vehicles now have them all the way around. 

A major component of the disc brake is called a caliper.  It works by squeezing brake pads against the disc or rotor, kind of like a bicycle hand brake.  The brake pads themselves are what contact the rotor, causing friction to build and the wheel to slow down, but it's the calipers that apply the pressure to the pads.

Caliper design has evolved over the years, and there are two common types.  One is called a floating caliper.  It has one or two pistons on one side of the disc. When you push down the brake pedal, the piston or pistons in your caliper put pressure on that one side.  A mechanism connected on the other side of the disc applies pressure as well, squeezing your disc so the vehicle stops.  Floating calipers are less expensive since they have fewer parts.

The other type is called a fixed caliper.  They use pistons on both sides of the disc, sometimes several.  They are often used in more high-performance or heavy-duty vehicles.

Calipers can have rubber seals to keep out dirt, debris and moisture, but when that rubber wears out, sometimes the calipers can get contaminated.  They can stick or start leaking; they can even rust.  Then your caliper can get stuck applying that "squeeze" when you are not pressing on the brake pedal.  Or they can get stuck in the other position, not applying stopping power when you press the pedal.

When this happens, it's not unusual to feel your vehicle pull to one side when you brake.  You might notice a burning smell from the constant friction if the caliper is stuck on, plus you may feel the heat from the wheel after you park and get out of your vehicle.  Sometimes you'll hear a high-pitched sound or clunk if your calipers are binding up. 

That's your cue to have them checked out at your vehicle service center.  If your calipers aren't working correctly, it can be a safety hazard.  Sticking calipers can affect your ability to steer and stop; this is the kind of "brake time" you need so you can get them back on track and working properly.

Folsom Autotech
1126 A Sibley St
Folsom, California 95630
(916) 985-0274



Out with the Old (Vehicle Parts that Wear Out)

Posted September 20, 2020 7:40 AM

Some drivers don't pay any attention to their vehicles until something breaks.  Others take them into their service repair facility for maintenance even before a problem develops.  Still, even if you fit into the second group, there are some parts on a vehicle that will simply wear out over time.

Your vehicle has gaskets in several places.  They use a flexible material to seal the gaps between metal parts that fit together. After time, that material shrinks or gets brittle and fails.  Eventually, after time, you will have to get gaskets replaced.

Same goes for belts.  Your engine has belts that help take the mechanical energy of the engine to drive other parts such as the generator and air conditioner.  Heat and age will eventually cause these belts to wear out or break, so you'll need new ones at some point.

You'll also find yourself buying brake pads.  As much as you may try to go easy on them, brake pads work by wearing off a little bit of them each time they help you stop your vehicle.  Do a lot of stop-and-go driving and you'll hasten the process.

No battery lasts forever, and your vehicle's battery is no exception.  It can only charge and discharge electricity so many times.  Count on getting no more than 4 or 5 years out of a battery, fewer if you live in a very hot spot.

Other parts that don't age well? Tires.  They can have plenty of tread left on them, but rubber gets old and loses its flexibility. Tires have their date of manufacturer stamped on them for a reason.

Finally, your muffler is being subject to moisture from inside and out: inside because of moisture-containing exhaust and outside from the elements outdoors. Stainless steel or other alloys will last longer, but after a while, either the moisture or constant pounding from vibrations will take their toll.

That's why it's important to maintain every part on your vehicle. You can't wave a magic wand and make everything last forever, but take care of your vehicle and it'll take care of you.


Folsom Autotech
1126 A Sibley St
Folsom, California 95630
(916) 985-0274



Why You Have an O2 Sensor (Oxygen Sensor)

Posted September 13, 2020 12:34 PM

If someone asked you what gas made up the largest portion of the atmosphere, what would you guess? Well, it's not oxygen; it only makes up 20.9 percent.  But since we're talking about oxygen, you should know that your vehicle uses oxygen sensors to make sure your engine is running the way it should.

The oxygen sensors measure how much oxygen is in your exhaust.  If there's too much, it means there's a problem with the mixture of fuel and air.  The sensor sends signals to computers in your engine and adjusts the mixture so it maximizes performance and efficiency.  It does this constantly. 

Many vehicles have multiple oxygen sensors.  Some have one close to the engine, another close to the muffler.  Two measurements are better than one since they allow readings to be more accurate.  You may have a vehicle with a dual exhaust, so you'd have twice as many oxygen sensors.

Your oxygen sensors can fail.  One thing that can damage them is contamination from bad fuel.  The sensors can simply wear out, though they usually last a long time.  It's not unusual for an oxygen sensor to last 100,000 miles/160,000 km. One more thing that can cause an oxygen sensor to fail is residue from an engine that's burning oil.  Plus contaminants from the road like salt can also cause problems. 

Here are some signs that your oxygen sensors might be failing.

  • The Check Engine light goes on.  In this case, your service facility can plug in a device that will read the code in your engine's computer to see if that's the problem.
  • The engine is running roughly.
  • Black, sooty smoke is coming out of your tailpipe.
  • Your fuel economy is noticeably lower than it used to be.

Head to your service facility and tell your advisor what symptoms your vehicle is experiencing.  They have the equipment and training to track down the issue.  Note that simply replacing the oxygen sensor is often not enough since it doesn't get to the root of the problem; other repairs may be needed. 

So make sure your oxygen sensors are working the way they should be.  Oh, and back to the question of what gas makes up most of the Earth's air?  It's nitrogen, which comprises 78 percent of the air we—and our engines—breathe.

Folsom Autotech
1126 A Sibley St
Folsom, California 95630
(916) 985-0274



The Flat Fix that Fits (Tire Repairs)

Posted September 6, 2020 7:54 AM

Can you think of anyone who likes getting a flat tire?  Of course not.  But when one of your tires winds up with a flat or leak, whether it be from things like hitting a curb, running over a nail or picking up a sharp stone, it's time to have someone who knows what they're doing take care of it.

If you're thinking you'd like to avoid having to buy a new tire, you wonder if a patch or plug will suffice.  It depends where the puncture is and how big the hole is.  Most tire experts will say if the hole in the tire is less than ¼ of an inch or 6 mm, a patch can work.  But a patch likely won't work if the compromised part of the tire is on its shoulder or sidewall.

Here's why.  The shoulder of a tire is the part between the sidewall and tread and it's usually rounded.  It's under a lot of pressure, more than even the sidewalls. And because of that curved shape, it's hard to get a patch or plug to hold.

The sidewall is the side of the tire.  Sidewalls flex a lot when you drive, and the strain can cause a patch or plug to loosen up.  A weak spot in a sidewall is much more likely to fail and cause a blowout.  So if you have damage in the sidewall or shoulder, that tire is a good candidate for replacement, not repair.

If you have a cut or gash in your tire, it's possible the cords that strengthen your tire have also been cut.  That weak spot can spell trouble, and this type of damage usually means you should get a new one.

Your service advisor can tell you what the appropriate action is to take when you have tire damage.  You may be able to get good results with a patch, or you may have to replace one or more tires.  Your safety is riding on them.

Folsom Autotech
1126 A Sibley St
Folsom, California 95630
(916) 985-0274



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We have established longterm and stable partnerships with various clients thanks to our excellence in solving their automotive needs!

These mechanics fix your vehicle and stand behind their work. They bent over backwards to accommodate me and my schedule. They are located on an easily accessible corner with plenty of parking. The manager, Ron, and owner, Jim, were professional and courteous at all times with such great smiles and information as well as many years of experience and knowledge. A real find and I will continue to use them for my mechanical needs. quotes-image
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Folsom Autotech has been my go-to garage for over 15 years. I asked the guys I work with where they'd send their wife or daughter for car repairs and the resounding recommendations was Folsom Autotech. They were right, this is MY garage and I don't want or trust anyone else to work on our cars!quotes-image
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