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Archive for November 2020

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

Posted November 29, 2020 9:51 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. 

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



Chilly Warning (Diagnosing a Noise in Cold Vehicle)

Posted November 22, 2020 2:41 AM

When the weather gets colder, sometimes the noises your vehicle makes will change.  For example, you may notice a whining sound when you get going in the morning.  It may go away when the vehicle warms up, but it's best not to ignore that sound because it could be a warning of worse things to come.

Colder temperatures cause different components to behave differently.  Let's take a look at a few of them.  First, the fluids in your vehicle.  Cold temperatures can make them behave a little differently, such as engine oil, transmission fluid and power steering fluid. Those characteristics could change if the fluids are older and full of contaminants.

Belts also can create a whining noise when cold.  Since they turn pulleys that move other things, several factors can create issues.  Increased friction can change proper tensions on belts.  Plus, belts change as they age and may crack, get loose or develop a glazed surface. Belts and pulleys also must be aligned properly to work the way they're designed to.

As you can imagine, it's easier for a technician to diagnose a noise if the vehicle is making it.  And if a vehicle only makes a noise when it's cold, that sound may be gone by the time the vehicle makes it to the repair facility.  That means a driver may have to consider dropping off the vehicle the night before so the technician can be the first to start it the following morning.  Most service facilities can accommodate that with either a drop-off box or other arrangement.  Heed your vehicle's warning when you start to hear unusual noises.  That's a cool idea you should be able to easily warm up to.

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



Prepare Your Windshield for Winter (Wiper Blades and Fluid for Freezing Temperatures)

Posted November 15, 2020 12:25 PM

Winter and freezing temperatures present challenges for different parts of your vehicles.  For example, winter tires give you better traction on snow.  But some parts of your vehicle that may need special attention for winter are your windshield wipers. You may have found yourself in the middle of a snowstorm when your windshield wipers are doing nothing but streaking slush that ices up on contact on the glass.  Now you're more blind than you were before!

Obviously being able to see during a snowy or icy winter event is important for the safe operation of any vehicle.  So keeping your windshield and rear window clean can go a long way to guarantee you can see your surroundings.

Let's start with the wipers.  Blades that are good for hot weather may not be robust enough for freezing weather. You can buy special winter wiper blades that stay flexible during sub-zero temperatures.  The stiffer frames that hold them have a rubber covering that prevents ice and snow from building up.  Another style is beam wipers that have a one-piece design, intended for use all year long.  Since these have no separate frame, ice can't build up like on traditional frame wipers.  

If you've ever had salty road brine kicked up on your windshield, you know it can blind you in a second.  So you absolutely must have windshield washer fluid available to clear your vision.  The fluid you use during the warm weather months will often freeze below 32°F/0°C, and that can actually make things worse by icing up your windshield when you spray it.  Worst of all, it may freeze in your washer reservoir.

Be sure to use washer fluid that is meant for sub-freezing temperatures; special formulas will remain a liquid in weather as cold as -30°F/-34.4°C.  Some contain alcohol to keep them flowing; some have a little antifreeze that will melt snow and ice.  If you do use these liquids, make sure to keep them away from small children and pets because they're poisonous if they drink them. 

Each climate is different, and there are windshield products to meet your needs.  Your service advisor can recommend which ones will work best for you.  The idea is in winter, you need to be able to see. 


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



A Non-Starter (Alternator Problems in Cold Weather)

Posted November 8, 2020 7:05 AM

As the temperatures dip, we all know there could be problems starting our vehicles. After all, batteries can grow old and not hold a charge as well as when they were newer. Or starters can go bad.  But there's one more component to keep an especially sharp eye on during winter: your alternator.

The alternator is sort of like a small generator. It sends power out to various parts in your vehicle that need electricity.  That includes the battery, which needs charging to keep its power topped off.  The alternator creates electricity by taking mechanical energy from the engine and turning it into electricity.  It is connected to the engine by belts and pulleys. 

In cold weather, the material the belt is made from is less flexible than it is in warm weather.  That means it may not be turning the pulleys as effectively since it doesn't have the same grip. Also, when it's colder, lubricants, including the engine oil, are a little stiffer and parts just don't move like they do when the weather's warmer.  With that extra strain, sometimes it takes the alternator longer to recharge the battery. That, in turn, may leave the battery a little less power to start the engine when it's cold.

You may have a warning light on your instrument panel that looks like a battery.  If it lights up or if you notice your headlights flickering or not shining quite as brightly as they usually do, it could mean a weak alternator. But it also could be an aging battery, corroded battery terminals, a loose belt or another charging system part. Yes, it's complicated. 

Pinpointing the cause involves testing the battery and charging system with diagnostic equipment.  If it does turn out to be an alternator, there are options besides replacing it with a brand new, original equipment part.  Ask your service advisor for recommendations. Obviously, you want your vehicle to start reliably, especially in cold weather.  Take care of your charging system and it will take care of you.

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



No Strain, No Gain (The Basics of Oil Filters)

Posted November 1, 2020 2:23 AM

Ever wonder what one of the best things is to ever happen to your vehicle's engine?  It's the little thing that usually looks like a can, the oil filter.

Just like your kitchen sink strainer filters out errant particles of food from clogging your drain, the oil filter cleans out small particles that could cause your engine harm.

Your engine operates in a dirty, hot environment and gathers a lot of tiny contaminants like dirt, dust, little metal shards and unlucky bugs that get sucked in.  Get those things circulating in your engine and those little particles can cause friction, which starts wearing out those finely machined metal parts. 

You know how important it is to change your oil regularly.  It's vital that you change your oil filter at the same time to keep the oil as close to brand new as possible.

Most oil filters look like a metal can with some holes in the bottom.  Inside there are carefully chosen materials that can screen out the contaminants while at the same time allow the lubricating oil to pass through.  Early oil filters had steel wool, metal mesh or actual screens.  Then they tried fabric filters using material such as linen and cotton.  Finally, a less expensive disposable filter using paper and cellulose did the trick.

Cellulose or other synthetic media are used in most oil filters today.  Cellulose is inexpensive and effective.  Fibers filter out particulates and let the oil flow.  The other synthetic media have the ability to screen out even tinier particles while not significantly restricting the oil from getting through.  Engineers continue to work on even more advanced filter material.

Choosing the right oil filter is something our pros at Folsom Autotech can help you with  because there are a lot of them out there.  Factoring into that decision are your driving habits, how far you drive and the temperatures to which your engine will be subjected.  While some filters will cost more than others, they may be worth it to extend the life of your engine. 

But most important is remembering to come have your oil changed at Folsom Autotech regularly at the intervals recommended by the vehicle's manufacturer. Just like you wouldn't want to have a plumber come over to fix a clogged kitchen drain, you certainly wouldn't want to have to pay for major engine repairs if they could be prevented by regular oil and filter changes.


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



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What our clients are saying about us

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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