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Archive for January 2021

A Not-So-Straight Story (Vehicle Pulls to One Side)

Posted January 31, 2021 11:10 AM

A vehicle should travel straight down a straight road with the steering wheel centered.  But time and travel can take their toll and soon you may find your vehicle pulling to the left or right.  Those are not good signs and should be taken care of fairly quickly.

One thing that you should note is when this is happening: if it is all the time, only when you brake, only when you accelerate. If you describe these symptoms to the service adviser or technician, it may help them pinpoint the cause more quickly. 

Many things can cause a vehicle to pull to one side, one of which is that it's out of alignment.  If so, you could be doing damage to other components of your vehicle if you keep driving with it this way. If your tires show signs of uneven wear on the treads or if your wheels squealing, that is another clue.

Improperly inflated tires can also cause your vehicle to pull in one direction.  Your service facility can check to see if your tires have the pressure recommended by your vehicle's manufacturer. 

When steering linkage wears out or a wheel bearing goes bad, both of those can cause a vehicle not to track straight. When components age and loosen up, they can present a safety hazard and premature tire wearing. 

Maybe you notice the pulling only when you are braking.  That points to a failure of your braking system, perhaps a sticky brake caliper.

When your vehicle was brand new, it went straight unless you guided it on a different path. It's best to have it checked out if it is showing some of these symptoms.  It could save you money in the long run and you'll be driving a safer, better performing vehicle.  That's what they mean by steering you right!

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



What Is an EGR Valve? (EGR Valve Service)

Posted January 24, 2021 8:01 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.

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



Sounds Like a Hot Rod (Noisy Exhaust System)

Posted January 17, 2021 8:02 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.


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



Something to Latch On To (Hood Latch Safety)

Posted January 10, 2021 11:46 AM

The other day, a driver was trying to open his vehicle's hood so he could add some windshield washer fluid.  But when he pulled the hood release inside the car, nothing happened. 

Usually, opening any hood is a 2-step process.  You pull the hood release (which is usually a handle under the dashboard to the left of the steering column) and listen for the hood to pop up slightly. (It doesn't open all the way because it has a safety latch to prevent you from accidentally opening it up while you're driving.) Then, you get out and find the latch, usually through the grille near the hood.  There's a little handle on it which you push, slide or pull (there are a few different types) at which point the hood can be opened up all the way. 

But in this driver's case, the hood would not release at all when he pulled the handle inside.  Not knowing what to do, he called his service advisor, who told him to bring it over.  The reason? A hood with a broken latch could be a safety hazard since it is possible it's not securely closed. And in this condition, it's possible for the hood to suddenly release while you are driving, obscuring your view of the road. 

Latch issues can be caused by many things, perhaps a broken cable between the hood release and the latch.  It's possible that cable just detached or frayed after being opened so many times.  If a hood release cable isn't kept lubricated, it can corrode and just lock up.

In this driver's case, the cable had corroded and broken, so it had to be replaced.  Unfortunately, many times you won't know you have a problem with your hood latch until one time you pull it and it breaks without warning.  When your vehicle is in for routine maintenance like an oil change, a technician will often keep an eye out for signs that your hood latch needs attention so you don't get "locked" out of your engine compartment.

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



If You Drive Like a Maniac (Aggressive Driving is Bad for a Vehicle)

Posted January 3, 2021 9:52 AM

When someone mentions driving like a maniac, they're not talking about you, surely? Besides the safety issues of aggressive driving, you should know that your vehicle will last a lot longer if you'll just mellow out a little.  Here are four traits good drivers follow if they want their vehicles to go the extra distance.

Cool—The driver who can't wait to get to the next stoplight is just shortening the life of his or her vehicle.  Jackrabbit starts and uneven acceleration hurts your engine because the valves and cylinder heads are stressed more.  All of those moving parts will wear out faster as well as other components that are connected.  That means things like the air conditioner, power steering pump… just about anything that attaches by a belt or a pulley.  Oh, and you'll be generating more heat.  Heat is one of a vehicle's worst enemies.

Warm—If you get in your cold vehicle which has been sitting overnight, start it up and rev the engine high, you've just put a lot of stress on your engine.  That's because you didn't let the oil (that's been sitting down in the oil pan at the bottom of the engine) get to the moving parts in order to lubricate them. Some manufacturers advise that you run your vehicle for about 30 seconds before you take off.  And if it's really cold out, you may be wise to let the engine run for a minute or two before putting a load on the engine.  Also, for the first 5-15 minutes, keep your RPMs on the low side and don't jam on the accelerator.

Smooth—You're trying to get somewhere in a hurry and have to jam on the brakes while traveling pretty fast.  Just that one time can do more damage to the brakes than you would think.  Lots of hard braking can overheat your brakes and damage your rotors, wearing them out way faster than someone who drives with a smoother touch.  Hard braking also strains suspension parts, tires and engine mounts.

Smart—You know what PRNDL stand for.  Those are the letters in your automatic transmission (Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, Low).  Here are another couple of letters: IQ.  A smart shifter never goes into R to D without completely stopping the vehicle, unless, of course, you're anxious to spend some big dollars on your automatic transmission. 

These days, it's common to get 200,000 miles/320,000 kilometers out of a vehicle, no problem.  It just takes regular maintenance (oil changes and regular service) and one other thing.  Showing off: showing off a little moderation in driving habits with a big payoff in the end. 


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



Give it the Boot (Ball Joint Boot Replacement)

Posted January 1, 2021 8:48 AM

Your vehicle may be wearing boots right now and you might not even know it.  They're called ball joint boots.  They're actually protective, flexible things that protect parts of your suspension (called ball joints) from all the hazards the road can fling at them.  If one of those ball joint boots fails and you don't get it replaced, the ball joints themselves could wind up failing, a repair that can be even more expensive. 

Ball joint boots not only keep things like rocks, salt, water and dirt out of your ball joints, they also help the ball joints keep their lubrication inside and working properly.  To do that, the boots have to be made of a flexible material, sometimes rubber, sometimes a synthetic.  They do take a beating, exposed to temperature extremes and debris, and eventually they can tear or crack just because of their age.  Unless someone is keeping an eye on your ball joint boots, you may never know there's a problem.  That's why when you regularly take your vehicle in to a repair facility for other things like oil changes and routine maintenance, a technician will inspect the ball joint boots to make sure they're still in top shape.

If they're not, your service advisor will let you know. Take care of that soon and you may avoid having to replace the ball joints themselves or other suspension parts which may be much more expensive.  Often it's best to replace boots on both sides of the vehicle since they frequently wear at about the same rate. 

If you want to make a fashion statement, some ball joint boots come in various colors other than run-of-the-mill black.  And some aftermarket boots are made of a more durable material than the original equipment that came on your vehicle.  Some drivers get a real "kick" out of flashy ball joint boots!

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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