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Archive for January 2022

Not Too Hot and Not Too Cold (Temperature Gauge)

Posted January 30, 2022 12:09 PM

You know your body temperature is supposed to be 98.6 degrees F, 37 degrees C.  Your vehicle has a normal temperature, too, and if you pay attention to it, that can save you some big headaches down the road.

Many vehicles have a temperature gauge on the dash that takes the temperature of the engine's coolant.  Some have a thermometer symbol, some read C-H (cold to hot). Many will have a red zone that shows when water temperature is getting into the danger zone.  Others are digital and have a red warning light that signals overheating.  And some vehicles have a light that goes on when the engine temperature is out of the normal range.

If your vehicle has a gauge, pay attention to it.  If you need help locating it, ask one of our Folsom Autotech experts to give you a quick explanation.  Chances are when the vehicle has been running for 15 minutes or more, the temperature gauge will settle into its own "normal" zone, often just below the midway point.  If you have a digital readout, remember what that "normal" temperature is.  Here's why.

At any point when you're driving, the temperature gauge is the quickest way to get a sense that the engine is running the way it should, a quick health checkup, as it were. Say you're on a 3-hour trip, glance at that gauge every hour or so.  It should always be in the same spot.  If it starts to move one way or the other, you may be able to catch a problem before it gets serious.

Pay special attention to it moving into the hot zone.  The needle on the gauge is the easiest and least distracting way to see an engine heating up, but on a digital gauge, start paying attention if the temperature reaches 240ºF/115ºC or more.

Remember, though, that just because the gauge reads "hot" doesn't mean your engine is on the verge of burning up.  It could be a bad sensor and the engine will be at a normal temperature.  But it also could be a failing water pump, coolant leak or thermostat.  By pulling off the road and observing your engine, it will give you a pretty good idea if it's running hot or not.

If the gauge is too "cold," it could be a broken gauge or thermostat sticking open.  Usually being in the cold range isn't as worrisome, but you should have it checked out since other systems may be affected.

Heat is one of a vehicle's worst enemies, especially when it comes from within.  Know your vehicle's normal temperature and keep an eye on it.


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



'Tis the Season (Tires)

Posted January 23, 2022 8:53 AM

We all know about winter tires.  But did you know there is such a thing as summer tires?

Most people have all-season tires on their vehicles.  They work pretty well in a variety of weather conditions.  But if you want better handling and performance, you might consider switching to summer tires.  Here are a few things you should know about them.

Summer tires are good for high-performance vehicles like sports cars and luxury SUVs, but they don't have to be limited to those. They have a different tread pattern than all-season tires, with generally shallower grooves and more rubber that contacts the road.  The rubber is made of a stickier compound good for taking corners at higher speeds.  Plus it is engineered so it stays firmer the hotter the temperature gets. 

Here's a bonus.  That design also works well in warm, wet weather.  It makes sense, since more the more rubber that's touching the concrete or asphalt when it's slippery out, the better the traction. 

There are some things to be aware of with summer tires.  They often have asymmetrical or unidirectional tread patterns.  That sometimes limits the way these tires can be rotated on a vehicle.  Another thing to remember is it is NOT a good idea to use summer tires in any wintery conditions.  They lose traction as the temperature heads toward the freezing range and below since that rubber that's designed to stay firm at warm temperatures gets hard as a rock when they freeze.

But in warmer weather, summer tires can increase your braking and cornering capabilities.  Plus you'll notice more grip at faster speeds and higher temperatures than all-season tires.  So think about discussing summer tires with your service advisor to see if they'd be a good fit for the type of driving you do.  He or she will offer you some choices that are designed to meet your vehicle's specs.

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



Winter Watch List (Winter Maintenance Items)

Posted January 16, 2022 11:21 AM

Don't love winter weather? Here's a list of four things you need to keep a watch on during the winter months.

Let's start with coolant levels.  Coolant is as important in cold weather as it is in hot weather.  Think of the term "anti-freeze." Your coolant needs to be adjusted for climate and temperature so the coolant doesn't freeze when the vehicle isn't running. Your service facility will know the right mixture.

Next, windshield wiper fluid. Winter weather can be challenging when it comes to visibility, so it's important to have the correct windshield washer fluid.  Some of it is specially formulated for ice and freezing temperatures. And it won't freeze if your vehicle has to sit out in below-freezing temperatures.  And don't forget you can get winter wiper blades that stay clearer in snowy, icy weather than ordinary blades.

Don't forget your tire pressure and tread.  After all, tires are what connect your vehicle and the road.  As temperatures go down, so does the air pressure inside your tires, so it's important to keep that up to the manufacturer's recommended pressure.  Also, make sure your tires have enough tread so they can grip slippery roads. Any service facility can perform a simple test so you'll know. If you need some new tires, they can help you find those that will fit your driving patterns.

Finally, oil gets thicker when the temperatures go down, so it's important to have the proper viscosity for your climate.  Consult your service advisor who will make sure your vehicle is using what the manufacturer recommends.

Keep your vehicle prepared for winter weather and it will reward you with the safety and performance it's designed for.

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



The Sign of the Shield (Heat Shield Repair and Replacement)

Posted January 9, 2022 10:53 AM

Even in the months where temperatures are cooler, heat is still an enemy of your vehicle.  When your engine runs, it creates heat, so there are numerous heat shields that protect other parts from those higher temperatures. Heat shields are installed around several areas of the exhaust system.  Others prevent heat from reaching parts of the vehicle.  Still others prevent heat from reaching the ground (or maybe grass underneath) and starting a fire. 

If you remember your space travel history, you'll know how important a heat shield can be. John Glenn was the first American to orbit the earth, but during that maiden orbital flight, a sensor on board was indicating the heat shield on his capsule, Friendship 7, was loose.  If it had come off, his spacecraft could have burned up upon re-entry.  Fortunately, the heat shield stayed on, and Glenn made history.

Unfortunately, the heat shields on your vehicle don't have warning systems like the space vehicles did.  So you have to maintain them.  Heat shields are constantly exposed to elements like water, salt, sand and dirt.  That makes them prone to rusting and corroding.  Here's one unfortunate fact: Materials that make them good at preventing heat transmission also are soft and vulnerable, often aluminum or special fabric. 

One sign a heat shield will give you that it's loose is noise; you'll sometimes hear it rattling underneath your vehicle when it's running. One way to locate it? Put your vehicle in park, leave the engine running and take a listen outside.  It's usually pretty easy to pinpoint the location.

Make a note of the noise when you are talking with your service advisor. It's important to have those heat shields working correctly so the heat is kept away from your other vehicle systems and combustibles on the ground. The good news is that heat shields can frequently be inexpensively repaired or re-attached.  In other cases, they should be replaced. 

Missing or loose heat shields? Let's just say they're not cool.

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



Greeted by a Screech (Loud Noise when Starting Vehicle)

Posted January 2, 2022 10:12 AM

No one likes to be greeted in the morning by having someone screech at you.  The same goes for a loud, high-pitched noise your vehicle greets you with every time you start the engine.  If you're wondering if that's normal, no, it isn't.  And it is worth getting checked out.  The good news is that it might be nothing serious.  Then again, it may be.

The first things to suspect any time you hear a high-pitched sound coming from the engine are belts.  They have tension on them and they're trying to turn lots of different pulleys, pumps and other equipment the engine needs to work properly.  The noise could come from the belts starting to wear out and dry out. If one of those belts breaks at an inopportune time, not only can it strand you somewhere, the damage to the engine could be very expensive to fix.

Other things that will cause a high-pitched sound are the pulleys and tensioners.  The tensioners keep the right amount of pressure on the belts and some pulleys contain rubber that dampens engine vibrations.  The rubber in the pulleys can crack or deform with age, which prevents them from working correctly and may cause your belts to wear out.

A technician will check to see if the belts are worn or cracked.  He or she will also check the tension on the belts, the condition of the pulleys and whether all  components are aligned the way they should be.

Sometimes, the noise is nothing major to worry about, but it's still worthwhile to rule out any problems that have cropped up now or may appear in the future.  You'll have a properly running vehicle that sounds like its engineers intended… quiet and smooth.


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



How Far We've Come (Newer Vehicle Technology)

Posted January 1, 2022 8:49 AM

Automotive design has come a long way since the days of the Model T, especially when it comes to safety technology.  You can thank computers for a lot of the latest innovations.  Here are a few that have been making their mark in recent years.

Adaptive cruise control.  This is cruise control with a brain.  Not only will adaptive cruise control keep your vehicle going at a steady speed, it will also slow it down and even stop it if the vehicle ahead of you slows down and stops. 

Automatic emergency braking.  We've all been distracted while driving, and you've probably been in a situation where the driver ahead of you has suddenly stopped.  Or maybe your attention wandered for a minute and you looked up to see your vehicle closing in fast on the car ahead of you.  (After all, there are a lot more distractions in your vehicle these days.)  New systems that use cameras, lasers and other types of sensors will warn you to start braking.  If you don't heed the warning, they'll put on the brakes for you. 

Blind spot warning.  We all worry about hitting a car approaching from behind and on either side if we are changing lanes.  Rearview mirrors cover some blind spots but they're not foolproof.  Enter the blind spot warning system; it warns you with a noise or a light if a vehicle is in a spot you might not be able to see.

Lane departure warning.  We all try to stay in our lane, but sometimes our attention wanders.  If you start to drift out of your lane, new warning systems using cameras and other sophisticated sensors will tell you to get back in your lane.  Some send an audible warning, others use a vibration or warning light. Some will even steer your vehicle back into the lane. 

Rearview camera.  There was a time when trucks and SUVs were involved in horrible accidents because the drivers couldn't see what was behind them as they backed up.  Children and pets were among the tragic victims.  Now, inexpensive rearview cameras are required in the U.S. and Canada, saving lives and providing much more peace of mind for drivers of vehicles with rear visibility issues. 

It's important to make sure this safety technology is working correctly for these systems to be effective.  Your service facility can check and maintain these systems as the manufacturer recommends.

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



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