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Archive for August 2023

More than Pads and Rotors (Brake Caliper Replacement)

Posted August 27, 2023 8:38 AM

You might be familiar with brake pads and rotors, two components of your vehicle's brakes that have to be regularly serviced.  Here's another important component of your brakes: the calipers.

Calipers are used in disc brakes, the type of brakes now found in most recently manufactured vehicles.  A caliper is the part of the brakes that squeezes the brake pads against the discs, or rotors, which turn with your wheels. 

There are different kinds of calipers, but the basic principle is the same.  You press down the pedal, brake fluid activates a piston or pistons that squeeze the brake pads against the disc and the friction slows down your vehicle.

While modern vehicles have a warning system to let you know it's time to get your brakes checked, your brake light usually goes on when your fluid level is low or your fluid pressure is low.  But you may have to look out for signals your calipers are the problem. 

If your vehicle pulls to one side when you brake, that could be a sign that one caliper isn't working right.  If you smell a burning odor coming from a wheel after a trip, there might be too much pressure from a caliper.  Grinding or squealing when you brake is another signal that it may be time to bring in your vehicle so we can check your brakes.

One way to minimize brake issues is regular inspection.  Have them periodically looked at when you bring in your vehicle for an oil change.  The good news is brake issues are more likely to be caused by pads or rotors wearing out.  Calipers last a lot longer, but even they will need replacing every so often.  

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



Staying In Charge (Alternator Repair)

Posted August 20, 2023 7:10 AM

Seems like these days, we're hearing about more and more electric or hybrid vehicles.  Keep in mind that conventional gasoline internal combustion vehicles have important electrical components, too, and it's important to make sure they're operating at their peak.

In a vehicle with a gasoline engine, the part that keeps the battery charged is the alternator.  It converts the mechanical energy created by the engine into electrical power.  To do that, a shaft in the alternator has a pulley on one end that's driven by a belt that is turned by the engine.  A series of magnets then spins around coiled wires and it creates alternating current, or electricity. Your vehicle uses that to charge the battery that, in turn, keeps other electrical components in your vehicle working.

Here are a few signs that the alternator isn't doing its job right.  The battery keeps going dead, your instrument panel's battery light is on (it looks like a rectangle with a - and + inside and a couple of "terminals" on top), or your lights are dimmer than they usually are. You may also have a voltage gauge that shows  lower than usual power. If bearings in your alternator are seizing up, you may hear a grinding noise coming from your engine compartment. If you have any of those signs, bring your vehicle to us so we can check your electrical system.

A technician will run diagnostics on your alternator, the cables and the battery. Because the alternator is driven by a belt, the technician will check what shape all the drive belts are in.  Plus, we'll see how much electricity the alternator is putting out. 

If your alternator has failed, it can be replaced with a new or a remanufactured one. Speak with your service advisor about which will best suit your needs. Oh, and keep in mind that sometimes other parts may have to be replaced at the same time. For example, if your alternator's bearings froze up, that may have damaged the drive belt, and it may have to be replaced at the same time. 

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



Put the Brakes On! (Brake Caliper Replacement)

Posted August 13, 2023 11:00 AM

Keeping your vehicle's brakes in top shape is one of the most important things you can do for your safety and those on the road with you. Most drivers know a little about brake pads and rotors but maybe not so much about another brake component called the calipers.

Disc brakes work by a mechanical system that presses your brake pads against discs called rotors (you can usually see these discs through your wheels). The friction stops your vehicle smoothly when everything is working the way it should.  The calipers use the hydraulic pressure of the brake fluid to apply the stopping power. 

After they've been on your vehicle for a while, the calipers can get stuck or wear out.  If calipers on one side of the vehicle work correctly and not on the other, you might feel a pull in one direction.  You might feel the same kind of pull if the caliper is stuck and is applying constant pressure.  You might hear scraping or squealing coming from a stuck caliper and you might smell burning on that side.  The friction from a caliper that's always applying pressure may cause that wheel to heat up, so after you've pulled your vehicle off the road safely, the wheel with the stuck caliper will might feel hotter than the others

Because there are many different components to the brakes, it's best to leave the diagnosis and repair to a trained technician. They will run each wheel through a series of tests and inspections that can pinpoint the problem.  Sometimes it involves more components than just the caliper that may need changing at the same time.

The best way to make sure your brakes will perform well is to is to have our service center perform regular inspections and follow the vehicle manufacturer's recommended service.  That way your brakes will be ready, willing and able when you call on them to put a stop to things.

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



Start Me Up (Ignition Systems)

Posted August 6, 2023 7:47 AM

When you start up your gasoline engine car, you may not know that it's using the same ignition principles as it has for decades.  You have spark plugs that require enough power so a spark can jump across a gap at its tip.  Years ago, a vehicle's 12-volt system had to produce 15,000-25,000 volts to do that, so engineers came up with something called an ignition coil that bumps up the voltage. It also has to be done at just the right interval called timing.

The first systems had a distributor, a mechanical device with a rotating disc that switched the power to the ignition coil on and off.  That higher voltage then was sent to the spark plugs at the correct time interval. But the mechanical "points" had to be replaced and adjusted every 12,000 miles/20,000 kilometers.  Engineers later replaced the switching mechanism with solid state ones, but they still needed replacement after 120,000 miles/200,000 kilometers.

The next evolution came in the 80's when the distributor was replaced with a couple of sensors which talked to a computer.  This "DIS" (distributor-less automotive ignition system) was a big advance.  Plus, it didn't use just one ignition coil for all the cylinders.  It had coil "packs" that each provided spark to two cylinders.  That way, the voltage could be boosted even higher, to 30,000 volts, which helped engines be able to ignite a leaner fuel/air mixture.

Recently have come even more improvements.  Now instead of coil packs, there's a coil that's attached to each spark plug.  No more spark plug wires means less maintenance. Plus, a stronger, hotter spark of 50,000 volts can make an engine more reliable, increase fuel economy and reduce emissions.

No matter what ignition system your vehicle uses, your vehicle service facility has a staff of technicians trained to work on the latest technology.  Make sure to have your vehicle maintained regularly so you can take full advantage of these modern engineering marvels.

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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