Today Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics is talking about the proper fluids for your vehicle. It's become more complicated with changes in automotive design and manufacturing. It's not that people in Kansas are confused as much as they don't realize how much things have changed in recent years.
If you have questions about the fluids in your vehicle, please don't hesitate to stop by Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics. You can find us on 2858 Four Wheel Drive in Lawrence, Kansas 66047.
Just give us a call at 785-842-8665
Let's take engine oil. Twenty or thirty years ago, there were just a handful of different weights of oil. The weight of an oil is a scientific measure of its properties, particularly its viscosity or thickness.
It was common in those days to use a lighter weight oil in the winter when it's cold outside. That way the oil would be able to splash around inside the engine and protect the parts before it was fully warmed up. And a heavier weight oil would be used in the summer. The thicker oil wouldn't thin out too much in the summer heat and vaporize in the engine.
Modern valve trains have become very complicated with more moving parts and small passages than ever before. The valve train is in the top of the engine, so when the car has been turned off for a while, the oil tends to run down to lower areas and the valve train parts are vulnerable at start-up, before the oil starts circulating.
So new weights of oil have been introduced to meet the engineering specifications of these newer engines.
Manufacturers are recommending specific weights of oil. The recommendation is often printed on the oil fill cap. It's certainly in the owner's manual. Of course, your Lawrence Kansas auto service center can look it up for you.
It's more important than ever to have the correct weight of oil. The wrong weight could actually harm the engine.
Other fluids are also becoming more sophisticated. In the last few years new types of transmission, power brake fluid and coolant have all been introduced for some of the same reasons as for engine oil.
In addition, vehicle manufacturers are now using a wider variety of materials in these systems. Looking at the cooling system as an example, it used to be that the parts were all made out of steel or iron and the hoses were rubber. Now, some parts are plastic, aluminum or other materials.
So the anti-corrosion additives contained in the coolant, or anti-freeze, need to be different in order to protect the different materials used to make the cooling system. If you use the wrong coolant that wasn't formulated to protect your plastic cooling system parts, they could become corroded and fail. And if you're using the wrong coolant, your cooling system won't be covered under warrantee. So it's important to use the right coolant and to not mix different types.
Your owner's manual or your Lawrence Kansas service advisor at Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics can make sure you're using the right type. You may have heard of universal coolant. Universal, or global, coolant can be added to other types without harmful reactions. That's OK for an emergency top off, but following your manufacturer's recommendation for your SUV or other auto type is always a safe bet.
In the area of brake fluid, there are a couple of new formulations. It's important to remember that the new ones aren't better than the old ones. They're just different formulations for different vehicles. So if your vehicle calls for DOT 3, using DOT 4 or DOT 5 is not an upgrade. Use the recommended formula.
There are fluid formulations for vehicles with higher mileage. These are special engine oil, transmission fluid, and so on that contain additives to condition and restore seals and gaskets in older engines.
They're fine to use as long as they're a variant of the proper fluid. In other words you can use a high mileage engine oil as long as it's also the correct weight recommended by the manufacturer. Same goes for transmission fluid; as long as it's the right type for your transmission.
Posted in the Fluids category
Hello Lawrence, let's talk about brakes. Braking, as all Kansas drivers know, is slowing or stopping your vehicle. As you can imagine, brakes are engineered to work well on a particular vehicle application. For example, you would expect more powerful brakes on a heavy-duty pickup that routinely hauls big loads and pulls trailers, than you would on a compact car. And a Corvette that can go over 180 miles per hour would have much different braking needs than the family mini-van you drive around between Lawrence, Kansas City and Douglas County.
But the mechanical aspects of the brakes themselves are just one issue. There’s also the power brake pump and brake fluid. And then there are the tires, which are critical to the effectiveness of the brakes.
Let’s step back. A new SUV or truck rolls off a local Lawrence showroom floor. It has brand new brakes with brand new brake pads. The brake lines and pump are filled with fresh fluid and are completely clean inside. And the tires are brand new, with full tread. It is ready to go.
Naturally, braking power is at its peak performance. Now the miles start to add up on the SUV. Lawrence drivers tend to focus on the brake pads. In the automotive business, the pads, and shoes on drum brakes, are called the friction material. That’s because they provide the friction used to stop the vehicle. The pads are designed to be effective throughout their useful life – it’s not until they are worn so thin as to be out of vehicle manufacturers' specs that they lose their ability to stop.
The mechanical parts of the brakes have pistons and springs that get quite a workout while breaking. Over many miles around Kansas, these wear and get gummed up. They start to lose effectiveness gradually and could even fail - a scary possibility That’s why a regular brake inspection at Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics is important for your SUV and your family's safety. At Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics we can test the operation of the brakes and see if any parts need cleaning or replacing.
That leads us to brake fluid service at Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics. Some of the critical additives in the fluid that lubricate and clean the SUV fluid system are depleted over time. That and moisture building up in the system reduce the performance of the brake fluid. A brake service at Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics cleans out deposits, water and dirt. Then the system is filled up with fresh fluid.
The tires are what connect the SUV to the road. Stopping force all comes down to traction. The better the tires grip the road, the quicker you’ll stop.
This is especially important on wet Kansas City area freeways and surface streets. Studies have shown that wet stopping distance increases significantly as tires wear down. Kansas drivers need to understand that they can have brakes that are operating at peak efficiency and yet still be in danger because their tires are worn out.
Posted in the Brakes category
Here's a travel tip that'll I'll bet you didn't know, and, it might keep you safer...
The average American commuter in Kansas spends two and a half hours daily in their car.
The government says a hundred thousand auto accidents yearly are caused by drivers who fall asleep at the wheel. (Aggressive driving is the number one traffic safety concern.)
So what does this have to do with how your car smells while you're driving around Kansas?
Well, which scent did you think makes drivers more alert?
- A. Strawberry
- B. New Car
- C. Pine
- D. Warm Vanilla Breeze
It's C. Drivers are more alert and have less fatigue with pine scent in the car, according to AroMetrics.
And, drivers were less angry with overall improved driving performance with strawberry and pine scents.
And you thought they just smelled nice.
Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics
2858 Four Wheel Drive
Lawrence, Kansas 66047
Posted in the Automotive News category
If you're reading this article in Lawrence Kansas, then you probably care about your car and how it runs. Even though you care, there is still that moment of dread when your service technician tells you the manufacturer recommends some additional service. Your heart beats a little faster, your blood pressure rises. You worry about spending more money than you expected.
Contact Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics in Lawrence Kansas by calling 785-842-8665
And you worry that if you say "no", you might be harming your car or compromising safety.
At the risk of sounding like your dad, you really should have done your homework. All of this stuff is in your owner's manual. But it is not like you want to keep your maintenance schedule on your nightstand for bedtime reading.
Cars are complicated machines and it takes care to keep them running well. That is why manufacturers have maintenance schedules that explain how to keep your vehicle performing efficiently and prevent costly break downs. In a typical owners manual you'll find: oil change, brake fluid and pad change, coolant system service, transmission service, battery electrolyte levels, cables and terminals, tire pressure and wear, CV boots, cabin air filter, air conditioning, heater, fuel filter, air filter, belts and hoses, power steering fluid, differential service, fuel system cleaning, and wheel alignment. And then there are mechanical service requirements like timing belt changes, valve adjustment, steering function, engine and exhaust leaks - yeah, it is a really long list!
Fortunately, this isn't a test: You don't need to have it memorized. Your service center at Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics has access to your manufacturer's recommendations. So do not be surprised when your technician at Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics reminds you something is due. Your manufacturer has taken great care in putting together your maintenance schedule. Let Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics help you stay on top of important maintenance. You can expect them to suggest recommended services and tell you what problems they find under the hood. We'll also explain how urgent these services are so you can work them into your budget.
Posted in the Maintenance category
You know, at Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics we get a lot of people asking about how to prepare their car for a trip. That’s a big deal. You could be driving through mountains and deserts in some pretty lonely areas outside of Lawrence so you may be anxious to know that the car is up to the task and won’t leave you stranded.
You really do need to plan ahead for a major road trip – there are a lot of things to get ready. Where should you start? You could start with the tires. Look them over for tread wear and check to see that they are properly inflated. Take a quick test drive around Lawrence to see if you can feel any vibrations: are the wheels are in balance? Is the car tracking straight? Is the alignment ok?
Come in and see us for trip inspection.
Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics
2858 Four Wheel Drive
Lawrence, Kansas 66047
The next thing is a full service oil change to make sure all of your fluids are topped off and you have fresh oil for the trip. And if your car has over 75,000 miles, you may consider putting in the high-mileage formulation to clean harmful sludge deposits in the engine. You may also need a new PCV valve and an engine air filter.
How about your transmission and brakes? Have you had your transmission and brakes inspected in the last six months?
How are your wiper blades? There’s nothing like not being able to get rid of the bug juice on a long road trip away from Lawrence.
Check your owners’ manual for any other recommended service and have Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics do the multi-point inspection before you head out.
Consider also having the coolant system serviced – you want to stay within the manufacturer’s recommendations. If you’re towing a trailer you’ll want to be keep in mind that you’ll be going a long way under severe conditions.
A lot of folks overlook severe conditions like towing, or summer heat, or driving on dirt roads. Plan ahead for your next road trip – we want you to get there and back.
Posted in the Maintenance category
Myths passed around our Lawrence Kansas community start with a grain of evidence and are then built up with a lot of imagination and very elastic logic. And the internet is a breeding ground for automotive myths. Some bloggers recall the SUVs of yesteryear and declare their modern decedents to be virtually maintenance free and that anyone who says otherwise is out to rip you off.
To get the truth about auto myths you hear around the Lawrence area, come over to Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics.
You'll find us at 2858 Four Wheel Drive, Lawrence, Kansas 66047.
Give us a call at 785-842-8665 to make an appointment for your next auto service.
Let's examine a couple of the more popular rants and look at the truth behind them.
The first one is that the chassis no longer needs lubrication for suspension, steering and the driveline. They declare that anyone who has charged you for lubrication is a charlatan.
The truth on which this myth is based is that many new cars come from the factory with sealed joints and cannot be greased. However, there are still some grease points on many cars around Lawrence. A grease fitting may have been installed in conjunction with a repair. And most trucks and truck-based SUVs driving in Lawrence still require chassis lubrication. This is because they are more heavy duty and proper greasing is still required to keep them going.
Another common rant you'll hear around Lawrence is that modern cars don't need tune-ups. That depends on your definition of a 'tune-up', which has changed as technology has progressed. Before engine control computers, electronic ignition and fuel injection, a tune up meant replacing mechanical parts that wore out. Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics would manually adjust fuel and air mix and timing. When these adjustments were off, spark plugs would foul and need to be replaced.
This definition just doesn't apply to modern vehicles. Service centers like Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics generally consider a tune-up to be the major service visit, recommended by your manufacturer, every 30,000 miles or so.
Of course you can't lubricate a sealed joint. Of course you can't adjust a carburetor if your car doesn't have one. You probably don't need to change spark plugs every year if your manufacturer says they can go 30,000 miles. What are these bloggers getting so worked up about?
The danger with these modern-day myths, is that they prevent people in our local Lawrence community from taking care of the routine preventive auto maintenance that manufactures recommend. Check out this partial list of things you still need to do to take care of your car. How many of them are really any different today than they were 20 or 30 years ago?
Oil change, cooling system service, transmission service, tire balancing, tire rotation, wheel alignment, suspension service, power steering service, proper tire inflation, brake service, differential service, battery maintenance, engine air filer, PCV valve, breather element, fuel filter, belts, hoses, timing belt, windshield wipers . . .
You get the picture. Your SUV is still a machine that needs to be maintained. And, hey, your service advisors at Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics have always adapted to keep pace with automotive technology. Next time you come across an angry voice about your car care, talk to your Lawrence service advisor at Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics, or do some research of your own.
Posted in the Maintenance category
Let’s talk about air quality in Lawrence. It’s a global issue, but affects us wherever we are. Many decades ago, we began to become aware of how air pollution negatively affects health. But what about the air inside your vehicle?
Cabin air filters are now coming on most new sedans in Lawrence. These filters clean the air in the passenger compartment. They can filter particles down to three microns, so that’s good enough to clean out dust, pollen and most pollutants. If you suffer from allergies in Lawrence, this is very good news. Your car can be a haven during your Lawrence commute.
Now, it’s only been in the last few years that cabin air filters have become common. You can look in your owner’s manual to see if you have one. If you do, there’ll be a recommendation for replacing it when it gets dirty. If you live in an area of Lawrence where there’s a lot of dust, pollen or pollution, you may need to change it more often.
You can also ask your service advisor at Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics in Lawrence. How hard is it to change an air filter on a car? It depends on your vehicle. Some are quite accessible; others take some doing to get to them. They’re usually in the engine compartment or under the dashboard.
Because cabin air filters are so new on the scene, some Lawrence people haven’t heard of them – even people who have cabin air filters in their sedan. Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics service advisors have discovered that many Lawrence customers who complained about an unpleasant odor in their sedan simply had a dirty cabin air filter.
Posted in the Cabin Air Filter category
Bad air quality while you're driving around Lawrence is nothing to sneeze at. But seriously, more and more vehicles these days come equipped with a cabin air filter. Since they're fairly new on the scene, a lot of folks don't know about them yet.
These filters clean the air in the passenger compartment, or cabin, of your car or truck. They do the same job as the furnace filter you have at home. They can filter out particles as small as thee microns. By contrast, a grain of sand is about 200 microns.
So your cabin air filer can clean out dust, pollution, pollen and spores, to keep the air in your car nice and clean. And just like your furnace filter, they need to be replaced when they get dirty. Check your owner's manual, but they typically need to be replaced at around twelve to fifteen thousand miles.
The filter is usually either under the hood or under the dashboard. Some are a little tricky to get to, so you'll want to have your Lawrence Kansas service center, Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics, take care of replacing them.
As we said, many people don't realize they have a cabin air filter and go to their shop complaining about a funky smell in the ventilation system. It turned out to be a cabin air filter that was long overdue for replacement – really dirty and starting to smell. A quick replacement and they were on their way and smelling fine.
People who are allergy sensitive can really benefit from a cabin air filter, as it keeps allergens to a minimum. If you're one of them, you'll want to stay on top of your filter replacement schedule.
Of course if you do a lot of driving in dusty or polluted conditions, you'll need to change your cabin air filter more often.
Posted in the Air Conditioning category
Under-inflated tires waste gas for lots of folks in the Lawrence area. Think how hard it is to walk in sand – you just have to work harder because of the resistance. When your tires don't have enough air in them, their rolling resistance is dramatically increased and it simply takes more gas to get from Lawrence to Lawrence.
Always check your tire pressure when you gas up at one of our local Lawrence service stations. If they're low – even just a little bit – bring them up to proper pressure. There's a sticker on the inside of your driver's door that gives the manufacturer's recommended tire pressure.
And don't rely on your tire pressure monitoring system to alert you to when you need more air. The TPMS system is set to warn you when pressure drops twenty percent below recommendations. That's severely under inflated and you needed more air a long time ago. And if you have a slow leak – get it fixed right away at Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics.
Get some air and save some gas.
Posted in the Tires and Wheels category
Today, we are talking about your PCV valve. The PCV Valve is a little, inexpensive part that does a big job for Lawrence auto owners. PCV stands for Positive Crankcase Ventilation.
The crankcase is the bottom area of the engine that holds the oil. When the sedan engine’s running, fuel is burned to generate power. Most of the exhaust from combustion goes out through the exhaust system. But some exhaust blows by the pistons and goes into the lower engine, or crankcase.
These hot gases are about seventy percent unburned fuel. This can dilute and contaminate the oil, leading to damaging engine oil sludge. It can also cause sedan engine corrosion, something we see occasionally at Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics. At high speeds on Lawrence freeways, the pressure can build up to the point that gaskets and seals start to leak.
Back in the old days, auto makers simply installed a hose that vented these gases out into the atmosphere. But starting in the 1964 model year, environmental protection laws required that these gases be recycled back into the air intake system to be mixed with fuel and burned in the sedan's engine.
This is much better for air quality and improves fuel economy also. (Budget-conscious Lawrence auto owners take note!) The little valve that performs this important function is the PCV valve. The PCV valve lets gases out of the engine, but won’t let anything back in. Over time, the vented gases will gum up the PCV valve and it won’t work well. That can lead to all of the problems I’ve already described, oil leaks, excessive oil consumption and decreased fuel economy.
Fortunately, it’s very easy to test the PCV Valve at Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics in Lawrence and quick and inexpensive to replace. Even so, it’s often overlooked because many Lawrence auto owners don’t know about it. Check your sedan owner’s manual or ask your Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics service advisor. If this is the first time you’ve heard of a PCV valve, you might be in line for a replacement.
There’s another aspect to the PCV system. In order for the valve to work correctly, it needs a little clean air to come in. This is done through a breather tube that gets some filtered air from the engine air filter. Now some vehicles have a small separate air filter for the breather tube called the breather element. That’ll need to be replaced at Lawrence Automotive Diagnostics when it gets dirty.
Please ask your trustworthy Lawrence service advisor about your PCV valve. For the price of a couple of burger combo meals in Lawrence, you can avoid some very pricey engine repairs.
Posted in the Parts category