One Fairburn automotive service issue that doesn't get much attention is driveline service. Drivelines don't get talked about very much around Fairburn, but they're very important. First let's define what the driveline is:
Taking a small step back, the power plant is comprised of the engine and transmission. The driveline starts there and includes all of the components that transfer power from the transmission to the wheels.
That's not really a lot of components, but they handle the full force of the engine. Without the driveline you're not moving. So we need to take good care of it. The driveline components differ depending on whether your vehicle has front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, all wheel drive or four wheel drive. For purposes of our discussion, we're going to have to over simplify a bit.
If you are ready to have your drive train looked at, give us a call: Gowen's Automotive Repairs 28 Dodd Street Fairburn, Georgia 30213 Call Us at 770-964-2455
Let's start with front wheel drive. The point where the transmission stops and the driveline begins is a little blurred with front wheel drive because the transaxle houses both the transmission function and the differential function. The half shafts that send power to each front wheel, come out of the transaxle. The shaft is connected to the wheel by a constant velocity, or CV, joint. The CV joint is protected from dirt and water by an airtight, flexible rubber boot.
So, driveline service would include properly servicing the transaxle and inspecting the CV boot to see if it's torn or loose. If it is, it needs to be replaced and the CV joint inspected for damage. Repairs may be in order. Besides visual damage to the airtight CV boot, you might hear a clicking noise when turning. Recommended maintenance for the transaxle and CV joints will be spelled out in your owner's manual or check with your Fairburn service advisor.
On to rear wheel drive. The driveline for a rear wheel drive vehicle starts with the driveshaft – that long tube that connects the transmission with the differential on the rear axle. Some vehicles in Fairburn have a two piece drive shaft. The shafts are connected to the transmission and the differential with big universal joints. You've probably heard the term 'u-joints'. These joints can wear out, just like the CV joints in front wheel drive vehicles. You may hear some clunking or feel a jolt when shifting into drive or reverse – if you do, get your driveline inspected.
The differential on the rear axle sends power out to each rear wheel through half shafts in the axle. The differential fluid needs to be drained periodically and replaced with clean fluid. When the seal on the end of the axle is damaged or leaks, the axle will need to be serviced. The routine maintenance item here is differential service. Be sure to check your owner’s manual or Fairburn service advisor for intervals.
Now let's go on to all wheel drive. Remember that the difference between all wheel drive and four wheel drive is that an all wheel drive vehicle is essentially providing power to all of the wheels all of the time. The vehicle may be able to shift more of the power to the front or to the back depending on where you need traction. All wheel drive vehicles are designed to work well on dry pavement. Even some high-end sports cars from makers like Lamborghini and Porsche have all wheel drive.
Some all wheel drive vehicles are designed to work well off-road, but all hard-core rock crawlers are four wheel drive. These guys thrive in mud, sand, rocks and hills – but they don't work well on dry pavement when they're in four wheel drive. So they have the option to shift to rear wheel drive only on dry pavement.
Most all-wheel drive vehicles are very similar to front wheel drive when it comes to the front end. They also have a center differential that transfers power to the rear differential. Connecting it all is a shaft from the transaxle to the center differential and another from the center differential to the rear differential. So all of the normal front wheel drive service is required as well as service to the center and rear differentials.
Four wheel drive can be thought of as a rear wheel drive vehicle that can also send power to the front axle. There's a transfer case in the middle of the vehicle that can be shifted to send power through a drive shaft to a differential on the front axle. So you need differential service for the front and rear differentials and for the transfer case as well.
The bottom line is that the maintenance schedules are in your owner's manual. Your Fairburn service advisor can answer any questions you've got. If this is the first time you've heard some of this stuff – it's time to ask someone at Gowen's Automotive Repairs if any of it needs to be done now.
Don't you hate it when you hear that squeal from under the hood when you're driving aroun Atlanta? It usually means there is a problem with the serpentine belt. The serpentine belt powers a lot of engine accessories. It runs the alternator-which charges the battery, the water pump-which cools the engine, the air conditioning and the power steering pump. All pretty important parts. It is called a serpentine belt because it snakes around a bunch of engine components.
Serpentine belts are especially tough. They can last for years and go for tens of thousands of miles. But, with time they wear out. If your belt breaks while you are driving, everything will come to a halt within minutes. You have to stop the car or it will overheat, potentially causing major engine damage. And it probably won't be at a convenient time or place. You might even need to get your car towed to a service center. That is why manufacturers recommend a belt replacement on schedule. You really should get it done on schedule because a belt failure will definitely take you off the road.
If you hear a squeal when accelerating or a slow, slapping sound at idle, you should have your serpentine belt looked at. Your Atlanta area service technician at Gowen's Automotive Repairs will visually inspect your belt to see if it needs to be changed sooner than scheduled. If the belt has more than three or four cracks an inch, has deep cracks that penetrate half the depth of the belt, is frayed, is missing pieces or has a shiny glazed look, it needs to be replaced regardless of age or mileage.
Most people in the Atlanta area are aware that automotive manufacturers have recommended service intervals. Following recommended service intervals is very important. The engineers that design our vehicles have tested the various systems and components to meet durability and safety standards. Some of these standards are self-imposed and others, like those for emissions components, are government mandated for the areas around Atlanta, Union City and College Park in Georgia.
The maintenance schedules are designed to achieve the standards. Think of the benefits of following recommended intervals as falling into three general categories: Protection, Efficiency and Safety.
Protection. Let's start with motor oil. First of all, the engineers recommend a particular weight and type of motor oil for your SUV. All of their oil change recommendations assume using the proper motor oil. Motor oil contains detergents and other additives that clean the engine and provide corrosion resistance. Over time, the additives are depleted. The oil also becomes contaminated by water, dirt and combustion gases.
Extending your interval beyond the recommendation means that your SUV engine will be operating without the full protection of fresh motor oil. It also means that sludge can form in contaminated oil and clog up passages in the engine, starving parts from needed lubrication.
Efficiency. Some services are designed to keep automotive systems operating efficiently. For example, the fuel system gets clogged up with gum and varnish from the fuel. Fuel doesn't flow efficiently which reduces fuel economy. A fuel system cleaning restores the fuel system's efficiency and increases your gas mileage.
Safety. Your brakes are obviously one of the most important safety systems on your SUV. The manufacturer has scheduled brake pad replacement as well as power brake fluid drain and replacement intervals. Because brakes are so important, a brake inspection is also on the schedule to head off problems before they result in an accident.
Check your owner's manual for recommended service schedules or talk with your Fairburn service advisor at Gowen's Automotive Repairs by calling 770-964-2455. You'll find our shop located at 28 Dodd Street in Fairburn, Georgia 30213.
You may be surprised to learn that various inspections may be on your list of factory recommendations for your SUV. These inspections are usually at major intervals like fifteen or thirty thousand miles. They're designed to uncover important parts that may be close to failing.
Your SUV owner's manual can tell you when to change your oil, but it can't tell you that you have a radiator hose that's bulging and about to burst. For that you need a trained auto technician. These scheduled inspections are in addition to the multi-point inspections done with a full-service oil change.
Myths passed around our Fairburn Georgia 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 Fairburn area, come over to Gowen's Automotive Repairs. You'll find us at 28 Dodd Street , Fairburn, Georgia 30213. Give us a call at 770-964-2455 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 Fairburn. A grease fitting may have been installed in conjunction with a repair. And most trucks and truck-based SUVs driving in Fairburn 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 Fairburn 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. Gowen's Automotive Repairs 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 Gowen's Automotive Repairs 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 Fairburn 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?
You get the picture. Your SUV is still a machine that needs to be maintained. And, hey, your service advisors at Gowen's Automotive Repairs have always adapted to keep pace with automotive technology. Next time you come across an angry voice about your car care, talk to your Fairburn service advisor at Gowen's Automotive Repairs, or do some research of your own.
A. A filter for your Fairburn house? B. A fresh, piney scent? C. A filter for the passenger compartment of your car?
Clever you, it’s C.
A cabin air filter cleans the outside air before it comes into the passenger compartment. It filters out common Fairburn air particles like dust, pollen, spores, bacteria, pollutants, exhaust gas, odors and even sparrows.
These high tech filters can block particles larger than 3 microns. By contrast, a grain of sand is about 200 microns.
Not all vehicles in Fairburn have cabin air filters. They are fairly new on the scene. About forty percent of new vehicles sold in Fairburn come with cabin air filters, but the number is growing every year.
Cabin air filters can make for a very nice driving environment. Your car can be a haven during our Fairburn allergy season with very little dust and pollen getting into the cabin. However, the filter eventually gets clogged. When this happens, your heating and air conditioning flow can become restricted. The filter can even get kind of smelly.
Check your owner’s manual for recommended replacement intervals. Often, the owner’s manual forgets about the cabin air filter, so ask your service technician at Gowen's Automotive Repairs for a recommendation. It’s usually every year or 12,000 miles / 19,000 kilometers. Change it sooner if you drive in dusty conditions around the Atlanta area, or if you start to notice an odor from your ventilation system.
So keep your cabin air filter clean. It may not help with your brother-in-law in the backseat, but it will make your driving experience around Fairburn more enjoyable.
Sometimes we hear people say, "What's up with all this maintenance stuff? Modern cars just don't break down." While it is true that today's cars and trucks are extremely reliable, they are also becoming increasingly complicated and use more exotic materials than ever before. All that complexity demands higher tolerances for everything. For example, most folks don't realize how high tech automotive fluids have become. Fluids like, engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant and brake fluid.
Did you know that a modern engine would not run for more than a few months using motor oil formulas from 30 years ago? Today's automotive fluids contain a much higher percentage of additives to protect your vehicle's components from premature wear and corrosion. Time and miles march on for all of our cars. Please don't think we're using scare tactics to get you to take care of your maintenance - but here are some personal stories from AutoNetTV staff members to emphasize the importance of getting things done when they are due. Names are withheld to avoid embarrassment to those who should know better. Even though they should know better, it usually comes down to real life: time and budget. But they are tales of a stitch in time saves nine.
The first comes from a staffer who bought a used pick-up truck for his son. The oil was clean and all the fluids were topped off. A short time later, the truck overheated on the highway and shut down. The repair shop diagnosed the problem: the radiator pan was corroded and dumped the coolant. Even though the coolant level was correct, it was clear that the coolant had never been exchanged - just topped off from time to time. While this kept the engine cool, all of the anti-corrosion additives had worn out; the coolant became acidic and ate through the radiator pan. The cost: hundred of dollars and four days in the shop. This demonstrates the need to get your coolant exchanged on schedule.
Another story involves the true cost of skipping an annual inspection. Our staffer took his SUV in for the Georgia safety inspection to renew his registration. At the inspection station, he learned that the law had changed and that his newer rig only required an inspection every two years. He was very happy to save the $45 bucks. The problem was, his rear brake pads were very worn. Two months later, it was bad enough that he could hear the grind - over the radio, DVD player and the kids. He took it in to get the bad news. Both of the rear brake rotors were damaged. The left one could be resurfaced. The right had to be replaced. So saving a few bucks on his safety inspection turned into an extra $500 over what brake pad replacement would have been. Moral of the story: don't skip your annual inspections. The irony is that many Fairburn service centers would have done a brake inspection for free.
Next: a teenage daughter and a curb. Daddy's little princess smacked a curb when she turned into a shopping center and popped the tire. The problem came when Dad didn't get an alignment. The impact was hard enough to ruin the tire - so it was hard enough wreck the alignment. But instead of an alignment after the first tire, Papa ended up buying a second tire a few months later - and then an alignment.
Situation: son and wife with cars from the same manufacturer with essentially the same engine. Our staffer checked the son's maintenance schedule and saw that it needed a timing belt replacement at 90,000 miles/145,000 km. He had it done - it cost several hundred dollars. His wife's car had about 60,000 miles/97,000 km, so it should be ok for a while. Right? Wrong. The problem was that the wife had the turbo charged version. Its belt was scheduled for replacement at 60,000 mi/97,000 km. At 63,000 mi./101,000 km, the belt snapped on the interstate. The valves all crashed down into the cylinders at high speed and the entire head was shredded and had to be replaced. The cost: several thousand dollars. Does he wish he had checked the maintenance schedule? You bet he does - every time he passes a big-screen TV.
We're talking about taking care of little things before they become big things. And when you take care of the little things, your car runs better and is more economical to operate. Remember to save those maintenance records. It'll show potential buyers that you've taken care of your vehicle and it will help you get a better price. Or when you buy a used car, check those records. If there aren't any, assume that the maintenance hasn't been done and take it to your Union City or College Park service center for an inspection. Take care of unperformed maintenance sooner rather than later.
Having trouble with your fuel system? Bring your SUV into Gowen's Automotive Repairs for a check up. 28 Dodd Street Fairburn, Georgia 30213 770-964-2455
Today we're talking about fuel system cleaning. The first thing to know is how important it is to have a clean fuel system. You need fuel to go, and the cleaner your fuel system, the more efficiently the fuel will burn. That means more power and better fuel economy.
A clean fuel system saves money at the pump. We guess you could say, it all starts and ends at the pump. One of the most important things you can do to keep your fuel system clean is to buy good quality gas. Major brands have detergents that keep gum and varnish from rapidly building up in the fuel system.
So buying cheaper gas can actually cost you in the long run. Now, most cars on the road are more than five or six years old. That means they've had time for some dirt and rust to start accumulating in the fuel tank. This junk needs to be filtered out of the fuel before it hits your engine. That's the fuel filter's job.
When the fuel filter is clogged, the dirty fuel will bypass the filter and go on up to the engine where it can clog fuel injectors and get into the cylinders. That could do some damage. So you should have your fuel filter changed when recommended. Check your owner's manual or ask your service advisor if your fuel filter is due for replacement.
The fuel then goes up into the throttle body. This is another area where varnish and gum can accumulate. A professional fuel system cleaning will use a combination of special cleaning chemicals and old fashioned swabbing to clean out the throttle body. Now, the fuel injectors are the last stop in the fuel delivery system.
It's real important to keep those fuel injectors clean. The fuel injectors need to deliver a precise amount of fuel, at exactly the right time, in a particular spray pattern. They just can't do that if they're dirty. Dirty fuel injectors really rob power and waste fuel.
It is important for the fuel system proper, but there are a couple other things that will help keep your engine clean as well. Of course, air is mixed with the fuel before it's burned. Dirty air means dirt gets into your engine, so you need to replace your engine air filter when it's dirty.
The PCV value routes unburned fuel that escapes into the lower engine back up into the intake system to be burned. A sticky PCV valve needs to be replaced to make sure that system is working properly and the breather filter needs to be replaced if it's dirty as well.
Do all these things and your engine's air and fuel will be as clean as possible. You'll get much better fuel economy and better power
All pilots have checklists for every aspect of flying. They always use their checklists even if they only have two steps on them. They do this simply because a checklist is a great way to not forget important steps. It is also how you can assure a predictable outcome.
That is why Atlanta and Union City automotive service centers have procedural standards for each service they perform. Technicians are trained step by step. And they perform the procedures step by step, the same way each time. By training to procedural standards, centers can assure a quality outcome. The job is done right every time and you are happy with how your car performs.
Each company trains its technicians to standards. The industry as a whole is very committed to standards of excellence and encourages individual service center operators to apply them to every vehicle they service.
An example is how service technicians grade problems and communicate their recommendations. If a technician tells you that a repair or replacement is required it must meet the following criteria:
The part no longer performs its intended purpose
The part does not meet a design specification
The part is missing
The technician may suggest repair or replacement if:
The part is close to the end of its useful life - just above discard specifications or likely to fail soon
To address a customer need or request - like for better ride or increased performance
To comply with maintenance recommended by the vehicle's manufacturer
Based on the technician's informed experience
Here are some examples:
An exhaust pipe has rusted through and is leaking. Replacement is required because the part has failed. If the pipe were rusted, corroded or weak, but not leaking, the technician may suggest it be replaced because it is near the end of its useful life and replacing it now may be more convenient for the customer.
Suppose a customer wants to improve his car's handling, but his shocks haven't failed. The technician may suggest replacement of the shocks to satisfy the customer's wishes.
Under these guidelines the service center must refuse partial service of a required repair if the repair creates or continues an unsafe condition. Let's say a customer has a cracked brake rotor. This is a dangerous condition that must be repaired. If the customer does not want to replace the rotor, but instead just wants new brake pads installed, the shop must ethically refuse the partial repair. That can be an upsetting conversation, but understanding that service centers operate under service standards and procedures is comforting. You want your service to be done right and to have confidence in your technician's recommendations.
The automotive service industry and Gowen's Automotive Repairs want the best for you and for you to keep coming back. AutoNetTV is committed to providing automotive maintenance information to help you be confident in your service decisions.
Today’s report from Gowen's Automotive Repairs is on car batteries, why they die and what we can do to lengthen their life. Most of us have had a dead battery at one time or another. In fact, it would be very unusual if you hadn’t. You may be surprised to learn that only 30 percent of Fairburn vehicle batteries last for 48 months.
Now that’s an average. How long a battery lasts depends on many factors. You may not know that one of the biggest factors is the temperature where you live and drive around Fairburn. You might suppose that cold weather was harder on batteries because it takes more power to crank a cold engine, but the opposite is actually true.
For more information on your battery, please visit us: Gowen's Automotive Repairs 28 Dodd Street Fairburn, Georgia 30213 770-964-2455
Batteries in very cold climates have a life expectancy of 51 months as opposed to 30 months in very warm climates. The reason is simple: batteries are chemically more active when they’re hot than when they’re cold.
A car battery will actually start to discharge on its own within 24 hours in hot weather. It takes several days in cold weather. When batteries are left too long in a state of partial discharge, the discharged portion of the battery plates actually, for the lack of a better word, 'die'. Recharging the battery will not restore the dead part of the battery plate.
One of the big problems for the way most of us drive in the Fairburn area, is that our batteries are often partially discharged. The biggest job the battery does is to start the car. It takes some time for the alternator to recharge the battery after starting. If you’re driving short distances, especially if there are several starts and stops, your battery may not fully recharge.
Another issue is that vehicles are coming equipped with more and more electricity hungry accessories like navigation systems, DVD players, CD and MP3 players, heated seats, heated steering wheels and so on. And we often plug in cell phones, computers and other gadgets. Combine that with short trips and it’s no wonder that our batteries are partially discharged.
Experts say we can extend our battery life by topping off the charge periodically using a good quality battery charger. You may’ve heard these chargers referred to as 'trickle chargers'. They’re attached to the battery and plugged into a wall outlet to slowly bring the battery up to full charge.
Now there’s some science involved with how fast a battery should be recharged. If you buy a cheap manual charger, you’ll have to tend it. Frankly a learning curve on how to do it right and requires much attention. A computer controlled charger – or smart charger – monitors the process and determines the appropriate rate of charge. And it even stops charging when it’s fully charged. It costs more than the manual charger, but the automatic model is worth it.
The suggestion is to charge once a month in warm weather and once every three months in cold weather.
Another thing to avoid is deeply discharging your battery. Something like running the headlights and stereo with the engine turned off. That’ll take months off the battery life every time you do it.
Now, as we discussed, heat is hard on a battery. A dirty, greasy battery holds more heat. You can wipe off excess dirt with a paper towel or ask your service advisor at Gowen's Automotive Repairs to clean it for you. Gowen's Automotive Repairs can even test your battery and tell you if it’s time to replace it.
Batteries are fairly expensive, so taking a few steps to make them last longer is well worth it. Of course, the battery will eventually need to be replaced. Always make sure you get a new battery that meets the factory specifications for your vehicle. If you feel you need more battery capacity than what came with your vehicle, talk with your service advisor at Gowen's Automotive Repairs about appropriate upgrades.
If you have a dead battery, be careful to inspect it before you jump start it. If the case is bulging, cracked or leaking, do not jump start it. Damaged batteries can explode or catch fire. And deeply discharged batteries can freeze. Do not jump start a frozen battery.
High gas prices in Fairburn increase the cost of living for Georgiacar owners. You’ve probably budgeted a certain amount for vehicle related expenses. Increased fuel costs now consume a larger portion of our incomes, causing some Fairburn vehicle owners to skimp in other areas – like scheduled maintenance.
According to Georgia news reports and automotive industry studies, this is becoming increasingly more common. In fact, nine out of ten personal vehicles on the road have at least one maintenance or repair item that hasn’t been done. Some of these items pose serious safety risks. Others are just more likely to make it more expensive to drive.
In this area, we can take a lesson from professional Fairburn vehicle owners. I’m talking about fleet owners and operators. You know, Fairburn folks like the trucking companies and delivery services. Because their livelihood depends on it, they have gotten scheduled maintenance down to a science. And the last thing they skimp on is regular maintenance.
Why is that? Well, for one thing they know that routine maintenance prevents expensive repairs and costly breakdowns. They also know that a well-maintained vehicle uses less fuel. For them, even a small decrease in gas mileage may put their Atlanta business in the red.
So what does this mean to Fairburn drivers? Well, there’s a ninety percent chance that you’re missing some service that would improve your gas mileage. Here’s a quick reminder list:
Fuel system cleaning, transmission service, differential service, engine air filter, wheel alignment, oil change, tune up. Ring any bells? Can you honestly say that there isn’t at least one thing on the list that hasn’t been done?
Let’s suppose you chose to spend one hundred and fifty dollars and get caught up on some of these services at Gowen's Automotive Repairs. Figure that they combine to improve your fuel economy by fifteen percent. What would that mean to your pocketbook?
Well, the average personal vehicle in Fairburn is driven about twelve thousand miles a year. If you get twenty miles per gallon in your SUV, over the course of one year you would pay for the hundred and fifty dollars worth of service and save an additional hundred and sixty five dollars if gas is at three dollars and fifty cents. If gas is four fifty, you would save two hundred and fifty-five dollars. And you’d rack up savings of three hundred and forty five dollars with gas at five and a half bucks.
From this you can see that the more fuel costs, the more it pays to keep up on scheduled maintenance. Some of us drive trucks in Fairburn for work or recreation – or want a large SUV for family needs. A fifteen percent improvement in fuel economy can generate huge savings – six hundred and sixty dollars a year if gas is four fifty a gallon in Fairburn. Take a look at this table to see where your savings could lie.
So catch up on those services you’ve been neglecting at Gowen's Automotive Repairs. Get a couple done now and a couple next time. Chances are you’ll save a lot of money at Fairburn gas pumps this year – and a lot more on repairs in years to come.