Articles:

Watching Your Check Engine Light

Watching Your Check Engine Light

Did you know that most of the cars driving around Ann Arbor, Michigan, carry more computer power than the Apollo 121 Lunar Module that landed on the moon in 1969?New cars sold in the Ann Arbor area have as many as 12 networked computers and over five miles (eight kilometers) of wiring. In fact, for the last decade or so, auto computers have been controlling about 85 percent of your vehicle's functions.Cars have sensors for manifold air temperature, coolant temperature, manifold air pressure, airflow, throttle position, vehicle speed and oxygen content. All of this electronic wizardry is pretty complicated. So how do Ann Arbor drivers know when there is a problem?It's simple; the Check Engine light comes on. The computer monitors all the sensors and uses that information to decide what to adjust such as the fuel mix, spark timing and idle speed. In addition, the computer monitors its own circuits. When it finds a fault, it turns on the Check Engine light and stores a trouble code i ... read more

Categories:

Dashboard

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

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 r ... read more

Categories:

Alignment , Tires

Idle Talk about Engines (Causes of Rough Engine Idling)

When you slow down at stoplight, your vehicle's idle should be smooth as silk.  But what happens when the engine is missing or idling roughly? That's your engine's way of telling you, "Hey, I've got something wrong with me and if you don't get someone to find out what it is, I may not start the next time you turn the key." You can help your service facility if you can describe the problem in detail.  Here's a list of things to make a note of: When is the problem happening, when the engine is cold or when it's been running for a while? Does the rough idling occur when I'm accelerating or when I'm going at a steady speed? Does it happen at high speeds?  Does it happen low speeds? Does it happen at both? Make sure you describe the problem in as much detail because it will help a technician diagnose the problem. One of the first things they'll check is how the spark plugs are firing.  Modern iridium plugs are supposed to last a long, long time.  But they CAN even ... read more

Differential Service at Convenience Auto Service

Differential Service at Convenience Auto Service

Here at AutoNetTV, we have national viewers, like your neighbors in Ann Arbor, who write to us with questions or feedback. One common question we're asked is: "What is a differential and what does it do?" You may have been told by your Convenience Auto Service service advisor that your differential needs serviced, or it's seen it as an option up on the service menu. Differential service at Convenience Auto Service covers a lot of things, so let's first talk about what a differential does.As you drive through a turn, your outside wheels and inside wheels turn at different speeds. Kind of like the cars going around a race track - the ones driving in the outside lanes have a greater distance to travel than the cars in the inside lanes. The differential is what allows the outside and inside drive wheels to rotate at slightly different speeds so that the tires don't hop or skip while taking corners, or lose traction in dirt or snow ... read more

Categories:

Drive Train

Shake It up in Ann Arbor!: Why Wheel Balancing

Shake It up in Ann Arbor!: Why Wheel Balancing

Our vehicles are not massage chairs. While we may enjoy a good vibration in an overstuffed recliner, we generally want as smooth a ride as possible in our vehicles. One way to achieve this is to keep a vehicle's wheels in balance. When a tire is mounted onto a wheel, it is usually out of balance. This means that as the wheel spins, there is a slight wobble to the path of the tire. For best handling performance and safety on the road, Ann Arbor drivers want to minimize this wobble as much as possible. So we balance our tires. To balance a tire, your technician at Convenience Auto Service spins it on a machine or drum to determine where it is off-balance. He then attaches weights that counter-balance the uneven weight. Most people in Ann Arbor are surprised at how much balancing improves the smoothness of their ride. High-quality tires generally hold their balance well. But over time, wear and tear take their toll and tires can become unbalanced. Ann Arbor drivers c ... read more

Categories:

Tires and Wheels

Convenience Auto Service Advice on Buying New Tires

Convenience Auto Service Advice on Buying New Tires

Today's tires and wheels offer a lot of options for every Ann Arbor driver's style, habits and driving conditions.Tires are designed for high-performance in winter or summer and even come in a long-wearing variety for all Michigan seasons.Ann Arbor off-roaders should be excited about the options available to them as well. The tread on off-road tires is designed to handle the wear from bumps and rocks. The tires' high profile protects rims from damage.But what if you own an SUV but aren't interested in off-roading around Michigan? You can change out those high-profile beasts for a lower, wider look if it suits your style.Convenience Auto Service tire professionals can offer great auto advice on how to choose tires that match your needs and style.If you just need to purchase new tires, a tire professional at Convenience Auto Service can also help you select the tires that are best for your driving needs and habits. The right tires will protect you and your vehicle on the road.S ... read more

Categories:

Tires and Wheels

Ann Arbor Car Owners Ask: Why Do I Need to Change My Serpentine Belt?

Any Ann Arbor driver who understands preventive maintenance knows that “if it ain't broke, don't fix it” is bad auto advice. Replacing a part before it breaks is much less costly for Ann Arbor residents than repairing the engine damage that comes after a part breaks or fails. A good example of this is the serpentine belt.The serpentine belt gets its name because of its circuitous path around the engine. The serpentine belt is driven by the engine and powers a number of systems, as follows:1. The serpentine belt spins the compressor that generates the cool air for the air conditioning system.2. The serpentine belt powers the alternator. The alternator generates electricity for use in the vehicle's electrical systems and to charge the battery. Without the alternator, the battery wouldn't last more than a few miles.3. In many Ann Arbor residents' vehicles, the serpentine belt runs the pumps for both the power steering and the power brakes. In other vehicles, the power steering ... read more

Categories:

Timing Belt

When "Oh, no!" Turns Into, "All right!"

Things we don't expect happen to our vehicles. And let's face, no one really wants to spend money on an unexpected repair. But if you are putting off going to your vehicle repair facility because you're dreading bad news, you might just be putting off some good news. There was one minivan driver who'd had the same van for years and never had a problem with the power sliding doors.  Then one day, the electrical switches in the door pillars stopped working.  The key fob would still open them, but the door switches wouldn't do a thing. Of course, the van driver feared the worst: an electrical problem, a major computer failure, mice chewing up the wires.  So, he put off going into the repair facility for a couple of months.  One day, it was time for his regular oil change and the service advisor asked him if there was anything else going on with the van.  The owner mentioned the door problem but said he didn't want to spend a fortune on it. He waited for his van, a ... read more

Follow the Bouncing Vehicle (Bad Struts and Shocks)

If you hit a bump in the road and your vehicle just keeps bouncing up and down for a lot longer time than it used to, you may have bad struts and shocks.  They're the things that help to keep your vehicle's wheels and tires planted to the road surface. But they don't last forever.  With care and depending on where and how you drive, shocks and struts should be replaced at intervals ranging from 50,000 miles/80,000 km to 100,000 miles/160,000 km.  If you drive on bumpy roads with a lot of potholes, that interval will likely be shorter. Rough surfaces can take their toll. But how do you know if your shocks and struts are doing their job properly? The best way is to have your vehicle checked by a technician.  He or she can inspect the shock absorbers and struts for leaks, corrosion and damage.  Mounts and bushings can also go bad and they should be evaluated as well.  A thorough examination by a technician will also include looking at other suspension parts ... read more

Categories:

Shocks & Struts

No Fueling! (Fuel Filler Location)

If you've ever gotten in an unfamiliar vehicle, maybe a rental car, you may have pulled up to the gas pump and wondered, "Which side is the fuel filler on?" Here's a tip for you.  There is usually a little arrow on the instrument panel near the fuel gauge that points to the side where the fuel filler is.  But why are the fuel fillers not all on the same side, anyway? There are lots of reasons.  At one time, many manufacturers tried putting them in an easy-to-reach spot: in the center of the vehicle's rear end.  Some even hid them behind a hinged license plate door.  Cool place, but it turned out not to be a good idea.  When a vehicle with a fuel filler in the rear was hit by another vehicle from behind, it was much more prone to catch fire and explode. Safety regulations now dictate that the fuel filler doors be placed within crumple zones and away from where they can drip fuel on hot exhaust pipes or near electrical connections.  But why do manufactu ... read more

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