Articles:

Easy Miles ? Do Ann Arbor Driving Conditions Affect Service Intervals?

Have you ever noticed that your vehicle has a schedule in your owner's manual for what is called “severe service” maintenance? Let's define what severe driving conditions aren't: The easiest driving a vehicle experiences is traveling on the interstate for 20 miles (32 kilometers) or more at a constant rate of 65 miles per hour (105 kilometers per hour) in 75°F (24°C) weather with only passengers on board. Change any one of those parameters and you are adding stress to your engine. Change them significantly and you are driving under severe conditions.Let's look at the parameters one a time. First, the length of the trip. Short trips around Ann Arbor are harder on an engine than longer ones. As your engine cools down, water in the air condenses onto the engine. When you heat the engine again, the water evaporates off. This is healthy. But on short trips, the engine doesn't stay hot enough long enough for all of the water to evaporate. So it star ... read more

A Non-Starter (Alternator Problems in Cold Weather)

As the temperatures dip, we all know there could be problems starting our vehicles. After all, batteries can grow old and not hold a charge as well as when they were newer. Or starters can go bad.  But there's one more component to keep an especially sharp eye on during winter: your alternator. The alternator is sort of like a small generator. It sends power out to various parts in your vehicle that need electricity.  That includes the battery, which needs charging to keep its power topped off.  The alternator creates electricity by taking mechanical energy from the engine and turning it into electricity.  It is connected to the engine by belts and pulleys.  In cold weather, the material the belt is made from is less flexible than it is in warm weather.  That means it may not be turning the pulleys as effectively since it doesn't have the same grip. Also, when it's colder, lubricants, including the engine oil, are a little stiffer and parts just don't move ... read more

Categories:

Alternator

H20 No! (Driving Through Standing Water)

In a year marked by unusually heavy flooding in North America, drivers are very aware of the possibility they may find themselves driving where water has come over the road.  It can be a daunting and frightening situation.  Flooding waters can move quickly and unpredictably, so you have to keep your wits about you when you encounter that situation. Here a sample of one vehicle manufacturer's guidelines on what to do.  First, the vehicle is designed to go through some water, but you must be careful.  Never attempt to drive through water deeper than the bottom of your tires. You can get out of your vehicle to check the depth of the water, but you can never be sure that you aren't going to drive into a spot where the road has washed away.  You can't see below the surface of the water, and suddenly you could find yourself in a place where the road drops off unexpectedly.  In swift moving storm runoff, your vehicle could literally be floating away with the curr ... read more

Blind Spot Safety for Ann Arbor Driving

Blind spots may be a good thing when it comes to a spouse's annoying habits, but when driving an automobile in Ann Arbor, they are definitely to be avoided. So, while it's not good marital advice, it's good auto advice to minimize your own blind spots and stay out of other Ann Arbor drivers' blind spots, especially when it comes to large, heavy vehicles like trucks and buses.First, minimize your own blind spots. Do this before you pull out of the driveway or parking space. Adjust your rearview mirror so that you see as much of the area behind you as possible. And, no, this doesn't include the passengers in the back seat. The rearview mirror isn't designed to be a baby monitor.Next, lean to the side until your head almost touches the driver's side window. Now adjust the driver's side mirror so that it just catches the side of the vehicle. Then, lean to the middle of the car and adjust the passenger's side mirror in the same way ... read more

Categories:

Safety

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 ... 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

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

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 ... read more

Categories:

Tires and Wheels

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 ... read more

Categories:

Tires and Wheels
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