Replacing Your Timing Belt
The first time most drivers think about the timing belt in their vehicle is when the manufacturer’s recommend maintenance schedule says it needs to be replaced.
Other drivers aren’t so lucky. These drivers are often lamenting a problem they didn’t know they had when the timing belt brakes and leaves them stranded on the road with a repair bill of several thousand dollars.
There’s an easy way to keep yourself and your vehicle in the first group – follow your vehicle’s maintenance schedule!
Timing belts should be replaced before it puts your vehicle at risk for a breakdown. The timing belt is a critical component in your vehicle because it controls the other components in your engine to keep your vehicle running. In interference engines, the pistons and valves that control the release of air and gas in a combustion engine are precisely placed in the engine. They must operate in sync in order for the combustion cycle to be completed accurately.
The pistons and valves must move in coordinated motions to avoid interfering with the other’s function. That’s where timing belts come in – they control the timing of these motions so that the pistons and valves never hit each other.
But if the timing belt brakes, the precise control of motion in the engine is out of sync. The pistons may move too early or too late. If they hit and break the valve, you may need to replace the entire engine!
Timing belts in vehicles are designed to control the vital systems in your engine so they work together exactly the way they should. Because the timing belt is made of rubber and functions in the high stress, high heat environment of the engine, it will become worn over time.
Unfortunately, there are no obvious warning signs for timing belts. If drivers don’t notice or miss the recommended replacement date, the timing belt is at a higher risk of breaking.
Replacing the timing belt on schedule can cost hundreds of dollars, but replacing the entire engine and sensitive components damaged when the timing belt breaks costs several thousand!
Don’t leave your family at risk. Come to Myers Automotive! Our technicians will keep track of the maintenance schedule for your vehicle and recommended the services you need. Preventative maintenance can save you thousands by keeping your vehicle running efficiently and avoiding costly breakdowns. To learn more about belt replacement or to set up a preventative maintenance schedule with our auto repair experts, be sure to request an appointment online.
VEHICLE BELTS 101
Vehicle belts transfer power from the engine to various components of your engine, ensure proper timing of moving parts, and connect key systems.
Types of Belts:
Timing Belt – responsible for timing the moving parts within your engine. Simply put, if these parts do not operate in sync, your engine will not work.
Serpentine Belt – connects the alternator, power steering, and A/C. Ensures proper power to these key accessories.
Alternator Belt – powers electrical components and recharges the car battery. The belt makes sure proper charge and power is maintained.
Each of these belts are made from a firm rubber material. Due to the high heat environment in the engine, these belts break down over time and should be replaced periodically to keep your vehicle running properly.
Cracking – The heat of the engine will break down the rubber belts over time. Deterioration and cracks leave your belts at increased risk for breaking.
Noises – Squealing noises can indicate an issue with a belt. This may also be accompanied by vibrations in some cases.
Loss of power – Should the belt lose its grip and slip, you may notice power loss to your accessories. Bring your vehicle in for diagnostics to determine the cause of the power loss.
If you suspect an issue with a belt, have it inspected right away! Catching warning signs early and replacing the belt before it breaks are critical steps to preventing further damage and expensive repairs (especially the timing belt).
Because it’s not always possible to catch the warning signs of an aging belt, our auto experts recommend following the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule. If you aren’t sure when to replace the belts in your vehicle, request an appointment online to schedule your next inspection at one of our conveniently located shops. Keeping Kansas drivers safely on the road is our top priority!
Summertime Battery Maintenance
If you think the summer weather is easier on your battery than winter, think again. While warmer temperatures help to increase battery capacity, making it easier to turn over the engine, they also cause an increase in the rate at which the battery deteriorates. When the temperature is warmer, the current conducting grids corrode faster, reducing the life of your battery.
High temperatures also increase the rate of sulfation. Lead sulfate naturally forms on both electrodes as the battery discharges. If recharge begins immediately, the lead sulfate is easily recharged. However, if the lead sulfate is not immediately recharged, it will begin to grow into large crystals, which are not easily recharged. This crystal growth is commonly called “sulfation” and occurs faster at high temperatures. Sulfation can eventually lead to battery failure.
Another factor to consider in the summer – and all year-round for that matter – is parasitic loads. Many of the electronic accessories and systems both in and out of the cab can create parasitic loads that will drain the battery to discharge.
Parasitic loads are small currents, typically of a few milliamps (mA) that the battery has to deliver continuously. Although small, they have a large effect. As the battery is slowly discharged without immediate recharge, sulfation is the likely result.
High temperatures, especially when combined with parasitic loads, will shorten the life of the battery. A common scenario is that a battery will fail during the first cold weather of the year, and it’s tempting to blame the cold weather, when in fact, it was the high temperatures of summer which deteriorated the battery to the point that it can’t start the first time it has to work a little harder in winter.
Knowing that the summer heat already speeds up the rate at which the battery deteriorates, and that the rate of deterioration is further accelerated by parasitic loads, it is clear that managing temperature and parasitic loads can increase the reliability of the battery.
To prevent excessive discharge and keep batteries from deteriorating in the summer, follow these tips:
Use a premium AGM battery. Battery failures can be a major source of downtime. Using a high-quality battery is a way to keep a truck running. The latest technology for truck batteries is Absorbent Glass Mat (AGM). High quality AGM batteries require less maintenance and tend to survive high temperatures and parasitic loads better than traditional technologies when those conditions can’t be avoided.
Keep the battery cool. Battery life can be extended by parking in shaded or covered areas like a garage. If the battery is in storage, be sure to follow the battery manufacturer’s recommended specifications for storage temperature.
Turn off the electronics. Electronics, the main source of parasitic loads, play a significant role in draining the battery of its charge. Be sure to shut down all electronics before exiting the vehicle, especially if the engine will remain inactive for long periods. An inactive engine has more time to discharge an otherwise healthy battery.
Keep moving. As mentioned above, parasitic loads will drain the battery if the engine remains inactive long enough, so if possible, keep the vehicle on the road.
Stay charged. Proper charging of the battery is the single most important action in ensuring that the battery will last for its intended life. If needed, use a battery charger, which operates to the battery manufacturer’s charging recommendations to restore the battery to a fully charged state.
Proper maintenance of the battery, both while in use and in storage, will extend its service life. If there are signs that the battery is starting to fail, replace the battery with a premium-quality replacement.
Oil Loss Prevention
Oil loss will be experienced by a significant percentage of vehicles at some point in their lifespan. More often than not it comes in the form of small drips and minor leaks that can be prevented, but in some cases oil leaks require immediate attention from an ASE-Certified Technician.
An improperly sealed drain bolt is the most common leak. When having an oil change performed, your oil pan is first drained. The drain is resealed, usually with a new washer around the drain bolt. Cheap oil change services may not include a new washer, which may result in new leaks after the change. In the event that a leak appears after a change is performed and persists after 24-48 hours of normal driving, there’s a good chance you may need a new washer.
Small oil leaks are also common in older cars. Often the seals wear or are misshapen due to the mechanical movements and drastic changes in temperature that are common with a combustion engine. While replacing the seals may not be economical, it is very important to check oil levels frequently. If the oil stains pavement, kitty litter or crushed drywall will absorb the oil.
Sudden oil loss can also take place, which is a worst-case scenario. Many vehicles have warning lights that indicate a loss of oil pressure. In this case, it is imperative that the vehicle is stopped and turned off immediately. The friction caused by oil loss can harm multiple components and could even render the engine inoperable.
Abnormal oil loss without any indication such as oil stains or an oily engine may indicate a much deeper problem. This could be a signifier that the vehicle is burning oil. Oil may seep past the pistons and into the combustion chamber or it may leak through a broken head gasket. These issues are both extremely serious that can potentially lead to power loss and reduced fuel efficiency.
If you think you might be losing oil, bring your vehicle into Myers Automotive. We will diagnose the problem and will offer solutions based on the nature and severity of the oil leak.
Vehicle Maintenance Services to Consider this Spring
Spring is (almost) here and with it comes longer days, higher temperatures and unpredictable rain storms. Hopefully the harsh winter weather is over until after Halloween, but has it taken a toll on your vehicle? Consider these five maintenance services to keep your family safe in the changing Kansas weather.
Alignment. If your vehicle is pulling to one side or another, your tires may be out of alignment. All four tires should hit the road at precisely the same direction and angle for optimum performance. Pay attention for signs that your vehicle is veering off to one side. If so, come by Myers Automotive for an alignment inspection.
Tires. Winter roads, spring potholes, and rising temperatures can affect your vehicle’s tires. First check tire pressure – a change in temperature can affect your tire pressure, so test to make sure the tires are filled to the optimum level. Use the penny test to check for tire tread – if you can see Lincoln’s head when inserting the coin into your tread, you need new tires! Also check for uneven wear and stop by our shop for a tire rotation to get the most out of your tires.
Brakes. After a season of snow and ice, make sure your brakes haven’t been pushed to their limits. A brake inspection will make sure that the brake lines, brake fluid, brake pads and rotors are all working together optimally and free from water and ice damage during the winter months.
Oil Change. Spring means more opportunities for exploring and road trips! But it also means it’s time for a full-service oil change. Oil is the lifeblood of your engine, so keeping up on this service is important.
Hoses and Belts. Cold weather can be especially tough on the rubber, plastic, and fragile parts that keep your vehicle moving. Checking hoses and belts for any cracks, tears, and damage can mean the difference between a small replacement and large engine damage. Follow your maintenance schedule and have our ASE-Certified technicians inspect your vehicle regularly.
To make sure your vehicle is ready for any adventure that might come its way this spring, stop by Myers Automotive for an inspection.
Modern automobiles are marvels of engineering – finely-tuned machines that would seem downright futuristic to car owners just a couple of generations ago. That being said, your vehicle still requires regular maintenance in order to function at an optimal level and, every now and then, needs a tune-up.
As a rule of thumb, you should consider getting a proper tune-up every 30,000 miles at the very minimum in order to avoid encountering any major problems with key vehicle components in the future.
As oil changes are done every 3,000 miles or every three months, getting an inspection every other time you get this service done, twice a year or so, is also a good idea in order to maintain your vehicle’s health and avoid any potential issues.
While exact details can differ from shop to shop depending on a variety of factors such as market climate and such, a modern tune-up will generally consist of filters and spark plugs being replaced, the fuel system being cleaned and a comprehensive fluid flush.
If you’re not sure how long it’s been since your last tune-up, here are a few signs you should get one performed soon:
Increased Fuel Consumption. If you’re filling your tank up more often than usual, there’s a decent chance something is out-of-whack in your engine and you’re in need of a tune-up.
Knocking/Pinging Sounds. When you hear either of these noises, particularly during acceleration, your vehicle is definitely in need of service. There’s a chance your engine is making these noises due to using the wrong octane level of fuel, but better safe than sorry!
Hard Starting. If it takes you a few tries to get your engine started more than once within a short timeframe, you should head to an auto shop ASAP.
If you need to schedule a tune-up, inspection or anything else related to your vehicle’s health, be sure to get in touch with Myers Automotive via our online contact form – our ASE-certified technicians are here to answer any questions or concerns you may have!
Potholes: Menace to Drivability
With winter now at its peak here in Kansas, road conditions are currently at their most challenging. As temperatures oscillate between above freezing and below freezing the next little while, you’ll most likely begin seeing a menace potentially as dangerous as black ice or a blinding blizzard appear on our roads – potholes.
Potholes are created by water infiltrating asphalt pavement and its underlying soil via structural cracks and then freezing when the temperature drops, thereby making the cracks bigger. When the ice then melts, the hole remains and the asphalt surrounding it will collapse and a pothole will resultantly emerge.
In addition to being eyesores and road irritants, potholes can also cause serious (and expensive!) damage to your vehicle if you’re not careful. Here are the various vehicle components that can be affected by potholes in the coming months:
Suspension – Hitting a pothole can damage your vehicle’s shocks and struts which will in turn negatively impact your suspension. A wonky suspension will cause your vehicle to handle poorly and greatly increase the odds of an accident.
Alignment – Completely smooth roads are tough to come by this time of year and driving on an uneven surface, even at a reduced speed, can lead to your wheels/tires being pulled out of alignment. Potholes are an extreme example of an uneven surface, and if you hit several in a short amount of time your risk for rapid tire wear and wonky wheel alignment increases greatly.
Wheels/Tires – In addition to affecting your alignment which can gradually impact your tires’ tread, potholes are also a leading cause of flats and blowouts during the winter and spring months.
Even if you don’t think a pothole hit has had an impact on your vehicle, it’s better to be safe than sorry and have an ASE-certified technician perform a thorough inspection to make sure no damage has been done that can expand in scope over time. If you’re worried that your alignment or suspension have been affected by a pothole hit, be sure to get in touch with us to set up an inspection for your vehicle!
Improve Your Gas Mileage This Winter
Old Man Winter has definitely arrived in Kansas and before he makes his presence *too* obvious, here are a few tips on how you can save some money at the gas pump in the coming months:
Check your tires’ air pressure. Maintaining your tires’ air pressure at the factory-recommended levels can improve your vehicle’s fuel efficiency by an average of 3%.
Slow down! In addition to running the risk of getting a ticket, driving above the speed limit is a bad idea from both a safety standpoint and in terms of optimizing your gas mileage. Staying within a few MPH of the posted speed limit can significantly boost your vehicle’s MPG efficiency. Using cruise control is also recommended as it will cut down on how often your car accelerates.
Inspect your air filter. When your filter is dirty, not as much air makes its way to your engine which will make it harder for your car to accelerate. A clean air filter can save you as much as 10% on your fuel costs.
Lighten your load. Keeping fewer items in your vehicle both reduces clutter and saves you money at the pump since lighter cars are more fuel efficient. If you have 100 extra pounds of cargo in your car you’re costing yourself 1-2% in fuel efficiency which might not sound like much but can definitely add up over time.
The most effective and simplest way to optimize your gas mileage is to stay up to date on your vehicle’s preventive maintenance needs. Our ASE-Certified technicians have the tools and know-how to make sure your car is operating at its most efficient and not wasting any fuel by working too hard. Make an appointment online to set up a maintenance schedule that will keep your vehicle running at an optimal level year-round!
Why Brake Fluid is Critical
Your vehicle’s braking system is a complex assortment of sophisticated components and elements all working together to ensure you can stop when you need to and stay safely on the road. For this important system to work properly, it requires each and every one of its parts to be working in sync and running smoothly – a feat which is dependent upon your brake fluid being healthy and being able to perform its job.
Braking systems are hydraulic, meaning that they’re reliant upon liquids moving in a confined space under pressure to operate. Your brake fluid is ultimately what is responsible for your vehicle being able to come to a stop when you push down on the pedal next to the gas and bring a heavy machine moving at a quick rate to a halt.
Given the heavy workload and important task brake fluid is assigned, it’s not a surprise that it needs to be changed out periodically. Newer brake fluid both lubricates and protects your brake system’s components while aging/old fluid can become corrosive and pose a threat to various components. Typically, brake fluid becomes darker in shade as it ages but it’s best to consult an ASE-certified technician if you’re not sure what state your fluid is in to ensure your system is able to operate at an optimal level and prevent your brakes from failing.
At Myers Automotive, we’re able to provide a thorough inspection of your braking system and determine if your fluid needs to be flushed. You should bring your vehicle in to any of our four locations if you notice any issues whatsoever with your brakes, including a loss of pressure, grinding sounds of any kind, difficulty in stopping or a noticeable change in your brake pedal’s strength.
Be sure to get in touch with our ASE-certified technicians if you have any questions regarding your vehicle’s health!
Exhaust System 101
Your vehicle’s exhaust system is most likely one of those things you don’t think about – or even notice – until something goes wrong.
If your engine was 100% efficient, it would combust every ounce of fuel it’s supplied with and turn all of its gas into power. But because no engine is perfect, leftover fuel is left behind in the form of exhaust.
The exhaust system is made up of your vehicle’s catalytic converter, exhaust manifold, muffler, and pipes – all designed to move the waste from your engine out of the vehicle. Each component in the system has a specific job and is designed to safely rid dangerous chemicals and fumes from your engine:
Exhaust Manifold – This component connects to the engine and begins the flow of exhaust through the pipes and system components.
Catalytic Converter – Exhaust is, in simplest terms, pollution. The catalytic converter burns off and removes up to 90 percent of the toxins in your engine’s exhaust.
Muffler – The muffler and resonator address engine sound. Most work to reduce the noise to keep your car running as quietly as possible.
Pipes – Once it has journeyed through the above components, exhaust travels through remaining pipes to exit the vehicle. This process also cools the fumes.
Like every system in your vehicle, the pipes and exhaust components undergo wear and tear over time. The harsh chemicals in the exhaust itself can degrade the system’s interior while road debris and corrosion cab cause damage to its exterior.
Corrosion or loose connections can sometimes create leaks in your system. If you have a leak, you’ll likely know right away from warning signs like loud cracking noises or distinct odor emanation.
Be sure to contact our team of ASE-certified technicians by clicking HERE if you notice any issues with your exhaust system or if you have any other questions/concerns regarding your vehicle’s health!