Let’s talk about your suspension – you know, the system that connects your wheels to your vehicle, controls your handling and delivers a good ride as you cruise around. Your suspension is critical for proper steering, stopping and stability.
Hey, it’s a rough world out there – every time you hit a pothole, a bump or an object in the road, your suspension system has to absorb the impact and maintain control.
As you can imagine, your suspension has a lot of joints and pivot points that allow your wheels to move up and down over bumps and to turn as you steer. These parts include ball joints, tie rod ends, the pitman, idler arms and the control arm bushing. They simply wear out over time.
When a joint or other part is worn the suspension parts don’t fit together as tightly as they should. Handling and steering has a loose feel and you may hear strange noises. Your tires will wear unevenly because they’re bouncing down the road a little off kilter.
A loose joint has the effect of stressing other suspension components so they wear out faster than they should. Sometimes a suspension part can be bent from hitting a rock or curb or by slamming into a big pothole.
When your service advisor at our shop inspects your vehicle, he’ll look for signs of suspension problems: things like uneven tire wear, excessive play in suspension components and other visible damage. He can replace the worn or damaged parts and restore safe handling.
It’s a great idea to take care of these problems right away before they become more expensive to repair. And nobody in our town likes to see a tire that should last for several years get worn out in a matter of months because of a bad suspension part.
Let us help you keep your vehicle operating safely. And saving some money on repairs and tire replacement is a good thing too.
Steering is one of the things we take for granted in our vehicles. Let’s break it down into two areas: first, the power assist and second the actual parts that steer the vehicle.
Most people who are under 40 have never driven a truck or other vehicle without power steering. Most vehicles today have a hydraulic power steering pump that provides boost to help you steer. The pump is usually driven by the serpentine belt, but some newer vehicles have an electric pump. Some vehicles even have an electric motor that directly powers the steering.
The important thing to keep in mind is that these pumps and motors will eventually wear out and the hoses will start to leak. You can postpone that day by having a power steering service from time to time. We will drain the old fluid and replace it with fresh fluid. This removes water and contaminants that can corrode power steering parts. Ask your service advisor for the recommended change interval.
What about the mechanical steering parts? Is there anything you can do to maintain them? Yes. If any of the steering parts can be lubed, your technician will take care of that with a lube, oil and filter service. Other than that, just watch for signs that parts are wearing out. Things like loose steering and uneven tire wear.
Worn parts can be replaced to get you back on the road. Now, sometimes parts can be bent or damaged from hitting potholes, curbs or rocks. It’s important to take care of these problems early on. If you neglect them, the damaged parts stress other attached components which starts a chain reaction of damage.
Steering maintenance is pretty straight forward: Replace power steering fluid as recommended and fix worn or damaged parts right away. That’ll save you money in the long run.
Hey – we wouldn’t steer you wrong.
In our region, the days when you changed your spark plugs every couple of years has ended. Back in the day, spark plugs really did wear out that often. A couple of things are different now…
First, spark plugs are made of better materials that last longer and they’re designed better. The second reason why spark plugs used to have to be changed in trucks and other autos was that they were fouled up with carbon deposits. The deposits built up when fuel wasn’t burned completely. With modern engine management controls that just doesn’t happen as often.
Engine control computers precisely time when fuel is injected into the engine and when spark plugs fire. Unless something’s wrong, spark plugs just don’t foul like they used to.
Electricity from the battery goes into a coil that allows power to build up to anywhere from 12,000 to 45,000 volts, depending on the vehicle. The engine management computer tells the coil when to release the power to the spark plug. The electricity travels through a wire from the coil to the spark plug. At the tip of the plug, a spark jumps between two electrodes and ignites the gas in the combustion chamber.
Some engines have more than one coil. Coils wear out and need to be replaced occasionally. Also, spark plug wires can wear out and need to be replaced.
Modern engines used around here are delivering more power and better fuel economy all the time. That’s largely credited to fast engine control computers, advanced sensors, electronic ignition and improvements to the lowly spark plug.
It’ll be interesting to see where future developments take us. One last thought: it’s critically important to have the right kind of spark plug for your vehicle. Because engines are designed to run with different internal temperatures, spark plugs have different designs to work properly within those temperatures. Your service advisor at our shop will be able to get the right plugs for your vehicle. And he’ll be able to advise you on when you should replace your spark plugs as well.
Let’s talk shocks and struts.
Shock absorbers and struts last a long time and wear out pretty slowly for most trucks and other autos in our area. They’re easy to take for granted, but your shocks and struts do a very important job so you need to pay attention to them. They keep your tires on the road; and your tires are what connect your vehicle to the road and allow you to safely handle your car through turns, over bumps and even stop in time.
When your shocks and struts are worn, your tires bounce excessively over bumps on our local roads. Your vehicle will wallow through corners; your front-end will dive when you stop; and your rear-end will squat when you accelerate. All this hurts your ability to control your vehicle. And your ride just isn’t as comfortable.
Worn shocks or struts cause excessive tire wear so you’ll have to replace your tires sooner than you should. Worn shocks and struts also stresses other suspension and steering parts causing them to wear prematurely. Struts are actually a major structural component of the suspension system; there’s a lot riding on them.
Replacing worn shocks and struts saves money in the long run for our local West Park drivers – and of course you can’t really put a price on your safety and that of your passengers. We generally recommend replacing shocks and struts at 50,000 miles.
When it’s time for new shocks or struts, we’ve got you covered in our shop. We can give you back the ride and handling of a new vehicle. And if you have special needs we can help you there too. We have premium shocks and struts that’ll improve your performance. We can even help you with upgraded, heavy-duty shocks that’ll give you the confidence you need to handle those big towing or hauling jobs.
Experts recommend replacing all four shocks at the same time so that handling is even at each wheel.
If you need new shocks or struts, let us help you take care of this important safety service. You’ll feel better, and you’ll save money on tires and other suspension repairs down the road.
You know that long belt that snakes around the front of your engine? It’s called the serpentine belt. The serpentine belt is driven by the engine as it turns. It powers your alternator, air conditioning compressor, and power steering pump. On some vehicles it also runs the water pump, radiator fan, and power brakes. Sounds like a lot of important stuff doesn’t it?
If your serpentine belt were to break on one of our roads, your battery would die in a few miles. If it runs your fan or water pump, your engine could overheat. And steering and braking could be more difficult. Obviously, the best thing is to replace your serpentine belt before it breaks.
Check your owner’s manual for when it’s recommended that you replace your serpentine belt – or just ask your service advisor at our shop. He can inspect the belt as well to see if it’s in trouble.
You may have been told by a service advisor to look for cracks in your belt to see if it needs to be replaced. Of course, cracks are still a concern, but modern belt material doesn’t crack as often as old belts did. What we look for these days is the thickness of the belt. We have a special little tool that measures the depth of the grooves in the belt to see if it needs replacing.
A worn belt can slip or be misaligned, putting undue stress on the accessories it runs.
Now you can imagine it’s important for the belt to be tight, so there’s a tensioner pulley on your engine that puts pressure on the belt to keep it at the right tension. The spring on the tensioner wears out over time so we recommend replacing the tensioner pulley at the same time as the serpentine belt.
Replacing your serpentine belt on schedule, or when an inspection warrants it, will keep you from an unexpected breakdown.