Vision and safety; a strange combination of words probably only used in the automotive industry. Exactly what does that entail?  Well in my eye any part of an automobile that inhibits or does not protect the operator from the natural resources of their area is part of the vision and safety aspect of the vehicle.  The vision part of this statement is pretty much self-explanatory but the safety part is a double edge sword.  Safety not only pertains to the safety of the operator and the passengers but also the safety of on-coming traffic and above all the safety of pedestrians and motorcyclists.

windshield and wipers

As we talk about vision, of course, the first part of a vehicle that comes to mind is the windshield.  Proper care of the windshield is the first step in keeping your line of vision clear and unobstructed.  What is the proper care of your windshield; first of all, it means keeping it clean on both the inside and out.  That means cleaning it with a good foaming type glass cleaner and buffing it with a good polishing towel or cloth, the ultimate trick is to rub the outside of the windshield down with a clay bar, and then re-polish it with a good foaming cleaner.  It is highly advisable to install a protective treatment such as Rain X to help eliminate pests and debris from sticking to the glass.  Keeping the inside of the windshield clean is just as important as most vehicles in the sunbelt always have the windows closed and the  A/C on recirculate, which means that the same air and its contaminates are always in the passenger compartment.  This creates a film on the inside of the interior glass that is conducive to glare, especially during sunrises and sunsets.  Most people in S.W Florida live to watch our beautiful sunrises and sunsets yet that is the most dangerous time to be behind the wheel. Dusk is approaching and when do the headlights need to be turned on.  At sunrise, the sun is so bright and low on the horizon so that it is directly in the driver’s eyes especially if you are traveling due east.  Of course, everything we discuss about the windshield also pertains to all of the other windows in your vehicle except for the Rain X application, which should only be used on the windshield.  Cleaning the inside of your windshield with a Mr. Clean eraser sponge and then polishing it with a good foaming cleaner and a new microfiber towel is the best cleaning procedure. By using quality glass wax on the remainder of your glass should be protection enough.

The most detrimental damage done to windshields is done by the wiper blades that are being used.  Windshield wipers are one of those automotive enigmas that make shop owners like me crazy.  As a shop owner, I maintain that any part that is installed on a vehicle should be of the highest quality at the best price.  Unfortunately, sometimes trying to convince a client that the blades that we recommend are $30.00 apiece when the owner can run down to a discount store and buy the “SAME” thing for $4.00 a pair.

Take this with a grain of salt.  We just explained how to care for your windshield which by the way can run as high as $1000.00 to replace, and now you want to run a cheap rubber knife across its surface in order to save a couple of bucks.  A windshield wiper blade is a miniature squeegee.  Their efficiency depends on the material the blade is made of, which needs to be soft and pliable especially when it is exposed to the extreme heat in Florida.  It is also dependent on the contact points and pressures that are exerted on the windshield while the wipers are in use.  Today’s windshields are aerodynamic and have a different contour than the windshields of the past.

That means that the wiper blade must be able to conform to the shape of the windshield and provide even and constant pressure across the viewing area when in use, during different types of conditions.  When was the last time that you turned on the wipers and they hesitated to wipe right away or did you have to break them loose from the windshield, and when they did eventually work there was this huge area that either didn’t wipe or just plain smeared in your optimal viewing area?

That my friends are the difference between blades that retail for $4.95 a pair and $30.00 each.   With every service that we perform at Gregg’s, we monitor the condition of the blades, the condition of the rubber, and we install a glass treatment on the windshield, as your safety is our top priority.

Which wiper blade is the best?  Actually, that is a question that cannot be answered easily.  It depends on your budget, your vehicle, and how your vehicle is stored.  I can promise you this if you stay with name brands such as Anco, Trico, Rain X, Bosch, etc., and buy your blade by your vehicle’s specifics and not “universal” fits chances are you will not have any real issues.  We used ANCO’s contour blades as they seem to be the best of all worlds.  However, they have since been discontinued and we now recommend either Rain X or the new Bosch line. If you happen to be the proud owner of certain European vehicle’s we recommend OEM blades because we know that they work.

As usual, our concerns are for the safety of our clients, their families, and the thousands of others that share our roadways.



In beautiful South West Florida, the span of time from June 1st to November 30th is known for two very distinct and different seasons. The first being Hurricane season which I’m sure that everyone is tired of hearing about and secondly is the “Rainy Season.”

The rainy season basically is three to four months of sweltering temperatures with humidity levels of 100 or so percent. Almost every day the sky’s will open, and the rain will come sometimes on and off for an entire day and sometimes for minutes to hours of “Frog Drowning Torrential Rains,” so heavy that you can sometimes not even see the front of your car, much less the car in front of you. However, if you’re reading this in the weekly paper you already know all of this, if you’re reading online, take notes.

The first of the most important parts of your car when it’s raining like this both contain rubber. Small rubber first, your wiper blades. You should think of your wiper blades like dental visits, once every six months. During the dry season, the winter months, your wiper blades are parked on the windshield just baking onto the glass. With temperatures in the eighties and nineties every day these rubber inserts are practically melting onto the glass. And the few times that they are actually used they are dry and ragged from being dragged over a hot windshield that is loaded with bugs and or sand. By the time summer has come they are not worth the packaging that they came in. My advice is to change the blades on the winter solstice and again on the summer solstice, that June 21st and December 21st in case you didn’t remember. Also, and most important is when shopping for these blades you will come across multiple price levels, from $4.99 a pair to $30.00 each. Once again, I advise you purchase the most expensive of these blades but not too far the ladder. You’ll notice that the better the blade the more silicone is built into the wiping portion. You’ll also notice that the blades are flexible and contoured so that they will conform to the shape of the windshield giving you a streakless area of vision. One last note by installing a glass conditioner or wax such as Rain X or Propel the rain will sheet better making the blades able to glide over the windshield.

The largest part of the vehicle that is made of rubber is, of course, the tires. The tires are a wonderful invention of its own. We use them as insulators from Mother Earth the biggest ground of all. We expect them to give us a smooth rolling area and to grip the road for traction but to be able to slide slightly when in sand or debris yet to hold the road while driving at breakneck speeds in puddles of water. The design of the tread is unique onto itself so that while driving through water it can remove the water away from the tire contact yet allow the tire to grip the pavement to give the vehicle stability and sure-footedness so that the vehicle never leaves the surface of the road. That my friends called hydroplaning, one of the most unfriendly and scariest parts of driving because you no longer have control of anything. The vehicle is actually being carried on a sheet of water unable to correct itself. For you sailors out there, this is akin to being in a sailboat in high winds across the beam and trying to point into the wind without a keel. Scary isn’t it?

So the most important facts about tire condition, there must be at least 3/32’s of tread. If you don’t have a depth gauge use a dime and make sure that Roosevelt’s head is partially covered, the more the better. Make sure that your tires are inflated to the proper specifications, there should be a sticker on the driver’s door jamb to tell you what that number is. If you must guess anywhere between 32 and 35 psi is a good number. And most important is to make sure that the best tires are in the rear, because if the rear lifts up just a little it WILL hydroplane, and you will be doing loops down the interstate.

If you have any questions or thoughts, please do not hesitate to contact us at Gregg’s Automotive at 236 Tamiami Tr. Punta Gorda, 33950 or call us at 941-575-8868.

Remember this; it is always cheaper to maintain a vehicle than to repair it, ad it is always cheaper to repair a vehicle than to replace it.


Diagnostics: The Key to the Repair

Imagine not feeling well, no lets go past that, imagine feeling so sick that you are beside yourself. You’re at the point when you can’t decide whether to grin and bear it and call your physician and hope that you can be fit in the day’s schedule, or go straight to the emergency room. So you call your Doctor and you get a machine that tells you what steps to take and if this is a medical emergency to call 911.

For arguments sake let’s say that you went to the ER and when you get past all of the signing and insurance questions, what is the first thing that happens? A barrage of questions come at you while at the same time someone is checking your vitals. By vitals we mean your temperature, your blood pressure, your heart beat and pulse. Then and only then does the doctor venture to DIAGNOSE what he or she thinks is the problem. We’ve all been through this and rightfully it’s meant to protect the Docs from making a mistake and to keep us from dying.

Imagine now that after the whole process of getting to the emergency room, when you finally get to see a doctor that you can’t speak, or worse you’re unconscious. Imagine what everyone in that room goes through. There is no history, no answers to questions concerning where it hurts, or how long it has been hurting. How about if you have a faint or an irregular- heartbeat while they are examining you, do you think that an electrocardiogram or a crash cart would not be in very close proximately?

Okay, so this is what happened: you’re a diabetic and you lost track of your insulin shots and double dosed yourself. Your blood sugar plunged in to the 50’s, and you passed out. After being rushed into the emergency room all of this was quickly established by the staff and all they had to do was give you a cup of orange juice to bring you back to your old self.

When you get the bill are you outraged: maybe, but truth be known if any of those procedures were not performed or at least around that little mistake could have become fatal, so you bite the bullet and pay the bill. Before anyone goes into an outrage, you must understand that I am not comparing myself to a Doctor, nor do I proclaim to have to access life and death issues at a moment’s notice.

My best friend is a physician and we discuss all of these issues as we walk the miles we have accumulated. It’s good therapy for both of us and it keeps both of us sane. Here is the comparison, machines were invented by man, and the only machine that man could emulate was the human body.

Whenever a vehicle comes into the shop, we try to ask all of the right questions so that we can correctly DIAGNOSE the problem. Many times people feel that we are interrogating them and get inpatient; sometimes they have a ride waiting or are trying to get to work on time. Sometimes people feel that if they give us too much information that it will cost more money to repair the vehicle.

When a vehicle comes in on the hook (ambulance), and is not running (unconscious), we have to perform the same type of preliminary diagnostics. Does it have spark (heartbeat) how about fuel pressure (blood pressure), can it inhale (air intake) and exhale (exhaust), does it have codes in the power train computer (PCM) does the scanner need to be installed (electrocardiogram).

The whole point is that diagnostics take time, diagnostic equipment costs thousands of dollars, and the truth of the matter is the faster we can diagnose a vehicle especially using the newest and fastest equipment the less money it will cost you.

A 1998 Chevrolet Silverado has 28 different modules or computers all interconnected and communicating with each other. A 2005 BMW 7 Series has 54 modules, and like it or not many times they all have to be monitored. Many times we find problems that are not related to the reason that the vehicle is in the shop. This is like going to the doctor for a cold and then being told that you have diabetes or worse cancer, or a heart murmur.

Its news that nobody wants to hear but doctors are taught and required to inform you about them. A well trained technician and a responsible shop are required only by their devotion to our chosen industry and their integrity. Unfortunately this is called “UPSELLING” but if you can just look at it logically it is really called “PREVENTION “.

Gregg’s Automotive is now in the process of developing detailed questioners that can be sent to all of our clients electronically that can be filled out by you in the comfort of your own home and either brought in with your vehicle or sent back to us electronically. This way there is NO interrogation, no stress trying to remember every little detail. This saves us time and time saved is money saved.

We believe that we are the first shop to be embracing this new technology, and we are proud to be on the cutting edge.

So as we close this article once again I have to reiterate:




Gregg’s Automotive Maintenance & Repair Center

236 S. Tamiami Tr.
Punta Gorda, Fl. 33950
Auto Repair, A/C Repair, Oil Change, Brake Repair & Transmission Services

Smart Link: Automatic Maintenance Reminders

Smart link, what an intrinsically different name. Is it normally smart or must it be programmed to be smart? Just how smart is it or can it be? Will it infringe upon your privacy or worse yet will it open up your life and identity to cyberspace where anyone can pry into your life?

Actually it’s none of the above! You have the final say in the programming, it’s many features and who it will contact. As most folks are aware, every vehicle manufactured after 1996 is equipped with what is known in the industry as an ALDL. That acronym stands for Assembly Line Diagnostic Link.

This means that virtually every option, module, servo, and sensors are connected to this plug mounted under your dash. You might wonder how a simple 16 wire plug can access so much information.

How Smart Link Works

Well this is the answer; through the power of electronics, multiplexing, buss lines, and even optic fiber, most every act, decision and results of those decisions are available through this plug. This is the fascinating part, all of this information is available to anyone who wishes to invest into the equipment to gather and make this information viable and understandable. Obviously these little “code readers” that are made available in box stores or on-line only scratch the surface of the information that is available.

This is the first question that should be asked when allowing anyone to “plug in” to their vehicle. The first thing that you should know is does your service provider have the equipment to not only read the “generic” information as mandated by the federal government, or can they access the manufacturers information which requires a much more sophisticated piece of equipment.

Our Smart Link Scanners

Here at Gregg’s we have in our possession two $11,000.00 Snap On scanners as well as a European based scanner, a MATCO scanner that is up to date to 2010, and our old standby the “Red Brick” which we use for pre 1996 vehicles. Delphi Company, which by the way was the most contributing force in the design and development of “ONSTAR” is the owner and developer of this product.

Here are some of the most prominent features of this device. Once it is installed and programmed, you as the owner of your vehicle never have to touch it, look at it, or speak to it. The electronics within it actually speaks to a secure Global Positioning System most commonly described as a GPS, and a secure and protected set of servers.

This allows you and or your preferred service facility to receive alerts going on within your vehicle. This is live information so as it is being transmitted to the server it is also going to you, the owner of the vehicle and your service provider without any interaction by the driver no matter where they are, either two blocks or two states or time zones away.

This basically means that no matter where the vehicle is if “an event” occurs or a check engine light illuminates there is no question as to what the problem is or if it is ok to continue driving.

Service & Maintenance Reminders

Service and maintenance reminders can be programmed and be accessed through intelligent online portals allowing you the owner to make the necessary scheduling for preventive maintenance or repairs or to allow the portal to automatically to make those recommendations for service based solely on the way you drive your vehicle, by time, mileage or a combination of both.

Automatic Appointment Setting

This means that you never have to remember when maintenance is due the portal remembers it for you alerts you and allows you to forward that information to your service provider and make the appointment if you so desire it. You are always in control!

Set Boundaries for Teen Drivers

Family safety! For those of you that still have a teenager driving your personal vehicles or even their own, or conversely those of you that have older parents driving. Geographic boundaries, curfews, speed limits can be set up within the portal. If these boundaries are violated ( a tough but necessary word) you as parents are notified by a text message or e-mail automatically. As far as dealing with our older population we see those silver alerts on the highway all of the time.

By being alerted immediately, being forced to find lost relatives, is easier as the police can be alerted as soon as that boundary has been breached, instead of hours after we realize that they have not made it home. As an added feature there is a “last known location” alert which indicates where the vehicle was when it was last shut down or started.

Fleet & Business Owner Benefits

Fleet owners can use these options to maintain and monitor their fleets for services or maintenance, driver’s actions and routes, all of which may present insurance discounts to you the owner.

Smart Link Installation Costs

Now here comes the $64.00 question? As I originally promised for the first five takers my cost is your cost. The device itself cost $180.00. Installation and programming by me will be free. The monthly fee to access all of this information available to consumers is $9.99 a month or 14.99 for the premium plan. Fleet plans start at $14.99 for the basic plan, $19.99 for the “plus” plan and $24.99 for the “Premium” plan.

As you can see there are no hidden clauses or options the price sheets are always available as are the differences between each plan. This is a win-win opportunity that will not last forever and as of right now we are the only provider in Charlotte County willing to make this available.



Gregg’s Automotive Maintenance & Repair Center

236 S. Tamiami Tr.
Punta Gorda, Fl. 33950
Auto Repair, A/C Repair, Oil Change, Brake Repair & Transmission Services

Techniques to Preserve your A.B.S. Brake System

Antilock Braking System ABS

Flush your Brakes Hydraulic System Every 2 years

ABS, Traction Control, red brake lights, orange triangles or orange ABS lamps; every late model vehicle has them; in the privacy of brakes classes where everyone is a wrench we commonly referred to these warning lamps as the “check money lamp.”

Without becoming extremely technical and boring, I will attempt very simply to explain the concepts of these systems and then more importantly explain how easily they can be maintained and kept functional, savings you thousands of dollars in repairs.

To put it very simply ABS this really stands for Anti-lock Brake System, which keeps the rear brakes from locking up and putting you into a rear skid condition. Unbeknownst to most, when those rear brakes lock up, the rear wheels actually rise up off of the road surface losing the benefit of friction which actually makes the vehicle speedup.

Types of A.B.S. Systems

Originally the first types of ABS systems were called single channel systems where upon the wheel sensor was in the rear differential housing or in the transmission rear extension housing. By monitoring the speed of the drive shaft, the ABS controller could control of the rear brakes of the vehicle as a single unit.

A.B.S. Controllers

With the introduction of independent suspensions it became obvious that each wheel will have to be controlled independently. By installing a speed sensor on each rear wheel, the ABS controller would be able to monitor each of the rear wheels independently. This was the beginning of two channel ABS systems. Shortly after many trucks that were straight axle units came into service with 3 channel ABS systems which had a wheel speed sensor on each front wheel and a single sensor in the rear differential.

4 Channel A.B.S. Brakes

Finally we have 4 channel ABS. which has a speed sensor on each wheel. This system has developed into a most functional system which not only can stop a lock up situation, but also a wheel that has lost traction on acceleration, monitors and becomes a redundant odometer, and cruise control and air bag confirmation point.
Antilock brakes monitor the rotational speed of every tire when the brakes are applied.

If and when one or multiple wheels slow down far faster than the others the ABS controller then releases the brake pressure to each of these wheels. This is done by preventing the fluid pressure to each of these wheels for micro seconds at a time allowing the locked up wheel or wheels to momentarily turn so as to be able to control the braking event.

This allows the driver to have a controlled yet quick braking event, without losing control of the vehicle. The only difference to the driver is that they would feel a rapidly pulsating brake pedal as the skid is kept under control. When the wheel speeds normalize the pulsation goes away.

Traction Control is Antilock in Reverse

Traction control is Antilock in reverse. When the controller senses that upon acceleration one or more wheels is turning faster than designed the Traction Control /ABS controller actually applies the brakes to slow those wheels down. So for all of you old gear heads “leaving rubber” will never happen again.

Redundant Monitoring

As so far as the redundant monitoring for the speedometer, cruise control and air bags, just think of it in this vein. As the transmission is running and sending data to the transmission control module, if this information becomes corrupted the Powertrain Control Module can refer back to the ABS controller to decide if the vehicle or trans control system is at fault.

Likewise if the airbag impact sensor registers an impact the PCM will look back to the trans control for a rapid deceleration , the ABS system for a rapidly slowing wheel speeds or even lock ups, and finally to see if the brake lights are on before it will detonate the air bag. This and more happens in less than 500micro seconds.

Now that we can understand why it works I can tell you how it works. It’s all pretty simple; built within the circuitry is an external pump, which takes control away from the driver’s foot. It sends or removes pressure to the ABS control unit’s hydraulic circuit. Inside this controller are a series of “dithering” valves and solenoids that have the ability to turn on or off in as many times as 32 times a second. This valving is what applies or removes the brake pressure to the wheels.

Given the complexity of these systems there are only 2 things that have the ability to run through these components; they are brake fluid and electrons!

The average cost of the hydraulic portion of the controller is usually between $1500.00 to $2500.00. The electronic portions of the controllers are pretty stable at about $900.00 plus labor and diagnostic testing.

Flush your Brakes Hydraulic System

Preventively the cost of flushing your brakes hydraulic system once every 2 years is about $126.00 and replacing your battery before it goes dead is about $175.00. So when your service provider says that you should have your brake fluid flushed every 2 years no matter how many miles have been driven think of this “$126.00 or $1200.00.


Don’t forget that during the month of October we are working in conjunction with WAGNER BRAKES and we are providing front or rear pads or shoes at no cost to you the consumer during our PUTTING THE BRAKES ON AUTISM campaign after which we will donate 10% of all the brake work we provide to HARBOUR HEIGHTS CHARITIES for all of the great work they do for the Autistic children in this county.



Gregg’s Automotive Maintenance & Repair Center

236 S. Tamiami Tr.
Punta Gorda, Fl. 33950
Auto Repair, A/C Repair, Oil Change, Brake Repair & Transmission Services

The Story Behind Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS)

TPMS, aside from the last three letters being the scourge of every male on the face of the earth, this is one of the most misunderstood and misaligned function on today’s vehicles.

Honestly speaking this function was designed and has succeeded to save thousands of lives, merely by keeping tires inflated to their proper amounts. TPMS stands for Tire Pressure Monitoring System. To most it’s that orange lamp on the dash that looks like a tire with an explanation point in the middle.

Flashback to the middle to late nineties, Ford and Firestone were in the middle of a finger pointing session about who was to blame for the 100 plus deaths due to Explorer roll overs. Of course Ford blamed Firestone for the tire construction as Firestone blamed Ford for not having a more defined center of gravity.

TPMS sensor and component

TPMS sensor and component

As a service technician, and as a father, after the first few roll overs I blame the drivers and owners for not either replacing those tires before the Ford transfer campaign, or not being hyper vigilant at monitoring tire pressures every day. Because of this the government felt that they had to take control of yet one more thing in our lives.

Whether that was a good thing or bad is not the point, the point is that every time we get behind the wheel of a vehicle we are in charge of a 3000 pound or heavier killing machine. And not only do we put ourselves in jeopardy but also the lives of so many innocent people that we have contact with.

What exactly is a tire pressure monitor? Basically it’s a battery powered sensor that can monitor the pressure and temperature of the environment inside the tire. These sensors take these measurements and then change them into a signal that can be transmitted to the tire pressure control module and then sent to the dash or instrument panel that either turns on a light or can actually broadcast the position temperature and pressure of said tire.

As complex as these sensors are, their cost is low as compared to most Bluetooth devises. Expect the average cost to be in the $130.00-160.00 area. Because these sensors are completely separate from each other yet work in unison there are certain failures that may be connected or singular in repairs. Obviously if there is a failure within the control module then the information is either faulty or non-existent. This is truly a “garbage in, garbage out” scenario. If one of the sensors fail for any reason with the exception of battery failure usually means a single sensor replacement.

Low Pressure Tire Light

Low Pressure Tire Light

The engineers with their uncanny sense of “lets hang nine things on a single component that is held on with 2 bolts attitude” completely reversed themselves and noting that the weak link is the battery, devised a system that allows the battery to turn off until the tires start to turn that allows them to “wake up”. Some vehicles have sensors in the spare tire and by rights and design they should never be monitored but out in the field we have found that theory to be erroneous.

Tips for Car Sensor Maintenance and Care

This being a maintenance founded article I feel the necessity to give you tips on how to be proactive in the maintenance and care of the four or five sensors on your vehicle.

1. If you sensors do not have valve covers on them get a set and put them on.
2. Before you decide to crank down on that valve stem, TPMS sensors need to be torqued to a specified limit with a special tool.
3. Try not to hit curbs or abutments damaging the tire or the wheel.
4. Do not ignore the proper inflation parameters of the vehicle. They are usually on the driver’s door pillar, and remember if you are underinflated or over inflated the light will still come on. If you change tire sizes or wheel sizes remember to have your on board computer re flashed to compensate, as this will not only affect the tire pressures, ABS operation and speedometer accuracy.
5. Sensors do not like heat, debris or water, all of which are inside of every tire, unless you run your tires with nitrogen as I do and often tell others to.

Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Tire Pressure Monitoring System

The bottom line is as such; TPMS systems provide a measure of safety when used as designed; they promote better tire wear and fuel economy as side effects which save you money. The down side is if you start to realize that there is a battery issue, it is most prudent to bite the bullet and replace all four, and that damn annoying orange light is always on.


Gregg’s Automotive Maintenance & Repair Center

236 S. Tamiami Tr.
Punta Gorda, Fl. 33950
Auto Repair, A/C Repair, Oil Change, Brake Repair & Transmission Services

A View from the Pumps: Automotive Cooling Systems Part 2

old style radiatorsteaming

Automotive Colling Systems

After last weeks over simplification of the cooling system, this week’s goal is to explain how many systems actually rely on the cooling system to work properly. Almost every system in the power train, that uses any kind of fluid or gas to operate is totally reliant on the engines ability to generate, maintain and control the heat generated by the internal combustion in the bowels of the engine. You might be asking just how many systems are involved.

Let’s count:

1. Obviously there is the heater system, not that we use it very often down here.
2. The air conditioning system which we use all the time down here.
3. The transmission, failure here can cost you thousands of dollars.
4. The oil lubrication system, which can also cost you thousands of dollars.
5. The power steering system.

Oil Based Systems

I think that in the essence of simplicity we’ll address the oil based systems ie. the engine oil, transmission fluid and the power steering fluid first. It’s not a commonly known fact that the temperature of the engine oil, transmission fluid and power steering fluid all have to be within 10% of each other at all times. At start up that is as little as 8 degrees, and only as high as 22 degrees when everything is up and running at its optimum. MATH TIME!!!!! What is the optimum temperature of today’s’ engine? Answer: 227 degrees. What is the difference between 211 and 212 degrees, the physics of fluid and steam, how do we reach and maintain 227 degrees as the norm? Pressure and additives.

Bad radiator cap images

Oils Have a Double Job

Oils have a double job in most instances it’s used as a lubricant and a cooling agent to help the exchange of heat. Oils do not like two things, excessive heat or excessive cold. This is why all of you folks from Canada, Upper Michigan and Wisconsin, plug in block heaters at night. You might have thought it was so that the coolant wouldn’t freeze and blow out those expansion plugs (most commonly known as freeze out plugs). But in all reality it is to keep that delicate balance between all of these fluids in check. When oils get cold they tend to gel or wax, ask any old-time trucker how many times he has had to change a fuel filter because of paraffin. But when these same oils get overheated they start to oxidize. Oxidation makes oils lose their lubricity. That is: that they become less slippery. Oxidized oils make seals turn hard, so hard in fact that they can shave the inside of the bores inside of steering racks and master cylinder bores, causing internal pressure losses which is the primary source of failure in those two components.

Engine oil on the other hand, not only loses its lubricity, but much worse, it turns to sludge. Sludge in an engine is death! There is no two ways about it; a sludge up engine will cause massive amounts of wear and damage internally, so that the only way to revive those vehicles is by engine replacement or overhaul. Those are some pretty stiff prices to pay when all you had to do was to monitor your vehicle’s cooling system’s operation and performance. Almost every radiator in today’s vehicles has engine oil and a transmission fluid cooler built right into the radiator. Most power steering systems have an external cooler mounted either in front of the condenser or behind the radiator to cool that fluid radiantly (more physics).

checking for combustion gasses or PH images
The next two operations that deal with the cooling system even on a more one on one basis is heating and air conditioning, otherwise known as HVAC, unless you are fortunate enough to own an upper end vehicle where upon its known as “COMFORT CONTROLS”.

Having Enough Cooling System Fluid

It’s very obvious that if you don’t have enough fluid in your cooling system you will never have heat. Remember those cold mornings when you had to race the engine to 2500 rpms to get even a little heat to clear your windshield? BUT: we live in sunny South West Florida, we don’t need no heat! Oh but we do. Because today’s’ systems use blend doors to control the hot to cold relationship unlike the heater control valve from the old times. Back then you were either sweating or freezing using the window to either cool down or warm up as we motored about. In some locales using the windows to control the heating or cooling of the passenger compartment was referred to as 260 air.

Climate Control

That is two windows open at 60 miles per hour. Now we have climate control, so we can fill our cabin areas with the right amount of heat and cold to have the passenger compartment stay at a wonderful 74 degrees. In front of the radiator lays the air conditioning condenser. The condenser is really a radiator that is built to maintain pressures as high as 500psi, as opposed to the 21psi that radiators hold. The condenser does one thing, it condenses a high pressure super-heated gas (Freon) into a high pressure super-heated liquid (there’s that damn physics again) by cooling it down. And how do you suppose that is accomplished? Why of course it’s the radiator which is the major player of the cooling system.

Next Week

Next week we’ll talk about how the cooling system is controlled and how so much of it can be accomplished by maintaining the cooling system and its various components.



Gregg’s Automotive Maintenance & Repair Center

236 S. Tamiami Tr.
Punta Gorda, Fl. 33950


Famous Check Engine Light and other Ignored Warning Lights


What is your Dashboard IQ?

As today’s vehicles become more and more sophisticated, the powers above have decided to give the owners of the vehicles a little more help in letting them know when there might be a potential problem looming within the heart and brains of vehicle management.

Why do we have Dashboard Warning Lights?

These are the array of dash lights that come on and off when any of the vehicles control modules see something that is just not right. Because of the new computers ability to “think” vehicle will continue to run when these issues pop up. This process is called functionality and rationality. Basically what this means is that if one of the many modules sees something that is not quite right immediately talks to all of the other control modules and asks the same question. Is everything all right with all of your system checks? If all of the modules reply yes everything looks good then the main processor will substitute a known good value in the offending system and then turn on a dash light.

Today’s Vehicles have Many Warning Lights

Back in the day these lights were known as idiot lights, as if you waited for one of those lights to come on before you serviced your vehicle then the name applied to the owner. Way back then there were only a few lights and they were all red. Today’s vehicles have a multitude of warning lamps and they are pretty much color coded.

Check Engine Light

We all have had that infamous “check engine light” come on, and been ignored. This lamp is always yellow as it is usually an emission controlled device that has or is failing. If however it starts flashing at you this is your clue that this failure is capable of damaging your catalytic converter. Some vehicles will have a picture of an engine or will state “check engine”. Ignoring this light as so many people do can seriously affect your fuel economy. But more importantly it hides the fact that there might be other symptoms that can be affecting the performance and safety of your vehicle.

Low Tire Pressure Warning

The second most ignored light the low tire pressure lamp. This is also yellow. Once again it there to tell you that there is a problem with either the tire pressures or the sensors with in the wheel. Ask Ford how many millions of dollars it cost them because of roll overs.

Seat Belt Warning Light

The seat belt lamp is usually a picture of a body with a shoulder strap and is red. This means that if you’re not wearing it and have a wreck you’ll probably die. Right next to the seat belt light is also another red light that has a body strapped in a seat with a circle right in front of him. That is your air bag light or SIR. What you really need to understand about this is if this light is on and you are involved in an accident the air bag WILL NOT deploy. Once again this is just another way to die.

ABS Warning Light

Next are the brake and ABS lamps. Unfortunately the red brake lamp is used in a multifunctional way. That same lamp will illuminate when the hand brake is applied, the brakes fluid is low, or when there is a pressure differential issue in the hydraulic system of which is the core of the braking system. If this light comes on when you are driving, great care should be exercised as brake failure could be imminent. A good rule of thumb for treating warning lamps is if a red light comes on STOP driving as soon as it is safe. This means safely going over to the shoulder and stopping, not driving the last couple of miles to home or to the next exit on the interstate. Not following this rule could cost you your life or destroy your car.

Yellow Lights are a Warning

The ABS lamp is always yellow; once again it’s a warning that something is not right. When this lamp is lit you will not have any Antilock Brake function and in some cases no skid control. If you have a European vehicle there is a circle with two half circles around it. This is a low brake pad indicator that measures the thickness of the brake pads. When this is on it means that you need brakes.

Dangerous Red Oil Light

The last two lamps that I want to talk about are always red. One is an oil can, and the other is a red thermometer. These are two very important lamps and are RED for a reason. The oil can is low oil pressure. This could be from lack of oil to a clogged oil filter to a failed oil pump. Failure to stop driving whenever this lamp comes on will cost you an engine. The red hot thermometer is an overheating warning. Once again it means STOP!

The Danger of Driving with Warning Lights on

Driving with this lamp on for even a short while can do extensive damage to not only the engine but your transmission also. I have seen engines get so hot that they actually caused fires under the hood. That’s never a pretty sight. If you see a picture of a radiator that is yellow then that is a low coolant level lamp. There is a problem looming and it’s just a matter of time before it turns red.


Gregg’s Automotive Maintenance & Repair Center

236 S. Tamiami Tr.
Punta Gorda, Fl. 33950

Keeping Your Car's Ventilation System Clean

It used to be that cars and trucks had separate fresh air intakes that allowed air to pass directly from the front of the vehicle to the passenger compartment. Today, other than through windows, there is usually only one way for fresh air to enter your car–through the auto ventilation system, which includes
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9 Tips To Extend the Life of Your Car

Care and Maintenance Tips Keep Your Car Running in Top-Notch Condition

We’ve compiled our best expert advice, surprising tricks, and car care tips to prolong the life of your automobile!

1. Be patient during the break-in period

You’ve bought your dream car and now you want to make it last at long as possible in top condition. Here are some things to remember as you pull it out of the dealer’s lot:

  • During the break-in period, typically the first 1,000 miles (1,600 km), keep your speed under 55 mph (88 kpm) or to the speed recommended by your car’s manufacturer.
  • Avoid heavy loads on the drive train, such as towing trailers, and loading the roof rack or trunk with heavy construction materials.
  • Do not allow your new car to idle for long periods — this is good advice for the life of your car, but especially during breakin. The oil pressure generated by doing so may not be sending oil to every part of your engine.
  • Use only light to medium acceleration, keeping the engine rpms below 3,000 for the first few hours of driving.

2. Drive with care everyday

Being car considerate shouldn’t stop after the break-in. Drive with care every day and your car will reward you with longer intervals without repair.

  • Do not race your car’s engine during start-up.This is a quick way to add years of wear to your engine, especially if it’s cold outside.
  • Accelerate slowly when you begin your drive.The most wear to the engine and drive train occurs in the first ten to twenty minutes of operation.
  • Warming the engine by letting it idle in the driveway is not a smart idea.The engine doesn’t operate at its peak temperature, resulting in incomplete fuel combustion, soot deposits on cylinder walls, oil contamination, and ultimately damaged components.
  • Put less strain on your engine and automatic transmission by shifting to neutral at red lights. Otherwise, the engine is still working to push the car even while it’s stopped.
  • Avoid driving at high speeds and accelerating quickly, especially when it’s very hot or very cold outside. Such driving behavior will result in more frequent repairs.
  • Extend the life of your tires with careful driving. Observe posted speed limits. Avoid fast starts, stops, and turns. Avoid potholes and objects on the road. Don’t run over curbs or hit the tire against the curb when parking. And, of course, don’t burn rubber.
  • When turning your steering wheel, don’t hold it in an extreme right or left position for more than a few seconds. Doing so can damage the power-steering pump.
  • Consolidate your short driving trips. Most of the wear and tear — as well as the pollution your car generates — takes place in the first few minutes of driving. Doing several errands at once, during low traffic hours if possible, will keep your engine happier longer.

3. Buy gas at reputable service stations

Ask whether the gas you buy is filtered at the pump and if the station has a policy about changing the pump filters regularly. If you get a song and dance, find another gas station. Some stations don’t have pump filters, making you more vulnerable to dirty gasoline. Other stations may not mix alcohol and fuel properly — or worse, water down their product. Find a station you trust and stick to it.

4. Don’t fill up if you see the tanker

If you happen to see a gasoline tanker filling the tanks at your local gas station, come back another day or go to a different station. As the station’s underground tanks are being filled, the turbulence can stir up sediment. Sediment in your gas can clog fuel filters and fuel injectors, causing poor performance and possibly necessitating repairs.

5. Go easy when you’re stuck

When stuck in mud or snow, don’t make the problem worse by damaging an expensive component. Gently rocking in an attempt to free the car is fine. But if it looks as though you’re really stuck, don’t keep at it. Throwing your car from forward to reverse repeatedly, as well as spinning tires at high speeds, can generate lots of heat and spell trouble for transmissions, clutches, and differentials. It may be cheaper in the long run to call the tow truck rather than risk big repair bills down the road. It’s a good idea to carry a traction aid in the trunk, such as sand, gravel, or cat litter.

6. Lighten up your key chain

Does your car key share a chain with a dozen or more other keys? That’s a pretty heavy load hanging off the car key when it’s in the ignition.The weight, combined with bouncing while you drive, can wear out the tumblers inside the ignition and eventually lead to ignition switch failure.To add years of service to your ignition switch, purchase a lightweight key chain that allows you to separate your ignition key from the others. Drive with only the ignition key in your ignition. If your ignition key “sticks” when you try to turn on the car, it’s a warning that your ignition switch is about to fail. Replace it before you get stranded.

7. Choose a good car insurer

Sometimes, no matter how careful you are, disaster inevitably strikes — typically in the form of an accident. Make sure that your car will be repaired to the best possible standard by finding an insurer that will pay for parts from the original manufacturer and guarantee the repairs it authorizes.

8. Keep an auto log

Keep a pad and pencil in the glove compartment and use them to record your gas fill-ups and mileage. If you notice that your gas mileage worsens, mention it to your service man. It may be an early warning sign that something is wrong with your car.

9. Preserve your car during long-term storage

If you are not going to use your car for more than a month, store it properly to prevent unnecessary damage and repairs upon your return.

  • Fill the gas tank to help prevent condensation from accumulating in the gas tank. Add a fuel stabilizer and drive the car around a bit to distribute the additive to engine parts.
  • Wash and wax the car thoroughly to protect the finish.
  • Place a vapor barrier on your garage floor. A 4-mil polyethylene drop cloth will do.
  • Disengage the parking brake to help avoid brake corrosion.
  • Put the car on jack stands to take the weight of the vehicle off the wheels and tires.
  • Disconnect and remove the battery to keep it from draining. Place the battery on a trickletype charger. Or periodically drain the battery, using a small light bulb, and then recharge it with a low-volt charger.
  • Plug the tailpipe with a rag to prevent moist air from infiltrating into it.