COMING HOME

It’s almost November and our friends and neighbors are slowly coming back home in drips and drabs. The big thing is that, as they come home, they are finding hurricane damage, new stop lights, and round abouts.


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TIS THE SEASON

Now that I’ve gotten your attention, I guess the first question that would come to your mind is; is this a repeat story or a typo? Well, it’s neither, it is the time of the season, which season you might ask, well let’s pick some.

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MAKING SENSE OF ENGINE SENSORS

Do you remember Campbells Alphabet Soup when you were younger? Remember trying to make words out of all the letters in the bowl before you ate them? It was fun then, now did you ever in your wildest dreams think that talking to your service provider would be like looking in that bowl of alphabet soup? I would quite honestly venture to say that the answer is a resounding NO!

Automotive Engine Sensors

Automotive Engine Sensors

Let’s start with the most basic acronyms what they really stand for and just how important they are.

  • PCM: aka ECM or ECU. (the powertrain control module or engine control unit) This is the grand poohbah of all control units. It is the last word in every function in the automotive hierarchy. Every other module eventually reports to him, before making any decision.
  • O2 Sensor: (oxygen sensor) Of all the sensors in the engine, this is probably the least understood and has the highest failure rate. This sensor “reads” the amount of oxygen in the exhaust stream of the engine. Too much oxygen means that the engine is running too lean and not enough oxygen means that the engine is too rich. This sensor reports directly to the PCM and its information helps the PCM to control the fuel trim so that the engine runs at its optimum air fuel ratio. Back in the 80’s there was one of these on every vehicle. Since 1996 and the advent of OBDII, (second generation of on board diagnostics) every four cylinder has a minimum of 2 and any “V” engine has a minimum of 4. Extended length vans have 6.
  • MAP or MAF sensors: While these two sensors are complete different in design and operation, they have the same function. They are tasked with reporting to the PCM just how much air is being ingested into the engine, so that the PCM can accurately decide just how much fuel to mix with it in the combustion chamber. The MAF sensor which stands for MASS AIR FLOW, measures just how much air is going into the engine by monitoring the temperature and speed of the air that passes over it. It is usually mounted very close to the air filter with either 3 or 5 wires. The MAP sensor which is the MANIFOLD ABSOLUTE PRESSURE sensor, senses the amount of lack of vacuum in the intake manifold. Manifold vacuum is at its highest when cruising or decelerating signifying the least demand for fuel. When the throttle plates open and the manifold vacuum disappears, it tells the PCM that the vehicle is accelerating and has a high demand for fuel. Obviously the lower the manifold vacuum the higher the fuel demand is.
  • ECTS and MAT sensors. Both sensors are nothing but temperature sensors. ECT monitors the temperature of the of the engine coolant and the MAT measures the temperature of the air in the intake manifold. These report to the PCM the actual temperature of the engine. The PCM uses this information to know if this is a cold start situation and if it should “electronically set the choke” or to understand if each startup can be used as a drive cycle. Just a hint to you do it yourselfers out there, the air temperature, coolant temperature and oil and transmission fluid temperatures MUST be within 10-15 degrees of each other on a cold engine. (a cold engine signifies that it has not been running for at least 6-8 hours).
  • TPS: throttle position sensor. This sensor reports to the PCM just how wide the throttle plates are open, or to put simply, just how far you’re pressing down on the accelerator. This makes the phrase pedal to the metal make sense now.

These are the most remarked about sensors and usually the most misunderstood. Our next article will continue about these and other sensors that control how your vehicle runs.



PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE REDUCES THE COST OF OWNERSHIP.
MAINTENANCE STARTS AT MILE 00001

Gregg’s Automotive Maintenance & Repair Center

236 S. Tamiami Tr.
Punta Gorda, Fl. 33950
941-575-8868
www.greggsauto.net
Auto Repair, A/C Repair, Oil Change, Brake Repair & Transmission Services

REPAIROPHOBIA: FEAR OF AUTO REPAIRS

Let me ask this question, why is it that most people are more afraid of bringing in their vehicle for repairs than going or the dentist, or worse going to a lawyer? Where has, this fear come from and why is it so rampant?

Has every person that has ever brought a vehicle in for service been ripped off or overcharged?

Let’s go one better, has everyone who has ever had an air conditioning tech at their home, always been told that their system is antiquated and needs to be replaced?

Greggs Automotive – Punta Gorda, Florida

The reason my friends is the media. In their search for big headlines and front page scandals they send out sting teams to shops with rigged cars and ask for instant diagnosis. Many times, they won’t leave that vehicle for any length of time and if an unsuspecting tech or business owner make the mistake of making a blanket statement or misdiagnosing said vehicle he is automatically labeled as a thief.

Growing up in this business through many generations I learned the fears. In the late fifties and early sixties, we wore tiny blades on our rings in in our pockets so that we could cut the belts of vehicles as we checked their oil at the pumps.

Now I’m showing my age, when was the last time anyone checked your oil while you were getting fuel? For that matter when was the last time anyone pumped your fuel for you? Then there was the empty oil can scare, we had empty oil cans placed in the oil rack so when we checked your oil we could sell you an empty can and pocket all that big money.

Why is it that the public is always being warned about unnecessary repairs or services by people that have absolutely no idea what services are needed to maintain an efficient running vehicle? The technology changes and shifts that have come to this industry is the last ten years has been crazy.

Trying to keep up with these changes is even crazier. Have you asked your doctor how many continuing education classes they have gone to in the last year? I know how many my doctor has gone to. Ask me how many hours a year I go to update classes and pay for my employees to attend and I’ll tell you over a hundred. Usually closer to two hundred. When was the last time you sat, and read that novel in your glove compartment, called your owner’s manual? There is a wealth of information in it.

I know because I read them all the time, because there is no way in hell that I can remember every nuance and information for every vehicle that we see.

Owning a vehicle has become almost a job and no longer a privilege, they have become increasingly more expensive and the average ownership has become close to 12 years.

This was unheard of a decade ago. Have the quality and efficiency improved? Of course, therefore periodic maintenance and services are even more important.

The truth of the matter is that 66% of consumers that either own or lease a vehicle THINK that they have been ripped off by a repair facility.

38% of consumers feel that they cannot trust their mechanics.

These are crazy numbers, but they all boil down to a single word. “TRUST”. If you can’t trust the person or the shop that is working on your vehicle, then you need to find someone that you can trust. 41% of consumers polled said that they would rather do their taxes than get their car fixed, and 72% said that the high cost of repairs makes them anxious.

Repairs WILL always cost more than maintenance! Repairs that are put off for any reason will ALWAYS cost more when they are finally addressed.

Social media has darkened this along with many other industries. Buying parts from “stores” without any brick and mortar can always undersell conventional stores that actually stock and have trained personal to explain how parts need to be installed. You Tube videos show condensed versions of repairs and time lapse photography is a wonderful thing. Remember this; 50% of the information found on the internet is either bad or wrong, there is a wonderful amount of really good information on the internet, but look at it with a jaundiced eye as it could cost you a lot more that you might think if you choose the wrong information.

Ask your repair facilities if they have the latest tools to help diagnose today’s vehicles, shops are very proud to show off all the latest tools they have and to tell you just how much they cost.

Look up the word “phobia” on Google. You’ll find 11 pages of them, lets remove one!



PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE REDUCES THE COST OF OWNERSHIP.
MAINTENANCE STARTS AT MILE 00001

Gregg’s Automotive Maintenance & Repair Center

236 S. Tamiami Tr.
Punta Gorda, Fl. 33950
941-575-8868
www.greggsauto.net
Auto Repair, A/C Repair, Oil Change, Brake Repair & Transmission Services

CAR CARE RESOLUTIONS FOR 2017

Welcome everyone to January 2017! We certainly hope that everyone had a safe and marvelous holiday season, for those that try to politically correct, and a very Merry Christmas, and a Happy Hanukkah, for those that are like me and just don’t care. If you happen to be a Gym owner welcome to your best month of the year, sell those memberships.

62012083 - 3d illustration of 2017 year car speedometer. countdown concept

All kidding aside, January is the month of resolutions, which unfortunately fall by the wayside very quickly. Even I, in all of my perfectness have failed to keep a resolution or two. But this year challenges to be different. We have a new President who has promised us that America will be “Great” again, with him is coming a whole new staff. Personally I take this revelation to be as scary as it is exciting, and I welcome change in the right direction.

Resolutions all have great intentions behind them, we have all resolved to get healthier, or to quit smoking, maybe losing a pound or two, all for the betterment of our lives and our lifestyles. In life all of our actions and decisions have accountabilities, all of which fall upon our shoulders.
In my world of Automotive repair and service, it has become increasingly evident that the technology is spring boarding at warp speed, making it harder and harder for us as service providers to keep up. Not only that but due to the new warranty programs many times it is two or three years before we even see some of these new technologies and by then usually they are obsolete.

The cost of new vehicles has skyrocketed like an Atlas rocket and give me sticker shock when I look at new vehicles. I recently looked at a left over 2016 pickup, which with just a few of the bells and whistles and was blown away by the $45,000.00 price tag.

This is forcing the general population to buy used, or pre-owned vehicles, which by the way is not such a bad thing. Unfortunately, sometimes that pre-loved vehicle was not so pre-loved as it was pre-abused.
Vehicle manufacturers in their haste to deliver us vehicles that get great fuel economy, even better performance and a look that can make the largest guy swoon, has done to nothing to equip their buyers the basic tool of maintenance.

These new hi- revving engines and six, seven, and now nine speed transmissions, just tell you how fast you can go on such a little amount of fuel. But they neglect to tell you that now you MUST use synthetic oils at $10.00 a quart, or special non-phosphorous blends of coolant, and spark plugs that now cost $20.00 a plug and not $20.00 a set.

Now these things are not bad in any way. They are a means to an end. The problem is that no one is educating the public. Believe me when I tell you that if you do not maintain that nine-speed transmission and replace the trans fluid within a timely manner that when it blows up it will cost thousands of dollars to repair or replace.

To all my female readers and their husbands. How many weeks do you wait between hair dresser appointments? Six maybe eight? And do you miss that appointment? NEVER! It’s the same thing with cars, let us pre-schedule your appointment every six or eight months for you. This gives us a chance to look over the vehicle with a trained eye, and to run the TSB’S or recall reports to see if there is an issue brewing with the vehicle.

Consider it like going to the dentist, isn’t it great when every six months you get your teeth cleaned and maybe the doctor or hygienist will say “Gee you have the beginnings of a cavity here, we can take care of that right now and in a few extra minutes”, or do you like it when you go to the dentist and say “Hey Doc, my mouths a little sore can you take a quick look”? Then comes the reply, Gee buddy you need two root canals and a crown”. That’ll be about $4000.00 and we can do it in 2 weeks.

So, RESOLVE to build a maintenance schedule for you vehicle. If you don’t know how, come see us and we will sit down with you and help you. We also have some great products now that can extend the life of your vehicle and give you financial support should you have a breakdown. The best part is that this doesn’t cost you anything except a little foresight and conviction.

I remember calling a client one day and explaining to him that he had a leaking rack and pinion. He groaned and asked how much? Well the replacement rack and the labor was $1160.41, but he didn’t have to worry because when I suggested that he use our BG power steering fluid and service a little over two years and 24,000 miles earlier that his BG warranty would pay for it. An ounce of prevention is certainly worth a pound of cure.

On behalf of myself and my staff we would like to offer everyone a healthy and prosperous new year!



PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE REDUCES THE COST OF OWNERSHIP.
MAINTENANCE STARTS AT MILE 00001

Gregg’s Automotive Maintenance & Repair Center

236 S. Tamiami Tr.
Punta Gorda, Fl. 33950
941-575-8868
www.greggsauto.net
Auto Repair, A/C Repair, Oil Change, Brake Repair & Transmission Services

COMBUSTION CHAMBER SERVICE: IS IT NECESSARY?

Combustion chamber service is fast becoming a needed and extremely important service in today’s world. For those of you that may not know where exactly the combustion chamber is, it is the space in the top of the cylinder bore when the piston is at its highest point (known as top dead center or TDC) when all the valves are closed and just before the spark plug fires. All in all, this is an extremely small portion of the cylinder, yet the cleanliness of this small portion of the cylinder and affect the total health of the cylinder itself.

Dirty Valves

Dirty Valves

Once upon a time when vehicles were simple we gear heads took great pains to cram as much fuel vapor and air and used domed pistons to really compress that fuel mixture as tight as we possibly could to get that explosive punch. But then in those days we had real fuel and real octane and no concern about emissions or the environment.

Now in today’s world we are dealing with CARB, EPA, and a host of other alphabets. Now we are in the process of making as much horsepower as we did in the day using smaller and lighter engines, by adding variable ground cams, and variable valve timing and fuel injection with pressures as high as 2000 psi. Which brings us to the point of this story. With these technological advances comes tighter tolerances and more turbulence in the chamber.

The fact that the combustion chambers temperatures have gotten higher and the swirl within the chamber is more robust means that all the debris generated touches more components than ever before. The quality of today’s fuel is less than desired in a true gear heads mind, there are more and more additives and more and more ethanol which captures water and soot.

This soot or coke as the professional calls it sticks to the valve faces, and settles in the piston ring gaps. This coke eventually hardens due to the excessive heat generated in the combustion chamber and turns to carbon. Carbon is the next hardest substance known to man just under diamonds. This means that as all this debris accumulates in the cylinders we are basically boring out the engine as you drive. That leads to poor performance, smoking and increased emissions.

The trick here is to attack these deposits and break them down while they are still soft and able to be sent out the tail pipe. Most fuel injected vehicles have the fuel injector mounted high above the combustion chamber and they spray fuel on top of the valve faces which breaks down these deposits as a natural course, but depending on the quality of the fuel and the additives that are in said fuel is crucial to this cleaning process.

You only get what you pay for, and all fuels are not the same. On these types of injector systems, you basically have a choice as to adding a strong detergent in the fuel tank, along with a carbon softening chemical in the crankcase and sending a cleaner into the combustion chamber along the air passages. With the new GDI systems the fuel injector is below the valves and they lose the benefit of that washing effect.

This has been causing some severe carbon buildups on the valve face that are causing not only performance issues and misfires because the valves cannot close all the way. Alarmingly, this is happening before 30,000 miles in many vehicles. The new GDI kits not only work from within the fuel system and crankcase but also have a 2-part cleaner and a special nozzle to deliver the most cleaner to the valves and rings.

The question is would you rather invest in a moderately less invasive maintenance program or go through the expense of tearing down the engine.

As they said in the 60’s you can pay me now or pay me later.

Call us and learn about our phenomenal BG products and their extraordinary lifetime protection plans at 941-575-8868.



PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE REDUCES THE COST OF OWNERSHIP.
MAINTENANCE STARTS AT MILE 00001

Gregg’s Automotive Maintenance & Repair Center

236 S. Tamiami Tr.
Punta Gorda, Fl. 33950
941-575-8868
www.greggsauto.net
Auto Repair, A/C Repair, Oil Change, Brake Repair & Transmission Services

Repair Tips about Automotive Belts and Rubber Hoses

Mention the word RUBBER to any cross section of people and you would be shocked at how many different replies you can receive. A Frank Sinatra fan would probably think of his song “High Hopes”. Any mail man or delivery person would talk about the outer shoe covering that they wear to protect their walking shoes and keep their feet dry.

A high school senior with raging hormones…… well maybe we’ll skip that one. A tire salesman will immediately think of tire sales and a hardware store employee will send you to the gardening section. But ask a repair facility owner and he will immediately talk to you about BELTS AND HOSES.

automotive-rubber-hoses

Nothing Sexy about Rubber Hoses


Back in the day, the early automobiles cooled their engines by air, a concept that Volkswagen kept alive well into the 1980’s. In the early days of automobiles creature comforts were not in the highest priority. Most engines were mounted on solid mounts and vibrated accordingly.

A large radiator was in front of the vehicle and mounted to the chassis. In order to make sure that the coolant is able to get to the engine the radiator was connected to the engine via two rubber tubes that sent the water into the block and then back into the radiator to be cooled.

Enter the years of creature comforts. Now we have cooling hoses, heater hoses, and transmission cooler hoses, oil cooler hoses, A/C hoses and what used to be a belt that turned every component under the hood, sometimes as many as five belts.
Here is the issue of today’s vehicles. In the very beginning those tubes were just rubber. The average engine temperature of the average engine was between 130-160 degrees, well below the boiling point.

Cooling system pressures are about 16psi, and as these hoses started to deteriorate, it was very obvious. They would swell and balloon out, or they would get very soft, like squeezing a bar of butter that has been at room temperature for a couple of days. Alternator and power steering belts were what is called a “V” shape design and as they broke down and lost their resiliency they would slip and howl letting not only the owner, but the entire neighborhood know that they were bad.

Now as technology has improved so have the compounds that these belts and hoses are made of and their design has changed significantly. “V” shaped belts have evolved to ribbed belts or serpentine belts as they are most commonly referred as. Timing belts have become notched or cog driven but do not mix them up as they are far from the same even though they look alike. Under hood temperatures are well into the 200 degree range and the construction of the coolant hoses have been reinforced to withstand the heat.

They have also become preformed with intricate bends and turns so that they fit as designed. Lost is the day of the universal flex hose that many of us grew up with. Many radiator hoses are pre-formed with two or more other hoses permanently molded into what now looks like Medusa’s hair when held in your hand.

Power steering hoses are now handling thousands of pounds of pressure, as air conditioning hoses must handle pressures upwards of 450 pounds. Brake hoses must be able to handle between 800 and 1500 pounds of pressure PLUS heat ranges close to 600 degrees Fahrenheit and all of the road grime, salt and debris that is on every road in this country.

So what does this mean to all of you? First of all it means that due the improvements in the automotive section of these rubber companies that you will very rarely see those soft and swollen hoses under your hood. It means that now you must rely on common sense and the expertise of your service provider to know when these components need to be serviced.

As a rule most serpentine belts will develop cracks in the ribs, known as checking, at around 40,000 miles. Sometimes they will squeal on heavy acceleration or in wet weather. Because most of these belts have 6 ribs they are very forgiving and can go a long time without giving you any indication of their failure. However lose a belt while on the highway and you will lose your cooling system, power steering and charging system simultaneously. If your braking system is run by your power steering pump you will lose your braking properties also.

Pop a hose and you run the danger of overheating your engine also. These newer aluminum block engines do not take kindly to overheating and usually end up with major engine damage. Break a timing belt on any of these newer model vehicles and be prepared to do major engine work well into the thousands of dollars.

Here is the best advice that I can leave you with. Check your serpentine belts at 40,000 miles, make plans to change your coolant hoses at around 70,000 miles or at 7 years. Most timing belts should be replaced between 60,000 and 95,000 miles or after 7 years regardless of the mileage. This is all in your owner’s manuals or on line. S.W. Florida is considered a severe driving location so remember that figures lie and liars figure. Being proactive saves you money in the long run, and PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE REDUCES THE COST OF OWNERSHIP.



PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE REDUCES THE COST OF OWNERSHIP.
MAINTENANCE STARTS AT MILE 00001

Gregg’s Automotive Maintenance & Repair Center

236 S. Tamiami Tr.
Punta Gorda, Fl. 33950
941-575-8868
www.greggsauto.net
Auto Repair, A/C Repair, Oil Change, Brake Repair & Transmission Services

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