A VIEW FROM THE PUMPS – JUNE 2022

Buying a used vehicle?

Being in the automotive repair industry is very much like being a mental health technician. This is not saying that there is any correlation to the education aspects that we both have to attain. But most clients are very surprised at the amount of continuing education automotive techs receive. It’s just that when you talk about automobiles, many times there are a lot of emotions that go along with that conversation. Sometimes it’s sentimental, sometimes it’s the end of a love/hate relationship, and sometimes it’s just plain old economics.

Many times a vehicle that has not been maintained properly finally just quits or breaks down. Sometimes it’s able to be driven in but most times it comes in on the hook, aka a tow truck. Enter emotions, why now? It could have not happened at a worse time, this vehicle has been nickel and diming me ever since I bought it. We’ve all heard it and many times we have said it.

car moneyAfter going over the vehicle and we have to ascertain exactly what is needed to breathe the life back into the vehicle we as responsible professionals go through what is very much like a triage system. What is needed right now, what is needed next week, and finally what is needed to make the vehicle safe, and reliable? The first impulsive statement that I hear is; “that’s more than the car is worth”. Worth is the keyword here. People confuse a dollar value that is found on the internet, which can change from site to site, with the true value of a vehicle. Usually, my first response is “were you looking for a different vehicle last week”? If you weren’t then this is not the time to start looking now. Unfortunately because of the economic structure that many people have found themselves in is that it’s easier to finance a different vehicle than to stretch their already tight finances even tighter. It never ceases to amaze me how people can rationalize spending $10,000.00 to $20,000.00 rather to spend $2500.00 to $4000.00 to bring their vehicle back to a safe and reliable condition.

DISCLAIMER: Of course, we are talking about vehicles that are in good condition i.e. no body damage, no rust, all or most of the electronics in the vehicle are in working condition, etc.

Now let’s cut to the chase. We/you have decided that it’s time to upgrade to a newer vehicle, the first mistake is that if you are replacing your primary form of transportation, human nature forces you to run right out and find something right away, make a deal and get on with life. WRONG!!!! Now is the time to take a deep breath and rent a vehicle for at least a week so that you can make a realistic, intelligent decision. It is even better if you can rent the same type of vehicle that you may think about buying. It is a $200.00 expense that can save you thousands. Next, decide on what type of vehicle you would like, and what your budget will be. carfax report A very important rule of thumb is if you are going to finance a vehicle and cannot afford to pay it off in three or four years then you are looking above your budget. If you finance for longer than that you will become “UPSIDE DOWN”.

When you are preparing your budget, remember that you are buying a used vehicle, if it has close to or more than 50,000 miles on it, you are buying it at the point at which most of the expensive services are about due. You should have enough “wiggle” room in your budget to be able to perform these services so that you can keep your “new” vehicle “SAFE AND RELIABLE”.

Due diligence is very important when inquiring about remaining federal warranties, transferable extended warranties, recalls, and campaigns. If this is Greek to you, call me and I will walk you through it. Demand a CARFAX. There are 2 different types of CARFAX, one is an overview (it’s free and pretty much useless), and the other is a comprehensive report and it costs about $40.00. It is $40.00 well spent. Understand that CARFAX’s are not infallible, and only reported accidents or repairs will show up, but it is at least an indicator of the use and abuse of a vehicle.

used car mechanicAnd FINALLY, you must demand that the vehicle you are looking to purchase is inspected by an independent shop of your choice. A quality inspection will take at least one to two hours and it will cost you money. If you are buying from a dealership or a private party and they do not allow you to do this, WALK AWAY.

This is your report you do not have to share it with anyone nor do we give copies to anyone except you, you are the client and I work for you. Most dealerships in this area understand my reasons for doing this and they usually have no issues with dropping off the vehicle for my inspection.

Once again I have to reiterate that finding things that need to be addressed before buying a vehicle is important, it is after all used. However, more importantly, you should understand what preventive maintenance you will have to address during your first year of ownership so that you don’t find yourself behind the proverbial eight ball again. Gregg’s Automotive Maintenance & Repair Center does not sell parts and labor, we provide safety and reliability, and keep the cost of ownership as low as possible.

REMEMBER MAINTENANCE BEGINS AT MILE 00001!

MAINTENANCE IS THE KEY TO A LONG RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR VEHICLE.

LACK OF COMMON SENSE WILL ALWAYS COST YOU DOLLARS AND CENTS!

A VIEW FROM THE PUMPS – APRIL 2022

THE CATALYTIC CONVERTER REVISITED

With all of the uproar and amount of Catalytic Converter thefts, I thought that it would be nice if everyone knew what made them so appealing to thieves. catalytic converterThe catalytic converter is one of the most misunderstood and misdiagnosed emission devices in today’s vehicles. The dreaded catalytic efficiency codes P0420 and P0430 are not only tough to diagnose but can also be expensive to rectify. The first thing to understand is why we have these on our vehicles, to begin with.

Internal combustion engines are a wonderful thing. They are relatively compact yet pack a real punch when it comes to developing power that can be funneled to speed. As with everything else in this world, there are always by-products that are produced during these explosive acts. Everyone understands that carbon monoxide that is a result of combustion. It’s a silent killer that has claimed more lives than anyone thinks. This is precisely why the exhaust systems have become super tight and made of stainless steel so that they are less apt to leak into the passenger compartment. Hydrocarbons are a little harder to understand as they are molecules of unburned fuel. This unburned fuel is also an issue and is a culprit in many respiratory problems.

nitrogen dioxideThe last of the Big 3 by-products of combustion is NOX. NOX stands for oxides of nitrogen or nitrogen dioxide. NOX left in the atmosphere contributes to the formation of smog, acid rain, and tropospheric ozone. If you don’t know what tropospheric ozone is, it’s the smell that occurs right after a lightning storm. That is the natural formation of nitrogen dioxide. NOX also combines with ammonia and moisture and forms nitric acid aka acid rain. Nitric acid can penetrate deeply into the sensitive tissues of the lung and can cause or aggravate respiratory diseases such as emphysema or bronchitis as well as existing heart conditions.

So now that we know why we have catalytic converters on our vehicles, it’s time to understand how to protect and care for them so they last the lifetime of the vehicle. The metals used in the construction of these converters include many precious metals such as platinum, palladium, and rhodium, thus contributing to the overall cost of these parts.

The whole process of cleaning the exhaust gases sounds very complicated but is really science 101. The most important gas to render harmless is NOX, as it is the most poisonous. This is called The Reduction Phase. As it turns out the extra electrons in the NOX molecule are more attracted to the precious metals and quickly jump over to attach to them. This basically turns NOX into nitrogen and oxygen.

The second phase is the process is called The Oxidation Process which uses the extra oxygen from the reduced NOX to bond with the carbon monoxide molecules to form carbon dioxide molecules and water. These are all gases that we as humans can live with. As part of the process, a great amount of heat is required. Catalytic converters need to be between 800 and 1500 degrees to perform these processes. This is why it is very important not to park over dried grass or plastic bags.

automobile exhaust fumesSo how is the best way to protect this expensive part of your vehicle? This is really the easy part. If you keep your vehicle in tune (maintenance) and run top-tier fuels (common sense) your catalytic converter will basically clean itself as it was designed. Changing your oil at regular intervals will reduce the amount of ash and carbon that will go out the tailpipe and coat these precious metals with sludge. Keeping our air filters clean so that you will not run “rich” will make the whole catalyst process that much easier.

Now we have found devices that can be attached to the catalytic converters that make it awkward or extremely time-consuming to cut these converters out. We have installed these and have access to them. As I always say an ounce of prevention is always worth a pound of cure, and it is always much easier to be proactive instead of reactive both in mind and in the pocket.

As for the catalytic converter cleaners in the marketplace, I have not used any in my shop but I do know of some shop owners that have used them, especially in states that have stringent emission programs that say they do work for a while. As for my dime, I would rather say that:

MAINTENANCE STARTS AT MILE 00001!

And LACK OF COMMON SENSE WILL ALWAYS COST YOU DOLLARS AND CENTS.

So be proactive and protect your investments and the environment and your health.

A VIEW FROM THE PUMPS – MARCH 2022

GDI ENGINES: MARVEL OR MONSTER – Part 2

If you read my last article, you’ll know that we’ve established the fact that the GDI engine is the greatest thing since cupcakes as far as the automotive industry is concerned. But then again, every time the industry comes up with new technology it is always the best of the best no matter how bad it might be. I won’t bore you with all the failed ideas that not only did not work but cost you, the consumer untold dollars to repair and maintain these ideas.

fuel injectorThe biggest issue that I see with these GDI engines I that they just showed up and there was no training or instructions to the techs or the public on how to keep these engines running perfectly. It seems that the American consumer has been held for the research and development of all these new ideas.

Here is the crux of the issues; because of the dependency of multiple systems of the engine, a complete and comprehensive maintenance plan is necessary. First and foremost, these engines have multiple fuel pumps, one in the fuel tank (a lower pressure delivery pump) that feeds a higher-pressure pump on the engine (it pumps at super-high pressures that atomizes the fuel so it can run leaner). This means that the type of fuel that you run and how you maintain the filters is the first form of preventive maintenance. As I have always insisted using a Tier 1 or Top tier fuel is imperative. These fuels are clearly marked on the pump with a decal or you can Google top tier fuels and get a list of all those fuel companies that comply. An easy way to understand this is that most “BRANDED” nationally known fuel suppliers are typically Tier 1 fuels. Keeping your fuel filters replaced at least once every 30,000 miles or every 2 years is imperative for good fuel pump health. The easiest way to promote good fuel pump health is to never run your tank past a quarter of a tank. The fuel pump is submerged in the tank and in the fuel because they are using the fuel as a lubricant and a cooling medium. When you run your tank way down the fuel pump is hanging in the air and has the opportunity to overheat, thus lessening its life dramatically.

oil and filtersThe second and probably MOST important is to change your oil and filter frequently and by the factory stated interval, if not earlier. Using a good quality synthetic oil or a properly rated oil filter is imperative with these engines. Oil filters are rated; a normal off-the-shelf filter is usually rated for 3000 miles, a GOLD filter is rated for up to 7500 miles, and a Platinum filter is rated for 12000 miles. The difference in these filters is not only the amount and type of filtering media but also the valving within the filter. If you use a less expensive filter and overrun your oil change interval, then the media clogs and the valving allows the oil to pass through the engine unfiltered. This abuse of the oil will affect the high-pressure fuel pump that actually runs off of the camshaft and the variable timing components. All these components are expensive.

engine valvesThe biggest problem with the GDI motor is that the fuel is injected directly onto the piston face and by-passes the valve faces. Initially, the fuel washed the valve faces of any carbon deposits and kept them somewhat clean. Spraying below them allows carbon deposits and oil bypass deposits to accumulate on the valve faces. Due to the increase in combustion chamber temperatures, these deposits harden quickly and end up affecting the sealing of the combustion chamber causing misfires. Ignored long enough these deposits will break off and lodge themselves between the cylinder wall and the piston rings and scoring the walls causing blow-by.

Education is so important and the manufacturers in an effort to show maintenance costs as low as possible are only short-changing you the consumer.

REMEMBER MAINTENANCE STARTS AT MILE 000001

LACK OF COMMON SENSE WILL ALWAYS COST YOU DOLLARS AND CENTS!

A VIEW FROM THE PUMPS – FEBRUARY 2022

GDI ENGINES: MARVEL OR MONSTER

GDI engines: what are they, and why is everything automotive becoming alphabet soup? Well GDI stands for Gas Direct Injection. Okay, problem solved, now we all know what the initials stand for, BUT what does this mean to me, “Joe Average somewhat new car owner”?

fuel economy gaugeSomewhere in this crazy industry, the government has decided how many miles the average fleet of every manufacturer must achieve. This historical or should I say a hysterical piece of legislature is called CAFE, or Corporate Average Fuel Economy for short. To make a long story short, for the year 2012 the CAFE for passenger vehicles was 36 mpg, fast forward to 2021 and the rating is at 45mpg, looking to the future the government is looking for a 54.5 mpg corporate average. You might say to yourself “wow, this is phenomenal” 54.5 miles to the gallon is great. In a perfect world it would be, but alas the world is not perfect.

The GDI engine was/is the industry’s last milestone to achieving these standards, and on paper, the test results are very real.
First, you must understand how this new injection system works, and the new rules that you as consumers must follow. Way back in the old days when engines were carbureted, fuel was just dumped down into the intake manifold where it was just atomized with incoming air and somehow found its way into the combustion chambers. It wasn’t completely haphazard the runners were designed and tuned to be as efficient as that day’s science and engineering thought good enough. Average fuel economy: 12-15 mpg. Then came the 70’s the great gas shortage and being held hostage by Middle Eastern Oil Cartels. Cars got lighter, engines smaller and the most asked question was “how many miles to the gallon”. Carbureted engines became antiques and the new buzz was fuel injection. Enter the EPA, CAFÉ, CARB, and a bevy of other agencies known only by initials. The race for cleaner air, fuel economy, performance through electronics and alternative fuels were on.

direct fuel injectionFuel injection went through its own development process and as the need for more efficiency increased, the design and management of fuel delivery and distribution changed. Early fuel injection pressures began at 9 psi which was close to double that of carbureted engines. These pressures quickly increased to 30, 45, 54, and then 65psi to better atomize the air-fuel mixture so that the perfect stoichiometric ratio of air to fuel which is 14.7:1 could be manipulated to as high as 60:1 and still have smooth running and good performance engines that sip fuel instead of drinking it.

Enter GDI, a super-high pressure and perfectly aimed injection stream to the top of the piston to perform complete and efficient combustion. By super high pressure, we are talking about a two-fuel pump system, one in the tank to deliver the fuel to the top of the engine which by today’s standards is normal in the 50-60 psi range. The second fuel pump is usually located in the fuel rail and driven by the camshaft to generate these super high pressures. By super high we are talking from 600-2900 psi of pressure to completely atomize the fuel with air. Then by injecting the fuel directly to the top of the piston, diminishing the need for throttle plates and other restrictions, thus making the efficiency of the burn rely more on the strict engine management systems which monitor the precise need for fuel, and duration of the injection process so that ultra-lean mixtures can be utilized thus increasing power and limiting the fuel consumption aspects of combustion.

But with these new developments comes a whole new set of rules concerning the care and maintenance of these systems which the public was not made aware of. And while those of you that are fortunate enough to replace your vehicles every 4 or 5 years, the second and third owners of these poorly maintained engines will become prey to expensive and major repairs to keep these vehicles running right.

Our next story will outline the maintenance procedures that are necessary to keep these vehicles running well.

REMEMBER MAINTENANCE STARTS AT MILE 00001

LACK OF COMMON SENSE WILL ALWAYS COST YOU DOLLARS AND CENTS!

A VIEW FROM THE PUMPS – JANUARY 2022

THE BLACK BOX

Everyone has heard of the “black box”, it’s always the topic of conversation and the world’s scrutiny whenever a commercial or military plane goes down. airline flight data recorderIt holds all of the secrets of the last fateful trip and is always equipped with some sort of transponder or homing device to make it easier to find. It can monitor conversations from the pilots to each other and to any towers; it monitors all of the vital information for the flight, such as speed, altitude, all mechanical and electrical communications within the plane itself so investigators can determine the cause of the plane’s malfunction. Like it or not, the safest way to travel rarely has any survivors when one goes down.

Recently I read a story about a motor vehicle accident, I must be honest with you, I read it quickly and picked up the general theme, but I did not examine it closely. This story was dealing with an accident that had no witnesses, one person dead, and the driver. I’m not really sure if it was a hit and run or not but prosecutors have retrieved the vehicle “black box” and with it gained not only a “witness” to the accident but a wealth of information regarding the operation of the vehicle right before the incident, as with Tiger Woods.

This “black box” that has become the star witness, in this case, is what we refer to in the automotive industry as an abuse counter. Usually installed in high-end vehicles or vehicles that are built to become rentals, it recalls and saves key pieces of information that the owners of these vehicles have deemed important to the resale and upkeep of these vehicles. The most commonly recorded items are average speed, the number of wide-open throttle requests, the number of anti-lock brake stops, and impact sensor reactions. Thus, the name “Abuse Counters”.

x-ray view of automobileHowever what you probably never realized is that if you own a vehicle that was built or sold in the United States after January 01, 1996, it has a flight recorder in it. This type of recorder is a little different than most. This is what we refer to as a Freeze Frame. Back in the nineties, it was very basic, usually recording power train issues. Today every control module that is in your vehicle is constantly monitoring data for whatever system it is in charge of. Transmission and engine modules most typically referred to as power train control modules, or PCM’s monitor all of the sensors and circuits involved in the operation of these components. I decided to concentrate on these modules first because it these modules that usually turn on the check engine lamp.

As soon as the module finds and triggers a code, the freeze-frame captures that moment. It gives us a huge amount of data such as ambient temperature, rpm’s, vehicle speed, fuel trim, and load conditions. This helps us as technicians to gain extra information so that we are able to diagnose the problem more accurately, especially when it is an intermittent problem. One such vehicle that proved invaluable to us was a Toyota that was forever registering a lean condition code but was never running lean when it finally came to us. After researching this issue we found that this particular engine had an issue with the intake manifold gaskets and when the ambient temperature dropped below a certain point the intake manifold would contract enough to cause a vacuum leak, and as the vehicle warmed up, the manifold expanded enough to shut the leak-off. So what we eventually did was clear out all of the codes, reset all of the monitors, and waited for the light to come back on. Because we knew that the code would be recorded the owner was able to come back to the shop at her convenience where we examined the saved data to confirm the diagnosis and repaired it right the first time.

image of front of automobile collisionThe second most important time this information is used is in the event of a collision. This is most crucial when it is a single-vehicle collision and when the driver has been terminally injured or impaired by any other reason other than alcohol. Whenever an airbag is activated there is a huge amount of information shared by multiple modules to prevent accidental deployment. When an airbag module requests permission to activate an airbag, the PCM first looks at the ABS module, the transmission module, and the body control module, making sure that the wheels are slowing down, and in some cases, the ABS has recorded an event. It looks to the transmission for a rapid downshifting that should occur if a vehicle is slowing down and the body control module to make sure that the brake lights are on. It then monitors its own engine sensors to check if the throttle body is closed, and if the intake manifold vacuum has maxed out, as well as a sharp decrease in outside air volume that is going past the mass airflow sensor. Having checked all of this information and deciding that yes the vehicle is involved in a collision allows the airbag sensor to deploy the airbag. Amazingly enough, this whole process takes all of 500 milliseconds.

This is important because as a technician and sometimes as an investigator, it allows me to look forensically to substantiate the cause of an accident and try to determine if it was caused by driver error or mechanical failure, which can mean the difference of a long prison term or not. Sometimes mechanical failures are caused by economic issues, or just ignorance, and every so often by blatant disregard for the safety of themselves or others on the road.

Preventive maintenance and scheduled safety inspections are not an upsell, sometimes it is the difference between someone’s life or death.

PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE STARTS AT MILE 00001

Lack of common sense will always cost you DOLLARS AND CENTS!!!

A 2nd VIEW FROM THE PUMPS – Nov. 2021

From Their Exhaust To Your Lungs

Did you know that cars and trucks once had separate air intakes that allowed air from the outside to enter the passenger compartment? Those were those handles that said “Vent”. Those vent handles allowed fresh air to pass from the front of the vehicle directly to the passenger compartment. That was when air conditioning was an option and not the norm.

auto pollutionNow because of the air conditioning systems and the sophistication of these systems, all the air that comes into your vehicle comes through the same route. Over the engine, into the fresh air ducts, into the evaporator case, around the evaporator core and heater core, through the blower fan housing, and then finally into the passenger compartment where you are.

Because we live in southwest Florida I challenge you to see just how many vehicles have their windows open on the road at any given time. So the long and short of it means that as you are driving on the road behind a diesel, or a poorly maintained vehicle that is smoking or running too rich, or in a dusty condition all of those contaminants and debris are coming into your vehicle and into your lungs.

cabin air filtersWhy are we not aware of this? Because our engineers have put in systems to trap those particles so that we are not endangered. Every breath of air that runs into the new vehicles runs through or over an evaporator core and a cabin filter. The cabin filter is the most overlooked filter in a vehicle and most owners do not even know that they exist. They are usually located under the dash in the evaporator case hidden by glove boxes or lower dash panels. Everyone knows the importance of the air filter for the efficiency of the engine so this is to protect our lungs.

Just as important as changing these cabin filters every 15,000 miles or yearly, you should have the evaporator core cleaned at regular intervals, too. The evaporator core and the heater core both look and act like mini radiators for your automobile. Their sole purpose is to act as a heat exchanger to the hot or cold air that is coming into the passenger compartment. If they are working properly, they both have the opportunity to “sweat” (That’s what that puddle of water is under your vehicle on a humid day). This sweating process turns those cores into magnets that trap dust, organic material, and road debris.

If the cabin filters are too overloaded with debris the filtering process becomes null and void. It then becomes the perfect breeding ground for MOLD. Mold is hazardous to your health, it can make you sick, it can aggravate any breathing disorders that you may be experiencing and it could very well be deadly.

air ventThe solution? Have your service provider check your cabin air filter if you have never had it checked. If you are driving for long periods of time in your vehicle and feel ill or have trouble breathing (or have a strange “gym sock odor”), it may be time to have your evaporator core sanitized. It is after all YOUR health.

P.S. Here is something no one has ever taught you. The proper way to use your air conditioning. Here is the scenario: Your vehicle is parked outside during the heat of the day and it’s time to go home. Here’s what you should do:

  1. Open your windows and let the heat out of the car, before you even start it.
  2. After starting it up place you’re A/C controls to fresh air and turn the blower up 2-3 speeds to expel the superheated air in the vents.
  3. Now close your windows and let the temperature of the air stabilize.
  4. As soon as the temperature of the air is cool switch your controls to recirculation and lower your blower speed to 1-2. You should not feel the speed of air hitting you. You should just feel comfortable in the vehicle, not in a wind tunnel.

Here’s the best part, you’ll get better fuel economy!

A VIEW FROM THE PUMPS – November 2021

VALVES, SOLENOIDS, FLUIDS, AND TECHNIQUES TO PRESERVE YOUR A.B.S. BRAKE SYSTEM

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

To everyone that was proactive last month and took part in our “Putting the Brakes on Autism Campaign”, Thank You. A check for 10% of our brakes sales will go directly to Harbour Heights Charities.

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

abs symbolTo put it very simply ABS really stands for Antilock 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 speed up. Originally the first types of ABS systems were called single-channel systems, whereupon 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 the rear brakes of the vehicle as a single unit.

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. Finally, we have 4-channel ABS which has a speed sensor on each wheel. abs systemThis system has developed into a most functional system that not only can stop a lock-up situation, but also identify a wheel that has lost traction on acceleration, it monitors and becomes a redundant odometer, and cruise control, and airbag confirmation point.

Early antilock brake systems monitored the rotational speed of every tire when the brakes are applied or the brake lights were activated. 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 microseconds 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. 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”, that will never happen again.

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!

As far as the redundant monitoring for the speedometer, cruise control, and airbags, just think of it like this: As the transmission is running and sending data to the transmission control module, it controls the shift points and pressures. air-bagsIf this information becomes corrupted the Powertrain Control Module can refer back to the ABS controller to decide if the vehicle or transmission control system is at fault. Likewise, if the airbag impact sensor registers an impact the PCM will look back to the transmission control for rapid deceleration. The ABS system looks for rapidly slowing wheel speeds or even lock-ups, and finally to see if the brake lights are on before it will detonate the airbag. 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 the 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 up to 32 times a second. This valving is what applies or removes the brake pressure to the wheels.

brake lightsThe 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.

Preventively the cost of flushing your brake’s hydraulic system once every 2 years is about $200.00 and replacing your battery before it goes dead is about $255.00. 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: “$200.00 or $1200.00”.

So for the bazillionth time, I end this story with:

PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE REDUCES DOWNTIME AND THE COST OF OWNERSHIP AND PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE BEGINS AT MILE 00001

LACK OF COMMON SENSE WILL ALWAYS COST YOU DOLLARS AND CENTS!

A VIEW FROM THE PUMPS – OCTOBER 2021

HOW TO BUY A NEW OR USED CAR!!!

car lot

Last week I had spied an article in the local paper about a couple that had purchased a used vehicle from a person from what I can only assume had advertised it in a newspaper or some social media site.

Fortunately for them, the writer of this article was able to help them in getting some assistance with their plight. This article is meant to give the general public a set of guidelines for the “art” of buying a new or new ‘to you’ vehicle.

Here lie the “GOLDEN RULES OF ENGAGEMENT”:
  • First, a vehicle or anything you are contemplating buying or selling is “worth” is only as much as someone is willing to pay for it. This means that all of those online sites that give you your car’s worth can give you a guideline but they are not gospel. Also remember that their income is generated by “hits” so the more attractive they make their quotes, the more “hits” that they get and thus more income for them.
  • Second: Never buy a vehicle under duress. This means that if your present vehicle needs a large amount of work or if you are worried that the repairs are going to be more than the vehicle is “worth” ask yourself this question. Were you in the market for a new or different vehicle a week before this repair came up? If the answer is no then this is not the time to be shopping for a replacement vehicle as there is just too much pressure on you to make quick decisions without searching out all of your options. It never ceases to amaze me just how many people are willing to spend $7,000.00 to $30,000.00 for a different vehicle rather than to spend $2,000.00 on a vehicle that they were perfectly happy with before.

Buying a new car is easier, usually, it is a conscious decision and it can be a fun and exciting experience. Here are my own personal hints on how to buy a new vehicle.

  1. Play the field, look at all vehicles that “trip your trigger”, a Sunday afternoon is a good time to survey different dealerships without having to deal with a salesman.
  2. Be aware of the price! If you cannot pay for a vehicle in a three or four-year period you are in the wrong price range.
  3. When you find that vehicle or vehicles, rent one for at least a week and use it every day. This is the best way to be sure that the car fits you and not the other way around.
  4. Find a dealership that lists the selling price on the vehicle, this lets you concentrate on important issues such as insurance, options, special financing rates without having to negotiate the sticker price.
  5. If you are going to use your old vehicle as a trade-in, know exactly what it is worth on the open market. Use multiple appraisal sites and average them out, call the local lending institutions and ask what their guideline are to finance your older car and finally scour the newspaper ads and see what similar vehicles are selling for and lastly ask the salesman what the ACV (actual cash value) is for the vehicle that you are going to trade in.

If you are looking at a previously loved vehicle the list is a little longer.

  1. used autos Make sure that the seller has a clear and clean title. If a title has the words “salvage or rebuilt”, that means that the vehicle was totaled and should be thoroughly investigated. Insurance companies have been known to total vehicles for cosmetic reasons after windstorms or hurricanes, but as I said be very careful, especially if it came from out of state.
  2. Get a CarFax! Do not use the free version as it is useless, pay for the detailed report. If you are looking at multiple vehicles they offer a bulk package where you can get multiple reports for a single fee.
  3. Do not hesitate to ask for the vehicle’s service records. If you are buying the vehicle from a used car lot, run the VIN number to check for TSB’s, or Recalls, and sometimes little tidbits of information pop up that are not invading anyone’s privacy. Look for oil stickers and see where the vehicle had been serviced last and call them. A good service facility will usually call the previous owners and get their permission to release their records.
  4. Have the vehicle inspected by your service facility. A good inspection should take at least one to two hours. Make sure that measurements of brake thickness, tire tread depth, rotor thickness, and alignment concerns are notated prominently. Of course, belt and hoses conditions and fluid conditions are important, as well as all accessory operations are working. Expect to pay for this inspection.
  5. Remember that you are buying a USED vehicle and some wear and tear is to be expected. Due diligence is required at this point to ascertain what major maintenance schedules will become due in the near future. For example, if you are buying most any four or six-cylinder vehicle with between 90,000 and 105,000 miles on it a timing belt is in the near future as well as belts and hoses and a water pump. Vehicles in the 50,000-mile range are due for many fluid flushes. These costs must be incorporated in the negotiating price so that you can arrange your budgeting.

If you have any questions or cannot find some of this information please do not hesitate to contact us for help.

REMEMBER MAINTENANCE STARTS AT MILE 00001.

LACK OF COMMON SENSE WILL ALWAYS COST YOU MORE DOLLARS AND CENTS!

A VIEW FROM THE PUMPS – September 2021

PUTTING THE BRAKES ON AUTISM

To start this article, I must ask everyone a simple question. That is, do you really know what Autism is?

autism graphicEven though the term Autism first appeared in 1911 very little was known about it until the late 20th century. It is only now that new discoveries and treatments are becoming prevalent helping individuals on this spectrum achieve their full potentials.

The term Autism comes from the Greek word autos meaning “self”. Autism literally means “alone”, and affects 1 in 68 children. It does not matter what race or creed, or religion the child is and it is more prevalent than childhood cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. Males are five times more likely to have it than females.
The correct term to identify these children and adults is to say that they have Autistic Spectrum Disorder or ASD. This simple change helped remove the darkness associated with the disease.

IT IS NOT caused by vaccinations!

ASD often appears in children before age 3. Many are non-verbal for many years. If a child is non-verbal at age 4 it DOES NOT mean that the child will never speak, research now shows that most will learn to use words and more than half will speak fluently. A family with an autistic child will spend on the average of $60,000.00 a year! But if it is detected early and treated, that cost can be reduced by up to 2/3rds. According to a recent study the lifetime cost of autism averages 1.4 – 2.4 million dollars.

autism spectrum disorderEach child with ASD is a unique individual they differ from one another just as “normal” children do. They can be verbal or non-verbal of average intelligence or genius, sometimes they have severe cognitive deficits. Many are afflicted with Hyperlexia, which is simply the ability to read above their age or grade levels. Many very famous people have been diagnosed or suspected of being Autistic. They include Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Hans Christian Anderson, and Lewis Carroll. Great mathematicians, such as Sir Isaac Newton, Michelangelo, and Nobel prize winner Dr. Vernon Smith. Celebrities that you will recognize immediately; Anthony Hopkins, Dan Aykroyd, Susan Boyle, Jerry Seinfeld have all been diagnosed with ASD.

Tell me is it a curse or a gift?

I am blessed to not have any ASD in my family, that I know of. But several close and special friends have told me that they have children or siblings or grandchildren that are afflicted with this syndrome. I have met many of them and they are wonderful and beautiful children and are now young adults.

brake padsWe at Gregg’s Automotive have a Free Brakes Campaign. Partnering up with NAPA auto parts, we can give ANYONE one set of premium NAPA brake pads or shoes. That is a savings of $75.00 to over $100.00 dollars off on their vehicle. All other services and parts necessary to perform the brake job are performed with our customary competitive prices. On October 31, we tally up all the brake work that we have done during the month and write a check to Autism Awareness Charity of Charlotte County for 10% of that total, so that they can provide the necessary services and needs for all of the Charlotte County Schools that house and educate ALL of our challenged students. EVERY CENT COLLECTED stays in this county.

This is a win-win for everyone, you save some money on a brake job, we can donate much-needed funds to a great cause, and the children of this county are helped.

Tell your friends neighbors and family about this campaign, and if you don’t need brakes, we will gladly accept any contribution you would like to donate. This is our 13th year of doing this, everyone that participates will receive a great T-shirt and I am looking forward to writing this charity a check for $2500.00 this year.

God Bless you all for allowing us to do this and remember:

Maintenance starts at mile 00001

Lack of common sense will always cost you dollars and cents.

A VIEW FROM THE PUMPS – AUGUST 2021

HOW TO GET 2O YEARS OF LIFE FROM YOUR VEHICLE

This is an old story and it’s rehashed all of the time, but it’s a new time and all of the rules have changed.
The good news is that getting a new lease on life on your existing vehicle can start no matter what stage of its life it’s in.

vintage auto Why do we need to keep our car running for 20 years? Well, the sorry truth is that because we as a country have decided to allow a hostile and destructive country to produce all of the world’s semiconductor production and sales.

As a result, we have thousands of vehicles that cannot be sold because they cannot be finished. Thus, the new car inventory is quickly diminishing. Likewise, replacement parts are becoming more and more difficult to find and the prices of said parts are climbing to the moon. A small indication of this phenomenon is the fact that cooling system hoses, that once adorned the walls of small service stations are now often days and weeks out. That is if they are available.

Depending on the age and mileage of your vehicle is the true starting point of your quest of keeping your vehicles running forever. It is a real misnomer thinking that if you have a car that has extremely low mileage that it never needs preventive maintenance. This cannot be more wrong. A vehicle that has extraordinarily low mileage can sometimes be more apt to break down than a vehicle that has been used in a more aggressive fashion. Think of it as we do of our bodies, use it or lose it.

oil changeEvery car comes with its own instruction booklet or bible as I like to describe it. It’s called the owner’s manual. Once a thirty-page booklet that was found and ignored in the glove box has now become hundreds of pages thick and many times multiple volumes. In this book under maintenance is the scheduled maintenance charts. These charts are the lifeblood of your vehicle. If you notice the schedules are usually written by time and mileage. As all industry’s goal in life is to confuse and mislead the public, these charts appear to be grouped by time and mileage at the same time, when in all actuality it should be written as time or mileage whichever comes first.

The mainstay of all preventive maintenance schedules is the oil duration schedules. While as in most of us oldsters, the 3000 mile or 3 months duration pops into mind. With the advent of better metallurgy and oil composition, it soon became 3 months or 5000 miles. With the introduction of synthetic oil, the range has increased to 10,000 miles or once a year. The newest vehicles now do not even have dipsticks to check your oil levels and the oil service duration has become “when the change oil lamp comes on”. How foolish is it that do Doctors tell you not to breathe in until you turn blue?

So here is the skinny in a few paragraphs for keeping a car viable for 20 years.

  1. Change your oil every 5000-7500 miles or every 6 months if you are using mineral or semi-synthetic blend oils.
  2. If your vehicle demands synthetic oil to run change it every 7500-9500 miles or every 9 months. If you are fortunate to have an oil dipstick to check your oil levels, do it weekly if not read the bible and find out how to monitor your oil levels via the electronics in the vehicle.
  3. engine cooling system Rotate your tires every time you change your oil. This will allow you to see the wear patterns and examine your brakes at the same time.
  4. Replace your brake fluid every 2 years regardless of mileage. This will protect your calipers and brake hoses.
  5. Replace your power steering fluid at the same time. This will save you thousands in rack repairs.
  6. Replace your automatic transmission fluid every 35,000-40,000 miles and the filter every 60,000 miles and while you’re at it, replace and flush the cooling system.
  7. Last of all replace all of the belts and hoses every 9 years or 90,000 miles.

Learn to enjoy your car as it will last you a long time.

MAINTENANCE STARTS AT MILE 000001

LACK OF COMMON SENSE WILL ALWAYS COST YOU DOLLARS AND CENTS.

CALL NOW