Category Archives: What Customers Should Know

Tacky or Techie? The Tachometer.

There's a gauge that many vehicles have that says RPM on it.  And there are a lot of people who either don't pay any attention to it or don't even know what it is. Here's why it's a good gauge to know about. It's called a tachometer, and that "RPM" label means it is measuring how many revolutions per minute (RPM) the engine is turning.  Automotive experts know that a vehicle's engine can be damaged if it turns too fast (revving too high) or too slowly ("lugging" the engine). A tachometer (sometimes called a tach) is almost a "must-have" gauge for vehicles with a manual transmission; the driver has to manually change gears; the tach helps the driver know when revolutions are in the optimal range. Some say you don't need a tachometer if you drive a vehicle with an automatic transmission. It's true that most drivers of automatics don't even look at it.  But there are times when paying attention to the tach can help you prevent an expensive repair. Here's a good example.&nbs ... read more

If You Drive Like a Maniac (Aggressive Driving is Bad for a Vehicle)

When someone mentions driving like a maniac, they're not talking about you, surely? Besides the safety issues of aggressive driving, you should know that your vehicle will last a lot longer if you'll just mellow out a little.  Here are four traits good drivers follow if they want their vehicles to go the extra distance. Cool—The driver who can't wait to get to the next stoplight is just shortening the life of his or her vehicle.  Jackrabbit starts and uneven acceleration hurts your engine because the valves and cylinder heads are stressed more.  All of those moving parts will wear out faster as well as other components that are connected.  That means things like the air conditioner, power steering pump… just about anything that attaches by a belt or a pulley.  Oh, and you'll be generating more heat.  Heat is one of a vehicle's worst enemies. Warm—If you get in your cold vehicle which has been sitting overnight, start it up and rev the en ... read more

A Squirrely Problem (Animals Nesting in Engine)

If you park your vehicle outside, you are exposing it to all sorts of critters that would love to use it for nesting, food storage and shelter.  There are plenty of pictures online of people who've discovered there was more than an engine under the hood.  In one case, the driver of an SUV started to smell a slight burning odor when she was driving.  Turned out to be 200 walnuts and a lot of grass had been stored there by some industrious squirrels preparing for the upcoming cold weather.  The SUV owners had their vehicle inspected not long before this happened, but it doesn't take some animals long to set up house in what they think is the ideal spot to make their winter home.   Obviously, that can create problems.  Squirrels, mice, rats and other small animals can chew through hoses and wires.  Plus what they store as food and nesting material may prevent engine parts from moving the way they are supposed to.  Imagine a radiator fan that wo ... read more

DOG FOOD IN YOUR ENGINE (Keeping Rodents out of your Engine)

A technician was telling us the other day that he was servicing an engine and spotted something he'd never seen before: A collection of dry dog food siting on a horizontal metal ledge near the base of the engine.  It was neatly stashed and was in a spot where the food pellets couldn't have simply fallen down in there. Even though it's the first time he'd seen dog food in an engine, he immediately knew what was going on.  Critters like mice or chipmunks had found the dog food somewhere nearby and had used the engine as a nice storage unit.  Mice, squirrels, chipmunks—you name it—like the heat of the engine.  And they'll use that to store up supplies of food for use in cold weather when outside food supplies are scarce.  The problem is they'll also chew on engine components while they're there. And they can do a lot of damage if they start gnawing on the wires.  Depending on how much of your electrical system needs to be replaced, repairs can mou ... read more

To Fix or Not To Fix: That Is the Question.

No matter what vehicle you drive, when certain things break, you have to make a decision.  Should I get it fixed now, later or never?  Air conditioning is one of those things.  You can certainly live without air conditioning, but it sure is nice to have on a sweltering day. Let's say your air conditioning breaks in the fall and you live in a climate where it gets quite cold in the winter.  Should you get it fixed now, wait until spring since it won't get warm until then or maybe not get it fixed at all? That can be a tough decision.  There are several reasons air conditioning in vehicles break.  One is fairly simple: It could be an electrical problem, perhaps a relay or solenoid is not turning on the system.  It's also a fairly inexpensive repair and doesn't require hours of labor. Or, the problem is that the coolant has leaked out.  Your service facility can find the leak and replace the parts that are leaking.  With a refrigerant recharge ... read more

Fuel for Thought

If you're like most people and drive a gasoline-powered vehicle, you need to be up to speed on its fuel-related components.  They're pretty basic: the fuel, the fuel filter and the fuel pump. The fuel's the easy part.  You probably gas up your vehicle yourself and, if you're like most drivers, price is a big factor in what you put in your vehicle. Maybe you think it doesn't matter what kind of gasoline you buy, but one major automobile association has found it does make a big difference.  Their study showed that the additives that are put in different brands can affect your vehicle's performance.  Certain gasoline retailers sell gasoline that meets performance standards called Top Tier.  The detergents used in Top Tier gasoline help protect newer engines from carbon buildup and deposits on intake valves, all things that can affect how smoothly your engine runs, how it accelerates and what kind of fuel economy you get.  You can check online or ask your serv ... read more

Idle Talk about Engines (Causes of Rough Engine Idling)

When you slow down at stoplight, your vehicle's idle should be smooth as silk.  But what happens when the engine is missing or idling roughly? That's your engine's way of telling you, "Hey, I've got something wrong with me and if you don't get someone to find out what it is, I may not start the next time you turn the key." You can help your service facility if you can describe the problem in detail.  Here's a list of things to make a note of: When is the problem happening, when the engine is cold or when it's been running for a while? Does the rough idling occur when I'm accelerating or when I'm going at a steady speed? Does it happen at high speeds?  Does it happen low speeds? Does it happen at both? Make sure you describe the problem in as much detail because it will help a technician diagnose the problem. One of the first things they'll check is how the spark plugs are firing.  Modern iridium plugs are supposed to last a long, long time.  But they CAN even ... read more

"Current" Affairs (Blown Fuses)

You may be driving along and find that suddenly your radio stops working.  There are no numbers on the display.  Then when you get home, you notice the garage door opener doesn't do a thing when you press the button. Hmm, this was working just fine this morning.  Are the two problems somehow related?   No, your vehicle doesn't need an exorcism. This has all the signs of an electrical issue, and when you experience symptoms like those, you've probably blown a fuse.  Most vehicles have fuses just like most houses have circuit breakers (some houses still have fuses). They cut the power when it reaches a pre-determined threshold that could cause major damage if it was allowed to continue.  You might say fuses take one for the team. Most modern automotive fuses are plastic with a thin strip of metal in them designed to melt when a calibrated amount of power passes through.  The philosophy is it's better for an inexpensive fuse to be destroyed than your sou ... read more

Make your Service Visit at Phil's Pro Auto Service a Good One

Most people don't love going to get their vehicle serviced, but it's one of those things you just have to do. So you might as well get the most of out of it. There are some steps you can take that will likely help you get the best results possible. For one thing, it's important to describe your problem (or problems) to the service advisor accurately and clearly. If your vehicle is making a noise, for example, take time to really listen to it and think of the best way to describe it. Does it increase in speed when you go faster? If you feel a vibration somewhere, where in the vehicle does it seem to originate? Some service advisors recommend writing things down. That way the driver won't forget any important clues that could lead to a successful resolution of the problem. Another thing is to make sure your vehicle is cleaned out and free of junk. That way the technician can access those nooks and crannies where some vital components may be. If your vehicle is full of strollers, boxes or ... read more

When "Shady" is a Good Thing

Just like your skin can burn from too much sun, so can the paint on your vehicle.  It can turn dull, oxidize and fade the more ultraviolet rays beat down on it. One solution is to park in a shady spot, or you can buy a cover for your vehicle and put it on when you know it's going to be sitting in the sun for awhile. Yes, it takes a couple of minutes to put on, but in the end, keeping the gloss on your paint will help it retain its beauty… and its value. And it's not just the sun that can damage your vehicle's paint.  Grit, bird droppings, sap, dust and dead bugs can all ruin the paint.  So, keep your vehicle clean.  Wash it with a soap made especially for vehicles. Dry it with special towels that won't scratch your paint.  Remember:  DON'T WASH YOUR VEHICLE IN THE SUN. Once your vehicle is washed, protect the paint even further with a coat of wax.  DON'T WAX YOUR VEHICLE IN THE SUN, EITHER. Don't forget the vehicle's interior.  Plastic com ... read more

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