Archive for June 2015

Road Trip: Be Ready for Anything with a Trip Inspection at Economy Transmission and Auto Repair

Posted June 26, 2015 12:00 PM

Road trip, anyone? Nothing spoils a great vacation faster than ending up stranded on the side of the road or spending a week in a rundown motel while our vehicle sits in the shop. Long days on the road can bring out the worst in your vehicle, so before you leave, prepare it for the journey by getting a trip inspection at Economy Transmission and Auto Repair in Bristol. After all, you wouldn't travel without clean socks, why ask your vehicle to travel with a load of dirty oil?

The first step in a trip inspection at Economy Transmission and Auto Repair is to look at your travel plans. What kinds of roads will you be driving on? Will you be in the Connecticut back country or on the freeway? Will you be crossing mountains? Off-roading? What will the weather be like? How far away from Bristol will you be traveling? How much are you hauling? Will you be towing a trailer or lugging a rooftop carrier? Will you encounter dust, mud, snow or sea salt? All of these questions can help determine which services are most needed. And don't hesitate to ask your Economy Transmission and Auto Repair service advisor. He can give you good auto advice on what trip conditions are hardest on what systems of your vehicle and what kinds of services it realistically needs. Start with the tires and check them for tread wear and proper inflation. Replace or rotate them as needed. If you need to change them out for winter tires, then do so.

Then look at your shocks or struts for wear. Replace them if needed. You'll want that extra comfort on your trip. Be sure to check your alignment as well. Steering a vehicle that is out of alignment is tiring, and dangerous. Don't overlook your brakes. With extra passengers and baggage, your brakes are going to get a workout. You want them in top condition.

In addition, inspect belts and hoses. If any of them are close to wearing out, have them replaced before your long trip does them in.

Change your engine air filter if it needs it, or if it's close to needing it. Your car's air filter processes 12,000 times as much air as the amount of fuel it burns. A clean air filter will protect electronic sensors that affect how your engine runs.

Get an oil change at Economy Transmission and Auto Repair in Bristol if it's coming due. Make it a full-service oil change while you're at it. That way, all of your fluids will get checked and topped off. Change any dirty or old fluids. Bristol drivers don't want to overstress their cooling systems or transmissions with dirty fluid during a long trip.

Does your vehicle smell? Check the cabin air filter. The bad smell could also indicate an exhaust leak, which can be fatal on a long trip. So don't ignore bad odors; check them out.

If your air conditioning hasn't been up to snuff, then give it an overhaul. You want your vacation to be relaxed and pleasant, and that means keeping the passenger compartment comfortable.

And be sure to check your wiper blades and your headlamps. You may find yourself driving in unfamiliar territory at night after a long day. You'll want to be able to see as much as possible.

Of course, almost everything listed here is just part of preventive maintenance for smart driving. If you keep up with your vehicle care on a regular basis, a trip inspection will be a breeze at Economy Transmission and Auto Repair.

Taking care of your vehicle before you leave for a road trip will pay you back in safety, peace of mind, improved comfort and better fuel economy. It will also help your vacation go as planned by keeping you on the road and headed for that next great adventure. Just don't forget to pack your socks.

Economy Transmission and Auto Repair
201 Terryville Road
Bristol, Connecticut 06010
(860) 589-1255



Drive Defensively in Connecticut

Posted June 24, 2015 12:00 PM

Car care is part of auto safety in Bristol. But the most important thing we can do to improve safety on Connecticut roads is to drive safely.

Defensive driving begins with the proper attitude. Have in mind that you won't let anyone take your safety away from you. You'll be aware of your surroundings, road conditions, other vehicles and hazards. And the first person to be concerned with is you: start with your own environment.

Don't leave without securing all occupants including children and pets. Watch for loose items that can become projectiles during evasive maneuvers.

Driving too fast or too slow increases the chance of an accident.

Never drive impaired: Alcohol is a factor in half of all fatal crashes. Never drink and drive.

Other impairments include being sleepy, angry, daydreaming or talking. If you suddenly wonder how you got where you are – you're not paying enough attention.

Keep your windows clean and uncluttered. No fuzzy dice and stickers.

Keep your car in good shape so that it handles properly: Maintain tires, lights, brakes, suspension, wheel alignment and steering.

Always use your turn signals while driving around Bristol, Connecticut. Avoid other vehicles' blind spots.

Don't drive faster than your headlights – if you can't stop within the distance you can see, you're going too fast.

Avoid driving over debris in the road. Even harmless looking items can cause damage or an accident.

Keep your wheels straight when waiting to turn at an intersection in Bristol . That way if you're hit from behind, your car won't be pushed into on-coming traffic.

My daddy always said that when you drive, you're actually driving five cars: yours, the one in front, the one behind and the ones on either side. You can't trust that other drivers will do the right thing, so you've got to be aware of what they're doing at all times.

If you see another car driving erratically, weaving, crossing lanes, etc., stay back. Take the next right turn if you're downtown Bristol, or take the next exit on the Connecticut highway. Notify the police if you see someone driving dangerously in our Bristol community.

Never follow too closely. The minimum distance is the two second rule. Pick a landmark ahead, like a tree or road marker. When the car in front of you passes it, start counting: 'one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand.' If you pass the landmark before reaching two-one-thousand, you're following too closely.

Remember that the two second rule is the minimum – it assumes you're alert and aware. Three seconds is safer. Move out to five seconds or more if it's foggy or rainy.

Someone will inevitably move into your forward safety zone – just drop back and keep a safe distance.

If someone follows you too closely, just move over.

Don't play chicken by contesting your right of way or race to beat someone to a merge. Whoever loses that contest has the potential to lose big and you don't want any part of that. So stay alert, constantly scan around your car and arrive safely.

Economy Transmission and Auto Repair
201 Terryville Road
Bristol, Connecticut 06010
(860) 589-1255



Your Vehicle Is NOT Maintenance Free, Bristol Car Owners

Posted June 18, 2015 12:00 PM

A generation ago, Bristol drivers seemed to be more inclined to keep their vehicle's preventive maintenance on schedule. One reason for this may be that vehicles back then were a lot less reliable than they are today. Taking your vehicle in to your Bristol shop every year or two for repairs seemed to be a good reminder to keep the oil changed.

For example, almost everyone in Bristol used to take their vehicles in for regular tune-ups. Vehicles had mechanical ignition systems, which meant ignition points, spark plugs and coils had to be replaced and the timing adjusted every few years. As long as the vehicle was in for a tune-up at Economy Transmission and Auto Repair, the vehicle was inspected and you took care of any needed repairs at the same time.

Today's engines have electronic ignition systems and engine control computers. Spark plugs can last for up to 100,000 miles/160,000 km. Vehicle reliability has vastly improved in the last few decades, and surveys report fewer problems with new vehicles than ever before. That also means that our vehicles don't experience a huge performance drop when they're ready for some care. But it doesn't mean that they don't need it.

Modern Bristol drivers need to rely on calendars and mileage intervals to know when to schedule maintenance. Owner's manuals contain recommendations on when different types of maintenance should be performed. Also, Economy Transmission and Auto Repair in Bristol can provide advice about auto maintenance schedules. At Economy Transmission and Auto Repair in Bristol, we know that benefits of staying on top of preventive maintenance are substantial. First, you'll get better engine performance and fuel economy. Those two things alone return the cost of preventive maintenance: in fuel savings and safety. Also, routine maintenance has been proven to prevent major car repairs later on. Again, the cost savings can be significant. As the old saying goes, “Spend a penny, save a dime.”

Modern vehicle engines may be more durable and reliable than their predecessors, but they're more sophisticated and complex as well. For this reason, preventive maintenance today is even more critical than the old tune-up. Modern engine systems have a lot of parts that have to stay lubricated. These parts can be made of aluminum, plastic or steel. Special additives in lubricants are required to keep each of these materials from breaking down or corroding. Over time, these additives are depleted, even if the vehicle isn't driven. This makes fluid changes a critical part of scheduled maintenance if you want to keep your vehicle on the road.

As an example, coolant fluid in your engine is a sophisticated mix that not only keeps your vehicle engine cool but also protects and maintains its components. However, this fluid gradually gets contaminated and anti-corrosion additives are depleted. It can become corrosive and damage the vehicle's engine parts it was designed to protect. It can eat holes in your radiator and other engine parts. Changing the coolant could have prevented this damage, and it's a whole lot easier and cheaper than replacing a radiator.

Timely oil changes are more critical for Bristol drivers than they used to be. Skipping just one oil change can start the build-up of oil sludge in your engine. Sludge can clog small engine passages, which cuts off the supply of lubricant to engine parts. Just this small bit of sludge can reduce the life expectancy of your engine. If the build-up continues, it could lead to engine failure within two or three years.

One word of warning to anyone in Bristol who purchases used vehicles: take care when buying a leased vehicle. Bristol folks who lease vehicles only intend to drive them for two or three years, generally the years when the vehicle is least likely to experience any problems. One of the reasons people lease vehicles is that they don't want to be bothered with maintenance or vehicle care. Before buying a pre-leased vehicle, be sure to inspect it for signs of damage that result from lack of proper care.

We can all be grateful for the improved reliability of our modern vehicles. With proper maintenance and care, we can expect them to last longer, perform better, get better fuel economy and require fewer repairs than ever before. We just have to be more conscientious about scheduling time for their care.

Give us a call or send us an email for more helpful tips.

Economy Transmission and Auto Repair
201 Terryville Road
Bristol, Connecticut 06010
(860) 589-1255

 

 



The Straight and Narrow: Power Steering Service at Economy Transmission and Auto Repair

Posted June 12, 2015 12:00 PM

Service to a vehicle's power steering system is part of preventive maintenance for  Bristol auto owners. This system provides power to the steering wheel so you can turn it with ease. Without power steering, all of the power to turn your vehicle's wheels would have to come from you.

The central element of most power steering systems is a pump. The pump pressurizes the power steering fluid, and it is this pressure that provides auxiliary steering power. A belt connected to the engine usually powers the pump, although some systems use an electric pump. Some newer vehicles have an electric motor that directly provides the power steering boost.

Pressurized fluid moves from the pump to the steering gear through a high-pressure hose. A low-pressure hose returns fluid to the pump. Power steering fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the system.

Bristol drivers should remember that fluid levels in the power steering system should be checked at every oil change. Low fluid levels can damage the pump, which can be expensive to repair. Low fluid levels may also indicate a leaky hose in the power steering system, so it is a good idea to inspect the hoses, especially if your fluid levels are low.

Power steering fluid breaks down over time, losing its effectiveness. It also gradually collects moisture, which can lead to corrosion in the steering system. So the fluid needs to be replaced occasionally. You should check with your owner's manual or ask your service advisor at Economy Transmission and Auto Repair to learn how often this fluid should be replaced.

When your fluid is replaced, your technicians at Economy Transmission and Auto Repair will remove the old fluid and replace it with new. Power steering fluids are not all created equal; the fluid has to be compatible with your hoses and seals. Economy Transmission and Auto Repair can ensure that you get the right fluid for your vehicle, or you can consult your owner's manual.

Signs that your power steering system is in trouble can include the following: a steering wheel that is hard to turn, auxiliary steering power that cuts in and out, or a whining sound coming from the pump. Also, drivers in Bristol who are not topping off the power steering fluid on schedule may hear squealing coming from the engine belts.

To protect your steering system you should never hold the steering wheel in the far right or far left position for more than a few seconds at a time. This can wear out your pump in a hurry.

Preventive maintenance for your steering system primarily involves the power steering components, but your steering system has other parts that can wear out or be damaged by rough Connecticut driving conditions. Such parts include the ball-joint, idler arm, steering gear, steering-knuckle and tie rod. Signs that they are in need of attention include play in the steering wheel, a vehicle that wanders, uneven tire wear and a steering wheel that is off-center. Bristol drivers should have their alignment checked annually. This check-up can reveal bent or damaged steering components.

For answers to other questions about your steering system, or for auto advice on any type of vehicle maintenance, check with the team at Economy Transmission and Auto Repair. We can steer you in the right direction when it comes to quality car care.

Economy Transmission and Auto Repair
201 Terryville Road
Bristol, Connecticut 06010
(860) 589-1255



Time Out: Suspension Problems in Bristol

Posted June 5, 2015 12:00 PM

Your vehicle's suspension system has two jobs: to prevent the passengers from getting tossed around inside the vehicle every time it hits a bump in the road and to keep the tires firmly planted on the road around every corner and over every bump.

To see your suspension system, you'll have to look under your vehicle. Anything that connects the wheels to the vehicle's frame is part of the suspension system. They're heavy-duty parts that work hard while you're driving and take a lot of wear and tear. Because of this, you should have your technician at Economy Transmission and Auto Repair look at them once a year as part of your preventive maintenance routine. A good time for it is every time you get your alignment checked.

If your suspension is in trouble, you often feel it in how your vehicle drives. You should get a check of your suspension system: if the vehicle pulls to one side or wanders, if the steering is erratic, if your ride isn't as smooth as it should be, or if your vehicle handles poorly. Uneven tire wear can also indicate worn parts in your suspension system. If your shocks are leaking oil then they definitely need to be replaced. All in all, if you don't feel in control when you're driving, go get your suspension inspected.

Shocks and struts wear out. Wheel bearings may need to be repacked every few years. Some parts of your suspension may need to be lubricated whenever you change your oil. Preventive maintenance is the key to keeping your vehicle under control. Good care can prevent accidents for Bristol drivers.

If you are in an accident, even a minor one, it can damage your suspension system or knock your wheels out of alignment. Even hitting a curb, pothole or large rock can damage your suspension. A wheel balancing or alignment won't correct a suspension problem, and after any suspension work, you may need to get an alignment.

At Economy Transmission and Auto Repair, we advise Bristol drivers never to procrastinate on getting their suspension system repaired. A damaged suspension system can lead to loss of control of a vehicle in an emergency situation and serious accidents.

Potholes are unsightly nuisances around Bristol, but they're also a major cause of suspension damage for Bristol vehicles. To avoid this, Bristol drivers should always keep their tires properly inflated. This gives the tires maximum resiliency. When you're driving around the Bristol area, avoid potholes if possible. If you can't avoid one, then slow down before driving over it. Slower speeds limit pothole damage. But if you're a little late detecting a pothole, don't brake on top of it. This will throw the vehicle's weight forward and increase the damage.

The suspension system may not be pretty to look at, but it provides you with a safe, comfortable ride — as long as you maintain it properly. You don't have to show it off, but you should be proud of it.

Economy Transmission and Auto Repair
201 Terryville Road
Bristol, Connecticut 06010
(860) 589-1255

 



Wipe Out! New Wiper Blades for Bristol Drivers

Posted June 3, 2015 12:00 PM

When people in Bristol talk about vehicle safety, they think of tires and brakes. But do we think about our windshields? Isn't the ability to see a prime safety factor when it comes to driving around Connecticut? Yet we often don't even notice our windshields until we can't see through them or our wiper blades fail.

It's estimated that around 46 million people are driving with wipers that won't keep their windshields clear during a storm — that's 46 million people with impaired vision during a storm. For safety's sake, Bristol drivers need to change the way they think about wiper blades. Most of us, 78% in fact, only change our wiper blades after they fail. In other words, we don't get new ones until the old ones become a safety hazard. Instead, we need to make wiper blades part of our preventive maintenance routine.

Wiper blades should be changed twice a year, in the spring and in the fall. In Connecticut areas that experience harsh winter weather, special blades are available that prevent ice and snow from collecting on the wiper. Ask your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Economy Transmission and Auto Repair about wiper blades that repel ice and snow.

No matter what blades you use on your vehicle in the winter, don't expect them to clear the ice and snow from your windshield after your vehicle has been parked for a while. Using your wipers will shred your blades and may even damage your wiper motor. And don't drive on Bristol roads with a frosted windshield. That's a serious safety hazard. It can cause accidents, and you could be held liable.

Wiper blades are subjected to harsh conditions in Connecticut. They're out in the Bristol sun and in the cold. Over time, they become hard and brittle and lose their flexibility. Then they start to tear. Without flexibility, wipers just can't clear a windshield of water or snow. And torn wipers can actually scratch your windshield. Then the entire windshield has to be replaced — along with the wiper blades. It's a prime example of how preventive maintenance could have saved you repair bill.

Bristol drivers can purchase new wiper blades at Economy Transmission and Auto Repair or at any Bristol auto parts store. They cost about the same. But at Economy Transmission and Auto Repair we'll also throw in the installation.

Once you have good wipers installed, don't forget to top off your windshield washer fluid. If you take your vehicle in for a full-service oil change at Economy Transmission and Auto Repair in Bristol, your washer fluid will get topped off then. But it's good auto advice to purchase a jug of washer fluid to keep at home — just in case. And pack it in the car when you go on long trips.

While we're on the subject, Economy Transmission and Auto Repair advises Bristol drivers to always fill their washer fluid reservoir with windshield washer fluid. Don't ever use water. Water can freeze in the reservoir, which can damage it. It can also freeze onto your windshield. Besides, plain water just can't get a windshield clean. Think about it. Do you use plain water to clean your bathroom mirrors? And a bathroom mirror doesn't get exposed to anything near the gunk that can end up on your windshield. Windshield washer fluid was designed to do one thing — to clean windshields. Let it do its job.

A clean windshield is not just good vehicle care for Bristol drivers — it's also a safety feature. Let's keep it that way.

Economy Transmission and Auto Repair
201 Terryville Road
Bristol, Connecticut 06010
(860) 589-1255

 



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