Archive for November 2019

Not a Good Vibe (Driveshaft Failure)

Posted November 24, 2019 11:17 AM

When you feel your vehicle vibrating as you're driving down the road, one cause could be something you may not have ever seen: your driveshaft.  It is underneath the vehicle and most drivers don't climb under there to take a look very often.  The driveshaft is a cylindrical part that helps conduct the rotational power from your engine to your drive wheels.  If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, you may have two driveshafts. 

The drive shaft has bushings, and when they wear out, that's a likely source of the vibrations.  When the bushings are in good condition, they prevent the driveshaft from vibrating.  And if you don't get your vehicle repaired fairly soon after discovering vibrations, they'll continue to get worse and cause other components of the drivetrain to wear out.

The driveshaft is, of course, only one part of the drivetrain.  It includes other parts such as axles, transmission, differentials and joints.  They all work together and need to be maintained properly.  When a driveshaft fails, there can be symptoms other than vibrations.  They include difficulty turning, rattles, clunks and squeaks coming from underneath your vehicle. You may even feel a shudder when you accelerate from a stop.

Driveshafts can fail when they get corroded or damaged by rough roads, curbs and debris. A trained technician with experience working on drivetrains uses specialized equipment that doesn't further damage the drivetrain's other parts.  Sometimes the entire driveshaft will have to be replaced; sometimes the problems can be fixed by replacing individual components. 

Your vehicle's drivetrain was engineered to propel you smoothly down the road.  When time and distance begin to take their toll, have your vehicle looked at by your service facility. They'll know how to properly pinpoint what's causing your problems and restore your vehicle to the reliable, smooth, safe machine its designers worked hard to create.

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



The Best Test

Posted November 17, 2019 8:48 AM

Would you buy a jacket without even trying it on? Probably not, but it might surprise you that one study shows about half the people buy a vehicle after a short test drive around the block or none at all.  If you're in the market for another vehicle, make sure you check out the most important things so you'll know if that's the right vehicle for you.

Check out the gadgets.  Love a good sound system? Then turn it up loud.  Does it have enough bass for you? See how you like its navigation system if it has one.  Try pairing your Bluetooth smartphone with the vehicle.  Test out how to set the cruise control and how steady it keeps the speed. Back up and check out the rearview camera. If you buy this vehicle, you'll have to live with all of these things every time you drive.

Test the vehicle on roads you know.  See how it handles bumps and potholes, how it takes that tight curve that you drive every day to and from work.  Driving on familiar roads gives you a chance to compare what you know with what you're thinking about buying.

Check the fit.  One suburban driver drove a full-sized SUV and loved it until they got it home and realized it was too high for her old garage.  Remodeling the garage would be the only answer! Try installing your child seats.  Size matters, especially in a vehicle.

Gauge the fuel economy. Many vehicles have a trip computer that will calculate fuel economy quickly.  Here's a tip: you can reset it before your test drive and when you're finished, check it and see what fuel economy you got.  It will be a smaller sampling than would be ideal, but it will give you an idea.

Take as much time as you can.  A lot of sellers will pressure you to restrict your test drive to 10-15 minutes.  Ideally, you'd like to have that vehicle for a week, but that's usually not possible. So try for something in between. Remember, this could be your vehicle for years to come.

Keep in mind that every vehicle will feel strange to you at first. Buying a vehicle is a little like getting married.  You want that marriage to be happy, and you want it to last, so take the time to get to know it as well as you can.

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



The Byte Stuff (Your Vehicle's Computers)

Posted November 10, 2019 9:18 AM

Nobody has to tell you that computers are a part of so many things in our lives.  Smartphones, kitchen appliances, vacuum cleaners, televisions.  You name it—it has a computer in it.  And your vehicle is no exception.

The earliest cars relied on the technology of their time, and there was no such thing as a computer.  But now, it's not unusual for a vehicle to have as many as 150 computers in it.

They perform a variety of functions. An important one is diagnosing your vehicle's problems.  There are various sensors throughout modern vehicles that measure thousands of data points.  When something is not working correctly, they send a signal to another computer that stores that information. The data can be read by someone who has a special computer that plugs into a port in your car.  It displays certain codes that help technicians track down the culprit. 

But it's not just the diagnostics that are computerized.  Everything from your vehicle's fuel injection to anti-lock brakes is.  Convenience features such as power windows, rain-sensing windshield wipers, a wi-fi-hot spot, streaming video and navigation are all sophisticated computers.  Then there are the safety features; air bags, traction control, automatic emergency braking and a host of others are all dependent on computers.

It is important that those computers work correctly because they interface with many of the other computers on board.  To properly diagnose problems with those computers requires training and special equipment. Your service facility has invested considerable resources into both, and they are equipped to properly evaluate and repair and/or replace malfunctioning components. 

Some lament the days when backyard mechanics could pull out their tools and do their own repairs.  Those days are fast disappearing with the computerization of vehicles.  But look at the bright side.  Your vehicle does so much more, has so many more features and travels far more safely than those past generations drove.  And they're bound to get better and more sophisticated down the road.

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



Not-So-Common Sense (Sensor Failures)

Posted November 3, 2019 10:24 AM

So your vehicle won't start.  What's the first thing that comes to mind?  Battery dead? Starter motor worn out? Out of gas?  Well, those are all reasons that make sense.  But your vehicle may be refusing to start because one of its computers is being warned that to do so might damage it.  Here's how that works.

You have lots of computers in your vehicle.  They need to know the status of things so there are several sensors monitoring various things going on.  These sensors send information to the computers that adjust the fuel and air mixture so you don't waste fuel.  They know when things aren't quite right and prevent you from starting your engine if that's going to damage it. 

Other sensors make sure the coolant is the right temperature, check to see you are not polluting the air and make sure other electronic components are performing their tasks correctly.

Here's an example of a sensor doing its job.  Your engine needs oil to lubricate metal components so the friction doesn't damage them.  Your engine has an oil pressure sensor that tells a computer called the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) if things are good to go or if there's something wrong, maybe the oil pressure is too low to keep things lubricated.  If it is, it gives a signal for the vehicle not to start, protecting the engine. 

Of course, the sensors can go bad, too, with some of the same results.  And so someone has to figure out if it's the sensor that's failed or if it really has detected a problem.  That is the challenge for technicians with specialized equipment to decipher the signs.  If a bad sensor is found, it may need to be replaced.  Sometimes a thorough cleaning can do the trick.  In either case, your service facility can track down the problem and get you back on the road.  Makes sense, doesn't it?

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



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