Archive for January 2021

'Tis the Season (Tires)

Posted January 31, 2021 9:05 AM

We all know about winter tires.  But did you know there is such a thing as summer tires?

Most people have all-season tires on their vehicles.  They work pretty well in a variety of weather conditions.  But if you want better handling and performance, you might consider switching to summer tires.  Here are a few things you should know about them.

Summer tires are good for high-performance vehicles like sports cars and luxury SUVs, but they don't have to be limited to those. They have a different tread pattern than all-season tires, with generally shallower grooves and more rubber that contacts the road.  The rubber is made of a stickier compound good for taking corners at higher speeds.  Plus it is engineered so it stays firmer the hotter the temperature gets. 

Here's a bonus.  That design also works well in warm, wet weather.  It makes sense, since more the more rubber that's touching the concrete or asphalt when it's slippery out, the better the traction. 

There are some things to be aware of with summer tires.  They often have asymmetrical or unidirectional tread patterns.  That sometimes limits the way these tires can be rotated on a vehicle.  Another thing to remember is it is NOT a good idea to use summer tires in any wintery conditions.  They lose traction as the temperature heads toward the freezing range and below since that rubber that's designed to stay firm at warm temperatures gets hard as a rock when they freeze.

But in warmer weather, summer tires can increase your braking and cornering capabilities.  Plus you'll notice more grip at faster speeds and higher temperatures than all-season tires.  So think about discussing summer tires with your service advisor to see if they'd be a good fit for the type of driving you do.  He or she will offer you some choices that are designed to meet your vehicle's specs.

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



Gas Smell! (What Causes Gasoline Odors)

Posted January 24, 2021 8:34 AM

If you've ever walked into your garage and noticed it smelled like gasoline, pay attention. Gasoline can be dangerous, both from the health problems fumes can cause and the fire danger gasoline presents. 

There are many things that can cause a vehicle to give off a gasoline odor.  One of the easiest to track down is the gas cap.  It could be missing or it doesn't seal well any more (they do wear out).  That can also cause the Check Engine light to light up, so those are clues to tell your service advisor when you take it in for diagnosis.

Another thing that can cause the Check Engine light to come on and produce a gasoline smell is the fuel filler neck. It's the part that goes from the place you put your fuel in to the gas tank. Over time, these can wear out and fail (they're made out of rubber or metal).  They can leak gasoline, too.

It's always a good idea to check the garage floor for any gasoline puddles.  Note the location of the puddle in relation to the vehicle. If it's near the back, that's possibly the fuel filler neck or the gas tank leaking.  In the middle of the vehicle? May be fuel lines.  Near the front? Could be fuel injectors (or carburetor if you have one) or fuel pump. 

There are other causes of gas odors, and you need an expert to figure out the source soon.  Gasoline leaks are nothing to play around with.  Gasoline is flammable, potentially explosive and its fumes can damage your lungs. A trained technician can pinpoint the cause and get your garage back to smelling like a normal garage again.

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



The New Blade in Town

Posted January 17, 2021 8:09 AM

If your windshield wipers are streaking and chattering when you turn them on in the rain or snow, it's time for a little "blade renewal." And when it comes to new wiper blades, there are some new designs that are worth a look.

One of the latest is called the beam blade.  It's different than conventional blades you might be used to.  Instead of a metal frame and a rubber blade that slides in the frame on a track, the beam blades have an enclosed spring-steel band that allows the rubber wiper to conform to the windshield glass shape much more tightly. 

There are some key advantages to beam blades, which is why many vehicle manufacturers are making them standard on their latest models.  For one thing, they work well in all weather conditions, including the heat of summer and the icy, snowy cold of winter.  Since there is no separate frame, snow and ice can't form in gaps like conventional wipers and prevent the blade from clearing your windshield. 

Many beam blades also have a mini "wing" on them. It uses the air moving over your windshield to create a little extra downward pressure that presses the blade even more tightly against the glass.  The faster you go, the more firmly the blade can sweep off moisture. That means a clearer view. 

Beam blades are an upgrade that can add to your vehicle's overall safety with that increased visibility.  The best thing is to discuss wiper blades with your service advisor to see if it's a good choice for you and your vehicle, keeping in mind the type of driving you do and the climate you live in.  Remember that when it comes to wipers, it's important that you are using blades that are designed to fit your vehicle and that they are installed correctly. 

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



Steer Me Right! (Failing Power Steering Hose)

Posted January 10, 2021 11:30 AM

Most drivers love how easy it is to turn their vehicles, and they have power steering to thank.  Engineers have figured out a way to take some of your engine's power to help you turn. Without it, steering can be quite a chore.  New power systems are electric, but there are still plenty of the older hydraulic power steering systems out there, and it's wise to keep them working the way they should so you don't find yourself stranded without power steering.

Those hydraulic power systems use a fluid under pressure that is pumped to a device that helps you turn your wheels more easily.  It's that pressure that presents the challenge.  After your vehicle's seen a few years on the road, you may find your steering isn't quite as easy as it was.  You may hear a groaning or humming sound when you turn. 

One component that can fail is the pressure hose that carries that fluid from the power steering pump to that turning assist mechanism.  The hose is made of rubber and can leak, crack, get damaged by heat and debris or just get too old.  If yours is ten years old or older, it's likely getting close to the end of its life.

If you think you can just wait until it fails completely, think of these possible consequences.  If the hose or a coupling fails, power steering fluid can blow all over the hot engine.  That fluid is flammable and can start a fire.  Or if you've been driving for a few weeks with low power steering fluid, that could ruin your power steering pump. Replacing the pump is an extra expense you can probably  live without.

A technician will replace the necessary parts and make sure air and contaminants are bled or flushed from the system.  Then, he or she will check for leaks.  Just think how important a properly working power steering system is for safe operation of your vehicle.  Make sure you keep yours in top shape for your safety's sake and the safety of others on the road around you.

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



Don't Be Shocked (Shock Absorbers)

Posted January 3, 2021 10:25 AM

If you've ever ridden down a rough road on your bicycle, you know how hard a ride it can be.  Yet drive down the same road in your car, truck or SUV and it miraculously will smooth out the ride.  That's because it is equipped with shock absorbers.  They are built to dampen impacts from road irregularities.  But after taking hundreds of hits from potholes, railroad tracks and curbs, your shock absorbers can wear out.  Besides the rough ride that can cause, there are other ways your vehicle's performance can be affected.

When it comes to braking for example, you may take a longer distance to stop.  That's because shocks help keep your tires in contact with the surface of the road.  If the shocks aren't working properly, the tires won't make contact like they should.  So when you slam on the brakes, your vehicle will take longer to stop.

Consider what worn out shocks are doing to your tires.  Since the bumps aren't being dampened as much, your tires can bounce up and down more.  That can produce a problem of uneven wear called cupping.

And when you start out from a stop, your vehicle may not have the traction it should since the shocks aren't keeping them down on the road as you accelerate.  If you have front wheel drive, you may lose some steering control on acceleration. Obviously, many of these things involve safety concerns.

Pay attention to any deterioration in your vehicle's ride quality.  If your vehicle is starting to bounce up and down and its ride feels bumpier than before, head on over to your vehicle service facility and get your suspension checked out.  Do the same if steering response isn't as good as it used to be.  Notice that your vehicle nose dives when you brake?  Are your tires wearing in an unusual manner? All are signs that your shocks may be on their last legs.

If the last time you replaced your shocks was 50,000 miles/80,000 kilometers ago, a technician should evaluate them.  Don't be "shocked" if it's time for new ones.


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



Power Failure (Broken Power Seat)

Posted January 1, 2021 9:17 AM

Know anyone who doesn't love a power seat in an SUV, a car, truck or van? They're convenient and precise in their adjustments.  But when they break, oh, what a pain.  Not only is it inconvenient, it may leave your seat position too close to the steering wheel or too far from the pedals.  This is a must-fix problem.

There are many things that cause a power seat to fail:

  • Seat controls.  These are either at the side of the seat or in the door.  Both are places that can be exposed to moisture or other contaminants.  When the controls stop working, they usually need to be replaced.
  • Seat motor.  Electric motors are what make a power seat move, and sometimes they fail.  Sometimes they just get worked to death and die of old age.  Replacement is the most common remedy.
  • Fuses. A power seat is, after all, powered by electricity and all vehicle power systems have fuses to protect them.  A technician can determine which fuse may have blown and replace it.  But it's also important to figure out what caused the fuse to blow and deal with that, too.
  • Wires.  There are wires under the seats that move when you move the seat.  Sometimes they get stretched, kinked or ripped.  In a power seat malfunction, it may be a wiring harness that needs to be replaced.
  • Gears.  They help the seat move and may need to be realigned or replaced.
  • Obstructions.  Yes, a piece of trash or a kid's toy has been known to jam up the works of a power seat. Taking them out of the mechanism may get your seat working again.

Most people pay extra to have power seats in a vehicle. So make sure you keep that convenient feature working. And don't forget that it's a safety issue, too.

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



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