Archive for February 2021

The Power Behind your Engine (Alternator Diagnosis and Repair)

Posted February 28, 2021 7:25 AM

There's nothing like that sinking feeling when you turn the key and nothing happens in your vehicle.  A lot of us are quick to blame the battery.  But it may instead be your alternator that's failing.

Your battery supplies power to start your vehicle, but the alternator is what sends power when your engine is running.  The good news is alternators last a fairly long time, and it's not unusual to get seven years out of one. But they can give up the ghost thanks to the harsh conditions in the engine compartment.

Alternators have bearings inside them that keep things turning smoothly.  Debris, liquid, dirt and more can team up with the high temperatures your engine generates to cause those bearings to seize up.  That's not good, and if that happens, you may even be able to hear the bearings grind.

Other symptoms of a dying alternator are a squealing noise in the engine compartment or your headlights may go dim and bright, dim and bright.  You might even notice an electrical smell.  Any of these signs warrants a trip to your service facility.

Here's something else to think about.  If your alternator's bearings have seized up and the unit's shaft is not turning freely, that can destroy the belt that's attached to it.  So don't be surprised if your service advisor says both parts have to be replaced. 

There are different grades of alternators you can buy, but consider just how important this part is to keep your vehicle running.  Your service advisor will give you options based on your driving style and vehicle.  Remember, if you notice any of those symptoms that may signal a failing alternator, have it taken care of before you wind up stuck somewhere at the side of the road.

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



What is a TPS? (Throttle Position Sensor)

Posted February 21, 2021 10:26 AM

You know you have an accelerator pedal; step on it and your vehicle is supposed to go.  But did you know there is a part in your vehicle that keeps track of where the throttle is? It's called the Throttle Position Sensor, or TPS.

The TPS is a sensor that helps your vehicle figure out the right mix of air and fuel is reaching your engine.  It does that by keeping track of the throttle and sending that information to your vehicle's computer.  Other factors play a role in how well your engine is performing, including air temperature, how fast the engine is turning over and air flow. 

When the TPS isn't working right, you may find your vehicle won't accelerate or doesn't have the power you're expecting when you press on the accelerator.  In some cases, it may accelerate on its own.  Sometimes your vehicle won't go over a certain speed.  Your Check Engine light may go on.

Any of these symptoms should be checked out soon.  If your TPS stops working right, your vehicle may not be safe to drive.  Fortunately, most vehicles have a "limp home" mode that will allow you to get off a busy road to a safe spot. 

Your service advisor can let you know which TPS is the correct replacement for your vehicle.  Your shop may have to re-program the new TPS so it works correctly with other software in your vehicle.

It's a fact of life these days that computers control many of a vehicle's functions. The sensors that feed information to those computers help make your vehicle work the way it was engineered to and keep you motoring down the road safely and efficiently.

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



How Far We've Come (Newer Vehicle Technology)

Posted February 14, 2021 9:44 AM

Automotive design has come a long way since the days of the Model T, especially when it comes to safety technology.  You can thank computers for a lot of the latest innovations.  Here are a few that have been making their mark in recent years.

Adaptive cruise control.  This is cruise control with a brain.  Not only will adaptive cruise control keep your vehicle going at a steady speed, it will also slow it down and even stop it if the vehicle ahead of you slows down and stops. 

Automatic emergency braking.  We've all been distracted while driving, and you've probably been in a situation where the driver ahead of you has suddenly stopped.  Or maybe your attention wandered for a minute and you looked up to see your vehicle closing in fast on the car ahead of you.  (After all, there are a lot more distractions in your vehicle these days.)  New systems that use cameras, lasers and other types of sensors will warn you to start braking.  If you don't heed the warning, they'll put on the brakes for you. 

Blind spot warning.  We all worry about hitting a car approaching from behind and on either side if we are changing lanes.  Rearview mirrors cover some blind spots but they're not foolproof.  Enter the blind spot warning system; it warns you with a noise or a light if a vehicle is in a spot you might not be able to see.

Lane departure warning.  We all try to stay in our lane, but sometimes our attention wanders.  If you start to drift out of your lane, new warning systems using cameras and other sophisticated sensors will tell you to get back in your lane.  Some send an audible warning, others use a vibration or warning light. Some will even steer your vehicle back into the lane. 

Rearview camera.  There was a time when trucks and SUVs were involved in horrible accidents because the drivers couldn't see what was behind them as they backed up.  Children and pets were among the tragic victims.  Now, inexpensive rearview cameras are required in the U.S. and Canada, saving lives and providing much more peace of mind for drivers of vehicles with rear visibility issues. 

It's important to make sure this safety technology is working correctly for these systems to be effective.  Your service facility can check and maintain these systems as the manufacturer recommends.

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



Cold Weather Vehicle No-Nos (Items to Avoid Storing in a Freezing Vehicle)

Posted February 7, 2021 11:38 AM

It's always easier to leave a few things in your vehicle so you'll have them on hand.  But in cold weather, while it's a good idea to carry items such as a phone charger, blanket and shovel, there are some things you shouldn't store in your vehicle.

  • Medicines and drugs.  Cold temperatures can affect the chemical makeup of some drugs.  Avoid leaving them in a vehicle, especially those in a liquid form like insulin, eye drops and cough syrup.
  • Latex paint.  They are water based, and when they freeze, they get lumpy and lousy.  Your paint job will not be what you had in mind.
  • Cellphones and computers.  Most of these have lithium ion batteries.  If they get colder than freezing (0 degrees C, 32 degrees F), if you try to charge them, you'll more than likely ruin the batteries. 
  • Bottled water, soda, wine or beer.  OK, here's the scoop.  All of these can freeze and split the container they're in.  Yes, soda, wine and beer will take a lower temperature to freeze than water, but all of these can easily freeze if the mercury plunges low enough.  The problem isn't when they're frozen; it's when they unfreeze, drip out of their containers and leave you with a colossal mess. 
  • Musical instruments.  Guitars are made of wood.  When a guitar freezes and you bring it quickly into a warm room, you may hear cracking sounds that tell you that guitar will be not-so-gently weeping from the damage that can occur.  The same goes for wind instruments and others.  Don't ever subject musical instruments to quick temperature extremes.

 

Take a little time and effort not to leave these things out in a frigid vehicle.  You'll likely spend far more time and money tending to the resulting consequences than if you'd just brought them inside in the first place.

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



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