(704) 372-3885 2641 N. Graham St. Charlotte, NC 28206

Learn About Your Car

Question:

My technician said I need a new serpentine belt but I don't see any cracks in it. Does it really need to be replaced?

Answer:

I appreciate your concern. Old style neoprene belts would crack with age, making it pretty obvious to Charlotte citizens when they needed to be replaced. Nowadays, serpentine belts are made from a different material that doesn't crack or glaze the way neoprene did.

Stepping back, the serpentine belt transfers power from the engine to various accessories like the alternator, power steering pump and air conditioning compressor - even the power brakes and water pump on some vehicles. Modern serpentine belts have several grooves running their length. These grooves mate with the pulleys on the accessories. When the belt is within its useful life, it spins the accessories at the designed speed.

Over time, belt material is worn away. When as little as 5% of the material is lost, the belt can slip and not properly spin the accessories leading to stress and damage.

Using a special tool, your friendly and knowledgeable Joey's Truck Repair Inc. service advisor can measure the material lost in your serpentine belt. He will indicate if it needs to be replaced.

It's for Charlotte drivers to understand that the serpentine belt is part of the accessory belt drive system which also includes the serpentine belt tensioner and any idler pulleys. The belt tensioner has the same service life as the belt itself, so if it is time to replace the belt, you should also replace the tensioner and idler pulleys as well.

A worn belt tensioner can cause belt slip and enough belt-slap to really hammer the accessory upstream from the tensioner. Running too long with a worn belt, tensioner or idler pulleys causes excessive heat at the accessory pulleys, resulting in inefficiency, damage and premature replacement.

We can perform tests to see if your belt or tensioner is worn and should be replaced. Ask your if it's time for a serpentine belt system replacement.

Give us a call to set up an appointment!

Question: I was told I need to have my transfer case serviced. What is that?

Answer: On a four-wheel-drive (4WD) vehicle, power needs to be transferred to both the front and rear axles. The transfer case is the mechanism that makes that happen. There are many drivetrain configurations out there, so we'll just talk in generalities.

Trucks and larger SUV's are often primarily rear-wheel-drive. When the driver (or the vehicle's computer) selects 4WD, the transfer case also sends power to the front axle. The transfer case may also contain an additional gear set for off-roading.

The transfer case is lubricated and cooled by special gear oil. Over time, the oil gets contaminated and needs to be changed, just like your engine oil and transmission fluid.

Now many vehicles around Charlotte have all-wheel-drive (AWD). AWD vehicles are often based on a front-wheel-drive or rear-wheel-drive vehicle with the addition of a center differential that sends power to the rear wheels when needed. This center differential, like the transfer case, has a service schedule for replacing contaminated lubricant. The work of transfer cases and differentials is demanding and proper maintenance should not be neglected.

Knowing the service schedule for your transfer case and differentials will help keep your vehicle running well and avoid premature wear.

Steering should be something you don't have to think about too much. You want to go somewhere, you turn the wheel, and you head in that direction. Simple, right?

What happens when your steering wheel becomes hard to turn? Or what happens if it starts to feel disconnected from the wheels, a little loosey-goosey?

Steering is one of the most important functions of any vehicle. If your steering wheel is not turning easily and precisely, there are several things that might be wrong. First is the power steering system. Virtually all vehicles on the road these days have power steering, some hydraulic and some electric. When either system fails, your wheel can become very hard to turn.

In a hydraulic system, the problems could be caused by many things. You may have a belt that's worn or stretched, causing it to slip. The belt may even break. Your power steering system may be low or out of hydraulic fluid. That fluid can become contaminated. Sometimes you can hear a loud whine coming from the engine compartment when you turn. That could mean your hydraulic power steering pump is failing. The best way to avoid all of these problems is to have regular maintenance done on your hydraulic steering and serpentine belt systems.

If you have an electric power steering system, the electric motor can fail, a sensor may be having trouble, or some other electrical problem. A technician can pinpoint the reason these systems fail.

Now, what happens if you find the steering sloppy and loose? This can be just as dangerous as the hard-to-turn wheel. It could be a problem with components that connect the steering mechanism with the wheels: tie rods, Pitman arms, ball joints, or the steering gears themselves.

Steering issues are safety issues and should be fixed as soon as possible. Describe your symptoms the best you can to us... Our technicians are trained to evaluate what's causing your steering troubles and will make the necessary repairs to get you safely back on the road. It will truly be a turning point in your driving experience.

Ever get musky odors coming from your car's air vents? It's actually fairly common. Moisture can accumulate in the air conditioning/heating ventilation system allowing mold, mildew, fungus and bacteria to grow.

Disinfecting and deodorizing is a process. Depending on how bad the problem is, there are a couple of approaches we may take to get rid of the unwanted smells. For mild situations (especially on newer vehicles), a special deodorizing disinfectant is introduced into the ventilation system. This may be an aerosol or a mist application.

The treatment kills the offending organisms and deodorizes the system. Sometimes in older vehicles, a good deal of mildew or other microorganisms can grow on the air conditioning evaporator which is housed in the heating/air conditioning air blend box behind the dashboard. In cases like this we'll fill the blend box with disinfecting foam that can eliminate stubborn organisms and return a fresh, clean scent. In all of this, don't forget your cabin air filter. This is the filter that cleans the air coming into the passenger compartment of your vehicle.

We can also replace the cabin air filter to eliminate unpleasant odors. It is the first line of defense... Changing the cabin air filter as needed can actually prevent further contamination problems downstream. If you are experiencing any unusual odors, sounds, vibrations, etc., give us a call. We can recommend the next steps to discover what the is and what it will take to set it right.

Tech Question: I was driving on the freeway in NC and my vehicle engine started to get hot. I turned off my air conditioner and was able to drive the short distance to my meeting and then found a shop in Charlotte. It turns out that my water pump was leaking. It cost me many hundreds of dollars to get it fixed. What could I have done to avoid this?

Answer: This guy's story really did have a happy ending. When you continue driving when your engine's overheating you risk a catastrophic engine failure. It really is a good idea to pull over and let your vehicle engine cool down before driving again. If you add water or coolant, be sure your engine is cool or you risk serious burns.

Now there's no way for Charlotte drivers to know when their water pump will fail – they just wear out. This fellow's water pump replacement was more because his water pump is driven by his timing belt. That requires a lot of hours to get to the water pump and then put everything back on the engine.

A money saving tip from Joey's Truck Repair Inc. in Charlotte: if your water pump is driven by your timing belt – replace the pump when you have your scheduled timing belt replacement. That way most of the work is already done and you don't have to pay for it twice.

Give us a call or make an appointment & we can discuss when your timing belt should be replaced.