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

Learn About Your Car

A driver got a surprise the other day when he took his vehicle to a service facility for an oil change. He knew his owner’s manual schedules an oil and oil filter change every 5,000 miles/8,000 km, but when the Service Advisor suggested his cabin air filter should be replaced, he thought they were just trying to sell him something he didn't really need. After all, how bad can a cabin air filter be?

The Service Advisor offered to show him the old one before he made his decision, and what the driver saw shocked him. Instead of a nice, intact filter, the old one was full of dirt, leaves, and other unidentifiable ick!

You'll find cabin air filters in most newer vehicles, but many drivers don't even know they have one. They filter out things like dust and other particulates like pollen before the air goes into the passenger compartment. This can be very helpful to those with allergies and sensitivities to airborne pollutants.

Your vehicle manufacturer will recommend how often a cabin air filter should be changed. Of course, if you drive in areas that are dusty or polluted, you may want to change it more frequently. A couple of signs your cabin air filter is dirty? Not as much air comes out your vents when you turn on your ventilation system fan, and the air smells musty. You may also notice more dust in your passenger compartment.

While we’re at it, let’s mention one other filter. Vehicles with air-conditioned seats also have filters under the seats that filter the air that blows through the seat bottom and back. Seat filters get dirty too and need to be replaced.

When that car battery finally gives up the ghost and it’s time to replace it – you have options. First let’s be clear that you should always get a replacement battery that meets or exceeds your vehicle manufacturer’s specifications. But you may have some special needs.

When they first put the battery into your vehicle at the factory, they had no idea where it would end up over its life or how YOU would use it. That battery was chosen to meet the needs of a wide range of motorists. Replacement time is a good opportunity to talk with your service advisor about how you use your vehicle, so you can get just the right battery.

An obvious criterion is where you live. Cold starts require a lot of power from your battery. The colder the climate, the more power needed. This comes from a combination of cold sluggish oil and the slower chemical reaction within the battery itself when it is cold. If this sounds like you, ask your service advisor about a battery with more Cold Cranking Amps.

The next consideration is reserve capacity. This is the number of minutes of reserve power the battery has under a load. If your driving is mostly short stop-and-go trips, your battery may not have time to fully recharge while driving. You may need to tap into those reserves to get started again. Also, modern vehicles have a lot of always-on systems that draw on the battery – things like the security system, remote sensors, and vehicle computers. These combined with the electronic entertainment system, sensors, heated seats, and even chargers for phones, tablets, and computers put a high load on the battery. Your service advisor can give you his thoughts on the reserve capacity you might need.

Most standard batteries are “wet-cell” meaning they are filled with liquid battery acid. New Absorbed Gas Mat (AGM) batteries are “non-spill” which makes them safer. They also have a longer life span and greater cycle life than wet-cell batteries. Off-roader’s like these batteries because their performance is not affected by steep inclines and odd angles. They are also well suited for use in RV’s and boats.

A final consideration is warranty. Premium batteries often come with a longer warranty. Warranties are typically either full-replacement (the battery is replaced if it fails within the warranty period) or pro-rated (a partial credit is given for the failed battery depending on how far into the warranty period you are when it fails).

When the battery is replaced, your technician may need to recalibrate some accessories such as power windows and sunroofs. Also, some vehicles may need to have the battery registered into the engine computer.

Give us a call and let us help you decide which battery is right for you and your vehicle.
Let’s address a very important maintenance item – timing belt replacement. It’s important because letting this one slide can lead to very expensive engine damage. Your timing belt choreographs the timing of your combustion process. Your pistons travel up and down in the cylinder. Intake valves open at the right time to let in air and fuel, they close at the right time to allow the fuel to burn and then the exhaust valves open at the right time to let out the exhaust. All this happens thousands of times a minute and it’s your timing belt that makes sure the valves are opening and closing at precisely the right time. If the timing is off, your engine won’t run. And that’s the best case. The worst case is that a valve is opening at the wrong time and collides with the piston. The result is bent valves and maybe even more damage to the cylinder head. Repairs can run several thousand dollars. Now, timing belts just wear out naturally, so you want to replace a worn belt before it slips or breaks. Check your owner’s manual or with your service advisor to see when they recommend you replace the timing belt. If you’ve never replaced your timing belt and have 60,000 or more miles on the clock, talk with your service advisor right away to see if you’re due. On some engines, the water pump is driven by the timing belt as opposed to the serpentine belt. If that’s the case, it’s a good idea to replace the water pump when you’re replacing the timing belt, and vice versa since much of the same work must be done for either. The same is true for the timing belt tensioner – it should be inspected and possibly replaced. Now, replacing a timing belt is one of the more expensive routine maintenance items on your service schedule. But not replacing your timing belt can lead to some of the most expensive repairs you’re likely to ever have.

Question:

My friend just had a very expensive transmission repair in Charlotte. How can I avoid transmission trouble?

Joey's Truck Repair Inc. Answer:

Next to your engine, your transmission is the most important component in your vehicle – so you and your fellow Charlotte drivers want to do all you can to avoid transmission repairs.

Charlotte drivers may have noticed a trend of engines becoming more and more powerful in recent years. At the same time, fuel economy has been improving in nearly every motor vehicle segment in NC. More power and better economy have always been at odds. Some of the improvement in fuel economy has been due to engine design, but most of the increases can be credited to advances in transmission technology.

Every engine has a sweet spot in which it most efficiently makes power. This is often referred to by Charlotte technicians as the power band – the optimal engine speed (measured in revolutions per minute, or RPM). The computers that control what gear your automatic transmission is in also try to keep it in the right gear in order to maintain optimal engine speed – whatever your Charlotte driving conditions may be. Modern automatic transmissions have anywhere between four and ten speeds. The more “speeds” your transmission has, the more time your engine can operate at peak efficiency. Needless to say, transmissions have become more sophisticated.

Transmissions are cooled and lubricated by transmission fluid. This pressurized fluid is directed through small passages to effect gear changes. When transmission fluid gets old and contaminated, the small passages can become plugged, which adversely affects shifts. The dirty fluid circulating in the transmission can eat away at gaskets and seals, causing internal leaks that also hurt shifting. This is why some recommend that transmissions be serviced from time to time. The interval varies by vehicle, so check your owner's manual or speak with your friendly and knowledgeable Joey's Truck Repair Inc. service advisor about your transmission service recommendations.

Old, contaminated fluid is removed and new fluid is installed. Keeping up with the manufacturer's recommended service schedule helps prevent internal damage that may result in a transmission rebuild. Let us help you extend the life of your vehicle and prevent repairs with recommended preventive maintenance service.

When that car battery finally gives up the ghost and it’s time to replace it – you have options. First let’s be clear that you should always get a replacement battery that meets or exceeds your vehicle manufacturer’s specifications. But you may have some special needs.

When they first put the battery into your vehicle at the factory, they had no idea where it would end up over its life or how YOU would use it. That battery was chosen to meet the needs of a wide range of motorists. Replacement time is a good opportunity to talk with your service advisor about how you use your vehicle, so you can get just the right battery.

An obvious criterion is where you live. Cold starts require a lot of power from your battery. The colder the climate, the more power needed. This comes from a combination of cold sluggish oil and the slower chemical reaction within the battery itself when it is cold. If this sounds like you, ask your service advisor about a battery with more Cold Cranking Amps.

The next consideration is reserve capacity. This is the number of minutes of reserve power the battery has under a load. If your driving is mostly short stop-and-go trips, your battery may not have time to fully recharge while driving. You may need to tap into those reserves to get started again. Also, modern vehicles have a lot of always-on systems that draw on the battery – things like the security system, remote sensors, and vehicle computers. These combined with the electronic entertainment system, sensors, heated seats, and even chargers for phones, tablets, and computers put a high load on the battery. Your service advisor can give you his thoughts on the reserve capacity you might need.

Most standard batteries are “wet-cell” meaning they are filled with liquid battery acid. New Absorbed Gas Mat (AGM) batteries are “non-spill” which makes them safer. They also have a longer life span and greater cycle life than wet-cell batteries. Off-roader’s like these batteries because their performance is not affected by steep inclines and odd angles. They are also well suited for use in RV’s and boats.

A final consideration is warranty. Premium batteries often come with a longer warranty. Warranties are typically either full-replacement (the battery is replaced if it fails within the warranty period) or pro-rated (a partial credit is given for the failed battery depending on how far into the warranty period you are when it fails).

When the battery is replaced, your technician may need to recalibrate some accessories such as power windows and sunroofs. Also, some vehicles may need to have the battery registered into the engine computer.

Give us a call & we can help you decide which battery is right for you and your vehicle.