Five Signs You Might Have Fuel Injection System Problems

The purpose of your vehicle’s fuel injection is to assure that the engine runs smoothly and efficiently by feeding it the right mixture of fuel and air. Before fuel injection systems,  autos had to rely on a carburetor to supply fuel to the engine. Today, most newer vehicles are equipped with fuel injection systems.

Close-up of car engine at repair garage

Automobile parts photo created by peoplecreations – www.freepik.com

Fuel Injection Systems vs Carburetor Systems

Fuel injection systems offer several advantages over carburetor systems:

  • Fuel injected systems deliver fuel in precise bursts, and are typically more powerful and efficient
  • Fuel injection is also more economical and produces less emission pollution.

Although fuel injector systems offer advantages, they do experience problems such as a clogged or dirty fuel injector.  Periodic maintenance should include proper cleaning of fuel injectors to address issues before they become serious and costly. 

Five Signs of Fuel Injection System Trouble

The following are five signs that your fuel injection system may be compromised or heading for costly problems:

 

  • Check Engine Light Turns On – Seeing the “Check Engine” light is an obvious sign of trouble. This light can signal several problems including a bad fuel injector. Any time an injector delivers too much or too little fuel, engine efficiency is reduced, which can trigger service light illumination.
  • Stalling and Rough Idling – If your car is not getting enough fuel or an inconsistent supply of fuel, the idling RPM drops below the optimal level causing the idle to feel aggressive or rough. If the RPM falls too low, the car will eventually stall.
  • Engine Vibration – A compromised fuel injector will cause the corresponding cylinder to not be able to fire. This will cause the engine to vibrate as it tries to finish each cycle without adequate fuel.
  • Engine Misfires – When the engine does not get enough fuel because of a clogged injector, the engine can misfire as you drive. This may be felt as a struggle to accelerate or a hesitation after you step on the gas pedal. This problem should be addressed as soon as possible or the engine will be vulnerable to overheating or other issues.
  • Fuel Leak – It is possible for a fuel injector to become broken or cracked from damage or old age. This will result in fuel leaks and inability of fuel to reach the nozzle. Inspection of the fuel injector may reveal gasoline on the exterior or on the nearby fuel rail. In many cases the leak comes from the fuel injector seal, which deteriorates over time.

 

To avoid fuel injection system problems, have the system cleaned and inspected as part of your regular maintenance routine.

 

How Taking Care of Your Tires Can Help Offset High Gas Prices

Record high gas prices have everyone thinking about ways to save money. While you may not have the option to drive less, there are other vehicle related expenses you can reduce to make your overall driving budget go farther. 

Gas Prices Vehicle Expense

Taking care of your tires will help extend your driving budget by protecting your tire investment. Not only will your tires last longer and perform better, you will also get better gas mileage and be safer on the road.

Five Tire Care Tips for Extending Your Driving Budget

  1. Inspect Your Tire Tread on a Regular Basis

The tread on your tires is essential for proper performance. Regular tread inspection is important for identifying tread wear problems before too much damage is done. The penny test is a simple way to confirm that your tire tread is in good shape.

Hold a penny so that “In God We Trust” appears across the top. Insert it into five different sections of the tire, taking note of the visibility of Lincoln’s head. If you can consistently see the top of Lincoln’s head, your treads are excessively worn, and it is time to go shopping for a new set of tires. If the top of Lincoln’s head (to about the forehead hairline) is covered throughout the tread grooves, the tread is in good shape and your tires probably do not need replacement.

  1. Check Your Tire Pressure Monthly

Check your tire pressure at least once a month.  This one quick chore could save you money by improving your tire life and gas mileage. Check your owner’s manual to confirm the proper pressure for your vehicle’s tires. Remember that the maximum pressure is not the same as the recommended pressure. Don’t forget to check the pressure of your spare when you check your other tires, so it is ready when you need it.

  1. Get Your Tires Balanced

Tire balancing should be part of your regular scheduled maintenance. Your owner’s manual will provide a recommended schedule for your car, truck, or SUV. Tire balancing promotes a smooth ride and even tire wear by correctly adjusting the wheel weight distribution around the vehicle.

  1. Get Your Tire Alignment Checked

Incorrectly aligned tires will decrease tire life because poor alignment leads to uneven tread wear. Poor alignment also compromises the safety of your vehicle. Have the alignment checked any time you notice problems with your vehicle’s handling to assure your safety and protect your investment.

  1. Get your Tires Rotated

Having your tires rotated on a regular basis is an important part of tire maintenance that will significantly extend tire service life. Be sure to refer to your owner’s manual for the tire rotation recommendations for your particular vehicle.

Pay Attention to These Signs of Pothole Damage

Whether as a driver or a passenger, we’ve all felt that horrible thud of hitting a pothole. But potholes are more than simply a springtime nuisance. They are actually one of the most abusive hazards your vehicle faces on a regular basis. Hitting potholes can lead to a host of problems for you and your vehicle. It is best to avoid them, but in some cases they are just unavoidable.

road pothole collecting rain

Potholes Prey on Shocks and Struts

While you might just think of getting a flat tire or bent rim when you hit a pothole, did you know that shocks and struts are a component of your car that can also be seriously damaged if you hit a bad pothole? Shocks and struts control your car’s ride and handling, and act as a cushion to dampen the bouncing action of the car’s springs. They also control spring and suspension movement to keep your car’s tires in contact with the road so that it will steer properly, maintain stability, and brake safely. 

Watch for the Warning Signs

Compromised shocks and struts can impact steering and handling, so it is essential to be aware of the warning signs that your vehicle’s shocks or struts may need to be replaced:

  • Rolling or swaying on turns
  • Front-end dives when braking or rear end dips when accelerating
  • Bouncing or sliding sideways on rough or winding roads
  • Bottoming out or thumping on bumps
  • Unusual puddles under the car or leaking fluids
  • Loss of directional control during sudden stops

It is a good idea to have your car inspected if you experience any of the above signs. Catching pothole damage issues early can prevent more extensive problems down the road.

 

Seeing Your TPMS Warning Light? It Might Not Mean What You Think.

Drivers of newer vehicles have a host of warning lights to alert them to potential vehicle problems. While extremely helpful, this technology can lead to confusion. When those anxiety-inducing lights come on, it may not mean what you think it means. For example, seeing the TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) warning light does not necessarily mean there is a problem with your tires.

Cold Weather TPMS Warning Light

If your car’s TPMS warning light comes on when the temperatures are extremely cold, it may be a simple problem that is easier to fix than you think.

How the TPMS Light Works

tpms_display1The TPMS light is part of the pressure monitoring system that involves sensors that are connected to your actual tires.  The TPMS symbol looks like an exclamation point in parentheses. It lights up when the pressure in one or more of your tires is reduced by around 25%. It may also indicate an issue with the tire pressure monitoring system, such as a dead battery.

There is also a reason the light can come on that is not a sign of trouble, but instead just and indication of the season.

How Cold Temperatures Affect Tire Pressure

Tire pressure can decrease about 1 PSI (pounds per square inch) for every 10 degrees the temperature drops. It isn’t because the air is escaping, but because the air inside the tire is condensing and taking up less space. The effect is temporary because as you drive the tire will heat up, which increases the tire’s pressure.

Additionally, tires tend to lose about 1 PSI per month from seepage of air around the edge of the rim, and even through the tread. Together these factors can cause tire pressure to drop as much as 25 percent below the recommended level. The sensing transmitters inside your tires notice this and trigger your TPMS dash light. If your TPMS light comes on you may not have a problem. You may just need to check your air and bring your tires up to the right pressure.

Don’t Ignore The TPMS Warning Light

It is good to know you may not need to start shopping for tires when you see that light, however that does not mean you should ignore it.  Seeing that light means your tires are below the proper air pressure, which increases the chance of tire failure, compromised handling, improper tire and tread wear, and poor gas mileage. 

Check your tire pressure at least once a month during the winter, and have your technician check your tires to make sure there is not a bigger problem triggering that TPMS warning light.

What Does An Alternator Do For My Car?

Many of the convenient and important features and functions of your vehicle require electrical power. Your car’s alternator serves as a kind of generator or charging system that provides that power. While the vehicle’s battery supplies some power, the majority of its devices draw electricity from a continuous supply from the alternator. 

BMW Dashboard and Steering Wheel

How The Alternator Works

Your car’s alternator is a mechanical device that is energized by the crankshaft of the engine. When the engine is running, the alternator transforms the motion of the crankshaft into electric energy. This is the electricity that powers devices such as the cooling fan, the stereo, the headlights, the windshield wipers, the air conditioning system, and the defogger.

What Are Signs That Your Alternator Is Having Issues?

If your alternator is creating a considerable amount of noise, this could be a sign that something is wrong with it. As the bearings inside the alternator become worn, you will often hear strange and excessive sounds when the hood is open. Other signs of trouble include:

  • Dead battery
  • Dim headlights
  • Starter problems
  • Burning smell
  • The “GEN” or battery service light may appear

What Service Does An Alternator Need?

During maintenance service your tire and auto service technician test how your battery, starter, and alternator perform at idle, during high RPMs, and under high voltage loads. Check your vehicle owner’s manual to find out how often your alternator should be inspected to avoid problems.

10 Ways to Celebrate Fall Car Care Month

If you are a regular Tracy Treadmore reader, you probably already know that October is Fall Car Care Month. The non-profit Car Car Council has designated both April and October as national car care months. It is no coincidence that these months happen to be in the spring and fall. That is because both of these seasons provide the perfect time to give your car the much needed attention before the more extreme weather conditions of summer and winter arrive.

Leaves on a Car Representing Fall Car Care

Now that October is here, it’s the time to take care of your vehicle to avoid potential headaches once the big chill of winter sets in. Here are ten things you can do to celebrate Fall Car Care Month and make sure your vehicle is being properly maintained for optimal performance and safety.

  1. Inspect your battery. Ensure the connection is tight, clean, and free of corrosion. It is also smart to have it tested and replace it if it is not up to snuff.
  2. Have brakes professionally inspected. Annual brake checks should be performed, including inspection of the rotors, drums and brake linings.
  3. Get an exhaust system inspection. Periodic inspection for leaks, damage, or broken components is important. Especially if you’ve noticed unusual behaviors or loud noises.
  4. Have your engine checked. Make sure your engine has the best balance of power and fuel economy for optimal performance.
  5. Check your wipers and lights. It is critical to see and be seen during winter driving. Make sure your wipers are in good condition and lights are in good working order.
  6. Check your car’s fluids. Window washer solvent, antifreeze/coolant, engine oil, power steering, brake & transmission fluids are all essential to your car’s performance.
  7. Have your heating/HVAC system checked. Make sure your heating system is working properly to stay safe and comfortable this winter.
  8. Have your steering and suspension inspected. Annual inspection is essential, including a review of components such as shock absorbers, struts, ball joints and tie rod ends.
  9. Inspect your tires. Look for signs of uneven wear and tears, since these things can greatly affect your safety. Always keep your tires properly inflated.
  10. Take a look at the hoses & belts. It is important that nothing is loose, cracked, brittle, or showing signs of excessive wear.

Basic auto service and repairs go a long way in assuring the safety and dependability of your ride. Keep in mind that vehicle manufacturers have specific recommendations, so be sure to refer to your owner’s manual guidelines, and contact your trusted auto care professional  if you have specific questions.

Is Premium Gas Better for Your Car?

When looking at the different grade options at the gas pump, you may have wondered if you should be filling up with premium gas. Premium has got to be better, right? Not necessarily.

car-refill-transportation-transport

Whether or not you should choose premium gas actually depends on the car you drive. Unless your car manufacturer specifies the use of premium gas, you can stick with the lower priced option.

What’s the difference between regular and premium?

The difference between regular and premium gas is in the octane rating. In most states, regular gas has an octane rating of 87, while premium has a rating of 91 or 93. The high octane in premium gas provides greater resistance to engine knock, which happens when the fuel-air mixture in an engine combusts too early. In cars with high compression engines, the elevated knock threshold can allow for more aggressive timing and higher boost pressures to improve engine performance.

Can premium gas improve the performance of a regular engine?

Car engines that have high compression ratios or turbochargers typically benefit from high octane fuel for optimal fuel efficiency and performance. But most cars do not fit into this category. According to TrueCar, “the majority of cars on the road today are optimized to run on regular gas.“ 

In a recent report, AAA explains that most cars built after 1996 have “a knock sensor, which, under most circumstances, removes the need for premium gas.” 

Can premium gas keep your engine cleaner?

In the mid-90’s, Exxon made advertising claims that its premium gas could clean engines and reduce auto maintenance. The FTC issued a complaint charging that the claims were unsubstantiated, and Exxon was forced to run ads informing the public that “most cars run properly on regular octane.”

Today’s gas formulas contain detergent additives, which are far more essential than octane for helping to clean your engine and optimize performance. A variety of different blends of additives across all grades are available. Many drivers optimize engine performance using Top Tier gas, an EPA approved designation for gasoline that meets a minimum standard for engine cleanliness and performance.

It’s okay to be frugal at the pump.

Sometimes you need to splurge on quality to protect your investments, but not in this case. AAA sums it up this way:

“If your car doesn’t specifically call for premium gas, don’t waste your money. Despite advertising to the contrary, that extra 15 to 30 cents a gallon won’t get you any better performance or mileage nor will it make your car run any cleaner.”

If you have additional questions about the best fuel for your car, talk to your trusted auto technician.

How To Tell If Your Engine Might Be Failing

 

 

Engine Might Be FailingIt is important to be aware of signs your engine might be failing. Although most vehicles today are equipped with a check engine light to warn of potential problems, you should also understand the warning signs your vehicle may give you. Engine failure can mean expensive problems as well as the risk of being stranded. 

When you see that check engine light it might be tempting to ignore it, but you really should schedule diagnostic services to identify the problem. Aside from your check engine light, here are some additional indications that your engine performance might be lagging or your engine might be failing:

Is Your Engine Losing Power?

The function of an internal combustion engine is to convert fuel into the power needed to move a vehicle. Combustion engine operation involves a four stroke cycle – intake stroke, compression stroke, combustion stroke, and exhaust stroke. Failure during any one of these strokes could result in a lack of power to the engine and poor engine performance.

Are You Hearing Strange or Excessive Noise?

Interference in the combustion flow can result in unusual sounds such as knocking, hissing, popping or backfiring. Whenever you hear odd noises when you start up your vehicle, consider it a warning sign.

Have You Noticed a Drop In Fuel Efficiency?

If you’re not getting the miles per gallon you used to, it could be a sign that there is a problem with the compression stroke of your engine. Fixing this issue could be as simple as having the fuel system cleaned or getting a tune-up.  

Has Your Engine Been Stalling? 

Engine stalling in automatic transmission vehicles is highly unusual and likely a sign of trouble. The intake stroke might not be getting the spark or air/fuel mixture it needs. The problem could be serious and should be checked. The solution could be as simple as a tune up.

Are You Noticing Engine Run-On or Running Rough?

Does your car continue to run after it’s turned off? Does the engine seem to be running rough?

Engine run-on could be caused by incorrect octane gas for the vehicle, a failing solenoid, or carburetor issues. A failing battery, clogs in the system or old spark plugs can cause a rough running engine. So can incorrect octane in the gasoline in the tank. Once again, a simple tune up could be all it takes to remedy these problems.

Pay Attention to Signs That Your Engine Might Be Failing

Just like the check engine warning light, you should not ignore these signs when they occur. Addressing engine issues early can help you avoid serious consequences.

Get Ready for Summer with a Clean Ride

After dealing with the dirty, salty, sludge of winter, how great will it feel to hit the road in a clean and shiny car? A seasonal car cleaning will get your car looking great and provide you with a chance to undo some of winter’s damage. Spring and fall are also a great time to have regular auto services performed such as oil and fluids changes, wheel alignment, and tire rotation.

summer clean car

A seasonal car cleaning should begin with a complete car wash, including underbody. After a winter of driving the bottom of your car will be coated with corrosion causing salt, sand, and grime. Corrosion leads to rust that is extremely damaging your car, so it is essential to clean it from top to bottom. It is a good idea to get the undercarriage power wash at your car wash or spray the car’s bottom with a hose. A thorough rinsing is all you need – special cleaners are not necessary. After washing your car’s exterior, waxing provides it with protection and gives it a beautiful finish.

Cleaning the inside of your vehicle is also beneficial. Wipe down the engine to clear away all the debris that has accumulated under the hood.  Clean any white residue off the battery with a toothbrush, baking soda, and water. If corrosion residue accumulates, it may prevent your car from starting, so it is worth taking the time to clean those connections. Cleaning also helps prepare the battery for the stress of warmer temperatures.

Cleaning your tires is important, too, because they can become cracked or dry-rotted.  Scrub your tires with a good quality cleaner and finish up with a protective product. There are a number of options, with some providing a slick finish, others a more matte finish. The main objective is to condition and protect the rubber in your tires, and coat them with a UV protectant.

A truly thorough seasonal car cleaning should include scrubbing the bottoms of doors and cleaning the window channels. Apply a silicone spray that will repel dirt and lubricate the surfaces to keep the windows from sticking. Include a cleaning of the rugs and upholstery to remove all the salt from the car’s inside to prevent damage. Finally, check the wiper blades and replace them if necessary.

 

Tune Up Service & Spark Plug Replacement

Spark PlugsTune up service and spark plug replacement are important for maintaining the power and efficiency of your vehicle’s engine. The engine is made up of many components working together to ensure proper starting and functioning. These components eventually wear out or break down, which may result in lost performance and inefficient fuel economy. Tune up service performed by your auto service professional will help maintain and extend auto life.

Spark plugs are an essential component that is checked during a tune up. Spark plugs initiate the combustion and power needed to move a vehicle. This combustion drives clean gas and air to the vehicle’s cylinders. Eventually fuel injectors become clogged, fuel filters get dirty, and the spark plugs become corroded. When parts are compromised, the engine will not perform as it should, and gas mileage will suffer. During tune up service, your auto professional will inspect your car and follow the recommendation schedule for replacing components.

While your car is in for a tune up, other maintenance services can be done. This may include checking the brakes and clutch, fluid and oil levels, and any other components. Having tune up service and spark plug replacement done on a regular basis will prevent serious and costly problems down the road.

Generally speaking, you should have a tune up every two years or every 30,000 miles, whichever comes first. See your owner’s manual for your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendations.