Archive for the ‘Automotive Aftermarket Industry’ Category

A Clean Mass Air Flow Sensor Tells No Lies

May 15, 2017

Every sensor on or in a computer-controlled car or truck talks to the “on-board PC” in a kind of language you’ve never heard or seen. All of the inputs are in a voltage-speak and are all numbers. All of these signals to and from the PC travel in and out at up to 300 times per second. That is some party line!

Your PC knows the amount of air going into or being inhaled by the engine. It knows the temperature of the air, the barometric pressure, the outside temperature, if it’s raining and if the engine is pinging. It knows if the engine has too much fuel or too little fuel being delivered to it. It knows the temperature of the coolant and the catalytic converter, and it knows how cold it is inside the car and how that compares to the temperature you are requesting.

Most of the voltages start at zero and have a high end of 5, 8 or 12 volts. For instance, 1.0v means low and 5.0v means high. Or 1.0 means cold and 5.0 means hot, hot, hot.

But most scanners convert these numbers to a range we can understand, like 20 grams or 212F or 45% throttle.

The mass air flow sensor (MAF) tells the PC how much air is flowing into the engine; we read that data in grams. So a little air means no foot on the throttle and lots of air means foot to the floor. Think of the mass air flow sensor as a goal post with a filament across the top arms. It actually looks like the filament inside a clear light bulb.

The PC sends voltage to the filament and then monitors the electricity needed to keep it warm or hot. The MAF starts lying when this filament gets covered with trash, bugs and dirt. Pretend you are in a tunnel and naked. You could easily tell how much air is flowing thru this tunnel and what the temperature is. How good of a job could you do if I covered you with 5 layers of clothing, gloves, hats and full face coverings? That is exactly what happens to your MAF: it gets covered up and starts lying about its environment.

We want to see about 5-10 grams depending on the size of the engine. This gram number determines fuel trim. A dirty MAF won’t see all the air, so it tells the PC to trim the fuel down. 1 gram at idle is a problem.

So if you want to save yourself from $45 to over $100, go to the auto parts store. Ask them to point out where the MAF is located on your car, and ask them to show you what it looks like. You may need special tools. Then buy some CRC Mass Air Flow Sensor Cleaner. The CRC product was developed specifically for cleaning this very delicate sensor.

Pull the negative battery cable. Remove the MAF sensor. DO NOT touch the filament. DO NOT get your wife’s toothbrush out and scrub it. If you damage it, you just cost yourself hundreds of dollars. Just spray it off like you would spray a small painted wire with carburetor cleaner when you only want to remove the paint. Do it maybe 3-4 times and once every 30-40,000 miles.

Let it dry, reinstall, connect the battery and drive away. It will take the PC just a few hours to reset those parameters that just changed because the MAF is now cleaner and working more precisely.

For more content like this visit http://www.carcarenewsservice.org

An Automotive Gift for Mother’s Day? You Bet!

May 1, 2017

It’s time to be seriously thinking about Mother’s Day. A great place to look for useful ideas is her driver’s seat, especially if Mom spends a lot of time behind the wheel.

Her vehicle is her home away from home and gifts that enhance her enjoyment of that second home are likely to be appreciated, suggests Rich White, spokesperson for the Car Care Council. “We tend to gravitate toward gifts like jewelry, a framed photo or flowers,” he says. “But why not break from the traditional and dress up her car? Maybe she’s always wanted a sunroof or a cool sound system. Her wish could come true, with the help of your local auto specialty shop or service dealer.”

White suggests that, beyond the obvious gifts such as seat covers or floor mats, Mom might appreciate having her damaged steering wheel replaced with one that’s stylish, possibly even leather covered. A sun-damaged and faded dash could be repaired, replaced, or recovered to upgrade the interior. How about a GPS navigation system, remote starter, or satellite radio?

“Security devices such as a remote keyless entry or alarm systems are also popular add-ons,” says White, “as are custom wheels or wheel covers. Most women are interested in the safety and appearance accessories as opposed to those, which are performance related. Gifts can be inexpensive. Net shopping bags, that hook on back of the driver’s seat, are great gift items too. Just look around”

Right on the heels of Mother’s Day, of course, is Father’s Day, with additional categories of gifts to consider: special tools, custom rims, window tinting, or sound system enhancements, to mention a few. “Gifts for vehicles are always well received and the variety of innovative products never stops growing” adds White.

For more ideas and prices visit your auto supply store, service dealer, or specialty shop.

April is National Car Care Month. Focus on Your Vehicle Investment.

March 16, 2017

National Car Care Month, in April, is the perfect time for motorists to learn more about the very real economic benefits of performing regular vehicle maintenance, according to the Car Care Council.

Each year, community car care events routinely identify that consumers are not taking proper care of their vehicles. Neglected vehicle care almost always means much higher costs down the line, either in the form of more extensive repairs or lost resale value.

Results of free community car care inspection events throughout the US last year showed that consumers are neglecting their cars. 8 out of 10 vehicles failed at least one component of the vehicle inspection process. Even with an estimated 20% more vehicles inspected last year, the overall failure rate remained unchanged.

Of the vehicles checked, 27% were found to have low, overfull, or dirty engine oil, which affects vehicle performance and damages internal parts. Low, leaky, or dirty coolant in the radiator or surge tank was identified in 26% of the inspected vehicles. Cooling system protects against damage by keeping the engine operating within the correct temperature range.

51% of all belts, in the vehicles inspected, were reported as unsatisfactory. 10% of the vehicles required at least one new hose. Roadside breakdowns can be avoided by checking belts and hoses and replacing them when worn.

These results show that the majority of vehicle owners could save money by being proactive in the maintenance of their second largest investment. Whether you do it yourself or take your car to a professional service technician, National Car Care Month in April is the perfect time to focus on your vehicle’s maintenance needs to make sure it is ready for the upcoming spring and summer travel season.

Beware of Potholes

March 1, 2017

They’re back and they’re bad. Potholes have returned and hitting one with your car can do a number on tires, wheels, steering and suspension, and alignment. To help determine if hitting a pothole has damaged your vehicle, watch for the following warning signs provided by the Car Care Council.

•Loss of control, swaying when making routine turns, bottoming-out on city streets or bouncing excessively on rough roads. These are indicators that the steering and suspension may have been damaged. The steering and suspension are key safety-related systems. Together, they largely determine your car’s ride and handling. Key components are shocks and/or struts, the steering knuckle, ball joints, the steering rack/box, bearings, seals and hub units and tie rod ends.

•Pulling in one direction, instead of maintaining a straight path, and uneven tire wear. These symptoms mean there’s an alignment problem. Proper wheel alignment is important for the lifespan of tires and helps ensure safe handling.

•Low tire pressure, bulges or blisters on the sidewalls, or dents in the rim. These problems will be visible and should be checked out as soon as possible as tires are the critical connection between your car and the road in all sorts of driving conditions.

“Every driver knows what it feels like to hit a pothole. What they don’t know is if their vehicle has been damaged in the process. If you’ve hit a pothole, it’s worth having a professional technician check out the car and make the necessary repairs to ensure safety and reliability,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council.

Potholes occur when water permeates the pavement – usually through a crack from wear and tear of traffic – and softens the soil beneath it, creating a depression in the surface of the street. Many potholes appear during winter and spring months because of freeze-thaw cycles, which accelerate the process. Potholes can also be prevalent in areas with excessive rainfall and flooding.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For a copy of the council’s Car Care Guide or for more information, visit http://www.carcare.org.

TIRES – NASCAR vs. PASSENGER Tips on How to Better Take Care of Yours

February 21, 2017

Watching NASCAR pit crews change tires is one of the activities that most race fans take for granted. After all, they change their own tires after 25,000 miles or so, not after 25 laps, right?

Well, the attention to detail that pit crews pay to the tires on their cars is something that most motorists should pick up on, according to a professional NASCAR Tire Specialist.

“The most important thing that consumers can do to keep their tires happy is to pay attention to the air pressure” he said.

“Passenger tires have an air pressure rating, but most of the time it’s a maximum,” he explained. “That rating is for a full load. For our racing tires, we adjust them to make the car handle. Drivers can do that on their car’s tires as well for better handling, but consumers should mainly be concerned about load.”

“If it says to inflate to at least 32 pounds, you want to run it a couple of pounds under that so when the pressure builds up, it will be right on the rating. If you run it at full inflation, it will wear out the center of your tire.”

Tire pressure is key to maintaining the contact patch, or the amount of rubber that’s actually on the road. Proper tire inflation plays a significant role in fuel mileage as well, and that’s important in these days of uncertain gas prices.

“If you run it low, it’s more of a drag on the tire,” The NASCAR Tire Specialist cautioned. “If you keep it at 30 pounds, say, for a tire that’s rated at 32 or 34 pounds maximum load, you’ll be better off. The more you keep the tire up off the road, the less drag you have on it and the better your mileage will be.”

Improper inflation causes the tires to wear out quicker. You see it on the race track, too. Lower inflation means better handling, but it also increases the chances that the tires will be the victim of abuse and fail to perform.

Motorists need to “read their tires” to keep them working well over their useful lives.

“The biggest thing to take care of is the air pressure. If you let your tire get too low, you’re going to wear out the outside of the tire. If you put too much in it, you’ll wear out the center. Watch how your tires are wearing, too. It might be air-pressure-related, but it might also be suspension related. Keep all four tires at the same pressure, unless you have a sports car where the front and back ratings are different.”

By reading the tire—inside, center and outside—you can tell if your air pressure is where it needs to be or if you have a suspension or alignment problem.

“If a tire is wearing on the inside, closest to the hub, it’s an alignment problem 90 percent of the time,” according to the NASCAR seasoned veteran. “It can also be a tie-rod or other suspension component, which changes the degree of camber and produces tire wear. If it’s air pressure, most of the time it’s worn on the inside and the outside. If you’re at max inflation, it’s the center.”

Finally, consumers need to watch the depth of the tread on the tires. Goodyear Racing Eagles have about 4/32nds of an inch of tread on them when they’re new.

“That doesn’t sound like a lot, but it gets the job done,” he emphasized.

Passenger car tires come equipped with wear bars all the way across the tire, and learning to read those is useful. If you’d rather do a quick measurement, all you need is a cent… a penny that is.

Take the penny and put it in one of the tread grooves, with Abe Lincoln’s head facing down.

“If the tread comes up past the head, you’re still good; if it’s above the head of the penny, definitely get new tires,” he stressed.

Spend Your Tax Refund on One of Your Biggest Investments

February 6, 2017

Maintaining Present Vehicle May Be Key to Long-Term Financial Happiness. How will you spend your tax refund? Big-Screen TV? Cell Phone? Clothes? The Car Care Council has a better idea for your money: spend it on your second biggest investment, your car.

“Whether it’s an oil change, replacing brakes or new belts and hoses, that periodic repair bill is a drop in the bucket compared to monthly payments on a new car,” said Rich White, executive director of the Car Care Council. “The bottom line is that a properly maintained vehicle is safer, more dependable, more fuel efficient, less polluting and more valuable. The smartest way to get a solid return on investment is to keep your car through what we call the ‘Cinderella Era’. It’s that period of time after the payoff when your car is still in great shape and needs only modest repairs.”

The Car Care Council estimates that more than $68 billion in vehicle maintenance and repair is not performed every year, evidence that there is considerably more that consumers should be doing to protect their automotive investment.

“We advise our clients that if they want a 10-percent increase on their investments every year they need to cut down on their expenses,” said Terry Mulcahy, vice president of investments for R.W. Baird in Mequon, Wis. “A new automobile is for most people their second biggest investment next to a home, so a great way to save money and increase financial assets is to hang onto their current vehicle rather than buy a new one every few years. Budgeting for and doing preventative maintenance on your car is one of the best ways to cut your costs and keep your car.”

For more content like this visit Car Care News Service

A Clean Mass Air Flow Sensor Restores Lost MPG and Horsepower

January 10, 2017

With the ever-rising costs of fuel, who can afford to waste even one single drop? But it’s happening to you right now if your vehicle has a dirty mass air flow (MAF) sensor.

An MAF sensor constantly measures the amount and density of the air entering the engine so the computer knows how much gasoline to inject into each cylinder. Located after the air filter and ahead of the throttle body, the MAF sensor uses a heated wire (hotwire) or flat film element to measure airflow.

The MAF sensor works by holding the operating temperature of the hotwire at a constant temperature. As air moves over the hotwire, the wire will cool down. More air running across the wire requires more electrical current to keep the hotwire heated.

A vehicle’s computer depends on extremely accurate measurements of air mass and density from the MAF sensor to help calculate everything from the amount of fuel needed to run the engine efficiently (without excessive emissions) to transmission shift points and ignition timing.

If there’s a film or dirt on the hotwire it will insulate it and slow the communication between the MAF sensor and the computer; a situation that can directly cause drivability issues, excessive emissions and poor fuel economy resulting in fewer MPG than your vehicle is meant to reach.

Mass air flow sensors can get dirty in a number of ways. Pollen, dust particles and soot can build up and burn onto on the hotwire of the mass air flow sensor causing incorrect measurements of air flow and density. This can lead to hesitation, sputtering, hard starting, stalling, excess emissions and power loss.

Oil can also build up on the hotwire, caused by excessive blow-by from internal engine wear or, more often, where an aftermarket air filter that requires oil is fitted to the vehicle. Sometimes a consumer will over oil these air filters and the oil will travel directly from the filter onto the MAF sensor leading to malfunction.

Recognizing the need for a product to safely clean fragile mass air flow sensors, CRC Industries, manufacturer of Brakleen® Brake Parts Cleaner and an industry leader in automotive maintenance chemicals, developed CRC Mass Air Flow Sensor Cleaner, the FIRST cleaner specifically designed for the MAF sensor. Julie Williams, Marketing Manager for CRC, warns: “DO NOT use carburetor or brake parts cleaners to clean MAF sensors. Aggressive chemicals can degrade the plastic housing and sensitive electronics of the MAF sensor leading to malfunction.”

Cleaning your MAF sensor is easy and should take about 10 minutes. First, turn off your vehicle and locate the MAF sensor between the air box and throttle body. Unplug the MAF sensor wire harness and remove the MAF sensor housing. Typically a screwdriver will work, but you may need a TORX® security bit for some models. Place a shop towel under your MAF sensor to catch any run-off. With the straw attached, apply 10-15 sprays of CRC MAF Sensor Cleaner onto the hot-wires, but be sure the hot-wires do not come in contact with the straw or any other object.

Spray all sides of the MAF sensor and clean all wires and connectors. Finally, reassemble the MAF sensor and allow it to dry thoroughly before restarting the engine. This would be a great time to clean or change your air filter, too.

The CRC plastic-safe formula is extremely effective and proven to renew MPG and up to 10 horsepower with dynamometer proven results. You’ll get increased horsepower, better fuel economy (more MPG), improved air/fuel ratio, fewer emissions and a smoother running engine when you clean with CRC Mass Air Flow Sensor Cleaner.

Do-It-Yourselfers can find CRC Mass Air Flow Sensor Cleaner at their favorite auto parts store. Or, schedule an appointment with your mechanic and ask him to clean your MAF sensor using CRC MAF Sensor Cleaner, the only product safe for cleaning MAF sensors and backed by proven results. Visit http://www.crcindustries.com for more details.

Protect Your Auto Investment

December 5, 2016

Choose a shop that employees ASE-certified auto technicians to ensure your vehicle maintenance and repair dollars are wisely spent.

Studies from the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) show vehicles that receive regular maintenance and service retain more of their value, get better gasoline mileage, and pollute less than cars that are neglected. But today’s computer-loaded systems leave many former do-it-yourselfers hesitant to do much weekend tinkering. What’s a conscientious vehicle owner to do?

How Consumers Benefit from ASE Certification

Finding a competent auto repair professional should not be difficult … and with that guiding principle, the nonprofit, independent ASE was founded in 1972.

The mission was clear: Develop a mechanism by which working auto technicians could prove their competence to themselves, their employers, and to consumers.

The solution: A series of national certification exams covering all major automotive repair and service specialties.

The result: An elite group of automotive service professionals at work in repair establishments throughout the nation.

Why Use ASE-Certified Auto Technicians?

Consumers benefit from ASE’s certification program because it takes much of the guesswork out of finding a competent technician.

Perhaps years ago, any shade-tree mechanic would do; after all, cars were simpler, less complex. But with today’s high-tech vehicles — family sedans, sports coupes, rugged SUVs, and powerful pickups — the margin for error is small because mistakes are more costly. It makes good financial sense, then, to protect your sizeable automotive investment through regular maintenance and service performed by ASE-certified professionals.

Because the program is voluntary, technicians who have taken the time and expense to earn ASE certification can be counted on to have a strong sense of pride in accomplishment and professionalism — which should be good news for consumers. Moreover, prior to taking ASE exams, many technicians attend training classes or study on their own in order to brush up on their knowledge. The time they spend sharpening their skills translates directly to the work they perform on vehicles every day on the job.

How Does ASE Certification Work?

More than 100,000 candidates sit for ASE exams each year. These exams — the only independent national certification tests available to automotive professionals — are developed and regularly updated by representatives from the service and repair industry, vocational educators, working technicians, and ASE’s own in-house technical specialists. The exams stress real-world diagnostic and repair problems, not theory.

Mechanics who pass at least one exam and fulfill the hands-on work experience requirement earn the title of “ASE-Certified Automobile Technician,” while those who pass all eight automotive exams earn “Master Auto Technician” status. There are also tests for parts specialists, collision repair technicians, automotive service consultants, and segments of the repair industry. however, ASE certification is not a designation for life; technicians must recertify every five years in order to demonstrate a commitment to continuing education and staying abreast of constantly changing technologies.

How to Find an ASE Professional

ASE technicians can be found at every type of repair facility: new car dealerships, independent garages, service stations, franchised outlets, collision shops, tire dealers, parts stores and more. There are more than 360,000 ASE-certified professionals at work nationally. Repair facilities employing ASE professionals usually display the distinctive blue and white ASE sign on the premises and post their technicians’ credentials in their customer service areas.

Employers often include the ASE logo in their advertising as well. Further, establishments with a high percentage of certified pros on staff may display evidence of membership in the elite Blue Seal of Excellence Recognition Program. ASE-certified professionals are issued shoulder insignia or lapel pins, as well as personalized credentials and wall certificates listing their exact areas of certification.

For additional information and seasonal car care tips visit http://www.ase.com. ASE joins the automotive aftermarket industry in recognizing April as National Car Care Month.

Choosing the Right Repair Shop: A Checklist

ASE certifies individual technicians — not repair establishments. But it stands to reason that shop owners who encourage their technicians to become ASE certified will be just as proactively involved in the other aspects of their businesses as well. Here are some tips on finding a good repair establishment:

•Start shopping for a repair facility before you need one.

•Ask your friends and associates for their recommendations; consult local consumer groups.

•Arrange for alternate transportation in advance so you will not feel forced to choose a shop based solely on location.

•Look for a neat, well-organized facility, with vehicles in the parking lot equal in value to your own and modern equipment in the service bays.

•Look for a courteous staff, with a service consultant willing to answer all of your questions.

•Look for policies regarding estimated repair costs, diagnostic fees, guarantees, acceptable methods of payment, etc.

•Ask if the repair facility specializes in or regularly performs your type of needed repair work.

•Look for signs of professionalism in the customer service area such as civic, community, or customer service awards.

•Look for evidence of qualified technicians: trade school diplomas, certificates of advanced courses, and ASE certification.

•Look for the ASE sign.

•Facilities with a high percentage of ASE-certified professionals may also be members of the elite Blue Seal of Excellence Recognition Program. Ask the shop if it is a member of the program

Don’t Let Your Thanksgiving Weekend Road Trip be a Turkey

November 15, 2016

One way to ensure you will get to dinner in time for turkey on Thanksgiving weekend is by making sure that the vehicle you will be driving is running well. A 10-minute pre-trip check is small potatoes compared to a big helping of inconvenience if you break down many miles away from home, according to the Car Care Council.

“A Thanksgiving pre-trip inspection helps reduce the chance of costly and possibly dangerous on the road trouble. It also provides an opportunity to have repairs done by one’s own technician locally who knows the vehicle,” said Rich White, executive director, Car Care Council. “Especially important, it provides peace of mind. While no inspection can guarantee a car’s performance, it’s comforting to know proper precautions were taken to avoid a ‘turkey’ of a weekend.”

The Car Care Council suggests the following 10-minute checkup to help ensure vehicle safety and reliability on Thanksgiving, when millions of Americans take to the roads to visit family and friends:

• Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering and brake and transmission, as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.

• Check the hoses and belts that can become cracked, brittle, frayed, loose or show signs of excessive wear. These are critical to the proper functioning of the electrical system, air conditioning, power steering and the cooling system.

• Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.

• Check lighting to identify any problems with exterior and interior lighting as the chance of an accident increases if you can’t see or be seen.

• Check wipers. Wiper blades should be replaced every six months. Make sure the windshield wipers are working properly and keep the reservoir filled with solvent.

The Car Care Council also recommends that motorists restock their emergency kit. To save on fuel costs during the trip, the council suggests that motorists avoid aggressive driving, observe the speed limit and avoid excessive idling. Gas caps that are damaged, loose or missing should be replaced to prevent gas from spilling or evaporating.

Daylight Savings Time Ends November 6th, Check Vehicle Lights

October 26, 2016

The end of Daylight Savings Time happens in most parts of the United States on Sunday, November 6th and creates unfamiliar driving conditions that can be hazardous without proper vehicle lighting. The Car Care Council recommends vehicle lights be checked before the clocks “fall back” to help ensure safe driving, especially during dusk and peak evening traffic hours.

A vehicle’s lighting system includes headlights (high and low beam), parking lights, turn signals/emergency flashers, brake lights, tail and marker lights, backup lights, interior lights and instrumentation lighting. Some vehicles are also equipped with fog lights.

Headlights should also be periodically cleaned of mud and muck, and properly aimed according to procedures outlined in the owner’s manual. Headlights can be knocked out of alignment by rough driving, and if not properly aimed, can be distracting to other drivers.

Vehicle inspections during National Car Care Month in the United States have shown lighting to be an often neglected maintenance item, with 8 percent of vehicles inspected needing work on at least one of their turn signals, and 6 percent having problems with at least one of their brake lights.

The Car Care Council is the source of information for the “Be Car Care Aware” consumer education campaign promoting the benefits of regular vehicle care, maintenance and repair to consumers. For more information or to receive a copy of the council’s new Car Care Guide for motorists, visit http://www.carcare.org.