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  • If You Drive Like a Maniac (Aggressive Driving is Bad for a Vehicle)

    Oct 2, 2022

    When someone mentions driving like a maniac, they're not talking about you, surely? Besides the safety issues of aggressive driving, you should know that your vehicle will last a lot longer if you'll just mellow out a little.  Here are four traits good drivers follow if they want their vehicles to go the extra distance.

    Cool—The driver who can't wait to get to the next stoplight is just shortening the life of his or her vehicle.  Jackrabbit starts and uneven acceleration hurts your engine because the valves and cylinder heads are stressed more.  All of those moving parts will wear out faster as well as other components that are connected.  That means things like the air conditioner, power steering pump… just about anything that attaches by a belt or a pulley.  Oh, and you'll be generating more heat.  Heat is one of a vehicle's worst enemies.

    Warm—If you get in your cold vehicle which has been sitting overnight, start it up and rev the engine high, you've just put a lot of stress on your engine.  That's because you didn't let the oil (that's been sitting down in the oil pan at the bottom of the engine) get to the moving parts in order to lubricate them. Some manufacturers advise that you run your vehicle for about 30 seconds before you take off.  And if it's really cold out, you may be wise to let the engine run for a minute or two before putting a load on the engine.  Also, for the first 5-15 minutes, keep your RPMs on the low side and don't jam on the accelerator.

    Smooth—You're trying to get somewhere in a hurry and have to jam on the brakes while traveling pretty fast.  Just that one time can do more damage to the brakes than you would think.  Lots of hard braking can overheat your brakes and damage your rotors, wearing them out way faster than someone who drives with a smoother touch.  Hard braking also strains suspension parts, tires and engine mounts.

    Smart—You know what PRNDL stand for.  Those are the letters in your automatic transmission (Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive, Low).  Here are another couple of letters: IQ.  A smart shifter never goes into R to D without completely stopping the vehicle, unless, of course, you're anxious to spend some big dollars on your automatic transmission. 

    These days, it's common to get 200,000 miles/320,000 kilometers out of a vehicle, no problem.  It just takes regular maintenance (oil changes and regular service) and one other thing.  Showing off: showing off a little moderation in driving habits with a big payoff in the end. 


    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    Giving CV Joints the Boot! (CV Joint and Boot Replacement)

    Sep 18, 2022

    Ever wonder how your vehicle’s transmission is connected to your wheels? After all, when you hit a pothole or some other uneven part of a road’s surface, there has to be something that can maintain the connection between the transmission and the wheel yet keep everything moving at the same speed. 

    That very cool device is called a CV joint, a kind of driveshaft running to each wheel.  The CV stands for constant velocity because it keeps the drive wheels moving at a constant speed (velocity).  They’re used mostly on front-wheel drive vehicles but also in rear-wheel and all-wheel drive vehicles.

    The joints move up and down and adjust to bumpy surfaces.  Plus, they are covered in a rubber boot which protects them from road debris and also holds lubrication in.  There’s a CV joint and boot on the transmission side and one on the wheel side.  Unfortunately, the spot that usually fails first is that rubber protective cover (the boot).  After a lot of wear, tear, bumps, road hazards, heat, and you name it, the rubber rips and the lubrication leaks out.  At that point, it must be replaced. 

    Here are signs to tell if your CV joint is bad.

    • Your vehicle is pulling to one side as a wheel loses power or you feel a vibration while driving.
    • You see grease on the inside or edge of your tires.  
    • Your front tires won’t point in the same direction.
    • You hear grinding or clicking when you turn.

    Sometimes if a broken boot early is caught early, a technician can pack in new grease and replace just the boot.  But if the lubrication has leaked out and the joint is already wearing badly, the CV and boot both have to be replaced.  Give your vehicle the boot (as in a new boot) and CV joint, and you’ll be back on the road to your next destination.

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    No Fueling! (Fuel Filler Location)

    Sep 4, 2022

    If you've ever gotten in an unfamiliar vehicle, maybe a rental car, you may have pulled up to the gas pump and wondered, "Which side is the fuel filler on?" Here's a tip for you.  There is usually a little arrow on the instrument panel near the fuel gauge that points to the side where the fuel filler is. 

    But why are the fuel fillers not all on the same side, anyway? There are lots of reasons.  At one time, many manufacturers tried putting them in an easy-to-reach spot: in the center of the vehicle's rear end.  Some even hid them behind a hinged license plate door.  Cool place, but it turned out not to be a good idea.  When a vehicle with a fuel filler in the rear was hit by another vehicle from behind, it was much more prone to catch fire and explode.

    Safety regulations now dictate that the fuel filler doors be placed within crumple zones and away from where they can drip fuel on hot exhaust pipes or near electrical connections.  But why do manufacturers put them on either side?

    Some say it should be on the side away from the road.  That way if you run out of gas and have to add a little from a gas can as your standing at the side of the road, you'll be a little farther away from passing traffic.  So some companies from North America and many European firms with left-hand drive put their fillers on the right side.

    Some manufacturers think convenience for the driver is paramount, so they put their fuel fillers on the driver's side.  If you have a vehicle with a cable release for the fuel door inside the cabin, it's usually on the same side as the steering wheel.  As you can see, there's no standardization.

    Fuel doors need regular maintenance such as lubrication, and your gas cap (if your vehicle has one) should seal properly.  Have your service facility inspect those regularly. Wherever your fuel filler is, it's obviously important that you can get at it easily because you have to fuel up sometime. Otherwise, you're not going to go too far!

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    Weather Station on Wheels (Vehicle Sensor Maintenance)

    Aug 14, 2022

    You probably never thought about it, but your vehicle is like a rolling weather station.  It can check the outside temperature, let you know when the roads are slippery and help you deal with rain. And how it does all those things is pretty cool.

    First, just like any weather station, a vehicle has sensors that measure the driving and weather conditions you find yourself in.  Some of those sensors can control computerized systems in your vehicle to react to the weather.  It depends on whether you have a 2-wheel, 4-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle how those sensors will respond.

    Let's start with temperature.  Most vehicles now have a thermometer that measures the temperature outside.  It's usually in the front, and likely will tell you on the instrument panel what the outside temperature measures.  But a temperature sensor will also tell your vehicle's computers to turn on or off certain systems like the heating or air conditioning.  If your ambient temperature sensor isn't working right, some symptoms are a malfunctioning automatic A/C or a temperature display that is way different than the app on your phone says it should be.

    Your vehicle will also have sensors that measure your speed at each wheel.  They work with an onboard computer to measure slippage in any of the wheels so traction control and antilock brakes work correctly in case of slick roads.

    Your vehicle can measure something called longitudinal and latitudinal acceleration, and it uses a yaw sensor to do it.  That helps it determine if you might be in an oversteering or understeering situation.  It's important because it works with your vehicle's brakes to apply stopping power to keep you in control.

    A steering wheel sensor tells the vehicle's computers what the driver is doing with the wheel.  It also can work with those wheel sensors to measure how slippery the roads are, whether it be due to a wet (rain) or granular (gravel or sand) surface.  By sending different torque or braking to each wheel, it helps the driver maintain control.

    More and more vehicles now have a rain sensor that can turn on the wipers automatically when they measure precipitation on the windshield.

    So, you're driving your own weather station, and making sure all this data is coming in properly depends on how each component is working.  Regular service and maintenance on these systems is important to make sure they can do their job. Your rolling weather station can't predict the weather, but it can sure help you deal with it, so help it do its job right.


    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    "Current" Affairs (Blown Fuses)

    Jul 31, 2022

    You may be driving along and find that suddenly your radio stops working.  There are no numbers on the display.  Then when you get home, you notice the garage door opener doesn't do a thing when you press the button. Hmm, this was working just fine this morning.  Are the two problems somehow related?

     

    No, your vehicle doesn't need an exorcism. This has all the signs of an electrical issue, and when you experience symptoms like those, you've probably blown a fuse.  Most vehicles have fuses just like most houses have circuit breakers (some houses still have fuses). They cut the power when it reaches a pre-determined threshold that could cause major damage if it was allowed to continue.  You might say fuses take one for the team.

    Most modern automotive fuses are plastic with a thin strip of metal in them designed to melt when a calibrated amount of power passes through.  The philosophy is it's better for an inexpensive fuse to be destroyed than your sound system or your engine's main computer.

    It can be tricky to figure out what fuse has blown and why.  Modern vehicles have many computerized electronic components; they can easily be damaged if too much electricity gets to the wrong spot.  At Affordable Transmissions in PRINCETON, we have technicians trained to trace which fuse has blown and why.

    While sometimes a simple fuse replacement will fix the problem, other times there may be some other electrical component that has failed, causing the circuit overload.  Our technicians have special equipment to track down where the power problems are, get to the root of the problem and fix it at the source.

    Keep in mind, fuses are there to protect your vehicle. And when they shut down your radio, garage door opener, vanity mirror or anything else, just be thankful they're doing their job. They may have saved you from a much more expensive repair. They've sent an important signal to you about your electrical system.  That's why it's good to keep up with "current" affairs.

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    I Had No Idea! (Four Things You Didn't Know About Vehicles)

    Jul 10, 2022

    Bet you didn't know:

    Some of the earliest rearview mirrors were marketed as "Cop Spotters" so drivers would know when police were following them. Who wants a ticket, anyway? According to eBay Motors, Elmer Berger first patented a rearview mirror that was mounted on the front fenders, on the spare tire secured to the side of the car of at the top of the driver's door frame. 

    About 80 percent of your vehicle is recyclable. So says The Balance. That means four-fifths of most vehicles can be recycled.  Much of that recycling is done by automotive aftermarket recyclers.  Between the U.S and Canada, they reclaim enough steel to produce 13 million new vehicles.

    The man who invented the first modern cruise control couldn't even drive a car because he was blind! His name, says Smithsonian.com, was Ralph Teetor.  Blinded at a young age by a knife accident, Teetor was inspired to create a speed control by a couple of things.  One, the U.S. imposed a mandatory 35 mph/55 kph during World War II to conserve fuel and tire rubber, and Teetor wanted drivers to go a safe and steady speed.  Plus, a chauffeur who drove him around used to randomly slow down and speed up which irritated Teetor.  So he invented a speed control to encourage drivers to drive at a more constant and safer speed.

    The first grooved tires were invented in 1904 by Continental.  But that was a big improvement over the very first "tires" which were actually metal hoops that made riding in the first cars a pretty rough experience.  The first rubber tires were solid rubber, not inflatable like today's tires.  Things have come a long way.  Modern tires are made with sophisticated rubber compounds that can deal with heat and cold.  Plus their tread patterns help drivers get better traction on wet roads when it storms.  Still, it's important to make sure yours have enough tread and are properly inflated for maximum safety and performance.

    Quite frankly, there's a lot we don't understand about the vehicles we drive.  They're much more complicated than the old horse and buggy that preceded  them.  Leave your vehicle's maintenance and service to highly trained technicians who DO understand how to maintain, diagnose and repair today's modern, sophisticated vehicles. 

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    Gas Smell! (What Causes Gasoline Odors)

    May 22, 2022

    If you've ever walked into your garage and noticed it smelled like gasoline, pay attention. Gasoline can be dangerous, both from the health problems fumes can cause and the fire danger gasoline presents. 

    There are many things that can cause a vehicle to give off a gasoline odor.  One of the easiest to track down is the gas cap.  It could be missing or it doesn't seal well any more (they do wear out).  That can also cause the Check Engine light to light up, so those are clues to tell your service advisor when you take it in for diagnosis.

    Another thing that can cause the Check Engine light to come on and produce a gasoline smell is the fuel filler neck. It's the part that goes from the place you put your fuel in to the gas tank. Over time, these can wear out and fail (they're made out of rubber or metal).  They can leak gasoline, too.

    It's always a good idea to check the garage floor for any gasoline puddles.  Note the location of the puddle in relation to the vehicle. If it's near the back, that's possibly the fuel filler neck or the gas tank leaking.  In the middle of the vehicle? May be fuel lines.  Near the front? Could be fuel injectors (or carburetor if you have one) or fuel pump. 

    There are other causes of gas odors, and you need an expert to figure out the source soon.  Gasoline leaks are nothing to play around with.  Gasoline is flammable, potentially explosive and its fumes can damage your lungs. A trained technician can pinpoint the cause and get your garage back to smelling like a normal garage again.

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    A Real "Pane" (Window Maintenance and Repair)

    Apr 3, 2022

    It's pretty frustrating when your driver's window won't work.  You can't get your food at the drive-thru without opening the door, have a tough time using the ATM from your vehicle, can't have that fresh breeze blowing through your hair as you listen to your favorite road tunes.

    Plus, there's a safety factor.  Your windows provide an escape route in case you need to get out and the doors won't work.  Let's take a look at what's going on when your window won't operate.

    Most vehicles these days have power windows.  They have an electric motor in each power window and sometimes those fail.  They often give you a warning that they're on their last legs by making a noise or hesitating, so if you get a sign like that, have a technician check it out. Loss of power can also be due to a blown fuse, a bad switch or faulty wiring.

    All windows have something called a regulator that moves the glass up and down.  They have a lot of moving parts in them which can break, become bent, rust or get out of alignment. The glass moves along a window track guide.  Sometimes if the glass gets out of the track, it won't move up and down the way it's designed to do.

    When you take your vehicle over to a repair facility, a technician can pinpoint the cause of your malfunctioning window.  Often it involves having to remove the door panel to gain access to the components inside.  But when everything's working right, you'll be able to throw that annoying inconvenience right out the window.

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    In the Hot Seat (Repair and Maintenance of Seat Heaters)

    Mar 13, 2022

    It's chilly outside. You flip on that switch that looks like a picture of a seat with little heat waves rising from it.  You expect soon you'll feel that warmth but… wait! It's not getting warmer.  Oh no, what's wrong with my seat heater? There could be lots of reasons it's not working, and it could be as simple as a fuse or as major as the heating element itself.  But it's something to leave to a pro to diagnose and repair.

    Let's say it turns out to be a blown fuse.  Simply replacing the fuse may not fix it because there was a reason the fuse blew in the first place.  It's possible the on-off switch has worn out or corroded.  Perhaps the wiring connection isn't completing the circuit (could be corroded or full of dirt) or the voltage reaching the heating element isn't correct. 

    There's a little sensor that keeps track of the seat heater's temperature called the thermistor.  When the seat is hot enough, it will stop the juice from heating it any more.  Sometimes those fail.  But if all of these components are healthy, you may need a new heater element. 

    Those seat-heating elements are made up of wires that get sat on.  A lot.  That can put significant strain on them.  Putting something heavy on the seat can break them. Or, if you put your knees on the seat cushion as you're getting something in a rear seat, that can also damage the element.  Sometimes they can be repaired but often they have to be replaced.  And here is where the technician's expertise comes into play.  That heater element is attached to the seat's fabric and replacing it can be tricky.  It also can require disassembling a lot of the seat to access it. 

    Seat heaters are a wonderful feature and they make your vehicle oh, so much cozier.  So keep them working and enjoy the warmth!

    Affordable Transmissions
    31533 125 1/2 Street
    PRINCETON, MN 55371
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com