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How Your Check Engine Light Works

Posted on 02/27/2014

Have you ever had an experience like this? You drive through the one of those automatic car washes. When you get to the end, where the dryer is blowing, your check engine light started flashing!

You fear the worst, but within a block or two, the light stopped flashing, but stayed on. By the next day, the light was off. You wonder; “What was going on?” Well, it’s actually a good lesson in how the Check Engine light works.

Your air intake system has a sensor that measures how much air is coming through it. When you went under the high-speed dryer, all that air was blasting passed the sensor. Your engine computer was saying, there shouldn’t be that much air when the engine is just idling. Something’s wrong. Whatever’s wrong could cause some serious engine damage.

Warning, warning! It flashes the check engine light, to alert you to take immediate action.nIt stopped flashing because once you were out from under the dryer, the airflow returned to normal. Now the engine control computer says the danger is past, but I’m still concerned, I’ll keep this light on for now, and then the Check Engine Light goes off in a day or two.

The condition never did recur, so the computer says whatever it was, it’s gone now. The danger is past, I’ll turn that light off.

Now a flashing check engine light is serious. You need to get it into a shop as soon as possible. But if it stops flashing, so you have time to see if the problem will clear itself or if you need to get it checked. How does the computer know when to clear itself?

Think of it this way. The engine control computer is the brain that can make adjustments to manage the engine. Things like alter the air to fuel mix, spark advance, and so on. The computer relies on a series of sensors to get the information it needs to make decisions on what to do.

The computer knows what readings are in a normal range for various conditions. Get out of range, and it logs a trouble code and lights up the check engine warning.

The computer will then try to make adjustments if it can. If the computer can’t compensate for the problem, the check engine light stays on.

The computer logs a trouble code. Some people think the code will tell the technician exactly what’s wrong?

Actually, the code will tell the technician what sensor reading is out of parameters. It can’t really tell you why, because there could be any number of causes.

Let’s say you’re feeling hot. You get your heat sensor out – a thermometer – put it under our tongue and in a minute or two you learn that you have a fever of 104 degrees.

You know your symptom – a fever – but you don’t know what’s causing it. Is it the flu, a sinus infection or appendicitis?

You need more information than just that one sensor reading. But it does give you a place to start and narrows down the possible problems.

There are reports on the internet telling you that you can just go down to an auto parts store and get them to read your trouble code or buy a cheap scan tool to do it yourself.

There are two problems with that. First, the computer stores some trouble codes in short term memory, and some in permanent memory. Each manufacturer’s computer stores generic trouble codes, but they also store codes that are specific to their brand.

A cheap, generic scan tool, like you can buy or that the auto parts store uses, doesn’t have the ability to retrieve long-term storage or manufacturer specific codes. Your service center has spent a lot of money on high-end scan tools and software to do a deep retrieval of information from your engine control computer.

The second problem is that once you’ve got the information, do you know what to do with it? For example, a very common trouble code comes up when the reading on the oxygen sensor is out of whack.

So, the common solution is for the auto parts store to sell you a new oxygen sensor, which are not cheap, and send you off on your way. Now your oxygen sensor may indeed have been bad and needed replacing, but the error code could have come from any of a dozen of other problems.

Give us a call!

Transmission Service

Posted on 02/27/2014



Let’s talk about transmission service. It can be easy to forget about getting your transmission serviced because it doesn’t need it very often. It’s easy to remember to change the engine oil – you know, every 3,000 miles. But proper transmission servicing keeps your car running smoothly and helps you avoid costly repairs down the road.

The transmission undergoes a lot of stress. The grit you see in used transmission fluid is actually bits of metal that wear off the gears in the transmission. In addition to that, the transmission operates at very high temperatures. Usually it’s 100 to 150 degrees higher than engine temperatures. Those high temperatures eventually cause the transmission fluid to start to break down and loose efficiency. As the fluid gets older, it gets gritty and doesn’t lubricate and cool the transmission as well – leading to even more wear. The fluid can actually get sludgy and plug up the maze of fluid passages inside the transmission. At best, your transmission won’t operate smoothly. At worse, it could lead to costly damage.

When your transmission is running properly, it transfers more power from your engine to the drive wheels, and improves fuel economy. That’s why manufacturers recommend changing your transmission fluid at regular intervals. Your owner’s manual has a schedule for transmission service and, of course, your service center can tell you what the manufacturer recommends.

Hot and dusty conditions; towing, hauling, stop and go conditions and jack rabbit starts all increase the load on the transmission and its internal temperature. That means you need to change the fluid more often. A good rule of thumb is every 24,000 miles or two years. If your manufacturer suggests more frequent intervals or if you’re driving under severe service conditions, you will need to change your transmission fluid more often.

We, at Murray Motive, have the ability to perform a transmission service while you wait and the cost is quite reasonable. It’s downright cheap when you think about how much a major transmission repair can cost! Your service technician will know the right type of transmission fluid to use. If it’s getting to be time to have your transmission serviced, do your car a favor and have it done. If not this time, then on your next service stop.

Schedule your service today!
 

Summer is here!

Posted on 02/27/2014



Do you hear loud noises under the hood when you turn on your air conditioner? Do you only get cool air sporadically? If so, it is time to get your air conditioner checked. It’s real easy to take your car’s air conditioner for granted. Just push the right buttons and out comes cool, dry, clean air. But, your air conditioning system needs attention from time to time to help it keep its cool.

When most people hear the words “air conditioning problems”, it sends a shiver up their spine. That is because the air conditioning system is fairly complex. It has a lot of parts and when it’s broken, it’s expensive to repair.

What things can we do to prevent air conditioning breakdowns?

A common cause of air conditioning failure is leaks. Water and air can leak into the system. The system doesn’t work as well with air in it, and water can cause rust that leads to damage of the A/C components. Also, refrigerant, the stuff that makes the air cold, can leak out reducing the efficiency of the system, making it work harder to cool the air. Periodically evacuating the air conditioning system and recharging it keeps the proper amount of clean refrigerant in the system so it cools better and lasts longer.

You should also run the air conditioner regularly, even in the winter, so that it lubricates itself and keeps the seals from drying out, which leads to leaks. Your owner’s manual will have recommendations for how often to service your air conditioner. Of course, if it’s not working right, now is the time to get it checked. Many service centers can inspect and test your air conditioning and offer evacuation and recharge services. This goes a long way to avoiding having to bring your air conditioner in for major repairs.

Does reading this make you sweat? Let us check your A/C today!
 

The Truth About Car Payments

Posted on 02/27/2014

I’ll always have a car payment.

You’ve probably heard that comment before, right? You might have even said it yourself—with a defeated, woe-is-me tone of voice. So what’s the deal? Are car payments really just a way of life?

Well, that’s the normal way of thinking. But, as Dave always says: When it comes to money, normal is broke. You want to be weird, and weird people don’t have car payments.

So how, exactly, do you live without a car payment?

Here’s the deal. Recent statistics show that one-third of car buyers sign up for a six-year loan at an average interest rate of 9.6%. Among these buyers, the average price of the car is just over $26,000. This means that one-third of the cars you see on the road are dragging a $475 payment behind them.

The car dealer won’t tell you that your awesome new car loses about 25% of its value the instant you drive it off the lot. After four years, your car has lost about 70% of its value!

What does that mean? After six years, you’ve paid almost $33,000 for a $26,000 car, which is now worth maybe $6,000. Not a good deal.

Here’s a new plan. What if you bought a cheap $2,000 car just to get around for 10 months? Then you take that $475—the average car payment—save it every month, and pay for a new car (with cash!), instead of giving it to the bank.

After 10 months of doing that, you’ll have $4,750 to use for that new ride. Add that to the $1,500–2,000 you can get for your old beater, and you have well over $6,000. That’s a major upgrade in car in just 10 months—without owing the bank a dime!

But the fun doesn’t end there. If you keep consistently putting the same amount of money away, 10 months later you would have another $4,750 to put toward a car. You could probably sell that $6,000 vehicle for about the same price you paid 10 months before, meaning you now have $11,000 to pay for a car, just 20 months after this whole process started.

The bottom line with this exercise is simply this—what could you do with that $475 if you weren’t paying for the car every month? Anything you wanted!

Think about it this way: If you were to invest that $475 (remember, this is the average car payment in the U.S.) into a good mutual fund with a 12% rate of return, you would have over $100,000 in 10 years! At 20 years, you would have made $470,000. And at 30 years? That mutual fund would be worth $1.6 million!

The numbers will make your head spin, but it really just comes down to simple math. The less money you are spending on your car every month, the more money you have to put into other more important things: your kids’ college fund, your retirement, and paying off any other debt you might have.

If you’ll just follow this simple plan, your life could be dramatically different 10 years from now. You can live without a car payment!

Does this get you fired up? If so, check out Financial Peace University! Dave Ramsey will teach you how to get on a plan for getting out of debt, saving for retirement, college, and real estate … all debt free! Getting rid of car payments is just the beginning of changing your life forever, so get started today!

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