Posts made in April, 2016

Why is my check engine light on?

Modern vehicles have an inboard computer analytical system that continually monitors the key operating systems, especially your engine and transmission system. The key reason for checking these systems is to make sure that the car is operating at maximum efficiency with the least possible emissions. Given that emission control and fuel economy have become more important, your car’s electronic system needs to continually adjust and tweak several parameters based on the existing driving conditions, including vehicle load, air or fuel mix and temperature to name just a few. When any of these parameters fall outside the tolerable range for operating a car, your check engine light will come on to notify you of an existing problem. As the vehicle owner, you should take your vehicle to a certified auto mechanic to restore it back to manufacturer specifications.

Possible reasons behind the check engine light

Issues with the mass air flow sensor

Initially, you may not encounter any severe driveability issues, though you may notice sluggishness or a reduction in power in your car’s system. This may be traced back to the mass air flow sensor which may be defective.

Lean condition

Modern vehicles use oxygen sensors to detect whether the air/fuel combination is too lean or too rich. If excess oxygen is detected, the computer assumes the mixture is very lean which means there’s not adequate fuel. Some of the lean symptoms include poor power output and the engine system running hotter than usual among other symptoms.

Rich condition

Likewise, if small amounts of oxygen are detected, the computer assumes the air/fuel combination is too rich, meaning either excess fuel or little oxygen. Symptoms include poor fuel mileage, excess fuel thinning, which quickly causes fresh engine oil to turn black, and build-up of sooty carbon residues on spark plugs. This condition is as a result of a defective or dirty mass air flow sensor.

Cylinder backfire

You may experience difficulty starting your engine, or the engine might idle, stumble or dillydally among a host of other driveability problems. This could be traced back to a defective spark plugs, a faulty ignition coil or an engine problem.

Knock sensor circuit breakdown

The knock sensor serves to evaluate spark knock. If a spark knock exists, the sensor generates a voltage signal that is detected by the computer and the check engine light illuminates on. With this failure, you may experience driveability complications such as power output failures and engine hesitation. Possible reasons could be a faulty knock sensor circuit. 

Whenever the check engine light comes on, have an auto mechanic inspect your car immediately.

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When Is It Time to Get Your Heavy-Duty Truck Wheels Aligned?

Proper wheel alignment is always necessary for any vehicle, and especially for heavy-duty trucks. Proper wheel alignment ensures that brakes are able to grip a vehicle’s tires properly, and the brakes on heavy-duty trucks already need to work harder to stop their heavier weight. When a heavy-duty truck has wheels that are out of alignment, this can be a safety hazard as it may be more likely to skid and slide when the brakes are applied. Note when it might be time to get your heavy-duty truck wheels aligned and why it’s so important to have this done when you notice any of these signs.

1. After a collision

After any type of collision and other repairs have been done, you want to have the truck’s wheels aligned. The collision may have slightly bent a rim or axle, or otherwise pushed the wheels out of alignment; you may not even realize this has happened until you’re back on the road. While it’s good to have the wheels aligned after any collision, it can be even more important if the collision happened anywhere near the truck’s wheel wells. This may have increased the likelihood that the truck’s tires are now out of alignment and this should be checked after other repairs are completed. 

2. When fuel economy is suddenly lowered

You may be filling up at the pump more often with your heavy-duty truck for a number of reasons; you may be overloaded with cargo you’re carrying or something you’re hauling, have problems with the exhaust, or simply need a tune-up. However, improper wheel alignment can also be the issue. Drag and tire rolling resistance can be a major factor in loss of fuel economy for any vehicle but especially with larger trucks that are already typically carrying heavier weight and larger loads when in operation. 

3. After hauling uneven loads

If you tend to haul uneven loads in your truck, meaning any load where the weight is not unevenly dispersed over the length and width of the cab, this can mean pressure on certain areas of the truck that affect the alignment. One side of the truck may tend to be weighed down so that the wheels begin to drag and the alignment becomes off-balance and then needs correcting. If you’ve been hauling any type of uneven loads, have the alignment checked and do this regularly if the loads you haul are always uneven.

Make sure to visit a mechanic who specializes in heavy vehicle wheel alignment, as not all mechanics will know how to work on big trucks.

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