Car Inspection

Anti-lock Brakes

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We rely on our brakes to safely slow and stop our vehicles. You’ve probably had the experience where you’ve slammed on your brakes and started to skid. When your wheels are locked up, you are just sliding all over the road. And if the road is wet or slick or covered with gravel – you really get out of control. Steering is next to impossible. That is why anti-lock brake systems (ABS) were invented: to help you maintain control in extreme stopping conditions.

As mentioned, control is lost when your wheels lock up. ABS keep your brakes from locking – helping you stop while maintaining your ability to steer. Sensors on each wheel equipped with ABS, monitor wheel spin and compare it with vehicle speed sensors. When you are pressing on the brakes, still traveling forward, but your wheels are not turning, the ABS system steps in and modulates the brakes.

They ABS quickly “pumps” the brakes, not allowing the wheels to lock-up while still applying braking pressure. This is all done automatically without any intervention on your part. You will feel a pulsation through the brake pedal and will hear a clunking as the brakes are rapidly being applied and let off repeatedly. The first time this happens to you, you may be surprised and think something is wrong. Well, it isn’t – so just keep your foot on the brake and allow the ABS to do its thing. In fact, remember the 3 S’s of anti-lock brakes: Stomp, Stay, & Steer. Stomp on the brakes, keep the pedal down, and steer as needed.

When you first start your vehicle, the ABS does a quick self-check to make sure everything is OK. The ABS warning light will briefly illuminate with all the other warning lights on your dashboard and then go out. If the system detects a fault, the ABS light will come on and stay on. Take your vehicle in for a check if the ABS warning light is on.

Proper brake system service is the best way to protect your ABS. Replacing brake fluid that is depleted and/or contaminated will help preserve proper ABS operation and protect it against corrosion. Ask your service advisor if it’s time for a braking system inspection or service.

Give us a call

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop
2094 South M-139
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
269.926.2006

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Winter Prep

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Every year, your vehicle needs to be ready for our Michigan winter. The last thing we Benton Harbor drivers want is to get stranded out in the cold in Michigan. We need our vehicles to be safe and reliable. It’s a good idea to get caught up on any neglected maintenance items anytime – but the stakes are higher in the winter for Michigan .

There are some specific and necessary things that we need to do to have our vehicle ready for winter. The most obvious is having the antifreeze checked. If the antifreeze protection is not set correctly it can’t properly protect your engine, radiator and hoses from freezing. If your vehicle does not seem to be making enough heat to keep you warm, your antifreeze level may be low or you could have a thermostat problem. Get it checked out at Pro Muffler & Brake in Benton Harbor. If you are due for a cooling system service, now is a perfect time to have it done.

In the cold Michigan rainy months we always worry about being able to stop in time when it’s slick out on Benton Harbor area roads. The first thing for Benton Harbor drivers to remember is to slow down and allow plenty of room to stop. A thorough brake inspection at Pro Muffler & Brake will reveal if the pads or any other parts need replacing. Check with your Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc service advisor to see if it is time to replace your brake fluid. It accumulates water over time which really messes with your stopping power.

It is also advisable to have your battery tested. A battery’s cranking power really drops with the temperature. If your battery is weak in the fall, it may not be up to winter in Michigan.

You should always have a blanket or something to keep you and your passengers warm if you get stranded when it’s cold in Michigan. If you will be leaving the Benton Harbor area and venturing away from civilization, pack more items such as food and water to help you survive. Keeping at least half a tank of gas is a good idea if you get stuck and need to run the vehicle to keep warm, and it will help keep your gas lines from freezing up.

It’s a really good idea for Benton Harbor drivers to replace their wiper blades in the fall before the Michigan winter storms. If you live where there’s a lot of snow and ice in Michigan, you might want a special winter blade that resists freezing up. And be sure to have enough windshield washer fluid.

The final thing for Benton Harbor to consider is their tires. Any tire can lose pressure over time – up to one pound every six or eight weeks. For every 10 degrees F/5.6 degrees C, the temperature drops in Benton Harbor you lose another pound of pressure. So if it was 80°F/26.7°C outside in Benton Harbor when you checked your tire pressure two months ago and now it’s 40°F/4.4°C, you could be down 5 pounds of pressure. That’s enough to be a safety issue and it’s also hard on your fuel economy. You may need special winter tires as well. Your Pro Muffler & Brake tire professional can help you find the right tire design for your Benton Harbor expected road conditions.

If you’re getting winter tires in Benton Harbor, it is always best to put them on all four wheels. If you are only getting two, it might be best to put them on the rear – even if you have a front-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle. This is a very important safety measure recommended by Michigan tire manufacturers. Sliding or fish-tailing on ice and snow is a matter of not having enough traction at the rear end. That is why your newest tires should probably always be on the rear. Check with your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake service advisor.

Give us a call

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop
2094 South M-139
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
269.926.2006

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Wheel Alignment

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People need to be concerned about wheel alignment for two primary reasons: safety and money.  When your wheels are out of alignment, they can pull to one side. A moment of inattention could put you into on-coming traffic or off the road.  And a bad alignment will chew up your tires very quickly.

We had one guy in the shop who said his wheels were a little out of alignment before a family vacation, but he didn’t think it was that bad, so he didn’t take care of it before he left.  A couple days and a thousand miles later, his front tires were worn down to the cords.  He had to take a half day out of his mountain vacation to find a town big enough to have a tire center for replacements.

All four wheels are supposed to be lined up and point in the same direction.  Sometimes one or more goes out of alignment and is pulling against the rest of the team.  In addition to excessive tire wear, this also hurts fuel economy.

Part of the alignment service is an inspection of the steering and suspension components.  Whatever caused the wheels to be knocked out of alignment in the first place may have also damaged important parts.  So, we want to be sure to replace broken or bent parts as needed.

The process corrects alignment of each wheel along three axises (toe, camber and caster) as well as front to rear alignment.

Your owner’s manual may have a recommendation for how often alignment should be checked.  If not, ask your service advisor.  Here are some things to look for that should get you in for an alignment check right away:

Your vehicle is pulling to one side, your steering wheel isn’t centered, you feel a vibration at speed, or you see unusual tire wear.

Give us a call

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop
2094 South M-139
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
269.926.2006

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Forced Induction

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Most Benton Harbor residents associate turbochargers and superchargers with hot rods and racing. However, the number of everyday cars and trucks coming to Benton Harbor from the factory with chargers is growing every year. Here’s why.

You need three elements for combustion: fuel, oxygen and ignition (spark plug in gasoline engines and compression in diesels). Superchargers and turbochargers deal with the oxygen part of the formula. In the normally aspirated engines Benton Harbor residents are familiar with, air is just drawn in from the outside by vacuum pressure created as the engine runs. Turbochargers and superchargers compress the air that goes into the engine’s combustion chamber, forcing in more oxygen. This forced charge of air allows an engine to make more power than a similarly-sized, normally aspirated engine.

So today we have small 4-cylinder turbocharged engines on Benton Harbor streets making more power than a full-sized V8 did 20 years ago – and getting far better fuel economy. And the power on turbocharged six and eight cylinder engines is through the roof.

In addition to power and fuel economy, charged engines deliver benefits for Benton Harbor drivers at higher altitudes. As the air thins with an increase in elevation, there is less oxygen available to burn in the engine, resulting in a significant power loss. Charging forces more air – and oxygen – into the engine, preserving much of the power at altitude. Turbochargers use exhaust from the engine to spin an impeller that compresses the air sent to the engine. Because there is a short time between when you step on the accelerator and the time the exhaust pressure builds up enough to spin the turbo up to speed, there is a short lag in power. To combat this “turbo lag,” some use two turbos: a small one that quickly spins up when engine speed is low and a larger one for when the engine is running . Others use a variable vane technology in the impeller to accomplish the same thing.

Superchargers are driven by a belt connected to the engine’s crankshaft. There is no lag because charging starts immediately (it doesn’t have to wait for exhaust pressure). Superchargers are less efficient for Benton Harbor residents because they require engine power to run the compressor, whereas turbochargers are powered by “free” exhaust. In both types, the air heats up as it is compressed. In some engines it is necessary to cool the air before it goes into the engine. In those engines, the air passes through what is called an intercooler to bring its temperature down to the proper range. An intercooler is like a small radiator and may be cooled by air flow or by liquid coolant.

Benton Harbor owners of superchargers and turbochargers should always use the fuel grade recommended by their vehicle manufacturer. This is important in charged engines because of the extra pressure as the fuel and air is compressed. Using fuel with too low of an octane rating could lead to premature detonation which can cause damage.

Generally speaking, turbochargers and superchargers do not require regular maintenance. But they do wear like any other part in your vehicle and will eventually need repair or replacement. All of your regular vehicle maintenance should be done on schedule – things like oil changes and transmission service and so on. Talk with your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake Shop about any concerns you have and about the next services your vehicle needs.

Give us a call

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop
2094 South M-139
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
269.926.2006

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Steering

steering

 

Steering is one of the things we take for granted in our vehicles.  Let’s break it down into two areas: first, the power assist and second the actual parts that steer the vehicle.

Most people under 40 have never driven a car or truck without power steering.  Most vehicles today have a hydraulic power steering pump that provides boost to help you steer.  The pump is usually driven by the serpentine belt, but some newer vehicles have an electric pump.  Some vehicles even have an electric motor that directly powers the steering.

The important thing to keep in mind is that these pumps and motors will eventually wear out and the hoses will start to leak.  You can postpone that day by having a power steering service from time to time.  We will drain the old fluid and replace it with fresh fluid.  This removes water and contaminants that can corrode power steering parts.  Ask your service advisor for the recommended change interval.

What about the mechanical steering parts?  Is there anything you can do to maintain them?  Yes.  If any of the steering parts can be lubed, your technician will take care of that with a lube, oil and filter service.  Other than that, just watch for signs that parts are wearing out.  Things like loose steering and uneven tire wear.

Worn parts can be replaced to get you back on the road.  Now, sometimes parts can be bent or damaged from hitting potholes, curbs or rocks.  It’s important to take care of these problems early on.  If you neglect them, the damaged parts stress other attached components which starts a chain reaction of damage.

Steering maintenance is pretty straight forward: Replace power steering fluid as recommended and fix worn or damaged parts right away.  That’ll save you money in the long run.

Hey – we wouldn’t steer you wrong.

Give us a call

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop
2094 South M-139
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
269.926.2006

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Disc Brakes

disc-brakes

 

Disc Brakes 

Question:
What are the signs that I need a brake job?

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc Answer:
Signs of brake problems often fall into one of two categories for Benton Harbor vehicles: making noise or a pulsation in the brake pedal. Let’s start with the noise.

Most brake pads have an audible brake wear indicator. This is a small piece of metal that rubs on your brake rotor when the brake pads are worn to the point they should be replaced. The noise is a chirp or soft squeal. This noise gives Benton Harbor drivers enough warning to get their brakes serviced while there is still enough brake pad left to enable you to stop safely.

Benton Harbor drivers who ignore the chirp find that the sound changes to a grinding noise. That is more serious. It means that the friction material on your brake pad is worn away and metal parts of the brake are grinding against the rotor when you press on the brakes. Obviously, this metal-on-metal means that your brakes aren’t stopping very well. It also means that your rotor is being damaged. It may need to be resurfaced or even replaced.

Pedal pulsation is another noticeable sound. When your rotor is not in perfect alignment, it pushes against the brake pads unevenly as you apply the brakes. There could be a number of reasons for this. The rotor and wheel hub may not be mating well, causing the rotor to be spinning out of vertical alignment. This misalignment can be caused by either the rotor or the hub, or a combination of the two. If this persists, the rotor may even start to wear unevenly to the point that its thickness varies, causing an even more noticeable pulsation. This uneven mating of the brake pad and the rotor when braking means less contact and it will reduce braking power.

Your service center or the team at Pro Muffler & Brake  in Benton Harbor can determine the cause of the misalignment and remedy the problem.

Either unusual brake noise or pedal pulsation are signs for Benton Harbor residents that there are brake problems. Benton Harbor motorists should have a tech at Pro Muffler & Brake check their brakes thoroughly and recommend any steps necessary to correct the problem.

A regular brake inspection is on every vehicle’s recommended list. Ask your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake service advisor if it’s time for brake inspection.

Give us a call

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop
2094 South M-139
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
269.926.2006

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Prevent Costly Repairs

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Prevent Costly Repairs 

You’ve probably seen auto parts delivery trucks in Benton Harbor making their rounds. Every part has a story behind it. Unfortunately, some of the stories are tales of repairs that could have been prevented.

One stop may be to deliver an engine air filter and a mass air flow sensor for a customer’s pick-up. His service advisor has been recommending he replace that dirty air filter for the last couple of oil changes. The guy’s been saying no to save a couple of bucks. Now dirty air has been getting into his mass air flow sensor for so long that it’s ruined. Talk about stepping over dollars to pick up a dime.

Perhaps the next stop is for a fuel system cleaning kit and a set of four fuel injectors. This nice lady has never had her fuel system cleaned. Over the years, gum and varnish have completely ruined her fuel injectors. Her tech will replace the injectors and clean the system, removing carbon deposits from her valves and combustion chamber. Her engine will be making more power and getting much better fuel economy. Just too bad she had the unnecessary expense of new fuel injectors.

The next stop is a crying shame: transmission fluid and a transmission rebuild kit. When you think of a transmission rebuild you probably picture a lot of expensive broken parts. Sure, that can happen, but most of the time it’s just replacing all of these little seals and gaskets that got chewed up by dirty transmission fluid. Really, the guy didn’t service his transmission so all those little bits or dirt and clutch material that naturally come loose over the miles turn the transmission fluid into liquid sandpaper – and it just tears up the rubber seals and paper gaskets. Pretty soon there are all these internal leaks and then there isn’t enough hydraulic pressure to shift properly. Taking out, tearing down, and rebuilding a transmission can cost thousands – all because the transmission fluid wasn’t changed on schedule.

Next time you see an auto parts delivery truck around Benton Harbor, think about your own preventive maintenance. Check your owner’s manual or ask your Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc service advisor about your manufacturer recommended service schedule today.

Give us a call

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop
2094 South M-139
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
269.926.2006

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Improved Fuel Economy?

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Will Proper Auto Maintenance at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc Really Save Gas?

Have you ever thought about all the little things we do to keep our lives running smoothly – like vacuuming? It makes a room feel fresher and more comfortable. We may not consider that we’re also prolonging the life of the carpet by keeping it clean. But Benton Harbor drivers don’t always extend those good habits into the garage. Our vehicles need regular maintenance just like our rugs need vacuuming. We may not notice a difference in the feel or appearance of the vehicle, but just as cleaning a carpet carries the hidden reward of prolonging its life, maintaining our vehicles incurs a hidden reward that becomes noticeable at Benton Harbor gas stations.

When it comes to reduced fuel economy, there are two culprits: increased friction and inefficient fuel combustion. That means that anything Benton Harbor drivers can do to decrease friction and increase the efficiency of their engines will translate to savings on fuel. Friction increases the amount of energy it takes to move something. So if we can reduce friction, we can decrease the amount of fuel it takes to run our vehicles. Engine oil is usually at the heart of friction problems in an engine. Too little oil means parts are not getting lubricated, which increases friction and dirty oil doesn’t lubricate as well as clean oil. So one secret to good fuel economy is to stay on top of oil changes. Don’t skip them and don’t procrastinate. The same auto advice applies to transmission fluid. Keep it full and keep it clean, and your vehicle will run with less friction and better .

If your tires are under-inflated, it increases the friction between the tire and the road. Again, there is increased drag, and it takes more fuel to move your vehicle. People in Benton Harbor should check their tire pressure every month and keep their tires properly inflated.

Alignment and brake problems can also increase friction. Besides saving fuel, keeping these systems in good repair has the added benefit of saving you on tires and brake pads. These items wear out more quickly when the alignment is off or when the brake system isn’t in good working order. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake service advisor.

The second culprit that stealthily steals our fuel economy is inefficient fuel combustion, which depends on the engine getting the right amount of clean fuel to the right place with the right pressure at the right time in the right pattern. The key to peak engine performance is to keep the fuel system clean. Varnish and gum can build up in a fuel system, which will interfere with the fuel injectors. The fuel injectors are responsible for all those “rights” we spoke of. If they’re dirty, amounts, timing, pressure and spray patterns can all get out of whack. The result? Reduced fuel economy. A fuel system cleaning at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc in Benton Harbor can get your injectors back on track, improving performance and efficiency.

There are a few other maintenance items that can improve your fuel economy. One is to replace your PCV valve when it gets sticky. This valve allows unburned fuel in your engine exhaust to return to the engine. Benton Harbor can also replace worn spark plugs and dirty fuel filters. A well-maintained vehicle will require fewer repairs and save money at Benton Harbor gas pumps.

Give us a call

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop
2094 South M-139
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
269.926.2006

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Cloudy Headlamps

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Cloudy Headlamps

You may be surprised to learn that 40 percent of traffic fatalities in Michigan take place at night even though there’s 60 percent less traffic. It goes to show how important proper visibility is to nighttime driving in our Benton Harbor community.

Obviously, a clean windshield is important – so are good wiper blades. Your headlights play a big role as well. There are two main concerns. One is with the headlamp, or bulb. The other is with the lens.

The fact of the matter is that headlamps go dim over time on your vehicle or other auto. You just need to replace them. Some vehicles come with a standard bulb which you can replace or you can upgrade to a halogen bulb that’s much brighter. Halogen costs a little more but you’d be amazed at the difference.

It’s a good idea to replace your headlamps once a year. The idea is that your lamps never dim to the point that they become a safety issue. Just take care of it at a fall oil change so that your lights will be bright for the coming long winter nights.

The other big issue is the headlamp lens. For the last couple of decades, most lenses are made of plastic which can get cloudy or yellow. That blocks a lot of light. You can replace the lens, but each lens assembly can cost as much as $350 to $400. It’s much less expensive to restore the lens if it isn’t broken.

At Pro Muffler & Brake, we use a process of special cleaners and polishes to remove the yellowed and hazy layer of the lens. We then apply a hard protective finish. When we’re done, your lenses really are as good as new.

The price depends on the size of the lens and how yellowed or cloudy it is. You can even restore taillights and turn signals.

So combining a headlamp restoration with new bulbs will light up the road like a new car. Can you clearly see the advantage?

At Pro Muffler & Brake we install quality NAPA replacement parts so you can be assured it’s done right the first time.

Give us a call

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop
2094 South M-139
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
269.926.2006

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Suspension Service

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Suspension System Service

Suspension systems should continue to operate effectively for many years and tens of thousands of miles/kilometers, holding your tires’ foot print on the road. Eventually components do wear out, but how long that takes depends a lot on how you drive.

As you can imagine, if most of your driving is on smooth Benton Harbor roads, your vehicle shock absorbers will last a lot longer than if you do most of your driving on bumpy Michigan highways or hauling heavy loads. In addition to just wearing out, upgraded shock suspension components can be damaged in an accident or by a hard impact, like hitting a pothole, a curb or a rock in the road.

Because the life span of shocks can vary so widely, your vehicle manufacturer recommends periodic inspections. During a car inspection at Pro Muffler & Brake, your Benton Harbor service technician will check for worn, broken or missing suspension parts. If the inspection reveals any problems, take care of this important safety and handling work. When you replace your shocks, it’s usually a good idea to replace all four at the same time. That’ll give you even handling at all four corners of the vehicle.

If you have special road handling needs like improved cornering or towing or hauling requirements, your Pro Muffler Service Consultant, Chris, can recommend an upgraded shock or strut to get you what you want.

At Pro Muffler & Brake, we have been providing quality auto repair in Southwest Michigan for 20+ years.

Give us a call

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop
2094 South M-139
Benton Harbor, Michigan 49022
269.926.2006

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Thank you Pro Muffler & Brake Shop! If I have a problem with my brakes or my muffler again, I will come to you! Many thanks to you & staff. My car runs so much better and because of you guys I have confidence in driving my car. Customer of '97 Honda Civic
Kevin & Pro Muffler guys, “Many thanks for your prompt, courteous & special service today!Anita
Dear Kevin & Rich,We finally made it to the West Coast. We’re in Northern California headed down to San Fran. We picked up my PT Cruiser and it’s holding up well… So far. I don’t want to jinx myself. Hope all is well in Michigan. Perhaps we’ll meet again. Thanks for all your kindness!Sincerely, Beth & Jerod

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