Driving Tips

Forced Induction

steering

 

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/

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/

Spark Plugs

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Spark Plugs

In Benton Harbor, Michigan, the days when Benton Harbor drivers changed their spark plugs every couple of years has ended. Back in the day, spark plugs really did wear out that often. A couple of things are different now…

First, spark plugs are made of better materials that last longer for Benton Harbor drivers and they’re designed better. The second reason spark plugs used to have to be changed in vehicles and other autos was that they were fouled up with carbon deposits. The deposits built up when fuel wasn’t burned completely. With modern engine management controls that just doesn’t happen as often.

Engine control computers precisely time when fuel is injected into the engine and when spark plugs fire. Unless something’s wrong, spark plugs just don’t foul like they used to.

Electricity from the battery goes into a coil that allows power to build up to anywhere from 12,000 to 45,000 volts, depending on the vehicle. The engine management computer tells the coil when to release the power to the spark plug. The electricity travels through a wire from the coil to the spark plug. At the tip of the plug, a spark jumps between two electrodes and ignites the gas in the combustion chamber.

Some engines have more than one coil. Coils wear out and need to be replaced occasionally. Also, spark plug wires can wear out and need to be replaced.

Modern engines used around Benton Harbor are delivering more power and better fuel economy all the time. That’s largely credited to fast engine control computers, advanced sensors, electronic ignition and improvements to the lowly spark plug.

It’ll be interesting to see where future developments take us. One last thought: it’s to have the right kind of spark plug for your vehicle. Because engines are designed to run with different internal temperatures, spark plugs have different designs to work properly within those temperatures. Your Benton Harbor, Michigan, service advisor at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc will be able to get the right plugs for your vehicle. And he’ll be able to advise you on when you should replace your spark plugs as well.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Older Vehicle?

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Simple Answers from Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc for Benton Harbor: High Mileage Vehicles

Question:
What do I need to do for my high mileage vehicle?

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc Answer:
Benton Harbor drivers ask this question at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc a lot more these days. The median age for vehicles on Michigan roads is now over 11 years. Regardless of your reason for keeping your vehicle around, the good news for Benton Harbor drivers is that it’s capable of going 150,000 to 200,000 miles (or 250,000 to 3500,000 kilometers) or more with proper care and professional automotive service at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc.

Here are some tips from Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc on how to make your car last:

  • First, Benton Harbor drivers should follow all of their regularly scheduled maintenance routines. Things like oil changes, transmission and cooling system service are for avoiding damage. This reduces your overall cost for keeping your vehicle for a long time.
  • Next, regular inspections are critical for Benton Harbor drivers. Look, those parts are starting to get old and will become worn out the more you drive. Thorough inspections of various systems will uncover things that are nearing the end of their service life, like suspension, brake and steering components. Replacing worn parts early not only prevents breakdowns but relieves stress on related components so they will last longer as well.
  • Another thing for Benton Harbor drivers to consider is the use of special high mileage fluid formulations. For example, high mileage engine oil has special additives that condition those old seals and gaskets. It also has extra detergents to help keep that older vehicle engine clean inside. High mileage oil, transmission fluid, etc., costs a little more but can really head off some of the problems that are typical of older vehicles around Michigan.
  • One last thing for Benton Harbor drivers would be to consult with your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc about the overall condition of your vehicle and your driving routines. It may be advisable to follow your vehicle’s severe service schedule.
  • Even with the occasional unexpected repair associated with an older vehicle, you can still enjoy good, reliable transportation if you take good care of your ride.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Vehicle Service?

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Why Benton Harbor Car Owners Hesitate to Get their Vehicle Serviced

A recent report stated that over 80% of the vehicles on the road have one or more service item or repair that’s needed but hasn’t been taken care of. Now that’s a lot of undone service. That translates into something over 160 million vehicles in the US alone. Some of the neglected items are minor. Others are serious safety concerns.

There are several reasons Benton Harbor drivers hesitate to take care of recommended services – especially services that our friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc service advisor recommends when we’re in for something else, like an oil change.

The first issue boils down to comfort with car care in Benton Harbor. Benton Harbor drivers don’t always feel we know enough to make good decisions. Benton Harbor drivers who don’t know as much about cars hesitate to ask questions because they don’t want to look ignorant. It’s human nature. But there’s so much to know in this world, we can’t all be experts in everything. So we specialize. It’s very important to ask questions of any specialist, whether it’s your doctor, financial advisor or your automotive technician.

Your Benton Harbor technician wants your questions. He wants you to understand the recommendation and why it needs to be done. That brings us to the next issue. Benton Harbor folks say that they don’t always know if they really need the service or if they are just being sold something.

At the heart, it speaks to trust. Do you trust your Benton Harbor service center and your service advisor at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc? Trust has to be earned and that takes time and experience. But you can shortcut the process when you realize that most of the recommendations are based on manufacturer’s maintenance schedules.

In other words, “You don’t have to trust me, you can trust your owner’s manual.”

Basically, the engineers who designed your vehicle say here’s when you need to have it serviced. That’s who makes the recommendation, not your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc. He’s just reminding you.

Now Benton Harbor drivers do need to trust the technician’s experience and judgment from time to time. When he inspects your vehicle, he may find problems or concerns. He will explain things so that you can prioritize the concern and make a good decision about whether or not to have something done.

That brings us to the third issue. Money. Often the concern is about spending the money to take care of a recommended service. Our money has many places it needs to go. And Benton Harbor drivers have another list of places we want it to go. Auto maintenance isn’t usually on those lists.

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc works hard to make sure that they diagnose the problem correctly and fix it right the first time. That’s the only way they can maintain their reputation and remain in business. If they’re not satisfying you and providing a good value, you won’t come back and the service center won’t be around for long.

When there is a real budget concern, your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc pros can help you prioritize the work that needs to be done and come up with a plan for taking care of it that works within your budget.

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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Simple Answers from Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc: Alignment

Question:
How do I know when I need a wheel alignment?

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc Answer:
When Benton Harbor drivers’ wheels are properly aligned they all point in the same direction. When they are out of alignment, most Michigan drivers notice a couple of things. First the vehicle pulls to one side when driving. It could be slight or pretty severe. If your wheels have been out of alignment for a while, you’ll also start to see uneven tire wear – the shoulder on either the outside or inside of the tire is worn down more than the other.

A whole bunch of steering and suspension components are joined together. Everyday Benton Harbor driving can cause Benton Harbor drivers’ wheels to go out of alignment over time just from the joints loosening up. That’s why most recommend an alignment check every couple of years. Depending on where you live in Michigan or the conditions you drive in (off-road driving, harsh Benton Harbor winter conditions, poor pavement, etc.), an alignment inspection every year at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc may be called for.

Suspension and steering components wear over time as well, which can lead to and alignment issues for Benton Harbor drivers. Of course, a big bump, like hitting a curb or pothole, can knock a wheel out of alignment or damage a steering or suspension part.

Your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc service advisor will check your tires for uneven wear. The type of wear provides clues for what might be wrong. Undercar parts are inspected for wear and damage. The alignment machine will provide a reading of how each wheel is aligned. The reading is compared with the alignment settings recommended by the manufacturer, and then the technician makes the necessary adjustments and repairs to bring your wheels back into alignment.

Now putting off a wheel alignment in Benton Harbor can get dangerous because of tire wear: a bad alignment can chew through a tire pretty quickly. If you see uneven tire wear, if your steering wheel is off center or your vehicle pulls to one side, ask your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc service advisor about getting an alignment check.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

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
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

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