Engine

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/

Oil Change

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Oil Change

An oil change at your local Benton Harbor, Michigan, auto shop sounds simple, but there are some pretty important things to know about preventing oil sludge.

Oil eventually starts to turn into jelly, literally: petroleum jelly. Sludge clogs up oil passages and keeps oil from getting to some areas of the engine, causing parts to wear out prematurely. And that means expensive engine repairs.

That’s why you need to change the oil and oil filter on schedule — to get the old oil out before it turns to sludge. Your manufacturer will have a recommendation for how many miles/kilometers you can go between oil changes. They also usually have a number of months between recommended oil changes. That’s because the detergents and other additives in the oil break down over time.

Your owner’s manual will have a recommendation for time and distance, but you need to remember that it’s based on using the recommended weight of oil. And if your vehicle came from the factory with synthetic oil, the recommended intervals assume you will continue to use synthetic.

Also, how you drive around Benton Harbor, Michigan, can have a big effect. Most owner’s manuals will have a list of driving conditions that are harder on your vehicle — things like stop and go driving in Benton Harbor, short trips to Benton Harbor, driving in very hot or very cold weather, heavy loads and towing. If some of your driving fits this, you may need to change your oil and do other maintenance on a shorter schedule.

This may sound complicated. Some vehicles in Michigan have an oil life calculator that takes all of these factors into account and tells you when you should change your oil. Otherwise, talk with your Michigan service advisor at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc about how you drive and get his or her recommendation for when to take care of your service.

Finally, if any of the steering or suspension parts can be lubed, your technician at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc will take care of that with a lube, oil and filter service.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Guide for buying a Used Vehilcle

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The Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc Guide to Buying a Used Vehicle

Used vehicles are certainly an economical choice for budget-conscious Benton Harbor drivers. But how can we know we’re getting a good used vehicle and not just inheriting someone else’s problems?

There are good used vehicles for sale in the Benton Harbor area. Cars are sold when families upsize, when families downsize or even when someone just wants a new car. So the used vehicle may be just fine. But some Benton Harbor used car owners sell vehicles because they don’t want to deal with developing or existing problems.

When you’re considering buying a used vehicle in Benton Harbor, ask for service records. Check to see if the recommended schedules for preventive maintenance have been followed. If so, you probably have a great used vehicle on your hands. If there aren’t any service records, then assume the worst.

Check the vehicle for obvious signs of problems. Kick the tires if you want to, but definitely check them for uneven tread wear. This can indicate alignment problems, worn shocks or suspension issues. Listen to the engine for unusual sounds and pay attention to unexpected odors. Take the vehicle for a test drive and make a list of any concerns you might have.

If the used vehicle you’re looking at is a late model vehicle with under 35,000 miles, or 55,000 kilometers, on it, take it to Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc for a full-service oil change. This inspection will reveal many basic or developing problems. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc service advisor about concerns you had on the test drive. Get a heads-up on needed repairs or maintenance.

Previously leased vehicles are often tempting to used vehicle buyers because they are generally newer models with low mileage and have been factory-cleaned. Be cautious, however. Many Benton Harbor drivers of lease vehicles don’t bother with preventive maintenance because they know they’ll be turning the vehicles in. Again, ask for maintenance records, take the vehicle in for a full-service oil change and consult with your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc about any problems the vehicle may have.

Older used vehicles are even more problematic for Benton Harbor used car buyers. Older vehicles simply come with more maintenance and repair issues than new ones. Take these vehicles in for a used vehicle inspection at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc. Usually, a seller will let you do this before you purchase the vehicle. These inspections are very thorough and will help you know what you’re getting into. You’ll be able to make an informed decision about your purchase. That peace of mind will make the cost of the inspection more than worth your while. It’s always good auto advice for Benton Harbor drivers to purchase a Carfax report on any used vehicle. This report will let you know if the vehicle has been in a major accident and will give you a title history. You’d be surprised what used vehicle buyers have learned from those reports. Know before you buy.

Once you purchase a used vehicle, give it some tender loving car care. Give it a thorough cleaning, inside and out — and don’t forget the engine compartment. A good wax will make it look and feel “new.” And, of course, stay on top of preventive maintenance. Used vehicles bought in Michigan can last a good, long time if they’re properly cared for. They’re economical to buy, and they can keep on saving us Benton Harbor drivers money if we look after them.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Water Pump

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Water Pump

Let’s talk water pumps for autos in Benton Harbor, Michigan. The engine is cooled by coolant/antifreeze mixed with water. This mixture circulates around the engine, absorbing some of the heat. The coolant then flows through the radiator where air cools it down for the return trip back through the engine. Your vehicle’s water pump is what drives this process.

Cooling system problems are the number-one mechanical failure in Benton Harbor. So the water pump plays a pretty important role. You can’t get very far in Michigan without a water pump.

After all that distant and years of pumping coolant, water pumps just wear out. You might notice a whining or grinding sound coming from the water pump. Or maybe see coolant leaking from the pump itself.

The precise location of the water pump varies depending on the vehicle. Some have the water pump attached to the outside of the engine where you can see it. With these, the water pump is driven by the serpentine belt.

Some have the water pump driven by the timing belt. The timing belt cover often hides the water pump with this setup, so you can’t see the pump without removing the cover.

When you have Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc replace the water pump on one of these, you really should replace the timing belt at the same time. We’ve already gotten things taken apart and besides, the belt’s likely been contaminated by coolant. And timing belts usually need to be replaced at similar intervals anyway, so it just makes sense to do both jobs at once.

The opposite is true too; when you change the timing belt on this type of engine, replace the water pump while you’re at it. The water pump will eventually fail and getting to it is an expensive project. For not that much more you can take care of both the timing belt and the water pump at the same time.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Engine Air Filter

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Engine Air Filter

Today we want to talk about your engine air filter.

That’s the filter that cleans the air before it’s burned in your engine. Many people in Benton Harbor wonder how often they should change their engine air filter. The simple answer is “when it’s dirty.” That’s a function of how much air has passed through the filter, so your vehicle manufacturer will recommend a mileage interval for replacing the air filter. But you can imagine that how dirty the air is would affect how quickly the filter gets filled.

If you drive in Benton Harbor where there’s lots of dust, pollution or pollen, your engine air filter will get dirty more quickly and need to be changed sooner. That’s why we check the air filter with every full-service oil change at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc. We can visually tell if the filter needs to be changed.

Your filter can only hold so much dirt. Once the filter is full, dirt will pass through to the engine. This dirt gums up the combustion chamber, hurts fuel economy and may cause damage. It can also contaminate the Mass Air Flow Sensor which will affect drivability and can be fairly expensive to replace.

A dirty air filter would also restrict the amount of air that gets to the engine, which hurts fuel economy. We can replace your engine air filter with one that matches the factory specifications or you can upgrade your filter for enhanced performance.

So when your Benton Harbor, Michigan, service advisor at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc shows you your dirty air filter, you know how important it is to get it replaced.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Diagnostic Service

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Certified Technicians

Imagine waking up one morning with a stomach ache. You pick up the phone, call the doctor’s office and say, “I’ve got a really bad tummy ache. How much will it cost to make me feel better?” Of course you wouldn’t do that. You know that there could be a lot of reasons for your symptoms and that the doctor will have to examine you, ask some questions and probably run some tests before she can tell you what’s wrong and give you treatment options.

This same scenario plays every day at auto repair facilities in Michigan. When the cause of the concern isn’t obvious, the vehicle will need to undergo a diagnostic process. The typical vehicle has about 30,000 parts, including several networked computers and miles/kilometers of wiring. Finding exactly what is wrong can be very complicated and take some time. The most experienced technicians at Pro Muffler & Brake are the ones who tackle the difficult diagnostic jobs. Once they have determined the cause of the problem, they can work out the plan for how to fix it and tell you how much it will cost.

When you look at it this way, it makes perfect sense that, 1) the Pro Muffler & Brake service advisor cannot provide an estimate before the diagnosis is done, and 2) there is a charge for this diagnostic services. You expect to pay for an office visit to the doctor and for any needed tests before you can be presented with your treatment options and costs; the same goes for your vehicle. Though we will work with you to keep the cost as low as possible and will NEVER recommend any work that does not need to be done on your vehicle.

We know it can be frustrating when something is wrong with your car and you aren’t sure what is going to be involved in getting it fixed. We’ll do everything we can to help you through the process, communicating with you at each step along the way. At Pro Muffler & Brake in Benton Harbor, we have highly trained diagnostic technicians and state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment to uncover the cause of your problems. We use quality NAPA parts to help make sure you stay on the road after the repair is done. That’s our prescription for automotive peace of mind.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Heater Core

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Heater Core

Benton Harbor drivers may wonder where the air in a vehicle’s passenger compartment comes from. Well, as your engine starts to warm up, it also warms the coolant/antifreeze that circulates around the engine and through the radiator. There is also a hose that carries coolant/antifreeze from the engine to the heater core and another that takes it back into the engine. The heater core looks like a little radiator and lives in the air blend box behind the dashboard.

When you turn on the heat, air blows over the heater core, is warmed, and comes into the cabin. Some vehicles have a heater valve that moves coolant through the heater core when the heat is on and bypasses the heater core when the heat is off. In other vehicles, the temperature of the air is controlled within the air blend box by how much air is directed over the heater core.

The engine cooling system, in a larger sense, also encompasses the heater core. Things that adversely affect, say, your radiator will also harm your heater core. The coolant/antifreeze contains corrosion inhibitors that coat the surfaces inside the cooling system, including the heater core. When the corrosion inhibitors are depleted, the cooling system can become corroded, filled with contaminants and may even start to leak.

There are several signs that warn of a leaky heater core: First you may a sweet smell from your vents. This is coolant leaking out and getting into the air. You may even see vapor coming out the vents and notice a film building up inside the windows. Of course, breathing coolant vapors is bad for you.

You may also see coolant on the driveway. Depending on the design of your vehicle, you may even get coolant leaking out into the foot wells of the cabin.

Coolant/antifreeze leaking out through the heater core means that the overall coolant level in the system will be low and the engine is in danger of overheating – which is the cause of mechanical breakdown.

The good news is that the things you do to protect your cooling system also protect your heater core. Changing your coolant/antifreeze as directed by your owner’s manual or upon the advice of your Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc service advisor will help ensure your coolant has enough corrosion inhibitors working to protect this system. Also, quickly repairing any leaks and inspecting hoses for signs of internal breakdown will help keep any from becoming an emergency.

Make sure you consult with your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake service advisor about when your cooling system should be serviced.

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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Forced Induction

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 Inc 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/

Clean your EGR

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Benton Harbor drivers realize it is pretty amazing how auto makers have been able to consistently build more powerful engines in vehicles that get better fuel economy while at the same meeting increasing environmental standards. One of the little miracles that helps make this happen is the Exhaust Gas Recirculation (EGR) Valve. The EGR valve routes some exhaust back into the air intake system in both gasoline and diesel engines. The exhaust gas takes up some space in the engine cylinders, replacing some of the oxygen-rich air that would otherwise be in there. This means that the fuel burning event is cooler. Cooler combustion means fewer harmful nitrous oxides are produced.

Your EGR valve can get gummed up, messing up the timing and amount of exhaust that is supposed to be recirculated in the engine. Symptoms of EGR valve problems are rough idle and poor engine performance. Performance can be restored by cleaning or replacing the EGR valve, depending on how dirty it is.

EGR valves in diesel engines are particularly susceptible to becoming clogged because of the high soot content in diesel exhaust. (Note: the soot is ultimately filtered out of the exhaust further down the exhaust system, but not before it passes through the EGR valve.)

There are a couple of things you can do to lengthen the life of the EGR valve in your diesel engine. First, extended idling allows for more soot buildup because the engine operating temperature is reduced as it idles; the valve is not opening and closing, allowing particulates to accumulate in the valve. Next is fuel quality. Diesel fuel has a cetane rating: the higher the rating, the better the combustion will be. Unfortunately, the cetane rating is rarely posted on the pump and can vary from location to location. Adding a cetane booster to the fuel tank can help with this.

So, if you are experiencing rough idling or poor performance in your gas or diesel vehicle, have one of our Pro Muffler & Brake Shop expert technicians diagnose the problem. They can set things right and restore your vehicle’s performance.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

PCV Valve Replacement

Pro Muffler PCV Valve Testing
Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc Tech Question:
What is a PCV Valve and should I test it?

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc Tech Answer:

The PCV valve is a little, inexpensive part that does a big job for Benton Harbor and our environment here in Michigan. PCV stands for Positive Crankcase Ventilation. The crankcase is the bottom area of the engine that holds the oil. When the engine’s running, fuel is burned to generate power. Most of the exhaust from combustion goes out through the exhaust system. But some exhaust blows by the pistons and goes into the lower engine, or crankcase.

These hot gases are about seventy percent unburned fuel. This can dilute and contaminate the oil, leading to damaging engine oil sludge. It can also cause engine corrosion. At high speeds, the pressure can build up to the point that gaskets and seals start to leak. Over time, the vented gases will gum up the PCV valve and it won’t work well. That can lead to all of the problems I’ve already described, oil leaks, excessive oil consumption and reduced .

Fortunately, it’s very easy to test the PCV valve and quick and inexpensive to replace at Pro Muffler & Brake in Benton Harbor. Even so, it’s often overlooked because many people in Benton Harbor don’t know about it. Check your owner’s manual or ask our friendly and knowledgeable technicians at Pro Muffler & Brake. If this is the first time you’ve heard of a PCV valve, you might be in line for a replacement.

Please ask us at Pro Muffler & Brake about your PCV valve. For the price of a couple of burger combo meals at your favorite Benton Harbor drive-up window, you can avoid some very expensive deep engine repairs.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

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
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

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