Fuel Economy

Time to Take Another Look at Diesels?

steering

 

If you haven’t looked into diesel engines lately, you may be interested in today’s post. Why should you care about modern diesel engines? Fuel efficiency, for starters. Because diesel fuel has a higher compression rate than gasoline, it generates more power per barrel. This is especially advantageous for drivers who pull heavy loads with powerful trucks that are always thirsty.

There are still many misconceptions about diesel powered vehicles. Let’s debunk some of the myths.

1. Diesel Burns Dirty
This was true years ago. Since 2006, however, U.S. diesel vehicles have been required by law to use ultra-low-sulfur diesel or USLD. Modern diesels are soot-free and have a smaller carbon footprint.

2. Diesels Are Sluggish
Not any more. They are as fast off the line as similar gasoline-powered cars. If your idea of fun is to spend an afternoon test-driving new cars, go take a spin in a diesel BMW or Porsche.

3. Diesels Are Loud
Back in the day, you could hear a diesel motor from a mile away. Today’s diesels run quiet.

4. Diesels Have a Bad Resale Value
Actually, diesel vehicles have a lower depreciation rate.

Diesel engines require parts that are heavier and stronger. At Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc, we occasionally service diesel cars and trucks with over 300,000 miles/500,000 kilometers. The heavy-duty parts make diesel vehicles a little more expensive new, but due to the extra burliness, diesel engines last a lot longer. This is one of the reasons Cummins diesels inspire such a loyal following.

Another often-overlooked benefit is lower risk of fire. Diesel fuel is less flammable and won’t explode like gasoline.

What about the drawbacks? Cold weather starting is one. Diesel engines can be hard to fire up when the temperature drops. However, an engine block heater can solve this problem. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc for more .

If you are in the market for a new vehicle that’s easy on fuel, you might want to explore your diesel options. You may even qualify for a tax credit if you buy a clean diesel vehicle. Of course, diesels require regular maintenance like any other vehicle and the services are usually a little more costly due to the nature of the engines. But the extra cost is offset by the better fuel economy and longer engine life.

Bottom line? Today’s diesel is not your grandfather’s diesel.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Wheel Alignment

steering

 

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

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/

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/

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/

Thermostat

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Thermostat

The thermostat is an important part of your cooling system. Your vehicle’s thermostat performs a similar function to the thermostat in your home. At home, you set your thermostat to maintain a comfortable temperature range. When your home gets too hot, the air conditioning kicks on and when it gets too cool, the heater turns on.

Now your engine also has an optimal temperature range: warm enough to run efficiently and not so hot as to cause engine damage. Your vehicle’s thermostat is a valve between the engine and the radiator. When you first start a cold engine, the valve (thermostat) is closed, allowing the coolant surrounding the engine to warm up to the proper operating temperature. As the coolant gets hotter, the thermostat opens, allowing coolant to flow through to the radiator to be cooled. The thermostat opens and closes to keep the engine within a certain temperature range.

Now thermostats are rated for a specific temperature depending on the engine – not a one size fits all proposition. Thermostats are subject to normal wear. Proper operation depends on a special wax that expands as it heats up to open a spring-loaded valve. A worn thermostat could stick in the open position causing the engine to run too cool. This is inefficient and could hurt performance and fuel economy. If a thermostat sticks in the closed position, the engine can quickly overheat, possibly causing damage.

There isn’t a specific maintenance routine for the thermostat, but maintaining your cooling system by changing your coolant/antifreeze on schedule will make sure the coolant has enough corrosion inhibitors to protect the thermostat and other vital system components. Cooling system experts recommend replacing your thermostat when you do a coolant flush or exchange. Also, thermostats usually wear out faster than your hoses, so if you need to replace worn hoses, replace the thermostat at the same time.

If your temperature warning light comes on, have your cooling system inspected right away. This could be a thermostat problem. The thermostat could also be the culprit if you aren’t getting hot air when you turn on your heater.

The thermostat is a relatively inexpensive part that stands guard between you and catastrophic engine damage. Follow your owner’s manual instructions, or check with your service advisor to see if it’s time for a cooling 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/

Ball Joints

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Ball Joints

Most drivers in Benton Harbor, Michigan know ball joints are an important part of the suspension system. Visualize a ball attached to a spindle with the ball enclosed in a cup. This allows the joint to move in several directions, kind of like how your hip works.

Most vehicles have two or four ball joints on the front, depending on the type of suspension system. The joint allows the wheels to move up and down as the tires go over bumps, as well as allowing the wheels to turn as you steer. The ball joints are continuously working and are subject to normal wear.

Most ball joints on modern vehicles are maintenance free, meaning they are sealed and cannot be lubricated. Once the lubricant breaks down or leaks out due to a broken seal, the ball joint will wear more quickly.

You may hear a clicking or popping sound from a corner of the vehicle when turning and/or going over bumps as a ball joint is failing. Your steering may begin to feel sloppy or stiff, depending on how the joint is wearing. You may even feel vibration in the steering wheel at highway speeds. Unusual tire wear is also a sign.

It’s important to replace worn ball joints before they fail. Once it fails, the joint may not be able to constrain the steering angle of a wheel, causing you to lose control.

Your owner’s manual calls for periodic suspension system inspections. The ball joints are an important component that will be inspected for safe function. At Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc, we can check to see if you are due for a suspension system inspection. And ask your Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc service advisor for an inspection if you are experiencing any of the signs of ball joint wear.

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/

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/

Kevin & Pro Muffler guys, “Many thanks for your prompt, courteous & special service today!Anita
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
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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