Vehicle Maintenance

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/

Packing Bearings

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I remember my dad having the shop “pack the bearings” on the family car. Is this something I need to have done?

That’s a really good question. At one time, all wheel bearings were “serviceable” and needed to be taken care of from time to time. It’s a little trickier these days.

First off, the wheel bearings in your vehicle make sure your wheels rotate smoothly. As you can imagine, with all those revolutions per minute your wheels can generate a lot of heat. The bearings keep that heat down as much as possible. They’re packed in grease for lubrication. The term “packing the bearings” refers to putting fresh grease around the bearings.

On many modern vehicles, the wheel bearing assembly is sealed. These wheel bearings are not serviceable so there is no maintenance that can be performed on them. When the bearings wear, the entire assembly is replaced. Your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc technician can perform a check of your bearings to make sure they are still functioning safely, and he can also tell you if your bearings need service. If you hear strange noises from your wheels – which may come and go at different speeds – it’s time to have your friendly and knowledgeable technician inspect them.

Wheel bearings on trailers are almost always serviceable. This means anything from a monster sized fifth-wheel camper to a little utility trailer. Boat trailers are especially susceptible because the hot wheel bearings are plunged into cold water when launching a boat into the lake. This temperature difference can draw water into the bearings. Have the bearings repacked at the end of the season to prevent corrosion.

It would be a good idea for Benton Harbor trailer owners to have maintenance service on their trailer wheels every year or so – it’s kind of hard to hear when they are groaning.

Now, when wheel bearings fail, the wheel can seize up and even break off. Of course no Benton Harbor driver wants that to happen, so follow a regular inspection schedule – your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc service advisor can help.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Ask Your Mechanic

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A lot of service and repair customers in Benton Harbor are a little tentative when they talk with their automotive advisors. They want to ask questions but don’t want to be embarrassed or to seem pushy. Cars are very complicated and there’s more to know about them than most of us Benton Harbor drivers have the time to learn.

At Pro Muffler & Brake, we think automotive service customers have a right to ask any question they need to understand what is wrong with their vehicle and what it will take to fix it. They need to feel free to ask the cost and benefits of recommended services. And they certainly have a right to understand the financial end of the transaction.

It’s all about the communication. What are some of the barriers to communication? Well, most Pro Muffler & Brake service advisors are very busy trying to service and fix cars to get Benton Harbor drivers back on the road. So, just ask when you feel you need more information.

Financial related issues seem to be most frustrating to Benton Harbor customers. If you’re not sure, ask what the auto repair payment policies are. For example, there’s a big difference between giving your vehicle a quick once over and doing a thorough inspection. Diagnosing a problem may take quite a while for your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake technician. Make sure you know what’s done as a courtesy and what has a fee. Remember, you still have to pay for the office visit even if the doctor says you only have a cold.

Communication is a two way street. If you have some real budget concerns, ask your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor what he can do. He can give you priorities and options. He can tell you what needs to be taken care of right away for safety or financial reasons. Then you can work out a plan for when to get the rest done. He can also help you with options on the parts. The preference is to always use a high-quality part with a reputation for reliability. But if money is real tight, he might be able to find rebuilt auto parts or a used part. He should tell you the difference in the guarantee for the part so you can make a good decision.

Ask about Pro Muffler & Brake warranties for car parts and labor. Be sure to get all the paperwork you need to make a possible claim in the future. At Pro Muffler & Brake in Benton Harbor, we stand behind our work and want you to understand precisely what that means.

Be sure to ask for and keep a detailed explanation of all the work that’s done on your vehicle. These records will help you keep track of service, warranties and document the good care your vehicle has received at Pro Muffler & Brake  when the time comes to sell it.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Dirty Battery?

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Batteries are a huge part of modern life. Think of how many battery chargers you have.

Of course, our purpose here is to talk about your car battery. When people come into Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc and need a new battery, they’re really not that happy about having to spend the money. But the fact is that 70 percent of batteries don’t make it for 4 years.

There are some things that you can do to extend the life of your battery. First, keep it clean. If you see it getting dirty or greasy, let us know at Pro Muffler & Brake and we can clean it off. A dirty battery runs hotter, and that shortens its life. If your battery terminals are corroded, let us take a look at that, too. We can clean them, and if the corrosion has gotten into the battery cables, we can replace them.

Also, running your battery way down is bad for it. Things like running the headlights or watching a DVD player with the car turned off can deeply deplete your battery. The typical battery can only take about 10 of those deep cycle depletions before it gives up the ghost.

Because we often take short trips around Benton Harbor with lots of stops for errands, our batteries can end up not getting fully recharged just by driving around. That also shortens battery life. You can hook up a good quality automatic battery charger at home from time to time. We recommend charging once a month during hot months and every three months during cold months.

Now when it’s finally time to get a new battery, we can help you find the right replacement. We’ll always make sure to meet your manufacturer’s recommendations. If you have special needs, like live in a very cold climate or run a lot of electrical accessories, we can look at an upgrade that’ll give you the power you need.

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/

Differential Service

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc Tech Question:
What is a differential and why do Benton Harbor drivers need to have it serviced? Watch this short video to help explain the process.

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc Tech Answer:

First of all – your vehicle does have a differential. If it’s a rear wheel drive, your differential is on the back. If it’s front wheel drive, your differential is built into your transaxle (transmission). Benton Harbor drivers with all wheel drive or four wheel drive will have differentials front and rear and maybe one in between.When you are steering through a turn at an intersection in Benton Harbor, the wheels on the outside of the vehicle have to spin faster than the inside wheels because they have to travel a slightly longer distant through the curve. The differential compensates for these speed differences between the wheels.

Because it is part of the equipment that transfers engine power to the wheels, the differential is working pretty hard. Differential fluid – a special heavy-duty oil – cools, lubricates and protects the differential. It needs to be replaced on a schedule to remove metal shavings and other contaminants. Note: if you have a front wheel drive vehicle, replacing your transmission fluid takes care of your differential service needs.

Differentials have become increasingly sophisticated for Benton Harbor drivers. Rather than the simple mechanical devices of yesteryear, they are more complicated and may actually be part of the computer controlled vehicle stability system. This means they are more so it pays for Benton Harbor drivers to have them serviced on schedule at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop in Benton Harbor to avoid premature wear. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Pro Muffler & Brake Shop.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

April is National Car Care Month

Pro Muffler Anti-Lock Brakes

April is National Car Care Month!

Spring has Sprung and it’s time for your vehicle maintenance check up. Let the professional technicians at Pro Muffler & Brake inspect and advise you on keeping it in tip top shape. April is national car care month, what better month than April to get your vehicle running properly.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Is it time to replace your windshield wipers?

Pro Muffler Anti-Lock Brakes
Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc Tech Question:
When should I replace my windshield wipers?

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc Tech Answer:

Well, most Benton Harbor drivers wait until they fail. The problem with that is that you find out they have failed when you actually need them most – a little too late.Wiper blades are really a safety system for Benton Harbor drivers. As you can imagine, 90% of our driving decisions are based on what we see. If you can’t see well because your wipers can’t clear your windshield, your ability to drive safely is significantly impaired.So the simple answer: of course, Benton Harbor drivers should change your wipers if they don’t work well. But replace them before they go bad so they are always ready when that storm hits. For some Benton Harbor drivers, once a year may be enough. For others – those who drive a lot, whose wipers are exposed to a lot of sun, or use their wipers more – replacing the blades a couple of times a year might be in order.

There several types of wiper blades. The conventional blade is the base model. On the other end of the spectrum are beam blades. These have a solid beam that provides uniform pressure over the entire wiper surface for better contact with the windshield. And there are hybrid blades that are a combination of conventional and beam blades.

Upgraded wiper blades last longer and provide a cleaner wipe. Benton Harbor drivers can always upgrade, but should never go with a lower grade blade than what was installed on your vehicle from the factory.

Finally, there are special winter blades. The special design of winter wiper blades resists snow and ice build-up in the blade.

Remember, using your wipers on an icy windshield will tear up your wiper blades. Scrape your windshield before running your wipers.

Your friendly and knowledgeable Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc service advisor can give you wiper blade options and help you select what’s best for this safety system.

Give us a call

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

http://promufflerandbrake.com/

Is it time to check your fuel pump?

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Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc Tech Question:
Is it time to check your fuel pump?

Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc Tech Answer:

Your fuel pump sends fuel from the fuel tank to the engine. Fuel pumps just wear out over time: it might be the electric motor, a sensor, a valve, or a relay or some other electrical component. Whatever the exact cause for the fuel pump failure may be, the solution to getting you back on the Benton Harbor road is to replace the pump assembly. When one component has failed, another one is probably just around the corner so it makes sense to replace everything at once and save the future labor costs.

The fuel pump is inside the fuel tank on most vehicles, and for many cars, trucks, and SUVs, the fuel tank must be removed to replace the fuel pump. As you can imagine, that is pretty labor intensive: removing heat shields, retaining straps, all of the EVAP lines, fuel lines, and electrical connections. And of course, there is properly and safely handling the fuel that must be drained from the tank.

Some vehicles have an external fuel filter that should be replaced at the same time. The fuel tank may need to be replaced on some vehicles because of design specifications or if the fuel tank is corroded or otherwise damaged.

Now there are a couple of things you can do to help your fuel pump last longer. One pump killer is contamination in the fuel tank. Sometimes this comes from the fuel itself. Buying fuel at a reputable station will help make sure you are putting clean fuel into the tank. Older vehicles tend to have more sediment in the tank from years of rust or corrosion from the tank itself. The tank may need a thorough cleaning or replacement.

Another thing you can do is refill your tank when it gets down to about a quarter full. The fuel pump is submerged in the fuel which cools and lubricates it. When the tank runs low, the pump has to work harder to suck up the fuel from the bottom and there is no fuel to cool it. This can lead to premature wear.

When the day comes that your fuel pump needs to be replaced, Pro Muffler & Brake Shop Inc in Benton Harbor will use a quality replacement pump that meets or exceeds your vehicle manufacturer’s specifications. The entire assembly should be replaced. We’ll be sure to install a replacement pump that is compatible with your fuel type. For example, if you have a FlexFuel vehicle that can run on gasoline with up to 85% ethanol content, your fuel system components – including the fuel pump – must be able to withstand the corrosive effects of high alcohol content fuel.

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
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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