Communication: Auto Repair at Its Worst

Communication: Auto Repair at Its Worst

When an auto repair transaction turns sour, an important element is the communication that transpired between the shop and the customer. It often boils down to what the customer feels was promised and what the shop thinks is an unreasonable demand. 

The auto repair environment can be full of obstacles to customer satisfaction. Working on a complex machine, under time and monetary constraints, lends itself to unfulfilled expectations. At the core of this is the communication deficit created by the language of auto repair.

Speaking the Language

Long before Magellan and Garmin GPS systems a friend once remarked that he didn’t know that there was anything in his car that had to do with driving directions. I asked what he meant and his response was,” Well I had to get my M.A.P. sensor replaced,” This incident points out a real problem with auto repair – its lexicon. Some of the terms seem to be designed to instill fear- master cylinder,universal joint and planetary gear are examples.

Other part names and terms use a sea of acronyms that bedazzle the uninitiated. “Your car came in with the MIL (Check Engine Light) on. The DTC (Diagnostic Trouble Code) tells us that it’s an under performing EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) valve. But don’t worry we’re replacing it with OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) parts specific to your TBI (Throttle Body Injection) equipped vehicle.We should have you out of here quicker than you can say EVAP system.”

What’s going on here? Is it just jargon or is it some conscious effort to keep you in the dark about your car? The answer is yes to both of these questions. There is a need within the industry to streamline the terms for the sake of efficiency, unfortunately the use of the terms many times carries over to conversations with car owners, who have little or no background in things automotive. And yes, in any sales scenario knowledge is power, so the less you understand the easier closing the sale becomes, but there is a remedy to that.

How Can You Help?

While no one would expect you to become a SAE fellow in the course of bartering for a brake job, it would be nice to learn something while you’re spending your money. So, the antidote to an avalanche of technical lingo would be to ask,”What does that mean and what will it do?”. You might want to pay attention to the answer because it may reflect on your auto repair shop’s willingness to educate and their confidence in their own expertise. A comfort level with imparting information usually indicates a higher level of knowledge. The antithesis of this would be the shop that responds, “You wouldn’t understand it even if I explained it.” If you get this response, it would probably be in your best response to demand an explanation or find yourself a new auto shop. 

A resource for technical automotive terms is the Motor Era web site specifically http://www.motorera.com/dictionary. But you won’t have to go there for the meaning of the two bunches of letters I didn’t identify. MAP refers to manifold absolute pressure and the SAE is the Society of Automotive Engineers.

How to Prevent an Old Refrigerator from Overheating

How to Prevent an Old Refrigerator from Overheating

Are you nursing along an old refrigerator with coils on the back? While these old refrigerators are extremely “retro” in appearance, they do tend to overheat if not properly maintained.

One of the first signs of an overheating refrigerator is a slight burning odor which often smells like hot dust. That hot dust smell usually indicates that the coils aren’t being vacuumed enough or that the heat generated by the refrigerator has no place to escape. Here’s some simple instructions for keeping your refrigerator operating at its best:

Supplies and instructions

Supplies needed include a vacuum cleaner with a circular brush and crevice attachments, warm water and vinegar mixed up in a bucket and an old rag.

  1. Unplug the refrigerator.
  2. Pull the refrigerator away from the wall.
  3. Step behind the refrigerator and thoroughly vacuum both the coils and the wall behind the unit. The brush attachment works best, though the crevice attachment will be necessary to reach those smaller spaces.
  4. Wipe down the sides with vinegar and water, dry.
  5. Push the refrigerator back towards the wall, leaving a space of 4″ between the coils and the wall.
  6. Pull off the skirting beneath the front of the frig and vacuum up visible dust. Replace the skirting.
  7. The final step is to remove anything that you may have piled on top of the refrigerator. Items such as cereal boxes, liquor bottles, cookie trays, and table linens will prevent heat from escaping from the top of the unit which can also contribute to that overheating smell. After the top of the refrigerator has been decluttered, wipe down the surface with vinegar and water to remove dust. Dry.
  8. Plug in the refrigerator.

Regular vacuuming, adequate air circulation, and keeping the top clear of clutter is really all it takes to prevent an older model refrigerator from overheating. If the odor originating from the fridge smells like burning dust, these tips will fix the problem. If however, that burning odor smells like burning rubber, the refrigerator should be unplugged until it can be checked out by an appliance repairman of a residential HVAC company like Service Tech, Inc.

 

Talking Engines

Talking Engines

With the automotive industry booming and cars being an everyday part of life, car engines get better with each and every new release. Whether that be making the cars faster, sportier, or smoother, engine upgrades are the staple to the booming car industry. The last few years have been referred to as a revival of American Muscle as engines get lighter and more powerful with new technology. So today, I’m listing some of the most notable engines of 2019. Let’s get started.

 

1.3.0L (B58) turbo I-6 382 

This engine can be found in the BMW M340i, Z4 M40i, X3 M40i, and X4 M40i. According to the BMW website, “the 3.0-liter petrol burner delivers a peak output of 382 hp at 5,800 – 6,500 rom, combined with a maximum torque of 369 lb-ft (500 Nm) achievable between 1,800 and 5,000 rpm.” 

 

2.3.6L Pentastar eTorque V6 mild hybrid 305 

This engine can be found in the Ram 1500. This engine boosts your power and improves your fuel economy. The eTorque system replaces the traditional alternator with a belt-driven motor generator that works with a 48V 12-cell lithium-ion battery pack. The eTorque also reuses energy during deceleration and braking to deliver charge to the battery pack.  This engine also adds up to 90 lb.-ft of torque to the Pentastar engine in different driving situations. 

 

3. 2.3L High Performance turbo 4-cyl. 332 

This engine can be found in the new 4-cylinder Mustang that hits 60 mph in 4.5 seconds, and has a top speed of 155 mph. According to Ford, “90 percent of the peak torque is now available between 2,500 rpm and 5,300 rpm”

4. The 6.2L V8 490  

This engine can be found in the new 2020 Chevy Corvette Stingray’s. It has 490 hp @ 6,450 rpm horsepower and 465 lb-ft @ 5,150 rpm torque. It also adds a cat-back exhaust and a different air intake.

5. 2.0L Atkinson I-4 212 hp total 

This engine is found in the new Honda Accord Hybrid’s. These engines generate up to 143 hp and 129 lb.-ft. (175 Nm) of torque (on regular fuel), while the motor contributes up to 181 hp and 232 lb.-ft. (315 Nm) for a total combined system output of 212 hp, 16 hp more than the 2015 Accord Hybrid. 

Just a side note though, if you’re a fellow Texan, check out one of our favorite local dealers, @AllenHonda. It’s a great place to go if you’re in the market for one of those 212 hp Accords with the Atkinson I-4 😁

 

And those are my picks for the 2019 engine line up! Stay tuned for my review of the 2020 offerings in just a few months.

Let’s Talk Luxury

Let’s Talk Luxury

While we’re all aware that almost every “average” car brand has its separate luxury brand such as Hyundai’s Genesis, Honda’s Acura, and even our favorite Nissan’s Infiniti. As customers, we’re seeing so many new, sportier, edgier designs from the base brands though. Looking at Infiniti and their most popular 2020 car, the Q50, starting at the base price of $36,400, is only about $2,000 from their new $34,250 2020 Nissan Maxima… (looking at the numbers sent me into a shock too!). So, “what does this mean?” you may be asking yourself. This means that while Nissan still claims Infiniti as their luxury brand, Nissan is just slowly starting to make that cross into being a luxury brand. According to www.thecertifiedautoplex.com, “ Luxury is used to categorize vehicles that are equipped with better performance capabilities, lavish interiors, and all the latest safety and technology features…”.

It has recently been brought to light just how luxurious mainstream brands have become. More often than not, you will find brands like Nissan with almost identical, if not more of those luxury features than their luxury brands. Call it a symptom of sharing parts between different models or a sign of increased disruption in the industry from upstarts like Tesla. Either way, the line between premium and economy is really starting to blur between Nissan and Infiniti. Want us to list off a few new performance capabilities? How about the new e-4ORCE for more front-end torque. 

 

Nissan’s e-4ORCE motor provides instant torque to all four wheels to deliver balanced, predictable power and handling that rivals most luxury vehicles.  Lavish interiors? Nissan has it. All of the interiors on Nissan vehicles offer sleek, edgy interiors, for those who like leather and don’t, there’s an option for everyone. Technology? Can’t be beat. The infotainment systems on every vehicle offer modern bluetooth features for all phones and so much more. You don’t want to miss out! Check out all of the Nissan features on their official website www.nissanusa.com. Live in Texas? We have a special suggestion just for you @Katy Nissan 

Confused about what to buy? Don’t be! Check out our First-time Car Buying Guide

 

 

2011 Ford F-150 – Same Face, Better Power

Have you ever thought “If I could only change one thing, I’d…”? If so, you’re not alone – Ford’s been thinking this way about it’s vehicles for a while.

Most car makers, including Ford, update their cars and trucks on a roughly six year cycle, with a “refresh” about halfway between major updates. In between these updates you generally won’t see big changes beyond updates to options and special editions.

Ford bucked this trend in the last decade with some important changes outside the normal update cycle, trying to fix “that one thing” that’s wrong.

In 2010 Ford gave the one-year-old Flex a telescoping steering wheel. The 2011 Mustang got new engines just one year into it’s product cycle. And then the 2011 F-150 , just two years removed from it’s last major update, got fitted with new engines as well.

The 4.6 and 5.4 liter V-8s from the 2010 trucks began life in the 90s and were probably the truck’s biggest weakness at that point. They had adequate power and OK fuel economy but did little beyond that. For 2011 Ford added a quartet of engines that really brought the line back to life and moved the F-150 among the class leaders in output and efficiency for the rest of the decade. Competition in the light truck market from Honda and others that were offering better MPG pushed Ford to modernize this iconic truck line.

The first of the new F-150 engines was a V-6, in this case a 3.7 liter shared with the Mustang! It has 302 horsepower and 278 lb-ft of torque, close to the old 3-valve 4.6 liter’s 292 and 320. This was really a decade in automotive history where ‘less was more’ and the internal combustion engine really pushed the envelope for what is possible with less displacement. V6 configurations were releases from 2010 onward that had more horsepower, and in some cases torque, than previous V8 builds.

and in some cases, the V8’s just got better…

Also from the Mustang is the 5.0L V-8, in this application making 360HP and 380 lb-ft. Despite the displacement disadvantage the new 5.0 easily beats the old 5.4L, which made 310 HP and 365 lb-ft. This additional power from a smaller engine demonstrates just how outdated the old engines were.

Upping the ante in high-trim versions of the F-150 was a massive 6.2L V-8 with 411 HP and 434 ft-lbs of torque.

The most intriguing F-150 motor, though, is the 3.5L EcoBoost, which used direct injection and turbocharging to achieve 365 HP and 420 lb-ft, slotting between the 5.0 and the 6.2. This engine was an early test of the concept of high-tech, smaller-displacement engines in truck categories traditionally dominated by big V-8s.

Besides the improved power, there were massive fuel economy improvements with these 2011 F-150 engines. The 3.7L V-6 earned a 17/23 city/highway in 4×2 duty, while the 5.0 V-8 got 15/21 (also 4×2), the same as the older, less-capable 4.6.

So Ford spent some of the last decade fixing “that one thing,” – the most glaring weakness of the 2010 F-150. What’s next for this iconic American truck brand? Will the electric version stack up against Elon’s Cybertruck? I for one, am excited to see what this new decade brings us from Ford!

Car Reviews: 2006 Audi A6

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It seems as though a car cannot simply be one thing. Indeed, an SUV cannot simply be an SUV, it must be a “crossover sport vehicle”. Or, perhaps a luxury car must be a “sports oriented affordably priced luxury car”. However, in the quest to be so many different things, many cars often fail to get even of those categories right. Thus, every now and then we happen to find a car which has one idea in mind, and manages to perfectly embody that idea. One of the best examples that can be found is definitely the Audi A6. A car which sets out to provide luxury to it’s driver and passenger, and makes no claims towards anything else. Perhaps because of the singular nature of this promise, the Audi A6 delivers, and it may very well be one of the best used cars on the market in the sub-10k price range.

Even from the outside, the nature and quality of the A6 is easy to see. The new, redesigned grill on the front of the car speaks to the perfect balance that is Audi. The front grill is both aggressive but subtle at the same time, and it makes sure that the A6 looks anything but boring. While some may not like the sheer size of the grill, it definitely makes this generation of Audi’s stand out. However, even though the grill has been found first in the 2006 models, there are also other exterior design ideas that deserve remark. Mainly, the smooth contour of the entire car, which is extended even to the rear bumper and roof line. Even though the A6 may not have the aggressive look of the A4, the refined style is much appreciated by those who are seeking a luxury car instead of a sports oriented executive vehicle.

The excellent styling and understated elegance only continues once one moves inside of the A6. The interior is laid out very nicely, and although the typically filled Audi center console is back, at no point are the various controls too difficult to understand or to use. However, they may take a little getting used to. The inside is filled with top quality materials, from the leather on the seats to the trim around the dashboard and controls, there is nothing about the interior of the A6 that doesn’t remind one that the car is premium, and designed for luxury. This is further echoed by the roomy interior, and the great level of comfort given to the driver. The interior really is one of the best parts of the vehicle, and from it’s overall quality, to it’s level of comfort to the driver and passengers alike, deserves to be mentioned as one of the best features of the vehicle.

However, like all Audi’s, perhaps the greatest joy lies in driving the car. Certainly the A6 is a luxury car, and it performs it’s job perfectly and with precision. It takes only a single ride in the car to experience the smoothness of the drive, the way that the vehicle seems to glide effortlessly over any road, the ease and quick response of the throttle and steering wheel. No matter what task is given it, the Audi A6 performs it well and with dignity. Even though the car may be billed as a purely luxury car, driving the A6 goes above and beyond what is typically expected for a luxury car comparable to a similar Lexus or BMW. Quite simply, this car is fun, which is something that is not often said about vehicles in the luxury range, especially one with the A6’s overall size. However, while the car is rather large, so is the engine, and this makes sure that the A6 never seems bogged down or sluggish, even when carrying a full load of people or luggage.

Still, the A6 does have it’s flaws. Namely, the large size and width of the car can be a bit difficult to get used to. And because of the larger engine that is needed to move the car around, potential customers should not expect good gas mileage. However, these few design flaws are easily made up for by the great overall quality of the car, the fantastic inside and outside appearance, and the simply perfect way in which it drives. Even though the A6 may not be the cheapest vehicle on the lot, a single drive in it is all it takes to assure the driver that the car is worth every penny. The Audi A6 is truly one of the best cars available in it’s class, and one that is sure to please a broad spectrum of customers, even if it’s advertisements do not assign five or six labels to the car.