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Archive for April 2019

Recommended Farmington Service Intervals

Posted April 28, 2019 3:39 AM



Everyone in Farmington, MI, knows we are advised to go to our Farmington dentist twice a year.  Oral-conscious Farmington residents have a teeth-cleaning and examination. Once a year, we get x-rays to look for problems that can't be seen with the naked eye. When our dentist is done, he/she tells us what was found – "Everything's fine, see you in six months." Or "You've got a small cavity starting, let's schedule an appointment to take care of it." By the time you leave, you have a plan for addressing any necessary issues.

This system works so much better than waiting for a painful problem before going into the dentist. Small problems are fixed before they turn into big problems. And you avoid those huge bills.

If Farmington folks understand the wisdom of using this system for handling dental care, why do many resist when facing the same system for our vehicle maintenance?

Following the vehicle manufacturer's recommended intervals can be confusing. First, there are recommendations for so many things: oil changes, transmission, coolant, air conditioning, power steering, brakes, fuel system, filters, belts, hoses, alignment, rotation, balancing ...you get the point.

Every item has a recommended interval and it's hard for Farmington drivers to keep it all straight – even if you're part of the 1% of MI drivers that read their owners' manual.

And if you have more than one vehicle, the complexity is multiplied. You'd need a computer to keep track of everything. Well, that's how your service center does it. For example, Darrell's Firestone subscribes to automotive databases that have your vehicle's recommended intervals. You may have wondered how they know what else to recommend when you take your car in for an oil change – it's all in the database.

Well, it's not all in the computer. There are other variables that can't be accounted for in the schedule: Things like Farmington weather conditions, altitude, and where and how you drive in MI. Talk about these things with your service advisor at Darrell's Firestone and you may decide that the severe service schedule in your owner's manual is more appropriate.

Since anything that's not driving in moderate weather is considered severe and most of us do at least some of that around Farmington, MI, it should be taken into account.

Let's take your basic oil change as an example. What issues are involved? The oil you put in your vehicle is a blend of base oil and special additives. There are detergents to clean the inside of your vehicle engine and corrosion inhibitors. A good quality motor oil will not only lubricate your engine, it will help it stay clean inside and run cooler.

Now, these additives deplete with use and time. That's why most vehicle manufacturer's maintenance recommendations include both a time and mileage element – like 3 months or 3,000 miles/5,000 km, whichever comes first.

It's easy for Farmington drivers to think, "Gee, I've only driven 2,000 miles/3,200 km in the last 3 months. I can wait on that oil change." But you need to remember that the inside of your engine is a environment. The oil is contaminated with combustion by-products that start degrading its effectiveness even when it's just sitting there.

A lot of people in Farmington don't realize how harmful it is to skip an oil change. There are a lot of metal parts moving around in your engine. Small bits of metal wear off and are floating around in your oil. They can be carried to more delicate areas of the engine where they cause damage. Your oil filter is designed to trap metal particles and other dirt, but if it's clogged up because you haven't changed it, it can't trap any more.

Oil sludge is another problem for Farmington vehicles. Sludge is oil that has turned to a gunky jelly – think 'Vaseline.' Obviously, sludge doesn't lubricate. It can also clog small oil passages so that all the parts don't get properly protected by the oil. That'll lead to premature wear.

If you've missed some oil changes, don't despair. Just talk with the pros at Darrell's Firestone. Fess up – you'll feel better. And they can help you get back on track. Following recommended intervals is the key to keeping your vehicle on the road and avoiding repairs.

Darrell's Firestone
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
248-477-9090
http://www.darrellsfirestone.net

 

 



Automotive Tips from Darrell's Firestone: Tire Replacement Overview

Posted April 21, 2019 7:56 AM

Tires are an expensive purchase, so knowing when tires should be replaced is important for Farmington drivers. Tires will just wear out with normal use. The depth of the tread on your tire determines how well it will stop, start and steer – especially in wet conditions. 4/32th of an inch (3.2 mm) of tire tread is considered a safe amount of tread.

Uneven tread wear can be a symptom of other problems, and simply replacing your tires will not prevent the same uneven wear from happening to the new tires. At Darrell's Firestone in Farmington, we can inspect your tires for excessive or uneven wear. Unusual wear may lead to further inspection of steering, suspension or alignment problems. We can help with necessary repairs and with getting you the right tires for your needs.

Give us a call.

Darrell's Firestone
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
248-477-9090
http://www.darrellsfirestone.net



Super Slick at Darrell's Firestone in Farmington: Synthetic Oil

Posted April 14, 2019 1:33 AM

When you get an oil change, it's always a safe bet to just use the type of oil the manufacturer recommends. But sometimes we're asked if we'd like conventional or synthetic motor oil. We glance at the price tags on the two options and choose the cheaper one. But in this case, the more expensive oil might be the better bargain for Farmington drivers.

Conventional oil is made from petroleum. Its molecules form long hydrocarbon chains. Synthetic motor oil is either more highly refined petroleum or completely man-made. Its molecules are more uniform. This provides advantages over conventional motor oil.

First of all, the molecular structure of synthetic motor oil makes it more slippery than conventional oil so it lubricates better. This translates to better wear protection for Farmington drivers, cooler operating temperatures and more engine power.

Further, synthetic oil is more heat-resistant than conventional oil, and it doesn't vaporize as easily. It provides better protection for severe conditions like stop-and-go driving around Farmington and very hot or freezing MI temperatures.

Also, synthetic oil doesn't generate oil sludge like conventional oil. This prevents small engine passageways from becoming clogged, which can significantly extend the working life of your vehicle engine.

Manufacturers are aware of the advantages of synthetic oil, and many of them are using it to fill their vehicles before delivering them to be sold. Many owner's manuals now come with the recommendation to use only synthetic oil. Because synthetic oil wears better and protects better than conventional motor oil, it can be changed less often. If your vehicle came with a recommendation for synthetic oil, you may have noticed that the recommended period between oil changes is longer than what you're used to. However, if you switch to conventional oil, you need to be aware that you can't follow this longer service interval. You'll have to change your oil more often.

On the other hand, if you are using conventional oil and you switch to synthetic oil, you may be able to lengthen the time between oil changes. You can ask the pros at Darrell's Firestone for more information. They can offer you good auto advice about oils and service intervals based on your driving habits and requirements.

Oil changes are the hallmark of preventive maintenance at Darrell's Firestone. All Farmington drivers need them. So we should get excited about a product that reduces how often we need them. Synthetic oil is more expensive, yes, but it can pay for itself by lasting longer than conventional oil. And when you add in the hidden savings of an extended engine life and improved fuel economy, not to mention increased engine power, there's a good chance that synthetic oil actually saves cash in the long run. All Farmington drivers pay for vehicle care. But understanding what we're paying for can make us more savvy shoppers.

Darrell's Firestone
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
248-477-9090
http://www.darrellsfirestone.net

 



Have You Checked Your Headlights?

Posted April 9, 2019 3:53 AM



Like everything in the MI automotive market, there have been great strides in headlight technology in recent years. MI drivers can be safer at night because of it. Good headlights improve visibility on Farmington roads, enabling you to see farther. They also improve your peripheral vision, helping you to see the sides more clearly. The more you can see, the more quickly you can react to road conditions. This is because nearly half of traffic fatalities take place at night. And as Farmington resident population ages, everything that helps older eyes is welcome.

Most new vehicles sold in MI come with halogen headlamps. A decade ago, halogens were exotic and expensive. Now that they are standard equipment, the price has come way down. Many luxury cars are equipped with high intensity discharge, or HID, headlamps. You have probably seen them on some Farmington roads; they're very bright and have a bluish tint.

From behind the wheel, there is no doubt that HID headlamps are the best thing going. However, many Farmington drivers complain about HID lights in oncoming traffic or when they approach from behind. In fact, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called for public comment, they received a record number of complaints about HIDs. This has lead to several studies - your tax dollars at work. Some expect future regulation of HID lamps.

All halogen headlamps dim over time. Your service advisor at Darrell's Firestone recommends that they be changed out once a year. We suggest you replace your headlamps in the fall at the end of Daylight Saving Time. It's easy to remember; when you change your clock, change your headlamps. Remember to replace all headlamps at the same time; then all your lights will be equally bright. You will appreciate it during those long MI winter nights.

If you have an older vehicle with old-school headlamps, you might be able to get a halogen replacement. You'll be amazed at the difference this upgrade will make.

In addition to regular halogen lamps, Farmington vehicles can upgrade to premium lamps that filter some of the yellow light, making a bright white light that's more like natural sunlight. This light's easier on the eyes and should improve reaction time.

Now, you may be able to step up to HID headlamps, depending on the kind of car you drive. These lamps should last the life of your car, but cost several hundred dollars a pair. If you want other Farmington vehicles to think you're running HID lamps, you can even buy regular halogens that have a bluish tint. Does she or doesn't she? Only her Darrell's Firestone technician knows for sure.

Over time, plastic headlight covers can get cloudy or yellowed. In fact, AAA reports that nine out of ten headlights are dirty or yellowed, greatly reducing vision. In addition to helping you replace your headlamps, many service centers such as Darrell's Firestone in Farmington, MI, can restore headlight covers. Headlights can be restored at a fraction of the cost of replacing them.

Darrell's Firestone
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
248-477-9090
http://www.darrellsfirestone.net



Odometer Rollback on Your Farmington, MI Vehicle

Posted April 9, 2019 3:53 AM

 

How do Farmington drivers know if an odometer is telling the truth?

Well, back in '86, Congress passed the Truth-in-Mileage Act to protect MI consumers against mileage fraud. It says a MI seller must certify the mileage reported is the actual mileage.

To have your odometer checked in Farmington, MI, stop by Darrell's Firestone:

Darrell's Firestone
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336

 

If it isn't, the seller must say why; for example, maybe the odometer is past its mechanical limits. Some older odometers only go to 99,999 and then start over at 0. Or, the odometer has been tampered with, broken or replaced.

If the seller tells you the mileage isn't accurate, there's not much chance of putting a good number to it. And there's the unscrupulous seller who claims the reading is true, but it isn't. What can Farmington vehicle owners do?

You can go to www.CarFax.com, where, for a small fee, they'll give you a comprehensive vehicle history search on your vehicle, showing local Farmington, MI, ownership history, accident reports, total-loss events, manufacturer buybacks, Lemon reports and warranty status.

You can get a mileage history by checking with the local MI DMV (or wherever you happen to be) and other verified sources looking for inconsistencies in the mileage reported when the car was bought and sold. If there are signs of odometer rollback, now you'll know.

If so, proceed with caution. Or, negotiate a lower price. Or just walk away. There's always another vehicle.

Darrell's Firestone
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
248-477-9090
http://www.darrellsfirestone.net



New School: Automotive Darrell's Firestone Technician Training

Posted April 9, 2019 3:53 AM

Farmington consumers are demanding. We want a safe, reliable vehicle that handles well and is comfortable to ride in. Oh, and we want good fuel economy, too. We also want vehicle repairs that are cheap, fast and easy. Unfortunately, one usually comes at the cost of the other.

Today's vehicles have made significant improvements in reliability and performance over the last few decades. They also deliver more power to Farmington drivers more efficiently than ever before. For example, some of today's 4-cylinder engines are equal to yesterday's V-8's. Our vehicles also offer an amazing range of features that make them more comfortable and convenient than ever before.

But all of that improvement has come at a price for Farmington vehicle owners. Our vehicles are more complicated and difficult to repair than ever before. They have numerous mechanical and electrical systems. Fuel systems are so complex they have to be run by a computer. Our vehicles are covered with sensors and high-tech electronic equipment. Our dashboards rival the control panel of the first manned space flight.

With all that complicated equipment, it's no wonder we call mechanics service technicians these days. You can't learn to repair vehicles in the backyard with your dad anymore. Today's Darrell's Firestone technicians have to go to school. School may come in the form of classroom instruction, online courses or both. Technicians are also trained on-site at the Farmington service centers where they work (including Darrell's Firestone) to keep them abreast of constant improvements in vehicle engineering, diagnostic equipment and repair techniques.

Today's technicians need to be certified to work on our vehicles. They can earn a variety of certifications in MI, but the highest of these is Master Technician. It's like a graduate degree in auto repair.

Vehicle repair at Darrell's Firestone in Farmington requires more than just training and certification, though. It also takes information and creative thought. Farmington area auto service centers subscribe to data services, technical libraries and online repair communities in order to get the information they need to: work on various makes and models of vehicles, get recommended maintenance schedules, learn about non-standard features and locate hard-to-find parts in an unusual engine. They also use this information to help diagnose rare or difficult vehicle problems. Many auto repair problems also require a bit of creative thinking for the team at Darrell's Firestone to solve. Farmington service technicians at Darrell's Firestone act much like doctors in these situations. They're given a set of symptoms, and they have to come up with a diagnosis and treatment that will fix the problem. This process becomes as much of an art as it is a science.

A proper diagnosis, even by a highly qualified technician, can take time. And a technician's time is going to cost us. It's just the price of progress.

Of course, the best vehicle care for Farmington vehicle owners is planned preventive auto maintenance. This is also the least costly way to keep your vehicle in good repair. Regular inspections and replacement of worn parts will prevent most repairs from ever being needed in the first place.

And with the amazing complexity of today's automobiles, isn't it good to know there's someone out there with the knowledge, training and skill to give us good auto advice? Whether we need preventive maintenance or repairs, the team of automotive professionals at Darrell's Firestone can help us keep our vehicles on the road. We just can't do it on our own anymore.

Darrell's Firestone
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
248-477-9090
http://www.darrellsfirestone.net



Lease or Buy?

Posted April 9, 2019 3:53 AM



Lease? Or buy? These are the options for Farmington drivers. It's always a tough question for auto owners, but here is some info that'll help you make an informed decision.

If you buy, you'll pay the full cost of the vehicle, maybe an initial down payment, monthly payments on the balance that pays down the loan principal, and the finance charge.

Farmington drivers who lease finance the portion of the cost of the vehicle that's used up during the term of the lease. You'll pay some money up front: fees, security deposit, first month's payment and maybe a capital reduction. The monthly payments include a depreciation cost and a finance charge. When the lease is up, you return the vehicle to your local Farmington area dealership. 

So how do Farmington drivers decide?

First, how much do you have for a down payment? A lease usually requires a smaller down payment.

How much monthly payment can you afford? Again, lease payments will be much lower for any given down payment.

A lease needs requires better credit, so that's a factor.

How long will you keep the vehicle? Farmington drivers who keep their vehicles around for a while will pay less if they buy. But just two or three years? Then leasing is the way to go.

If your car might suffer a ding or two, like a work truck would, then buying's better. The auto leasing company will want their vehicle back at the lease end in tip top shape, and if repairs are needed, you'll pay.

How far do you drive in and around the Farmington area? Important to consider because leases have a mileage limit; if you go over, you pay a hefty charge per mile/kilometer when the lease is up. So high mileage MI drivers should definitely buy.

Will the car be used in your business? Check with your accountant, but both financing options have different tax benefits, depending on your circumstances.

Over the short term, leasing is much cheaper. Medium term, leasing and buying costs are about the same. Over the long haul, leasing always costs more.

Leases may sound a bit complicated, and the typical lease decision weighs more on the monthly payment rather than price. So sometimes Farmington leasers may pay on a higher purchase price than a buyer would.

Here is a tip: If the salesman asks if you'll be leasing or buying, say you're not sure yet. Make your best deal, then look at your financing options.

Here's another: With a buy or a lease, if you total the vehicle, you'll owe the full amount of the loan, or the balance of the lease payments. Usually, it's less than the vehicle's fair market value, and that's all your MI auto insurance company will pay. But ask your Farmington agent about gap insurance, which pays the difference between fair market value and what you owe. Big consideration for a lease.

Remember, you have to return your leased vehicle in excellent condition and may need to do all the vehicle manufacturer's recommended service and maintenance or face penalties. So see your local advisor at your Farmington auto repair shop  or Darrell's Firestone on a regular basis, get the required work done and save the service records. It's well worth it.

Darrell's Firestone
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
248-477-9090
http://www.darrellsfirestone.net



Clean Air for Your Engine: Engine Air Filters In Farmington

Posted April 9, 2019 3:53 AM

Every Farmington car owner who has taken their car in for an oil change has been told that their engine air filter's dirty.

Here's what goes into the determination of when to change the filter: First, your vehicle owner's manual will have a recommendation of when the filter should be replaced.

So between your owner's manual and your Farmington technician's inspection there's really no guesswork involved for Farmington drivers.

Now, most air filters purchased in Farmington don't cost a lot to replace. It's just that MI people hate getting caught with an unexpected expense. On the plus side, though, changing a dirty air filter at Darrell's Firestone can often save enough on gas to pay for itself before your next oil change in Farmington.

Think about a dirty furnace filter in your Farmington home. When it's all clogged up, enough clean air can't get through. In your vehicle, that means that your engine can't get as much air as it needs to burn the fuel efficiently. So it makes do with less air and has to use more gas to move your vehicle around Farmington roads.

Your vehicle actually needs about 12,000 times more air than fuel to run. Engine air filters don't cost much in Farmington at Darrell's Firestone. When it's time to change yours, just get it done. You'll get better fuel economy, have better performance and protect your vehicle engine.

Darrell's Firestone
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
248-477-9090
http://www.darrellsfirestone.net



The Darrell's Firestone Guide to Servicing Your Differential

Posted April 9, 2019 3:53 AM

Differential? What's that? And what's it for? I've been told by my service advisor that I need to get it serviced, but is that on the level?

Do these questions sound familiar? They're not uncommon for Farmington drivers. A lot of us in Farmington don't know what a differential is or what it's for. Every vehicle has a differential, and, yes, it does need to be serviced. In fact, it's more important to the operation of your vehicle than the air conditioner or windshield wipers.

A differential allows your vehicle tires to move at different speeds. This happens more than you think. The best example is when a vehicle is turning. The inside wheel travels a much shorter distance than the outside wheel during a turn. This means the outside wheel has to move faster than the inside wheel. Without a differential, your tires would hop and skip while turning. They would also lose traction in sand or snow.

The location of your differential depends on what kind of vehicle you drive. On a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the differential is located in the back. For a front-wheel drive vehicle, it is located on the front, but it is usually called a transaxle. Four-wheel drive vehicles have three differentials: one on the front, one in the back and one in the middle. This center differential compensates for differences in speed between the front and rear wheels.

Your differential contains strong gears that need to be protected from dirt, debris, water and other contaminants. A differential is sometimes referred to as a “gear box.” The work of these gears is to transfer power from the vehicle drive train to the wheels.

Your differential needs fluid to lubricate and cool the gears. This fluid, even though enclosed in the “gear box,” can get dirty because the gears grind down over time, releasing tiny bits of themselves into the fluid. Also, the additives in the differential fluid break down and need to be replaced. That's why preventive maintenance for your vehicle needs to include servicing the differential.

Your owner's manual can give you recommendations on how often to service your differential. But you should also consult with your friendly and knowledgeable Darrell's Firestone professional. Darrell's Firestone can give you some good auto advice on whether your vehicle needs to be serviced more frequently. For example, if you drive in hot or cold MI weather conditions, your differential will need to have its fluid changed more often.

Severe conditions will also affect your vehicle care routine and your differential. Check your owner's manual for a definition of “severe service” conditions that affect your vehicle. Examples may include driving with frequent stops and starts, a lot of short trips around Farmington, hot or cold MI weather conditions and towing.

Off-roading is particularly hard on a vehicle's differential. If you are an off-roader, especially if you cross MI streams or waterways, it is important that you service your differential more frequently than the recommendations suggest.

Properly servicing your differential will extend its life and keep you out of Farmington auto repair shops. A smooth ride is the result of proper preparation and smart choices.

 Darrell's Firestone
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
248-477-9090
http://www.darrellsfirestone.net

 



Busting Automotive Myths in Farmington, MI

Posted April 9, 2019 3:53 AM

Myths passed around our Farmington, MI community start with a grain of evidence and are then built up with a lot of imagination and very elastic logic. And the internet is a breeding ground for automotive myths. Some bloggers recall the vehicles of yesteryear and declare their modern decedents to be virtually maintenance free and that anyone who says otherwise is out to rip you off.

To get the truth about auto myths you hear around the Farmington area, come over to Darrell's Firestone.


Let's examine a couple of the more popular rants and look at the truth behind them.

The first one is that the chassis no longer needs lubrication for suspension, steering and the driveline. They declare that anyone who has charged you for lubrication is a charlatan.

The truth on which this myth is based is that many new vehicles come from the factory with sealed joints and cannot be greased. However, there are still some grease points on many cars around Farmington. A grease fitting may have been installed in conjunction with a repair. And most trucks and truck-based SUVs driving in Farmington still require chassis lubrication. This is because they are more heavy duty and proper greasing is still required to keep them going.

Another common rant you'll hear around Farmington is that modern vehicles don't need tune-ups. That depends on your definition of a 'tune-up', which has changed as technology has progressed. Before engine control computers, electronic ignition and fuel injection, a tune up meant replacing mechanical parts that wore out. Service technicians at Darrell's Firestone would manually adjust fuel and air mix and timing. When these adjustments were off, spark plugs would foul and need to be replaced.

This definition just doesn't apply to modern vehicles. Service centers like Darrell's Firestone generally consider a tune-up to be the major service visit, recommended by your manufacturer, every 30,000 miles (50,000 kilometers) or so.

Of course you can't lubricate a sealed joint. Of course you can't adjust a carburetor if your car doesn't have one. You probably don't need to change spark plugs every year if your manufacturer says they can go 30,000 miles (50,000 kilometers). What are these bloggers getting so worked up about?

The danger with these modern-day myths is they prevent people in our local Farmington community from taking care of the routine preventive auto maintenance that manufactures recommend. Check out this partial list of things you still need to do to take care of your car. How many of them are really any different today than they were 20 or 30 years ago?

Oil change, cooling system service, transmission service, tire balancing, tire rotation, wheel alignment, suspension service, power steering service, proper tire inflation, brake service, differential service, battery maintenance, engine air filer, PCV valve, breather element, fuel filter, belts, hoses, timing belt, windshield wipers . . .

You get the picture. Your vehicle is still a machine that needs to be maintained. And, hey, your service advisors at Darrell's Firestone have always adapted to keep pace with automotive technology. Next time you come across an angry voice about your car care, talk to your Farmington service advisor at Darrell's Firestone, or do some research of your own.

Darrell's Firestone
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
248-477-9090
http://www.darrellsfirestone.net



Getting New Tires in Farmington?

Posted April 9, 2019 3:53 AM

There are so many tire choices in the Farmington area that selecting the right one can be a bit overwhelming for drivers. And even though it's kind of fun to have new tires on your vehicle, they're a significant investment for most Farmington area folks so you want do it right.

Tip: talk with your friendly and knowledgeable Darrell's Firestone tire professional. He'll help you sort through the choices.

Here are some of the issues you'll talk about: One is size – you know, all those numbers on the side of the tire. The right size is . All new vehicles are required to have stability control which, along with other important safety systems, is calibrated to work with specific tire sizes. Your Farmington tire professional can help stay within manufacturer's specifications or program a different tire size into your vehicle's computer.

And you'll want to discuss how and where you drive to determine the type of tire you need: summer, winter,  all season tires or all-terrain. There are tires for every Farmington auto owner's needs.

Like we said, tires are a big investment, so you want to get a good value on tires. Now that doesn't always mean the cheapest tire. A top tier tire from Darrell's Firestone will last a long time and give Farmington drivers good performance throughout its life. Tires sold in Farmington bargain tire shops may not live up to that promise. Again, your friendly and knowledgeable Darrell's Firestone tire professional can give you options that offer the best long-term value within your immediate budget.

Last, with a 2-wheel drive vehicle, it's to always replace both tires on an axle. Modern sensors and computer safety systems for vehicle brakes, stability and traction control need both tires to have the same amount of wear to work properly. And always put the new tires on the rear so you don't fishtail in a turn. With all-wheel drive you should replace all four tires at the same time.

Schedule a tire inspection at Darrell's Firestone to see how much life is left in your vehicle tires and seek the help of a professional when choosing new shoes for your vehicle.

Give us a call.

Darrell's Firestone
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
248-477-9090
http://www.darrellsfirestone.net



Positive Crankcase Ventilation ? PCV Valve Service at Darrell's Firestone

Posted April 9, 2019 3:53 AM

Hello Farmington! Did you know that the first federally-mandated emissions control device was introduced in the 1960's? The Positive Crankcase Ventilation valve, or PCV valve, has been installed in MI vehicles since 1964 and represents the first legislation by the United States government to regulate harmful emissions as well as to improve performance in the country's vehicles.

The PCV valve, as you can probably guess, is located on the crankcase. The crankcase is the lowest part of a vehicle's engine. It houses the crankshaft and the engine oil. The crankshaft connects to the pistons that power the engine.

Pistons are pushed down when fuel is burned in an engine. This causes the crankshaft to rotate, which sends power to the transmission.  It ultimately turns the axles and causes the vehicle to move. Some of the gases released by the burning fuel squeeze around the pistons and down into the crankcase.

If the escaped gases mix with the engine oil in the crankcase, oil sludge develops. This sludge has the consistency of petroleum jelly and can cause damage by clogging up passageways in the engine. Further, escaped gases can build up pressure inside the crankcase that can blow out seals and gaskets.

Before 1964, a hose was attached to the crankcase that vented escaped gases out into the air. These gases contained about 70% unburned fuel as well as harmful emissions. The PCV valve was designed to curb these harmful emissions as well as recapture unburned fuel.

The PCV valve is a small, one-way valve that allows escaped gases to exit the crankcase. The gases are then routed into the intake system so they can be re-burned in the engine. Fresh air enters the crankcase through a breather tube to facilitate this circulation and keep the air in the crankcase clean.

The PCV valve, like most working parts on a vehicle, will wear out over time. Usually it simply gets gummed up. Preventive maintenance, including routine oil changes at Darrell's Firestone in Farmington, will extend the life of the valve, but eventually it will have to be replaced. A sticking PCV valve won't allow gases to circulate properly, which can increase pressure in the crankcase. Over time, that pressure will lead to oil leaks.

Your vehicle manufacturer recommends that a PCV valve be replaced every 20,000 to 50,000 miles (32,000 to 80,000 kilometers), depending on the vehicle and Farmington driving conditions. It's an inexpensive repair but may not be included in the maintenance schedule in your owner's manual.  So if you're looking for auto advice about the PCV valve, you may have to ask our pros at Darrell's Firestone.

Taking care of our PCV valve protects the environment in MI and improves vehicle performance. It's just part of good vehicle care for Farmington drivers and a way all of us can do our part to improve the world we live in.

Darrell's Firestone
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
248-477-9090
http://www.darrellsfirestone.net



On Board Diagnostics for Your Engine

Posted April 9, 2019 3:53 AM

Starting in 1996, Darrell's Firestone service technicians have been able to use a standardized diagnostic system to help determine what is wrong with a vehicle. This diagnostic system works in tandem with the Engine Control Modules for each vehicle's engine. The Engine Control Module is a computer that monitors and controls many engine functions.

Sensors throughout a vehicle send readings to the Engine Control Module. These readings help the computer make adjustments in various vehicle systems to allow for constantly changing driving conditions and even to compensate for minor problems. However, if the computer encounters a situation it can't adjust for, it turns on the Check Engine light. (The Check Engine light is called the “service engine soon” light on some vehicles.)

If the Check Engine light is burning steadily, it indicates a problem that needs to be taken care of soon. If it is flashing, however, the vehicle needs immediate attention at Darrell's Firestone. When the Check Engine light is flashing, the vehicle should not be driven at high speeds, haul heavy loads or tow a trailer. Farmington drivers need to understand that doing so can cause major damage.

When a vehicle is brought to Darrell's Firestone in Farmington because the Check Engine light is on, a technician will scan the Engine Control Module to learn why it turned the light on. The answer comes as a “trouble code.” The technician has access to software that allows him to enter the code and find out what it means. The software will also let your Darrell's Firestone technician know what might be causing the problem and how to diagnose it.

Notice that the trouble code does not tell your technician at Darrell's Firestone exactly what is wrong with the vehicle. It can only let him know where to start looking to find the problem.

Scanning a trouble code and determining what it means is fairly simple for the pros at Darrell's Firestone. But the ensuing process of actually diagnosing a vehicle's trouble can take a skilled technician some time. Sometimes this can add up to a significant repair bill. Some vehicle owners mistakenly believe  that the “trouble code” is all they need and think they can then fix their vehicles themselves. Some have tried to save money by purchasing an inexpensive scanner, or they take their vehicles to an auto parts store that offers the scan for little or no cost.

These options are often not the money-savers they seem for Farmington vehicle owners. They can end up costing the vehicle owner extra in unnecessary repairs and engine damage.

For example, the trouble code P0133 reads “Bank 1 sensor 1 circuit slow response.” Translated, that means the front oxygen sensor shows a slow response time in changing the mix of air to fuel. The seemingly obvious conclusion is that the sensor needs to be replaced. The vehicle owner purchases a sensor, installs it and happily goes on his way.

However, read the trouble again: a slow response time in changing the mix of air to fuel. Nowhere does this indicate that the sensor is bad. There are a lot of parts involved in changing the air-fuel mix, any of which could be causing a slow reaction time. Those include a bad or contaminated airflow sensor, an exhaust leak, a problem in the electrical system or a leak in the intake manifold. The sensor is merely relaying that the response time is slow; it doesn't indicate where the trouble is.

So the vehicle ends up with an oxygen sensor it did not need, and the delay in repairing the actual problem may have led to further damage to the engine. Both are added costs for the vehicle owner.

Cheap scanners also don't have the ability to read the history stored in an engine's computer. This operating history contains clues that can help in diagnosing engine trouble since it can indicate a developing problem. Darrell's Firestone invests a lot of money in high-end diagnostic equipment so that we have access not just to service codes but also to the operating history of the engine.

On-board diagnostics, then, are a tool to help diagnose what is wrong with a vehicle. They cannot specify what part needs to be fixed or replaced, and they cannot replace a well-trained and well-equipped service technician.

Unless you are a trained mechanic, it's good auto advice to use Darrell's Firestone for your car care. In the long run, it can save you time, unnecessary expense and frustration. Darrell's Firestone can also help you keep up with your scheduled preventive maintenance, which can also save you on repair bills by alerting you to potential problems before they get expensive.

Darrell's Firestone
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
248-477-9090
http://www.darrellsfirestone.net



Cool Breeze: Air Conditioning Service at Darrell's Firestone in Farmington

Posted April 9, 2019 3:53 AM


Most MI auto owners know that their vehicles need regular preventive maintenance like changing the oil and filters, rotating the tires and refilling the washer fluid. But did you know that your air conditioning system needs routine maintenance as well? Taking care of your air conditioning system can extend its life and prevent costly repair bills.

Why is it important for Farmington area drivers to get routine maintenance on their air conditioning system? First, the refrigerant contains an added lubricant. As the refrigerant circulates through the air conditioning system, its parts are lubricated. This constant lubrication keeps the parts functioning well. But over time, this lubricant is used up, and without it, the parts will eventually seize up and fail.

Farmington folks should understand, however, that the air conditioner will continue to pump out cool air even without the lubricant, so you won't know the system is sick until it actually dies. So good vehicle care includes regularly checking the refrigerant and lubricant in your vehicle air conditioning system and replacing it if needed.

The second reason your air conditioning system needs preventive maintenance is that air and water can get into the system. Air, water and the contaminants they contain will reduce the efficiency of the air conditioning system and can cause corrosion of the system's parts. Keeping the air conditioning system clean is a practice that will extend its life and keep you from losing your cool on hot Farmington days.

How often should you get a routine car air conditioner inspection? It varies from vehicle to vehicle. Check your owner's manual for the vehicle manufacturer's recommendation.

Here's a good piece of advice from Darrell's Firestone for MI vehicle owners that will extend the life of their air conditioning systems: You should run your air conditioner in the winter every once in a while. This circulates the refrigerant, which lubricates the seals. That way, they won't dry out during cold Farmington weather.

Darrell's Firestone
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
248-477-9090
http://www.darrellsfirestone.net



PCV Valve: What Is It?

Posted April 9, 2019 3:53 AM

Most Farmington drivers know something about preventive maintenance on a vehicle. We know we should routinely replace the oil and wiper blades and other fluids. But have you heard of a PCV valve ? This little car part needs to be replaced regularly or it can cause some serious problems in your vehicle engine.

PCV stands for Positive Crankcase Ventilation. The crankcase holds your motor oil and is located at the bottom of your engine.

When fuel is burned in your engine, it produces waste gases that are mostly vented out through your exhaust system. But some of these gases push their way past the pistons and into the crankcase. There, these gases can mix with motor oil to produce oil sludge, which can damage vehicle engine parts through corrosion and by clogging engine passages. Farmington vehicle owners should be advised that if the engine is running at high speeds, these gases can also cause pressure inside the crankcase to build up. This pressure, in turn, can blow gaskets and damage seals, leading to oil leaks.

The waste gases that leave the engine are comprised of about 70% unburned fuel. They used to be vented off the crankcase into the atmosphere. But starting in 1964, laws mandated that these gases be recaptured. Manufacturers began installing PCV systems, which recycled the gases into the air intake system where they could be mixed with fuel and sent to the engine to be burned.

The PCV valve is a one-way valve attached to the crankcase. Waste gases exit the crankcase through the valve but cannot enter.

Over time, the waste gases leave deposits on the PCV valve that can gum it up. So it needs to be replaced occasionally. This is an inexpensive part of preventive maintenance that is often overlooked, but which can have very expensive consequences. It's good auto advice to keep this little valve clean and working well.

In order to maintain efficient circulation, the PCV system also has a breather tube that allows clean air to enter the crankcase. This air is usually filtered through the engine air filter. But some vehicles have a separate air filter for the breather tube called the breather element. If this is the case with your vehicle, proper maintenance of the PCV will include replacing this element. To find out whether your vehicle has this type of PCV system, check your owner's manual or ask your service advisor at Darrell's Firestone.

The PCV system reduces harmful vehicle emissions. The maintenance it requires is simple and inexpensive at Darrell's Firestone. A fouled or damaged PCV system can lead to serious engine damage for Farmington drivers.

Let's all learn to practice good car care. It's good for our wallets, and it's good for our MI environment.

Darrell's Firestone
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
248-477-9090
http://www.darrellsfirestone.net



Farmington Drivers: Get Fresh Air Inside Your Car

Posted April 9, 2019 3:53 AM

Let's talk about air quality in Farmington. It's a global issue, but affects us wherever we are. Many decades ago, Farmington drivers began to become aware of how air pollution negatively affects health. But what about the air inside your vehicle?

Now, it's only been in the last few years that cabin air filters have become common in Farmington. You can look in your owner's manual to see if you have one. If you do, there'll be a recommendation for replacing it when it gets dirty. If you live in an area of MI where there's a lot of dust, pollen or pollution, you may need to change it more often.

You can also ask your friendly and knowledgeable service advisor at Darrell's Firestone in Farmington. How hard is it to change an air filter on a car? It depends on your vehicle. Some are quite accessible; others take some doing to get to them. They're usually in the engine compartment or under the dashboard.

Because cabin air filters are so new on the scene, some people haven't heard of them – even those who have cabin air filters in their vehicle. Darrell's Firestone service advisors have discovered that many Farmington customers who complained about an unpleasant odor in their vehicle simply had a dirty cabin air filter. 

Darrell's Firestone
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
248-477-9090
http://www.darrellsfirestone.net



Tracking True in MI: Wheel Alignment in Farmington

Posted April 9, 2019 3:53 AM

The biggest issue for Farmington area drivers is always safety. When your vehicle wheels are out of alignment, the vehicle will pull to one side, which could lead to an accident. When you're vehicle is out of alignment, you should have it taken care of right away at Darrell's Firestone in Farmington.

When undergoing an alignment service at Darrell's Firestone, your vehicle is put on an alignment rack where the tires, steering and suspension parts are checked for damage. Then the alignment is charted and checked against the factory settings.

Precision adjustments are made to bring the wheels back into alignment. This gets all four wheels going in exactly the same direction.

Farmington drivers should be aware of the signs of alignment problems. These include the car pulling to one side. Also, the steering wheel may not be centered when you're going straight. If you see the edges of one or more tires rapidly wearing down, you should have your Farmington service center look it over. If you've been in an auto accident in MI, you should get your alignment checked.

Obviously, a big jolt can seriously knock things out of alignment, but Farmington area drivers also need to understand that a series of smaller ones can add up.

That's why we recommend periodic alignment checks. If your vehicle owner's manual doesn't specify the interval, once a year might be appropriate. Or check with a service advisor at Darrell's Firestone in Farmington.

One thing's for sure: the cost of the alignment at Darrell's Firestone is cheaper for Farmington drivers than having to buy a couple of new tires because of neglect.

 Darrell's Firestone
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
248-477-9090
http://www.darrellsfirestone.net

 



Fuel for Thought

Posted April 9, 2019 3:53 AM

If you're like most people and drive a gasoline-powered vehicle, you need to be up to speed on its fuel-related components.  They're pretty basic: the fuel, the fuel filter and the fuel pump.

The fuel's the easy part.  You probably gas up your vehicle yourself and, if you're like most drivers, price is a big factor in what you put in your vehicle. Maybe you think it doesn't matter what kind of gasoline you buy, but one major automobile association has found it does make a big difference. 

Their study showed that the additives that are put in different brands can affect your vehicle's performance.  Certain gasoline retailers sell gasoline that meets performance standards called Top Tier.  The detergents used in Top Tier gasoline help protect newer engines from carbon buildup and deposits on intake valves, all things that can affect how smoothly your engine runs, how it accelerates and what kind of fuel economy you get.  You can check online or ask your service advisor where to buy Top Tier gasoline.

Another fairly simple component is the fuel filter. Depending on the age of your vehicle, you either have a separate fuel filter or one that's part of the fuel pump.  The fuel filter keeps the crud out of your engine's fuel injectors.  You'll get a hint that your fuel filter might be clogged if you notice your vehicle won't start, your power isn't what it used to be, your fuel economy is suffering or your Check Engine light is on.

Check with your service advisor to see what your vehicle manufacturer's recommendations are on how often to service your fuel filter.  Regular maintenance can prevent expensive repairs in the future. 

Finally, the most complicated part: the fuel pump.  As you may have guessed, it is the part that gets the gasoline out of the tank and into the engine.  If the fuel pump starts to fail, it can make a clicking or whining noise when your vehicle is running.  Your engine may misfire, lose power while driving or might be hard to start in the morning.  And that Check Engine light might go on.  One thing that helps prolong the life of a fuel pump is keeping your gas tank at least a quarter-tank full at all times.  It helps lubricate and cool the pump.  If you've detected some of the symptoms of fuel pump failure, tell your service advisor.

Knowing a little about your fuel system really can be a gas!

Darrell's Firestone
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
248-477-9090



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We have established longterm and stable partnerships with various clients thanks to our excellence in solving their automotive needs!

Slow leak in tire. They were fast and friendly. Will be back for other services. quotes-image
, 09/27/2022
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When I handed them my keys, I knew I was in good hands. My truck's issue was no problem for them to fix.quotes-image
, 09/25/2022
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