The Right Fluids for Your VehiclePosted July 25, 2021 12:20 PM
The current vehicles in the market have over a century of engineering behind them. They have evolved into complex and powerful machines. Developments in their engines, however, have coincided with advances in many other vehicle components, including the fluids.
It's up to people in Farmington to always use the right type of fluid for their vehicle. Your service advisor and your owner's manual are resources for auto advice on exactly what types of fluid your vehicle needs. Improper fluids can damage your vehicle and void your warranty.
Some of the fluids that have changed significantly in recent years are cooling system fluid, brake fluid, transmission fluid and motor oil. Each of these comes in many varieties now, and it's hard to know exactly which one your vehicle needs.
Cooling systems were once made of iron, steel and rubber. One coolant could be used to protect all of these materials. But new cooling systems have components made from a variety of metal alloys and several kinds of plastic, and coolants now contain additives that protect these various materials from corrosion. Since the materials vary among manufacturers, they require different additives, which means there are now several coolants on the market. The type of coolant your vehicle needs depends on the materials used in its cooling system.
Most vehicles used to require DOT 3 brake fluid. But now many vehicles need DOT 4 or DOT 5. Some Farmington drivers mistakenly think the higher numbers reflect an increase in grade—that DOT 4 is somehow better than DOT 3. But the truth is, the numbers represent variations in formulation. The different formulas have evolved to meet the demands of newer and better brake systems. For a long time, transmission fluid came in two varieties: regular and friction-modified. But transmissions have come a long way recently and so have the fluids that protect and lubricate them. There are several new types of fluid on the market, but your vehicle is designed for just one of them.
Of all the automotive fluids, motor oils have experienced perhaps the greatest advances in engineering and technology. A number of new weights and formulations have recently been developed to meet the needs of modern engines, which have more parts and tighter tolerances than ever before. Engines have become more sophisticated and complicated, but they have also increased in power and fuel efficiency. Despite these changes, Farmington vehicles still need them to be highly durable.
That's the job of motor oil. Motor oil still has to perform its original function—lubricating and protecting the engine. It is formulated to help clean the engine as well. Modern motor oil also has to be thin enough to penetrate small engine passages yet still be resistant to vaporization.
Specialized motor oils have also been developed for high-mileage vehicles. If your vehicle has 75,000 miles/120,000 km or more on it, you might consider switching to one of these motor oils. They contain extra detergents that help clean older engines, additives that condition seals and gaskets that can become brittle with age. High-mileage motor oils come in weights and types just like regular motor oils, and Farmington drivers should match the proper weight and type of high-mileage oil to their vehicle in the same way you would regular motor oil.
Over time, vehicles have developed in complexity and variety, and their fluids have developed as well. Each vehicle is matched to a set of fluids that meet its specific requirements. MI vehicle owners should take care to learn their vehicle's fluid requirements before topping off at home. A large part of preventive maintenance for Farmington drivers is making sure your vehicle's fluids are clean and adequate, but they must be the proper type as well. As our vehicles become more sophisticated, car care becomes more sophisticated as well.
Learning about proper fluids for your vehicle will help you maintain its performance and prolong its life. Talk to us at Darrell's Firestone in Farmington.
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
Tire Tread Depth for Farmington, MI DriversPosted July 18, 2021 8:04 AM
Driving on bald tires is like playing roulette. Though you may be fine today, eventually your luck is going to run out.
The Feds don't have any laws for tread depth, but 42 of the states, and all of Canada, do have regulations. They consider 2/32 of an inch to be the minimum legal tread depth. Two other states, including California, consider 1/32 to be the minimum and six states have no standards at all. Call us at Darrell's Firestone; (just call 248-477-9090) to find out what your requirements are in the Farmington, MI, area.
Since 1968, U.S. law has required that a raised bar be molded across all tires. When tires are worn enough that this bar becomes visible, there's just 2/32 inch/1.6 mm of tread left. But does that older standard give Farmington vehicles enough safety?
Consider this: Consumer Reports recommends tire replacement when tread reaches 4/32 inch/3.2 mm. And the recommendation is backed by some very compelling studies. Now before we go into the studies, you need to know that the issue is braking on wet surfaces.
We tend to think of the brakes doing all the stopping, but Farmington vehicles also need to have effective tires to actually stop the car. When it's wet or snowy in Farmington, MI, the tread of the tire is critical to stopping power.
Picture this: you're driving in Farmington over a water-covered stretch of road. Your tires need to be in contact with the road in order to stop. That means the tire has to channel the water away so the tire is contacting the road and not floating on a thin film of water – a condition known as hydroplaning. When there's not enough tread depth on a tire, it can't move the water out of the way and you start to hydroplane.
This is where the studies come in. We think Farmington drivers will be surprised. A section of a test track was flooded with a thin layer of water. If you laid a dime flat on the track, the water would be deep enough to surround the coin, but not enough to submerge it.
A car and a full-sized pick-up truck were brought up to 70 mph/112 kph and then made a hard stop in the wet test area. Stopping distance and time were measured for three different tire depths. First, they tested new tires. Then tires worn to legal limits. And finally, tires with 4/32 inch/3.2 mm of tread were tested (the depth suggested by Consumer Reports.)
When the car with the legally worn tires had braked for the distance required to stop the car with new tires, it was still going 55 mph/89 kph. The stopping distance was nearly doubled. That means if you barely have room to stop with new tires, then you would hit the car in front of you at 55 mph/89 kph with the worn tires.
Now with the partially worn tires – at the depth recommended by Consumer Reports – the car was still going at 45 mph/72 kph at the point where new tires brought the car to a halt. That's a big improvement – you can see why Consumer Reports and others are calling for a new standard.
Now without going into all the details, let us tell you that stopping the truck with worn tires needed almost 1/10 of a mile (.16 km) of clear road ahead to come to a safe stop. How many Farmington drivers follow that far behind the vehicle ahead? Obviously, this is a big safety issue.
The tests were conducted with the same vehicles but with different sets of tires. The brakes were the same, so the only variable was the tires.
How do people in Farmington know when their tires are at 4/32 inch/3.2 mm? Well, it's pretty easy. Just insert an American quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn't cover George Washington's hairline, it's time to replace your tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.
Now you may remember doing that with pennies. But an American penny gives you 2/32 inch/1.6 mm to Abraham Lincoln's head. The quarter is the new standard – 4/32 inch/3.2 mm.
Tires are a big ticket item, and most people in Farmington, MI, want to get thousands of miles/kilometers out of them. Just remember: driving on bald tires is like playing roulette.
Have Mr. Washington look at your tires today. If he recommends a new set, come see us at Darrell's Firestone in Farmington.
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
Wash Me, Wash Me Right (How to Wash a Vehicle)Posted July 11, 2021 9:26 AM
Most would agree they'd rather drive around in a clean, shiny vehicle than one coated with a layer of dirt. When warmer weather comes around, some of us are bound and determined to wash our own vehicles. And to protect the paint and its luster, there are a few things to keep in mind when you get out the bucket and soap.
- Cool body. It's not a good idea to wash a vehicle when the body is hot. If it's been sitting out in the sun or you've been riding around on a sunny day, make sure you cool your vehicle off by either moving it to the shade or wetting it down with cool water. The problem with washing a hot vehicle is that it's going to dry so fast, minerals in the water can form hard-to-remove spots on the paint. And some of those can be really difficult to get out. Best to avoid it.
- Slippery when wet. Make sure you wet your vehicle down thoroughly before you get the washing mitt out. Experts keep a couple of buckets of soapy water on hand, and they use soap especially engineered to remove dirt from a vehicle without stripping off the wax that might be on it.
- The washing mitt. Experts say to use a mitt with hundreds of moisture-absorbing strands on it. Start washing at the top and move down. If you keep dipping the mitt in the buckets frequently, a minimal amount of dirt will stick to it and that will prevent scratching the paint.
- Wheels last. Wait until you've finished washing the body before washing the wheels. Some detailers prefer special wheel-washing tools or brushes.
- Rinse it well. Hose the vehicle off thoroughly to get all the soap off, then dry immediately. Some people swear by a chamois, others like cloth better. Cotton or microfiber towels will do.
The next time you have your vehicle in for maintenance, you might ask your service advisor for recommendations on vehicle washing accessories. They are usually up on the brands that produce the best results. You may not be a detailing pro, but there's no reason your vehicle can't look like you are.
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336
Drive Train Service in Farmington at Darrell's FirestonePosted July 4, 2021 7:12 AM
The drive train in your vehicle includes all the components that transfer power from the transmission to the wheels. Those components differ depending on what type of vehicle you drive, namely, front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. The preventive maintenance your driveshaft needs will also differ by what type of vehicle you drive.
Let's start with front-wheel drive. In this vehicle, the transmission and the differential are combined in one component, known as the transaxle. The transaxle is connected to two half-shafts (axles), which are then connected to the wheels with a constant velocity (or CV) joint, which is protected by an airtight rubber boot.
Darrell's Firestone service for this type of driveline includes servicing the transaxle and inspecting the CV boot. If the boot is damaged, the CV joint will need to be inspected, and the boot will need to be replaced. If you hear a clicking noise in your wheel wells when you turn, you may have a damaged CV joint. A damaged CV joint should be replaced.
Rear-wheel drive vehicles generally have a transmission in the front of the car and the differential in the back. A driveshaft (it looks like a long tube) connects the transmission to the differential. Some vehicles may have a two-piece driveshaft, which are connected to the differential with universal joints or U-joints. Again, the differential is connected to two half-shafts that go out to the wheels.
Darrell's Firestone service on the drive train on a rear-wheel drive vehicle starts with servicing the differential. It will need its fluid drained and replaced regularly. The seals on the axles should also be inspected for wear or leaks. Leaking or damaged seals may mean the axle needs to be serviced as well. Also, U-joints can wear out. If you hear clunking or feel a jolt when you shift into drive or into reverse, it could indicate a driveline problem.
All-wheel drive vehicles provide power from the transmission to all of the wheels, instead of just to the front or rear. The advantage is that the vehicle can adapt to different driving conditions and transfer more power to the front or back wheels as needed. The disadvantages are that the driveline is more complicated, and the vehicle weighs slightly more.
Many all-wheel drive vehicles are based on a front-wheel drive set-up. They also have a differential in the rear and one in the center of the vehicle that allows power to transfer to the front and rear. A shaft runs from the transfer case to the center differential, and another from the center differential to the rear differential.
Servicing an all-wheel drive at Darrell's Firestone involves servicing ALL of the differentials and inspecting the joints and seals for wear, leaks or damage.
Four-wheel drive vehicles are rear-wheel drive vehicles that have an option to transfer power to the front wheels. In other words, they can be driven as either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicles. These vehicles are specifically designed for the harsh driving conditions Farmington drivers encounter off-road. The driveline in a four-wheel drive vehicle is similar to that of an all-wheel drive vehicle. The center differential, however, is a transfer case. Maintenance requires servicing both of the differentials and the transfer case, as well as an inspection of the joints and seals.
Farmington auto owners would be wise to check with their owner's manual for recommendations on how often to service their vehicle drive train. It's also good auto advice to check with your friendly and knowledgeable Darrell's Firestone service advisor as well. You may live in an area in MI where weather or driving conditions require more frequent servicing of the drive train.
Good car care at Darrell's Firestone in Farmington always includes taking care of your driveline. Without it, your vehicle becomes a very large paperweight.
23534 Farmington Rd
Farmington, MI 48336