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Archive for December 2022

Thoughtful Gifts for the Winter Driver

Posted December 25, 2022 9:22 AM

You may be one of those romantics who don't like giving (or getting) practical gifts for special occasions.  Just wait until one of those gifts helps you out of a big predicament in cold weather, and you realize that practical gifts can be life savers.

Here are a few things you may give the cold-weather driver in your life—or suggest to someone else to give you!

  • A portable air compressor.  If you've ever had a flat and you can't imagine trying to change a tire on a snowy, winter day, this may just get your tire pumped up enough to drive over to the repair facility.  Some are fancy and pricey, some are only a few bucks.  They plug into the cigarette lighter/12v outlet and will take a few minutes to pump up your tire. But it could save you a tow.
  • Portable jump starter. These are relatively small power units (they easily fit in a car trunk) that can jump start your vehicle that has a dead battery.  Some even have an air compressor built in.  If you've ever tried to use conventional jumper cables in freezing weather, they can be stiff and hard to manage.  Really handy when there are no other people or vehicles around and you need a jump.
  • Flares.  When bad winter weather reduces visibility to dangerously short distances, flares can make the difference between someone seeing you broken down at the side of the road and them ramming into you. Flares put out far more light than nearly every other warning device; just ask law enforcement officers who carry flares in their patrol vehicles. 
  • A good tire gauge.  Winter is when temperatures plunge.  When the temperature drops, so does your tire pressure, so it's important to check your air pressure properly and accurately so you don't wind up with one or more deflated (and flat) tires.  The proper time to check pressure is in the morning, before you hit the road and your tires heat up.  Properly inflated tires are important for safe traction, especially during winter.
  • Kitty litter.  The lowest-tech gift of all.  Keep a bag in your vehicle and it can provide much needed traction if you get stuck in the snow.

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



Not-So-Smooth Operator (Transmission Signs of Trouble)

Posted December 18, 2022 7:45 AM

You are heading down a flat, newly paved street when all of a sudden you feel it.  Your vehicle jumps a little bit when you're accelerating and changing gears.  You know it's not the surface of the road because it's smooth as silk.  So what did you just feel?

That kind of jumping—or grinding or slipping—during gear changes could be a sign of trouble in your automatic transmission.  And it's important to get it checked out fairly soon because some transmission problems that aren't fixed early can lead to more involved and expensive repairs.

By far most vehicles on the road in North America have automatic transmissions, and they are workhorses.  Unlike early cars with balky, hard-to-shift manual transmissions, the latest automatics allow you to drive without having to even think about gear changes.  But you should know about a few signs of trouble to look for if they ever start showing up.

  • When you first get going and shift your vehicle from Park into Drive, do you feel a slight pause?
  • How about when you shift into Reverse?  Is there a little lag?
  • Does your vehicle sometimes shake when you're traveling down the road?
  • Do you smell something burning in your engine compartment?
  • Do you hear a clunk when your vehicle shifts?
  • Do you have spots of a reddish or brown, oily fluid in the driveway under your vehicle?

If you do, these are worth getting checked out at our service center.  When automatic transmissions start to show signs of wear and age, it can be because of a number of reasons.  They can be caused by your transmission fluid getting old and contaminated, or its level may be low.  The gears can be worn.  You may have a leak somewhere in your transmission.  Or transmission problems might be caused by a computer problem.

Transmission issues aren't always expensive to repair.  Sometimes there may be a leak in a hose or gasket.  Or a computer needs to be reset.  Other issues may be much more involved.  This is why it's important to get your vehicle checked out when you do notice something doesn't feel, look, shift or smell quite right.  Everyone wants their automatic transmission to be a smooth operator.

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



Wasteful Thinking

Posted December 11, 2022 11:15 AM

With the weather getting colder, you might be tempted to start your vehicle up, let it idle for 15 or 20 minutes and then get in the nice, cozy cabin.  Some vehicles offer remote starting that let you do that from the comfort of your home or apartment.  But is letting your vehicle idle like that good for it?

Manufacturers say it doesn't harm the vehicle.  They say it's because modern vehicles are made differently from those in the past.  Just about all newer vehicles employ fuel injection which uses computers to adjust the amount of gasoline that goes into the cylinders.  The engine gets only the fuel it needs, taking conditions into account.

Older vehicles, on the other hand, used to use carburetors.  When you started a cold engine, the carburetor wasn't able to adjust the gasoline amount depending on conditions.  Some of the gasoline would mix with oil and the pistons wouldn't get the same lubrication as they would with undiluted oil.

So yes, you can warm up your newer vehicle for your own personal comfort.  But consider how much fuel you are wasting.  That is not only throwing away money, it's a waste of natural resources.  And it puts more carbon into the atmosphere. 

Automakers have to be mindful of what fuel economy their vehicles can achieve.  So the flip side of the remote starts they offer is a "stop-start" feature.  When you stop your vehicle, even at a stoplight, your vehicle will turn the engine off.  When you take your foot off the brake and step on the accelerator, it starts up right away.  That feature can save as much as 10 percent of the fuel your vehicle uses. 

Your vehicle may not have that start-stop feature, but you can still save fuel by shutting off your engine manually if you are waiting somewhere, like a parking lot or perhaps sitting outside your child's school waiting to pick him or her up.  It saves you money and contributes to a healthier atmosphere for our planet.

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



The Last Gas (Fuel Pump Replacement).

Posted December 4, 2022 10:15 AM

You're heading down the road and you notice your vehicle is sputtering, like it's running out of gas.  But the gauge show's it's still got a quarter of a tank.  So what gives?

It could be that your fuel pump is failing, meaning your engine is not getting enough gas to run properly.  While fuel pumps are built to last a long time, sometimes they fail.  Other symptoms you may have a bad fuel pump include your vehicle stalling and then refusing to start again, the engine overheating or a hum or whirr coming from around the gas tank.  Or, your Check Engine light may come on.

Most fuel pumps are in the gas tank. They have a small electric motor in them.   When you bring your vehicle to our service center, a technician will run tests to confirm the fuel pump is getting power to it but has failed.  Some vehicles have an access panel so the fuel pump can be removed and replaced. 

But in some vehicles that don't have that access panel, the technician has to drain the fuel and take the tank out of the vehicle to be able to replace the fuel pump inside.  Some parts such as brackets that attach the pump can be reused when the new fuel pump is installed.  Most technicians will recommend replacing the fuel filter at the same time the fuel pump is changed out.

If the technician has to remove the fuel tank, they'll also check for rust and corrosion and replace any affected parts.

Keep one thing in mind - your vehicle's fuel pump is in the fuel tank because it's kept cool and lubricated by the gasoline in the tank.  Try not to let your fuel level go below a half or quarter of a tank to maximize the life of your fuel pump.  Also, try to use Top Tier gasoline that has higher standards than some other fuels.  Your engine—and fuel pump—will thank you.

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



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Friendly, knowledge staff. Great service! quotes-image
, 04/26/2024
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I had two separate repairs done at Darrel's Firestone Farmington Mi. my 2007silverado had a driveshaft rebuilt. And next job was a fuel pump install. Truck runs and drives good. I'm pleased with Darrel's Firestonequotes-image
, 03/29/2024
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