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Archive for February 2024

No Yolk! Rotten Egg Smell (Sulfur Smell Causes)

Posted February 18, 2024 10:53 AM

The pungent smell of rotten eggs can send people running for the hills.  So when that odor is inside your vehicle, yikes!  Yolks!  The good news is that a trained service technician can search the source of that smell and stanch the stench… that comes from another words that begins with S.  Sulfur.

Fuel contains small amounts of hydrogen sulfide, but they're enough to stink up a vehicle when it's not properly burned.  You may know that the smell of rotten eggs can often be a sign of a catalytic converter that isn't working the way it should.  That could be due to age, damage or an abundance of oil that's clogging it up. 

If a sensor in charge of managing the fuel has failed, the engine can run with too rich of a fuel mixture.  That can overload the catalytic converter and allow some of the byproducts to escape without interruption from the chemical reaction that is supposed to prevent them from going out the tailpipe.

There's another possibility, but it's usually only in stick shift vehicles.  That's leaking, old transmission fluid.

Catalytic converter repairs are best left to a professional. Technicians at your vehicle service facility have equipment and training that can help them pinpoint the cause of this funky fragrance.  Once the cause is found, repairs made and/or parts replaced, the smell should go away fairly rapidly.

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



Severe Service Requirements

Posted February 11, 2024 10:00 AM

A lot of Farmington drivers have asked whether or not they should use their severe service maintenance schedule, which is listed in their vehicle's  owner's  manual. It can be somewhat confusing, so we decided to consult an expert. Cricket Killingsworth is from QMI/Heartland, a manufacturer of automotive products and fluids. She's been in the automotive business for over 30 years and is a speaker, a trainer and a writer.

Cricket says there's so much confusion on this topic because, "Most owner's manuals actually have two maintenance schedules. Sometimes these are called 'regular service' and 'severe service.' Sometimes they're simply called Schedule 1 and Schedule 2. A severe service schedule recommends that things like an oil change, air filter replacement and transmission service be done more often: either in fewer miles or in less time."

Foreign and domestic vehicle manufacturers create a specific schedule for each vehicle they manufacture. So there isn't one generic schedule that applies to all vehicles. In addition to your owner's manual, Farmington automotive repair centers (including Darrell's Firestone) subscribe to information services that provide the auto maintenance schedules for every vehicle - so they can help Farmington drivers know when to take care of needed services. Below is a typical definition for severe service.

  • Most trips are less than four miles/six and a half kilometers
  • Most trips are less than 10 miles/16 km and outside temperatures are below freezing
  • You drive regularly in very hot MI weather
  • The engine is at low speed most of the time (not on the freeway)
  • Stop and go driving
  • You drive in in dusty or muddy conditions
  • You routinely tow a trailer, haul heavy loads or carry a car-top carrier around Farmington

It's common sense for Farmington drivers: Just a few minutes at higher speeds allows the moisture in the oil to evaporate. Very short trips, or trips of less than 10 miles when it's very cold, don't allow the engine to heat up enough to get rid of the water. And water in the oil leads to damaging sludge. Also, towing and heavy loads raise operating temperatures and cause fluids to break down faster. Dusty and muddy driving around Farmington means that more dirt will get past the air filter to contaminate the fuel system and engine oil.

The bottom line is that you need to decide for yourself if the regular or severe service schedule is right for you, based on your driving habits. Look at your owner's manual or talk with your Darrell's Firestone service advisor who can help you know which schedule to follow.

Here is what a fleet manager said recently: "Since city miles are generally tougher on vehicles than highway miles, we use the manufacturer's severe service schedule as the basis for our preventative maintenance program. We massage those schedules over time, increasing or decreasing the service intervals so that they make the most sense. There is a little bit of art to go along with the science."

Make an honest evaluation of your driving habits. Unless you do mostly MI highway driving in moderate weather, you'll likely have a fairly good amount of severe service mixed in. Some Farmington drivers just want to play it safe and follow the severe service recommendations, rather than analyzing how they drive each month.

Ask us for help evaluating your driving and service needs.

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



Considering an Alternative Fuel Vehicle in Farmington?

Posted February 4, 2024 7:46 AM

There is a clear and vocal demand in Farmington and nationally for a reduction in air pollution and our dependence on fossil fuels. This is what is driving the MI market for alternative fuel vehicles. There are a number of these vehicles on Farmington area roads today, and many more being developed. Yet each of these vehicles has its own advantages and disadvantages. Farmington auto owners should learn what these advantages and disadvantages are before running out and purchasing one of these alternative fuel vehicles at your nearest Farmington dealership.

Farmington drivers should carefully research the vehicle care before buying an alternative fuel vehicle, as it may or may not coincide with the standards for gasoline vehicles. You should look at costs as well; these vehicles may help save our environment here in Farmington, but that might not represent a savings to your wallet. You'll need to decide what you can afford and what will work for your lifestyle. Also, your choice of vehicle may be affected by what fuels are available in your area. Switching to an alternative fuel vehicle is not a bad decision, but it should be a carefully considered one.

Flex Fuel Vehicles
Flex fuel vehicles can run on gasoline or on a combination of 85% ethanol and 15% gasoline. Because of the 85% ethanol content, this fuel is commonly called E85 in MI.

Ethanol is made from corn. So flex fuel vehicles lessen our dependency on fossil fuels. But they also raise the price of corn, which is a basic foodstuff in some areas of the world. Whether replacing fossil fuels with corn is a good idea is hotly contested right now.

One piece of Darrell's Firestone auto advice before we move on: do not put E85 into your vehicle unless it has an engine designed for flex fuels. Because of the high ethanol content in E85, engines need special seals and gaskets to function properly on this fuel. Running an ordinary engine with E85 can lead to gas leaks and fires.

Diesel
Diesel engines are nothing new on MI freeways, and many get great fuel economy. Diesel fuel can now be made from vegetable oil and other renewable sources. A diesel fuel made from algae will soon be on the market in the Farmington area.

Natural Gas
Natural gas is less expensive than gasoline in Farmington and burns more cleanly. Also, gasoline engines can be adapted to run on compressed natural gas, and many natural gas vehicles are already on Farmington roads. You can even install a special pump in your home gas line to use to fuel your vehicle. If you are interested in converting your gasoline engine to run on CNG in Farmington, ask your Darrell's Firestone service advisor about it.

On the other hand, an engine running on natural gas is not as powerful as one running on gasoline. Also, the tank you need to store natural gas is large—it takes up nearly the entire trunk of your car. Further, refueling stations are still few and far between in some MI areas, or even unavailable in many parts of the country.


Electric Vehicles
Electric vehicles were all the rage in MI some years ago. But their limitations were quickly realized by Farmington auto owners. These vehicles won't come into their own until we find ways to improve their batteries. Currently, many of these cars have a short range before their power runs out and can only be realistically used close to home. However, they are easy to recharge since they can be plugged in at home, and there are many researchers working on improving the battery technology in these vehicles. They may yet be the vehicles of the future.

Hybrids
Hybrids have been among the most successful alternative fuel vehicles here in Farmington and throughout the county. A hybrid gets its name because it has both a gas or diesel engine and an electric motor.

There are two types of hybrids. The full-hybrid relies on the electric motor for power, but the gas (or diesel) engine generates power for the battery. Thus, while still consuming fossil fuels, it uses less of them than a standard vehicle and also reduces harmful pollutants. Also, it overcomes the range problem of the strictly electric vehicle.

In a mild hybrid, the electric motor assists the gas or diesel engine in powering the vehicle. Thus, it uses more gasoline or diesel than full hybrids and has higher emissions. But mild hybrids are available in larger body models like full-size pickups and SUV's.

A Note of Caution about Hybrid and Electric Vehicles
One last note before we leave the subject of alternative fuel vehicles. The battery in an electric or hybrid vehicle is not as tame as the one in a standard vehicle. They carry enough voltage to kill you. These are not do-it-yourself vehicles when it comes to preventive maintenance or car care. Only a trained technician should work under their hoods.

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



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