29 November 2008

When traffic is heavy and driving is stop and go, it can seem as though the exhaust of every vehicle on the road has found its way into your vehicle. Fortunately, automobile manufacturers have added cabin air filters in most makes and models. These filters, much like the furnace or air conditioning filters found in most homes, can significantly reduce the amount of allergens, carbon monoxide, and other dangerous contaminants that enter your vehicle.

For a driver, breathing these types of pollutants can be unpleasant but can also be dangerous, especially for young children, senior citizens and those with asthma, allergies, respiratory problems or weakened pulmonary systems.

The U.S. Car Care Council says these types of contaminants can be six times more concentrated in a car than outside the vehicle, a troubling fact if you are among the 50 million people in the U.S. who suffer from allergies and respiratory problems.

According to Ramon Nunez, director of filter product management for Purolator automotive filters, cabin air filters typically contain an electrostatically charged micro-fiber material capable of trapping particles such as pollen, dust, mold spores, soot, smog, fungus, mildew, tobacco smoke and other particulates before they enter a vehicle. Many cabin air filters also include an activated carbon layer for filtering out noxious gases and odors.

Once found only in high-end European cars, Nunez says cabin air filters are now used in about 62 million vehicles in operation in the United States and will be standard equipment in about 67 percent of new vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2006. Most 2001 or later model vehicles have cabin air filters.

A physician who specializes in treating allergies and respiratory ailments says the increased use of cabin air filters in vehicles is a positive and healthy trend. "It's really a matter of common sense," says James L. Sublett, M.D., a board certified allergist and managing partner of the Louisville, Ky. - based Family Allergy and Asthma. "If we're concerned about the quality of air in our homes, we should be equally or more concerned about the air we're breathing in our vehicles."

That's because pollen, dust, molds and other particulates that trigger allergy, asthma and other respiratory related symptoms almost always originate outdoors, Dr. Sublett says. "These particulates are generally under 10 micrometers in size, which can very easily enter the respiratory system," he notes. "Automotive cabin air filters are designed to trap items of this size very effectively and keep them away from the passenger environment."

To find out how much impact a cabin air filter can really have, Purolator commissioned an independent air sampling study comparing the carbon monoxide and mold spore levels in two same-class mid-size sedans. One vehicle came equipped with a cabin air filter and one did not. The two vehicles were driven for just two hours in rush-hour traffic around Nashville, Tenn. - considered one of the worst U.S. cities for allergy sufferers.

Results showed that the car without a cabin air filter had more than eight times the carbon monoxide levels and more than 40% greater concentration of mold spores inside the cabin than the vehicle with a cabin air filter. Motorists should expect a cabin air filter to provide similar results with pollen, dust, bacteria and other pollutants, says Nunez.

As for breathing exhaust fumes, gasses and odors, Dr. Sublett says the health benefits of a cabin air filter preventing their entry into a vehicle, "goes without saying. Carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide, which are everywhere outside as a result of engine combustion, are poisonous substances that can cause headaches and irritate the eyes, nose and respiratory system. Diesel exhaust particulates are also known to trigger allergy and asthma responses", he added.

The majority of car owners, however, are unaware that cabin air filters exist or that their vehicle may have one since it may not be mentioned in the owner's manual.

If you don't know if your vehicle has a cabin air filter or don't remember when it was last changed, ask us to check it out during your next visit. It should be replaced at least once year or more based on your driving habits and health concerns. Replacing it will take between 15 and 60 minutes depending on your vehicle's make and model.

17 November 2008

It's time for your Fall Check-Up

We all know it’s unwise to head out in a marginally running vehicle in harsh winter conditions, but even motorists in warmer areas need to consider a fall car-care check, according to the pros with the non-profit National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (ASE), an independent group that tests and certifies the competence of auto technicians.

“Whether you do your own maintenance or depend on certified technicians, fall service lets you or your shop undo the wear and tear of summer’s hot, dusty conditions while getting ready for cooler weather ahead,” notes Martin Lawson, ASE Editorial Services Director. “This, in turn, will help improve your mileage, reduce pollution, and maximize the resale value of your car or light truck in the future.”

These ASE tips will give you a road map to fall car care....

27 August 2008

In Tune with Engine Noises

Noises. We’ve all heard them coming from under the hood at one time or another in our cars and trucks. But for Travis Alexander of Walla Walla, Washington, his ears are filled with the roar of engines every weekend.

You see, Travis is the engine specialist on the No. 41 Target Dodge driven by Reed Sorenson in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series. He’s in charge of taking care of the engines after they get to the racetrack.

It's Travis’ responsibility to make sure the powerplants run smoothly once at the speedway.

An engine failure during a race eliminates any chances of winning. So as you can imagine, Travis plays an integral role on the No. 41 race team.
His top priority: keeping a 750 horsepower, 358 cubic inch engine running at peak performance over the race weekend.

Travis has a keen ear for diagnosing engine miscues and he knows it’s nothing more than splitting possibilities down to only one.

Here are some quick tips for diagnosing that ticky tappy knocky clacky clicky rap tap sound you might hear from your car’s engine:

1. LOOSE MAIN BEARINGS. A loose main bearing can be heard and felt as a strong, dull, rotational knock, especially when the engine is pulling. The knock occurs regularly, every other rotation.

2. LOOSE FLYWHEEL. This noise is usually an irregular clicking sound. A test is to fast idle the engine up and shut off the ignition. If a thud is heard and felt, this might be the problem.

3. LOOSE ROD BEARINGS. This can be heard as a tinny knock. It is most noticeable upon deceleration, but it can also be heard with the engine idling.

4. PISTON PIN NOISE. This sounds similar to valve and tappet noise, but it has a double knock and is loudest during idling. Causes can include a loose piston pin or inadequate oil.

5. VALVES. A clicking might be heard if there is too much tappet clearance, or a hydraulic tappet is not working correctly.

6. HYDRAULIC LIFTERS. A clicking or tapping noise almost always is an indication of a malfunctioning hydraulic lifter. Some noise is normal when
the engine is cold, but this should disappear as the engine warms up. If just one lifter is noisy, it should be removed and inspected for wear.

7. FUEL PUMP NOISE. This can show up as a ticking sound. A simple test can be made by removing the fuel pump and putting a plate over the hole and running the engine with the fuel that s left in the carburetor. If the noise is gone, it was probably the fuel pump.

8. WATER PUMP NOISE. This is usually a squealing sound, and more times than not, it is caused by letting a car sit.

9. SPARK KNOCK. This is a ping or chatter, mostly noticed during acceleration or when the engine is under load.

10. EXCESSIVE CRANK SHAFT END PLAY. A sharp rap at idle or higher speeds is the symptom of this problem. The sound should disappear when the clutch is disengaged.

These are just some of the most common engine noises and problems. Generally, a new noise is not a good thing and should be checked out. To help us pinpoint the problem, jot down three things about the noise:

1. Approximate location, e.g. engine, passenger side, driver side, rear, etc.

2. When it happens, e.g. cold start, accelerating, idling, approximate speed, etc.

3. What it sounds like...we'll leave that to your imagination.

Better yet, simply add our phone number, 972-393-2521, to your cell phone and call Mike or Shannon while it is happening.

Wishing you open roads and cheaper gas!

31 March 2008

New reminder service and free maintenance inspections during April's National Car Care Month

April is National Car Care Month, the time of year to focus on taking better care of your second largest investment. To celebrate, Coppell Tire & Auto is offering free maintenance inspections throughout the month. The 41 point inspection, recommended by the Car Care Council, checks components on vehicles that typically get overlooked, including tires, air filters, lubricants and fluids, belts and hoses, battery cables and lights.

In addition, the company is introducing Car Care Reminders, an email based service that provides customers with friendly maintenance reminders specific to their vehicle and driving habits. The service compares the manufacturers recommended maintenance schedule with the vehicle's actual service history and mileage to calculate customer and vehicle specific reminder dates. Customers may also specify the components or services they want to track.

Asked why he felt the need to invest in the computer technology and free check-ups, Coppell Tire & Auto's owner/manager Shannon Schmittou quipped, "Our repair service is booming, but that's not necessarily a good thing, especially when many of the repairs are avoidable. It's all about keeping our customers happy. They're much happier when they stop by for low-cost maintenance, than towed in for high-cost repairs."

In 2007, results of car care events nationwide showed that consumers are neglecting their cars, with eight out of 10 vehicles failing at least one component of the vehicle inspection process. Consumers are relying more and more on quick oil change services and onboard computers for their maintenance information, often with undesirable results. Something as simple as tire inflation can dramatically reduce tire life, decrease gas mileage, and impede braking and handling performance critical for accident avoidance. Other components, if left unchecked, can have a similar or worse affect on performance, safety, and repair costs.

To schedule a free maintenance inspection and sign up for Car Care Reminders, call 972-393-2521 or stop by the shop.

13 March 2008

Spring Break or Breakdown?

It's spring break, time for many families and students to hit the road. If your vehicle hasn't had a check-up lately, please come in before you go.

Each year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, neglected maintenance leads to more than 2,600 deaths, nearly 100,000 disabling injuries and more than $2 billion in lost wages, medical expenses and property damage.

This statement is not intended to scare, but if it makes you stop and think when your car or truck last had a check-up by a trained mechanic, that's a good thing! If you, or your son or daughter, are in town for the break, don't put it off any longer. Come in for a free maintenance inspection. We'll tell you if anything needs immediate attention and when you should come back for the rest.

If you don't have time for a full check-up, please take just 10 minutes to check the basics. The Car Care Council offers a quick three step self-check:

  1. Check all fluids. There are several fluids that require attention, including engine oil, power steering, brake, and transmission fluids, windshield washer solvent, and antifreeze/coolant.
  2. Check hoses and belts. A belt that fails can affect the electrical system, air conditioning, and power steering, as well as the cooling system. Cooling system hoses may be deteriorating from within, so old hoses and clamps in marginal condition might need to be replaced. Give them a good squeeze. If you hear or feel them crack, or see bulges, they need replacing.
  3. Check the tires. Check tire inflation and inspect the tread for uneven wear, indicating the need for wheel alignment. Also look for bulges and bald spots.
Not only can a maintenance inspection help reduce chances of costly and possibly dangerous road trouble, it also provides an opportunity to have repairs made at home, with your own technician who knows the vehicle. Especially important, it provides peace of mind. While no inspection can guarantee a car's performance, it's comforting to know proper precautions were taken.

09 March 2008

Save gas and the environment

With gas prices hovering around $3 per gallon, and spring break road trips planned, many of our customers are asking what they can do to squeeze out a few more miles per gallon. Depending on how well you maintain your vehicle, you might be pleasantly surprised with just how much you can save.

The Car Care Council published the chart (below) that lists some commonly neglected maintenance items that, if addressed, could squeeze out another 11 miles per gallon! Now we doubt that everyone will see this kind of improvement, but if you don't remember when you last addressed these items, it would be a good idea to come by for a check up.

Condition Effect

MPG Penalty
(up to)

Under-inflated tiresIncrease rolling resistance1-2 mpg
Dirty air filter Causes excessively rich fuel/air mixture 2.0 mpg
Worn spark plugsCause inefficient combustion, wasted fuel 2.0 mpg
Worn O2 sensorUnable to detect and adjust air/fuel mixture3.0 mpg
Dirty or substandard engine oil Increases internal engine friction .4 mpg
Loose gas capAllows fuel to evaporate 2.0 mpg

Potential loss in fuel economy
if all of the above were neglected

11.4 mpg
Courtesy of the Car Car Council

Another way to improve your vehicle's mpg, sometimes dramatically, is by changing your driving behavior. Unfortunately, like most habits, it's a lot easier said than done. Again, the Car Care Council offers some tips...

  • Don't be an aggressive driver: Aggressive driving can lower gas mileage by as much as 33 percent on the highway and 5 percent on city streets, which results in 10 to 66 cents per gallon.
  • Avoid excessive idling: Sitting idle gets zero miles per gallon. Today's cars don't need to "warm up" before driving, and if you really want it to warm up or cool off in the cabin, you'll get to your preferred temperature faster by driving.
  • Observe the speed limit: Gas mileage decreases rapidly at speeds above 60 mph. Each mpg driven over 60 will result in an additional 10 cents per gallon. To maintain a constant speed on the highway, cruise control is recommended.

Keep in mind that these tips not only save you money, they also save the environment. So here's to a safe and greener spring break!

08 March 2008

Bigger, faster and more comfortable

Last year a few of our loyal customers started hinting that our service was slowing down, especially for the quick preventive maintenance, like an oil change or tire rotation. We figured a lot more of you felt the same way, but were just too nice to tell us. So, we decided to fix the problem by adding some more space...a lot of space.

  • Nearly twice as many bays to get you in and out faster

  • A new customer service area with complimentary wireless internet

  • More display space to show off our great tire deals

  • An employee break room (happy technicians means happy customers!)

  • More storage for more on-hand parts and quick service

  • Expanded office space for the boss

  • And brand new, sparkling clean bathrooms!

The office moved, but we're still next door to Coppell Middle School West, just one door down from our old entrance. Feel free to park in the main lot off of Crestside Drive or along the west side accessible from Wrangler Drive.

We hope you like it. And if you have any other ideas or concerns, keep them coming. Thanks for your business!