With front-wheel drive being so common these days in Ashland, Virginia, the differential is just taken care of during a transmission service, so most Ashland drivers don’t even have to think about it. And rear-wheel drive differentials don’t need to be serviced for years, so it’s understandable that it’s not something on the top of mind for our Ashland customers. So it’s not uncommon for car owners to not know they have a differential let alone know that it needs service.
Call Duffy’s Repair Service in Ashland at 804.798.5922 for information about differential service, or stop by our Ashland, Virginia auto center at 9974 Lickinghole Road 23005.
To better understand what a differential does, think about our local Ashland high school track. There are lanes marked off on the track. For the longer distance races, the starting lines are staggered. The starting lines for the outside lanes are ahead of the starting lines for the inside lanes. That’s to compensate for the longer length of the outside lanes. Staggering the starting lines means that each runner has the same distance to run.
The differential compensates for the difference in speeds between the inside wheel and the outside wheel in a turn, because they have to travel together through slightly different distances.
It’s a very important function for us Ashland car owners. When you think of it, all the power to get a vehicle moving goes through the differential. Most cars in the Ashland, Virginia area weigh between three and six thousand pounds – trucks even more. The power from the engine goes through the transmission and then through the differential to the drive wheels.
That’s a lot of work and requires very heavy duty parts. And those essential parts need protection. The differential fluid lubricates the gears in the differential and keeps them cool.
The fluid eventually gets dirty and worn down. Some kinds of differentials require special additives that breakdown over time. So car makers recommend intervals for replacing your differential fluid.
Your friendly Duffy’s Repair Service service professional will drain the used fluid and check it out for metal bits, which could be a sign of excessive wear on the gears. Then he’ll replace the fluid and install the additives if necessary.
Your Duffy’s Repair Service service advisor can look up the car maker’s recommended service interval or you can check your owner’s manual. Give us a call at 804.798.5922 for more information about your differential service.
What is That? Check Engine Light Service At Duffy’s Repair Service
Okay. You went to your local Ashland car wash and while your SUV was under the dryer, the check engine light started flashing. Panic! What did you just do? Something is seriously wrong with the SUV! You head for the nearest Ashland service station, but on the way, the check engine light stops flashing, and just glows red. Hmm. Maybe things aren’t as bad as they seem. You decide to wait until payday to take your SUV in to get serviced. In the meantime, the check engine light goes off. What? You decide the light must be faulty, or that when it comes on it doesn’t mean anything, or that it’s just in your SUV as some sort of scam to get you to pay for unnecessary expensive repairs. You’re glad you didn’t take your car to the Ashland repair shop and resolve to ignore that engine light in the future.
Whoa! Let’s look at what really happened. Your SUV was under an air dryer. Your air intake sensor measured too much air running through the engine. It sent its report to the engine computer, where a warning was triggered: there shouldn’t be that much airflow when the SUV engine is idling. This is a serious problem that could cause permanent engine damage. Warning! The check engine light starts flashing, letting you know you need to take immediate action to prevent that damage.
You drive out from under the dryer, and the air intake sensor sends a new message to the computer. The computer realizes that everything is normal and tells the check engine light to stop flashing. The SUV doesn’t need immediate attention; but there was a problem, and it should be checked out by your technician. After a few days the computer senses that the problem is gone, so it turns off the warning light.
You may think this story illustrates the uselessness of a check engine light, but you should remember that a computer can’t think for itself, it can only follow its programming. It doesn’t know the difference between a car wash air dryer and a serious malfunction in your SUV engine. That doesn’t make it useless. It just means you have to be the smart one.
Being smart doesn’t mean ignoring your SUV check engine light. It lets you know when something is wrong, and you can prevent a lot of damage to your vehicle by paying proper attention to it.
Your engine computer is constantly collecting data about what is going on inside your SUV engine. It knows what parameters are normal, and when a reading may indicate a problem. It uses the check engine light to let you know when something isn’t right. It then stores a code in its memory that a tech can retrieve that indicates which reading was abnormal.
The service professional uses this code as a starting place to find out what’s wrong with your SUV. It’s like going to the doctor with a fever. The fever is the reading that is abnormal — your temperature is too high — but the doctor still has to figure out what’s causing it. It’s probably an infection, but what kind? Sinus infection? Appendicitis? Flu? The problems and their solutions are quite different. But a fever also tells a doctor what’s NOT wrong with you. Fevers don’t accompany stress headaches, ulcers or arthritis, so there’s no sense in testing for those conditions.
Your Ashland service specialist responds to a trouble code in your SUV’s computer in the same way. The code doesn’t say exactly what’s wrong, but it does give the technician a good indication of where to start looking —and where he/she doesn’t need to look.
Now, you wouldn’t consider diagnosing yourself with a serious medical problem; good medical advice — unless you’re a doctor. So you shouldn’t consider trying to diagnose your vehicle’s troubles by yourself; good auto advice — unless you’re a trained mechanic.
There are cheap scanners available on the market and some Ashland auto parts stores offer to read trouble codes from your SUV engine computer for you, but these are really not good alternatives to taking your vehicle to a qualified service center such as Duffy’s Repair Service in Ashland. Your engine’s computer has both short-term and long-term memory, and there are some codes that are specific to a particular make of vehicle. Cheap scanners can’t read an engine computer’s long-term memory nor can they interpret manufacturer – specific codes. That’s why manager Billy Duffy at Duffy’s Repair Service spends a lot of money on high-end diagnostic tools.
It’s as if you had a choice between a doctor who had a tongue depressor and a thermometer and one who had all the latest medical diagnostic equipment on hand. Honestly, which would you choose?
Getting your codes read at your Richmond auto parts store isn’t really a money-saver, either, unless you’re a trained mechanic. You’ll end up with a code that tells you a symptom. What usually happens next is that the Richmond parts store sells you something that directly relates to the symptom. It may or may not fix the problem. It’s actually cheaper to just go to the Duffy’s Repair Service in Ashland and get things fixed right the first time.
Remember, a fever can indicate a sinus infection or appendicitis. An antibiotic may be okay for that sinus infection, but it won’t help your appendicitis. Is it really wise to wait around to see if the antibiotic helps when you might have appendicitis?
Part of good car care is knowing where you can get a problem fixed, and fixed right. Preventive maintenance goes a long way to keeping you out of the repair shop, but eventually, we will all have a problem that needs fixing. Let’s do it right the first time at Duffy’s Repair Service. In the long run, it’s actually the less expensive choice.
Shake It Up in Ashland!: Why Wheel Balancing
Our vehicles are not massage chairs. While we may enjoy a good vibration in an overstuffed recliner, us Ashland motorists generally want as smooth a ride as possible in our vehicles. One way to achieve this is to keep a vehicle’s wheels in balance.
When a tire is mounted onto a wheel, it is usually out of balance. This means that as the wheel spins, there is a slight wobble to the path of the tire. For best handling performance and safety on the road, Ashland car owners want to minimize this wobble as much as possible. So we balance our tires. To balance a tire, your friendly Duffy’s Repair Service service advisor spins it on a machine or drum to determine where it is off-balance. He then attaches weights that counter-balance the uneven weight. Most Ashland drivers are surprised at how much balancing improves the smoothness of their ride.
High-quality tires generally hold their balance well. But over time, wear and tear take their toll and tires can become unbalanced. Ashland drivers can tell when a front tire is unbalanced if they feel a vibration in the steering wheel. If a back tire is unbalanced, you’ll feel a vibration in your seat. You may not notice these vibrations until they get fairly serious — or until someone else drives your SUV — because they usually develop slowly. If a vibration starts abruptly, it usually means you’ve lost a balancing weight.
The average tire rotates at about 850 revolutions per minute at 60 mph. When a tire is out of balance, it actually hops down the expressway, rather than rolling. So at 60 mph it is slamming into the pavement 14 times a second. That’s what creates the harmful vibration. When Ashland car owners’ tires are out of balance, they wear out more quickly. The lack of balance also causes extra wear on shocks, struts, steering components and important suspension parts.
Getting a balance job at Duffy’s Repair Service in Ashland can prevent expensive repair bills and even an accident. It will improve the safety of your SUV as well as its handling performance, and it will improve your gas mileage. When you change your rims or get a flat repaired at Duffy’s Repair Service, you’ll need to get your tires balanced as well. When you rotate your tires, you may want to have them balanced as well.
Some Ashland vehicle owners, however, only balance their wheels every other rotation. You can check your owner’s manual to see what the recommends for your SUV. Balancing your tires is part of vital preventive maintenance. It keeps your vehicle in good repair and prevents damage to many of its components, including some expensive ones. So practice good car care and make it a point to keep your tires balanced. It’s quality auto advice from Duffy’s Repair Service. Massages chairs may vibrate away our worries, but unbalanced tires will just rattle Ashland auto owners’ nerves.
How Much is Enough for Richmond Auto Owners? Tire Tread Depth
Most Richmond auto owners know that tires wear out and that the wear has to do with tread depth. Most of us have heard that “bald” tires are dangerous, but most of us picture a tire with no tread at all when we think of a bald tire. And when we take our vehicles in for preventive maintenance, the technician tells us they’re need to be replaced long before all the tread is worn off. Just how much tire tread wear is too much? And how can you tell? Tires are expensive and their condition is important to the safe handling of a vehicle, so it’s essential for Richmond car owners to know the answers to these questions.
First of all, it’s essential to understand that there may be a legal limit to tread wear. If your tires are worn past this limit, you have to replace them to be in compliance with Virginia auto safety laws. That’s why measuring your tread wear is part of a vehicle safety inspection.
In some jurisdictions, tread must be at least 1.6 millimeters or 2/32 of an inch thick. This standard has been in effect since 1968. But this standard has recently been called into question, and some Ashland car owners are arguing that it be changed.
The safety issue that has brought this standard under scrutiny is the ability of a vehicle to stop on a wet surface. When a vehicle has trouble stopping, most Ashland motorists immediately look at the brakes as the source of the problem. But tires are crucial to safe stopping distances because they provide the traction required in a stop.
A tire’s contact with the road surface creates traction, which allows for effective braking. On a wet surface, a tire only has traction if it can get to the road’s surface. So tire tread is designed to channel water out from under the tire to allow it to stay in contact with the road. If the tire can’t shift the water, then it starts to “float.” This condition is called hydroplaning. It is very dangerous for Ashland motorists since the vehicle won’t stop no matter how hard the driver presses the brakes. Steering control is also lost.
A recent study tested the stopping ability of a passenger car and a full-sized pick-up on a road surface covered with only a dime’s depth of water (less than a millimeter). The vehicles were traveling at 70 mph (112 kph) when they stopped on the wet surface. At 2/32 tread depth, the stopping distance was double that of a new tire. The passenger car was still traveling at 55 mph when it reached the stopping distance it experienced with new tires.
Let’s suppose that you’re on a busy Richmond freeway in a light drizzle and a vehicle stops suddenly in front of you. You just bought new tires and you brake hard, missing the vehicle with only inches to spare. If you hadn’t bought those new tires, you would have crashed into that vehicle at 55 mph. That is a major difference.
What if your tires had a tread depth of 4/32? You would have crashed into that vehicle at 45 mph. Still not a good situation. But it’s better.
Now what if you were driving that pick-up truck? You wouldn’t have missed that vehicle in the first place, and you would have crashed at higher rates of speed in both of the other scenarios. The heavier your vehicle, the longer its stopping distance. It’s a matter of physics.
The results of this test has led Consumer Reports and others to ask that the standard for tread wear from 2/32 to 4/32. The increased standard will improve safety on the road and save lives here in Virginia and nationally.
Of course, until the standard changes, you’ll have to decide whether you’ll be willing to replace your tires a little sooner.
You can use a quarter to tell if your tread wear is down to 4/32. Place the quarter into the tread with George’s head toward the tire and his neck toward you. If the tread doesn’t cover George’s hairline, you’re under 4/32. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the digits of the year.
You can measure the 2/32 tread wear with a penny. If the tread touches the top of Abe’s head, it’s at 2/32. Tires are an expensive item for Ashland car owners when it comes to car care. But their condition has a major impact on safety. We need to decide whether to sacrifice safety for economy. Keeping our tread wear above 4/32 is good auto advice.
Maintaining Your Older Car In Ashland Virginia
The government mandates a lot of equipment on cars in Ashland Virginia: emission devices and control computers, safety equipment like airbags and crash worthiness requirements. All of this is great for the Ashland Virginia motoring public, but it does add quite a bit to the price of a new car.
Because new cars are more expensive, people in the Richmond area are driving their old cars longer. The average car is now over nine years old. Two thirds of vehicles on the road in Richmond have more than 75,000 miles. As cars age, their performance drops, they have difficulty idling for long periods and are more sensitive to weather extremes. Fortunately today’s cars are up to the challenge – but they need a little help to keep on goin’.
Give Duffy’s Repair Service a call to schedule your next maintenance. 9974 Lickinghole Road Ashland, Virginia 23005 804.798.5922
Some owner’s manuals don’t specify service requirements at higher mileage. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be done. In fact, it’s more important than ever to stay on top of routine maintenance for cars with more than 75,000 miles.
First, just extend regular service intervals out: for instance a service that’s recommended every 15,000 miles should be performed at 15,000, 30,000, 45,000 and 60,000 miles, and so on. Because of the additional stress older engines experience, the severe service maintenance schedule is more appropriate than the regular schedule – ask your service advisor. Watch for leaks – seals and gaskets dry out over time and don’t hold the fluids as well as they used to.
It’s also time to make sure you have a good Ashland Virginia technician. There are some services and replacements that are scheduled after you put on some clicks, like timing belts, valve train adjustments, suspension, anti-lock brake service, air bags, etc. And unexpected repairs down the road are just par for the course. Check for unusual sounds, smells or the way your car feels. These could be hints that trouble’s brewing. Better to catch it early before it turns into a costly repair.
And a regular wash and wax will help maintain your car’s appearance. One of the things you can do to really help your high mileage vehicle is to begin using high mileage formulation fluids. There are special engine oils, coolants, and transmission and power steering fluids that are formulated for cars that have a few clicks on the old odometer.
High mileage oil is designed to condition seals and gaskets, reduce wear and avoid premature burn off. Older engines are dirtier inside – and dirty engines contaminate their oil faster. High mileage oil has special additives that clean the engine, removing sludge deposits over time. The result is less stress on the engine, better fuel economy and excellent wear protection.
Studies have even shown that using high mileage fluids early will actually prevent some of the problems of high mileage vehicles. So once you hit around 50,000 miles, consider stepping up to high mileage formulations. High mileage fluids cost a bit more than standard fluids because of the additional additives, but they can be worth their weight in gold in terms of preventing repair costs down the road. It does cost more to properly maintain a higher mileage vehicle – but it’s way cheaper than a new car payment!
We are a NAPA AutoCare Center in Ashland Virginia, providing the following services:
OIL CHANGE & LUBE
VEHICLE PREVENTATIVE MAINTENANCE
FULL BRAKE SERVICE
AIR CONDITIONING SERVICE
VEHICLE CLEANING & DETAILING
TRAILER SERVICE & REPAIR
FULL ELECTRONIC SERVICE
DIESEL SERVICE & REPAIR
FRONT END WORK
ENGINE & TRANSMISSION REPAIR
STABILITY & TRACTION CONTROL SYSTEM
SRS/AIR BAG DIAGNOSIS & REPAIR
COOLING SYSTEM FLUSH
COMPLETE DIAGNOSTIC SERVICE
PCM & MODULE REPROGRAMMING
REPLACEMENT CAR BATTERY
BELT & HOSE REPLACEMENT
SMOG & EMISSION TESTING
SUSPENSION & SHOCK REPAIR
24 HOURS TOWING
MAKE & REPAIR HYDRAULIC HOSE
EQUIPPED TO HANDLE LARGE VEHICLES INCLUDING MOTOR HOMES