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Duffy's Repair Service Tire Safety: Washington vs. Lincoln

Welcome to the Duffy’s Repair Service automotive blog. Today, let’s talk about the effect of tire tread depth on braking. When talking about stopping power, most Ashland and Henrico car owners tend to focus on our brakes. But our tires are where the rubber meets the road. So having good brakes isn’t enough. Safe Henrico drivers need to have tires with enough traction to translate braking power into stopping power.

Duffy's Repair Service Tire Safety Washington vs. LincolnLet’s focus on stopping in wet Henrico conditions. In order for a tire to have good contact with the road, it has to move the water out of the way. If it can’t move the water, the tire will actually ride on top of a thin film of water.

That’s called hydroplaning. If it’s really bad, Henrico car owners can actually spin out of control – endangering themselves and the other drivers around them. At best, you won’t stop as fast.

So how does a tire move water? It has channels for water to flow through. Look at your SUV tire and you’ll see channels: channels that run around the tire and channels that flow across the tire. They’re designed to direct water away from the tire so it can contact the road better.

And the deeper the channel, the more water it can move. A brand new Duffy’s Repair Service tire has very deep channels and can easily move a lot of water. As the tire wears down, the channels become shallower and can move less water. When it wears down enough, it can seriously affect your ability to stop your SUV on wet Henrico roads.

So that’s why it’s so important for Virginia car owners to replace their SUV tires when they get worn. Consumer Reports and other advocate groups call for a standard of 3/32 of an inch and they have the studies to prove it.

By comparison, you’ve probably seen the wear indicator that’s molded into tires. When tires are worn 3/32 of an inch, the tread wear bar is visible. So the recommended standard has twice the tread depth as a completely bald SUV tire.

At Duffy’s Repair Service, we want our customers to know that the deeper recommended tread depth makes a big difference. Stopping distances are cut dramatically on wet Henrico freeway. A safe stop from Virginia highway speeds with 4/32 of an inch of tread would result in a crash with worn out tires.

There’s an easy way to tell when a tire’s worn to 4/32 of an inch. Just insert a 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 SUV tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.

Many Henrico auto owners have heard of this technique using a penny and Abe Lincoln’s head – the old method. That measure gives you 2/32 of an inch – half the suggested amount. Of course, SUV tires are a major purchase. Most of us in Henrico want to get as many miles out of them as we can. But there’s a real safety trade-off. It’s your choice.

Odometer Rollback On Your Ashland Virginia Auto


How do Ashland car owners know if an odometer is telling the truth?

Well, back in ’86, Congress passed the Truth-in-Mileage Act to protect Virginia consumers against mileage fraud. It says a Virginia seller must certify the mileage reported is the Actual Mileage.

To have your odometer checked in Ashland Virginia, stop by Duffy’s Repair Service:

Duffy’s Repair Service
Ashland, Virginia 23005 804.798.5922

If it isn’t, the seller must say why; like maybe the odometer is past its mechanical limits. Some older odometers only go to 99,999 miles and then start over at 0. Or, the odometer has been tampered with, broken or replaced.

If the seller tells you the mileage isn’t accurate, there’s not much chance of putting a good number to it; And there’s the unscrupulous seller who claims the reading is true, but it’s not so. What can Ashland auto owners do?

First, you can go to www.CarFax.com, where for a small fee, they’ll give you a comprehensive vehicle history search on your SUV, showing local Ashland, Virginia ownership history, accident reports, total-loss events, manufacturer buybacks, Lemon reports and warranty status.

Ashland motorists can get a mileage history by checking with the local Virginia DMV (or wherever you happen to be) and other verified sources looking for inconsistencies in the mileage reported when the car’s bought and sold. If there are signs odometer rollback, now you’ll now.

If so, proceed with caution. Or, negotiate a lower price. Or just walk away. There’s always another.

Richmond Safety Systems: Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Flats, blow outs, skids and longer stopping distances can all be the result of Ashland auto owners driving around on under-inflated tires. Admittedly, it’s hard to tell when a radial tire is under-inflated. If your vehicle manufacturer recommends 35 pounds of pressure, your SUV tire’s considered significantly under inflated at 26 pounds. The tire may not look low until it gets below 20 pounds.

New laws required auto manufacturers to include a Tire Pressure Monitoring System – or TPMS system – in all cars and light trucks by the 2008 model year. The system has a dashboard mounted warning light that goes off if one or more of the tires falls 25% below auto maker’s pressure recommendations.

Richmond Safety Systems: Tire Pressure Monitoring SystemThis technology has been used by Richmond race car drivers for years. They are able to head off problems from under inflation by closely monitoring tire pressure on the track. It’s up to your SUV’s vehicle manufacturer to determine which of many TPMS systems available they’ll use to comply with the law.

Obviously, all of this doesn’t come free for Ashland drivers. U.S. government studies have estimated the net costs. Of course, the TPMS system itself will cost something. Maintaining the system will have a cost, replacement of worn or broken parts and tire repair cost increases.

The costs are partially offset by improved fuel efficiency and longer tire life. There’s also a potential savings in property damage avoided and fewer travel delays. The net cost is estimated to be between $27 and $100. The government predicts fewer fatal accidents. They estimate that it will cost between three and nine million dollars for every life saved.

Your safety has always been a priority at Duffy’s Repair Service. We want you on the road and accident free. We’ve traditionally provided things like tire rotations, snow tire mounting and flat fixes at a very low cost. We’ve been able to quickly and cheaply provide the service, and pass the low cost on to you as an expression of our good will.

That’s why we’re concerned about how our valued Ashland customers will perceive the changes that this new law requires. Every time a tire is changed: taken off to fix a flat, a new tire installed, a snow tire mounted; the Duffy’s Repair Service service advisor is now going to have to deal with the TPMS system.

Even a simple tire rotation will require that the monitor be reprogrammed to the new location of each tire. When a car battery is disconnected, the TPMS system will need to be reprogrammed. TPMS sensor batteries will need to be changed and failed parts replaced.

Like all other Ashland service centers, here at Duffy’s Repair Service we’ve had to purchase new scanning equipment to work with the TPMS sensors and to update expensive tire change equipment to better service wheels equipped with the new monitoring systems. Our friendly Duffy’s Repair Service technicians have been thoroughly trained on many systems and new tire-changing techniques. All of this adds up to significantly increased cost to perform what was once a very inexpensive service for you.

So when you start so see the cost of tire changes, flat repairs and rotations going up at Duffy’s Repair Service, please keep in mind that it’s because of government mandated safety equipment. We want to keep you safely on the road – and we’re committed to doing it at a fair price. This essential safety equipment will help you avoid the most common types of vehicle failure in Richmond, and possibly a catastrophic accident.

Duffy's Repair Service Helps You Decipher The Menu Board: Part 2

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Ashland service centers have a menu board that lists the services they provide. Some Ashland drivers may not be familiar with all of the items on the board so here is a quick description of some of the typical services that might be listed.

Duffy’s Repair Service fuel system cleaning: Over time, the SUV fuel system gets gum and varnish built up. A fuel system cleaning gets rid of that and cleans out the fuel injectors. Saves gas, by the way.

Duffy’s Repair Service headlamp replacement: Halogen and standard headlamps gradually fade. It’s usually good to change them every year or so.

Duffy’s Repair Service inspections: Ashland drivers get inspections for many reasons. Maybe they’re going on a trip or just want to make sure their vehicle’s ready for Virginia summer or winter. Maybe they just bought a used SUV and want to give it the once over. An inspection may reveal some things that are broken or are getting close to having a problem.

Duffy’s Repair Service oil change: – there are several options: Some Ashland centers offer just an oil change and new filter as an option. Most will also check and top off all of your other fluids and do a quick visual inspection with a full service oil change. In my way of thinking, the full service option is best because it makes sure you have adequate fluids and may uncover an emerging problem. There may also be options for higher mileage fluids or an upgrade to synthetic oil.

Duffy’s Repair Service PCV valve replacement in Ashland:
PCV stands for Positive Crankcase Ventilation valve. It’s a little part that releases pressure from the engine. It can get gummed up and that can lead to engine damage. Just needs to be changed now and then.

Duffy’s Repair Service power steering service: Often overlooked. Your friendly Duffy’s Repair Service technician will evacuate the old fluid, clean out the system and replace it with clean fluid. Keeps the SUV system running well for a long time.

Duffy’s Repair Service serpentine belt service:
That’s the belt that powers the SUV engine’s accessories like the alternator, air conditioner, power steering and brakes. You’ll want to replace the serpentine belt before it breaks, because that’ll shut you down.

Duffy’s Repair Service shocks and struts: This starts with an inspection of the suspension components. Shocks last a long time and wear out slowly, so many Ashland people don’t notice when it’s time to change them. If they’re worn or leaking, they need to be replaced.

Duffy’s Repair Service transmission service:
This involves removing the transmission fluid and replacing it with clean fluid. It’s like an oil change for your transmission.

Duffy’s Repair Service tire rotation and wheel balancing: The tires are rotated from front to back using the recommended rotation pattern. This helps tires wear more evenly. Wheels need to be balanced from time to time to keep them turning without any wobble or bounce. Helps the ride and saves tire wear.

Exhaust Service at Duffy's Repair Service: Passing the Smell Test

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The exhaust system on a vehicle is more complex than most Ashland motorists realize. It contains everything from old-fashioned pipes and clamps to sophisticated computers and sensors. All Virginia folks know a properly functioning exhaust system is good for the environment, but sometimes we forget that a damaged exhaust system can be deadly. That’s why preventive maintenance on your exhaust system is so vital. We can help you with that at Duffy’s Repair Service in Ashland.

The exhaust manifold is the first component in your exhaust system. The manifold is attached to the engine. It collects the gases that are produced by the engine and directs them into the exhaust pipes. At this point, these gases are both hot and chemically dangerous.

One of the gases produced in your engine is carbon monoxide. This gas is colorless and odorless. Breathing it can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea and drowsiness. Continue breathing it, and you will die.

To keep this gas, and others, from entering your SUV passenger compartment, the connections from the manifold to the engine and from the manifold to the exhaust pipes are sealed with gaskets. These connections should be routinely inspected at Duffy’s Repair Service for cracks and to check if they have come loose.

The exhaust pipes can also get damaged, allowing dangerous gases to leak into your passenger compartment. These pipes can rust or be dented or broken by rocks and other Richmond roadway debris, so they need to be inspected regularly.

The catalytic converter is the next component in your SUV exhaust system. You can breathe a sigh of relief now, because this is where the dangerous engine gases are converted into carbon dioxide and water, greatly reducing the amount of harmful emissions in your exhaust. You’ll also be happy to know that your catalytic converter doesn’t require maintenance. However, it will wear out. If you fail an emissions inspection because of a faulty catalytic converter, you need to replace it.

The muffler’s job is far less critical, but far more noticeable, than the catalytic converter’s. It dampens or absorbs the noise from the engine. Most Ashland motorists don’t realize that we can actually customize the noise our car makes with a custom muffler. You can upgrade to a muffler that will make your car sleuth-quiet, or you can advertise your presence in Ashland with a sassy rumble.

Mufflers can also rust or be damaged by road debris. But just because their main function is to dampen out engine noise doesn’t mean they can be ignored. If your muffler is leaking, you need to get it replaced quickly. Exhaust fumes need to exit through your tailpipe, not your muffler.

The exhaust pipe contains at least one oxygen sensor. The sensor monitors the oxygen content of the exhaust, which allows it to adjust the fuel-to-air ratio in the engine. This keeps your SUV engine running smoothly and maintains good gas mileage. So, besides keeping you and the environment healthy, a well-maintained exhaust system also keeps your SUV healthy. The tailpipe itself can rust or get damaged by road debris, so it needs a quick inspection once in a while, too.

The whole exhaust system is mounted on the vehicle with clamps and hangers. These clamps and hangers can come loose, rust or get dinged up by road debris. Remember that the gases in your exhaust system are hot, so the exhaust system itself gets hot. The clamps and hangers keep the exhaust system attached to the SUV, but they also prevent the heated components from touching things they shouldn’t. If you don’t inspect and replace broken, loose or damaged clamps, you may end up with melted wires, hoses or lines. And that can spell some expensive repairs.

You should schedule an exhaust system inspection as recommended in your SUV owner’s manual. Because this system is critical to your health and the health of your car, and because of its sophistication and complexity, you need to have the work done at a qualified service center such as Duffy’s Repair Service in Ashland.

Maintaining your emissions and exhaust system is not just good auto advice: it’s good health advice for all Ashland motorists and their families.