All modern Coastal Maine vehicles come with fuel injection systems, so it’s a topic Coastal Maine auto owners need to know something about. The mighty fuel injector is a valve that delivers the gas or diesel fuel to the right place, in the right amount, at the right time; to be mixed with air and burned in the engine.
So how many fuel injectors does your car have? There’s one for each cylinder. So four, six or eight for most folks in Coastal Maine, Maine. Some vehicles have 10 or 12 cylinders. The engine control computer makes adjustments to the fuel injector as it monitors the engine and other sensors. Fuel injectors are a pretty high-tech.
Atlantic Motorcar can help Coastal Maine auto owners with a fuel injector cleaning service. What’s the benefit? In order to work right, the fuel injectors have to deliver the fuel at a precise pressure at a very precise time. The fuel needs to be sprayed in a particular pattern as determined by the engine design.
Over time, varnish can start to build up in the fuel injectors, effecting the pressure, pattern and timing of the fuel charge. The result is that the fuel doesn’t get burned as efficiently as it could. That robs performance and hurts fuel economy.
What about dirty fuel – how does that affect the fuel injectors? The fuel injectors are the last stop in the fuel system. It starts at the fuel tank. Frankly, the best way to keep your fuel injectors working well is to use high quality fuel. It's tempting to shop for bargains in Coastal Maine with fuel prices as high as they are, but major brands in the Coastal Maine, Maine area have better detergents and additives and deliver consistent quality.
What about a good fuel filter? The fuel filter is an essential component of the fuel system. Its job is to filter out the dirt and rust that collect in the fuel tank. If it’s clogged up, the dirt will bypass the filter and head upstream to the fuel injectors.
It’s important to replace the fuel filter when your auto manufacturer recommends it. That’s part of a comprehensive fuel system cleaning.
There are different kinds of fuel injection systems. Port fuel injection systems, the kind most gasoline engines have, operate at 60 pounds per square inch. The injectors for the new gas direct injection engines we’re starting to see require 10 to 30 times as much pressure. And some diesel engines for passenger vehicles have injectors that operate at 30,000 pounds or more per square inch. There’s no room for dirt and gum in a precision part like that.
There are a lot of good products available in Coastal Maine, Maine that can clean fuel injectors. They’re best used to prevent fouling in the fuel injectors. Many can’t clean a seriously gummed up injector – that requires a professional deep cleaning, like those we offer at Atlantic Motorcar in Coastal Maine. But putting the cleaner in the fuel tank after you’ve had Atlantic Motorcar take a look at your fuel system will help keep it clean. Be sure to read the label for directions.
Give us a call if you think your European vehicle may be ready for a fuel injector cleaning.
Manager: Bruce Howes
10 Ox Horn Road
Coastal Maine, Maine 04578
Posted in the Fuel System category
One Coastal Maine automotive service issue that doesn't get much attention is driveline service. Drivelines don't get talked about very much around Coastal Maine, but they're very important. First let's define what the driveline is:
Taking a small step back, the power plant is comprised of the engine and transmission. The driveline starts there and includes all of the components that transfer power from the transmission to the wheels.
That's not really a lot of components, but they handle the full force of the engine. Without the driveline you're not moving. So we need to take good care of it. The driveline components differ depending on whether your vehicle has front wheel drive, rear wheel drive, all wheel drive or four wheel drive. For purposes of our discussion, we're going to have to over simplify a bit.
If you are ready to have your drive train looked at, give us a call:
10 Ox Horn Road
Coastal Maine, Maine 04578
Call Us at (207) 882-9969
Let's start with front wheel drive. The point where the transmission stops and the driveline begins is a little blurred with front wheel drive because the transaxle houses both the transmission function and the differential function. The half shafts that send power to each front wheel, come out of the transaxle. The shaft is connected to the wheel by a constant velocity, or CV, joint. The CV joint is protected from dirt and water by an airtight, flexible rubber boot.
So, driveline service would include properly servicing the transaxle and inspecting the CV boot to see if it's torn or loose. If it is, it needs to be replaced and the CV joint inspected for damage. Repairs may be in order. Besides visual damage to the airtight CV boot, you might hear a clicking noise when turning. Recommended maintenance for the transaxle and CV joints will be spelled out in your owner's manual or check with your Coastal Maine service advisor.
On to rear wheel drive. The driveline for a rear wheel drive vehicle starts with the driveshaft – that long tube that connects the transmission with the differential on the rear axle. Some vehicles in Coastal Maine have a two piece drive shaft. The shafts are connected to the transmission and the differential with big universal joints. You've probably heard the term 'u-joints'. These joints can wear out, just like the CV joints in front wheel drive vehicles. You may hear some clunking or feel a jolt when shifting into drive or reverse – if you do, get your driveline inspected.
The differential on the rear axle sends power out to each rear wheel through half shafts in the axle. The differential fluid needs to be drained periodically and replaced with clean fluid. When the seal on the end of the axle is damaged or leaks, the axle will need to be serviced. The routine maintenance item here is differential service. Be sure to check your owner’s manual or Coastal Maine service advisor for intervals.
Now let's go on to all wheel drive. Remember that the difference between all wheel drive and four wheel drive is that an all wheel drive vehicle is essentially providing power to all of the wheels all of the time. The vehicle may be able to shift more of the power to the front or to the back depending on where you need traction. All wheel drive vehicles are designed to work well on dry pavement. Even some high-end sports cars from makers like Lamborghini and Porsche have all wheel drive.
Some all wheel drive vehicles are designed to work well off-road, but all hard-core rock crawlers are four wheel drive. These guys thrive in mud, sand, rocks and hills – but they don't work well on dry pavement when they're in four wheel drive. So they have the option to shift to rear wheel drive only on dry pavement.
Most all-wheel drive vehicles are very similar to front wheel drive when it comes to the front end. They also have a center differential that transfers power to the rear differential. Connecting it all is a shaft from the transaxle to the center differential and another from the center differential to the rear differential. So all of the normal front wheel drive service is required as well as service to the center and rear differentials.
Four wheel drive can be thought of as a rear wheel drive vehicle that can also send power to the front axle. There's a transfer case in the middle of the vehicle that can be shifted to send power through a drive shaft to a differential on the front axle. So you need differential service for the front and rear differentials and for the transfer case as well.
The bottom line is that the maintenance schedules are in your owner's manual. Your Coastal Maine service advisor can answer any questions you've got. If this is the first time you've heard some of this stuff – it's time to ask someone at Atlantic Motorcar if any of it needs to be done now.
Watch our auto tips video from AutoNetTV.
Posted in the Drive Train category
Everyone in Coastal Maine, Maine knows we are advised to go to our Coastal Maine dentist twice a year. Oral-conscious Coastal Maine residents have a teeth-cleaning and examination. Once a year, we get x-rays to look for problems that can’t be seen with the naked eye. When our dentist is done, he/she tells us what was found – "Everything’s fine, see you in six months." Or "You’ve got a small cavity starting, let's schedule an appointment to take care of it." By the time you leave, you have a plan for addressing any necessary issues.
This system works so much better than waiting for a painful problem before going into the dentist. Small problems are fixed before they turn into big problems. And you avoid those huge bills.
If Coastal Maine folks understand the wisdom of using this system for handling dental care, why do many resist when facing the same system for our car maintenance?
10 Ox Horn Road
Coastal Maine, Maine 04578
Following the vehicle manufacturer's recommended intervals can be confusing. First, there are recommendations for so many things: oil changes, transmission, coolant, air conditioning, power steering, brakes, fuel system, filters, belts, hoses, alignment, rotation, balancing ...you get the point.
Every item has a recommended interval and it's hard to keep it all straight – even if you’re part of the 1% of the Maine auto owners that read their owners’ manual.
And if you have more than one European vehicle, the complexity is multiplied. You'd need a computer to keep track of everything. Well, that's how your Coastal Maine service center does it. For example, Atlantic Motorcar subscribes to automotive databases that have your vehicle's recommended intervals. You may have wondered how they know what else to recommend when you take your car in for an oil change – it's all in the database.
Well, it's not all in the computer. There are other variables that can’t be accounted for in the schedule. Things like Coastal Maine weather conditions, altitude, and where and how you drive in Maine. Talk about these things with your friendly Atlantic Motorcar service specialist and you may decide that the severe service schedule in your owner's manual is more appropriate.
Since anything that's not highway driving in moderate Coastal Maine weather is considered severe, most of us do at least some of that around Coastal Maine, Maine and it should be taken into account.
Let's take your basic oil change as an example – what issues are involved? The oil you put in your car is a blend of base oil and special additives. There are detergents to clean the inside of your engine and corrosion inhibitors. A good quality motor oil will not only lubricate your engine, it will help it stay clean inside and run cooler.
Now, these additives deplete with use and time. That's why most maintenance recommendations include both a time and mileage element – like 3 months or 3,000 miles, whichever comes first.
It's easy to think, "Gee, I've only driven 2,000 miles in the last 3 months. I can wait on that oil change." But you need to remember that the inside of your engine is a harsh environment. The oil is contaminated with combustion by-products that starts degrading its effectiveness even when it's just sitting there.
A lot of people in Coastal Maine don't realize how harmful it is to skip an oil change. There are a lot of metal parts moving around in your engine. Small bits of metal wear off and are floating around in your oil. They can be carried to more delicate areas of the engine where they cause damage. Your oil filter is designed to trap metal particles and other dirt, but if it's clogged up because you haven't changed it, it can't trap any more.
Oil sludge is another problem. Sludge is oil that has turned to a gunky jelly – think 'Vaseline'. Obviously, sludge doesn't lubricate. It can also clog small oil passages so that all the parts don't get properly protected by the oil. That'll lead to premature wear.
If you've missed some oil changes, don't despair. Just talk with your service advisor at Atlantic Motorcar. Fess up – you'll feel better. And he can help you get back on track. Following recommended intervals is the key to keeping your car on the road and avoiding costly repairs.
Take a look at the auto tips video in this post for more information.
Posted in the Service Intervals category
We live such busy lives nowadays: work, social events, running the kids all over Coastal Maine. Some days it’s all we can do to keep track of everywhere we need to be. That’s why you’ve gotta be organized. Smartphones, calendar apps - we have to keep track of it all.
So let’s talk about schedules. Specifically, automotive service schedules. And particularly, the scheduled services that are sometimes forgotten.
Here is a list of 10 service items that are often overlooked by Coastal Maine drivers. They’re all very important and need appropriate attention. So here we go, in no particular order.
1. Power Steering Service
Be honest; have you ever thought of this on your own? Your power steering fluid gets dirty and builds-up moisture over time. Cleaning out your power steering system means that dirt and gum are removed and your power steering parts are protected from corrosion. Next time you're in for an oil change, ask your Coastal Maine service advisor if it’s time for a power steering check-up.
2. Wheel Alignment
When your wheels are out of alignment your European vehicle pulls to one side. It’s pretty annoying, but it’s also dangerous. And it causes your tires to wear out really fast; which is an unneccessary expense! Most vehicle manufacturers owners manuals suggest you get your alignment checked once or twice a year.
3. Differential Service
Did you even know you had a differential? Well, you do - one, two or three in fact. Differentials are often called gear boxes and they’re part of the drive-train that transfers power from your European vehicle engine to your wheels. They don’t need service that often, but you can’t completely forget them. Check with your Atlantic Motorcar service advisor.
4. Cabin Air Filter
More and more Coastal Maine cars these days have cabin air filters (a great feature, in my opinion) to clean the air in the passenger area where we sit. They filter out dust and pollen. When they’re clogged up, they can get smelly. Change your cabin air filter on schedule to enjoy fresh, clean air, which can also help with allergies.
5. Timing Belt Replacement
Most cars and some vans and trucks driven around the Coastal Maine area have timing belts. Without going into a lot of detail, let’s just say that your car won’t run without it – period. And if it breaks while you’re driving it can do thousands of dollars worth of engine damage. Check your owners’ manual or with your Coastal Maine service advisor. If you’re approaching 60,000 miles; definitely look into it right away.
6. Transmission Service
Transmission service is very basic, but it’s often forgotten. Your European vehicle transmission needs clean fluid from time to time to keep operating efficiently and avoid pricey repairs. And it can also improve your fuel economy.
7. Air Conditioning Service
Most of us don’t think about our air conditioning until it fails on a hot day. If you’re lucky, you just need to add refrigerant. If you’re not, some of the components may have been ruined. Of course, these components are not cheap. Regular air conditioning service adds clean refrigerant which cools and lubricates your air conditioner and conditions the seals.
8. Brake Service
No we’re not talking about squealing, grinding brakes here. We’re talking brake fluid. Over time the fluid gets a lot of water in it. Because water compresses differently than the brake fluid, your brakes won’t work as well. It may even get dangerous. The water can also rust out brake system components and then your brakes can fail altogether. Check with your Atlantic Motorcar technician for recommendations.
9. Coolant System
Another thing that’s so easy to forget about: When you don’t change your antifreeze on schedule it becomes corrosive. Fresh coolant contains additives that maintain the pH balance in the coolant. These additives wear out and the fluid in the radiator can actually eat holes in the radiator or hoses. Then you’re stranded - bummer.
10. Fuel System Cleaning
In these times of high fuel prices, fuel system cleaning is so important. Fuel gums up a bunch of parts as it moves from the gas tank and through the engine. A thorough fuel system cleaning will keep clean gas flowing into the engine. Your fuel injectors also get gunked up over time and need to be cleaned. Having your fuel system cleaned on schedule at Atlantic Motorcar will really help your fuel economy.
There you have it; 10 services that are often overlooked. Did you know that a recent survey showed that 90 percent of vehicles on the road have at least one scheduled maintenance service that hasn’t been performed? Considering our busy lives, we’re not surprised.
We know it takes some thought and effort to actually maintain your vehicle; but it not only saves money in the long run – it saves time too. And we can all use a little more time.
Atlantic Motorcar can help with any of these services. Give us a call at (207) 882-9969.
Posted in the Maintenance category
Today's Atlantic Motorcar auto maintenance article focuses on your serpentine belt. Your serpentine belt is a long belt that’s driven by your engine. It winds around several accessories that power important automotive systems. Let’s go over them.
First, the serpentine belt drives your European vehicle air conditioning system. It spins the compressor that makes the cool air that takes the edge off the summer heat in Coastal Maine.
Next, the belt powers the alternator. The alternator creates electricity that’s used by your European vehicle’s electrical systems and also charges your car battery. All Coastal Maine car owners know that without the alternator, the battery will go dead in a few miles.
The serpentine belt may also run the pumps for both the power steering and power brakes. And, on many European vehicles, the serpentine belt powers the water pump. The water pump circulates coolant through the engine to keep it within normal operating temperatures for Coastal Maine car owners. (On some European vehicles, the water pump is powered by the timing belt instead of the serpentine belt.)
So you can see the serpentine belt does a lot of work. And it if breaks, it affects a lot of systems. That’s why vehicle manufacturers and your service advisor at Atlantic Motorcar have recommended that it be changed every so often so that it doesn’t fail.
Your Atlantic Motorcar service advisor can perform a visual inspection of the belt to see if it has any cracks that signal the belt could fail soon and will measure the amount of belt material to make sure there is enough.
Your serpentine belt works in tandem with a spring loaded pulley attached to the engine called the tensioner pulley. Its job is to make sure there’s a constant tension on the serpentine belt so that it doesn’t slip. The spring can become worn and no longer provide the necessary pressure to keep the belt tight. At Atlantic Motorcar, we recommend that the tensioner be replaced at the same time as the serpentine belt.
All in all, the serpentine belt’s a critical part for the function of your European vehicle. And it’s not that expensive to replace at Atlantic Motorcar – so bring in your vehicle if it hasn't been checked in a while.
Posted in the Maintenance category
Weight is the enemy of fuel economy. Everyone from here to Brunswick knows this makes sense.
Some of us in the Brunswick area carry a bunch of unnecessary weight, and I'm not talkin' what you see in the mirror.
Guys; sports equipment and tools. Ladies; well, just take a look around the passenger compartment and trunk. I think my car has about forty-five pounds of French fries on the floor.
All that extra weight wastes gas as you drive between here and Brunswick, and everywhere else.
Lose the junk and save some money.
...And you really only need one of those spare tires.
Posted in the Fuel System category
People near Coastal Maine Maine often ask Atlantic Motorcar how often they should have a particular service done. It's a great thing to ask. You can look at your owner's manual, or have your Coastal Maine Maine service advisor at Atlantic Motorcar look up your vehicle in a service database. What you find is often a surprise to people – there are actually two service schedules.
One is the regular schedule and the other is the severe service schedule. Service intervals are shorter on the severe service schedule. When asked, most folks in Coastal Maine Maine will say that their driving is normal and that the 'regular' schedule probably applies to them. 'Severe service' sounds pretty extreme – 'I don't drive like that'.
Well, here is what the manufacturers say constitutes severe driving conditions; you can draw your own conclusions.
- Most of your trips are less than four miles.
- Most of your trips are less than ten miles and outside temperatures are below freezing.
- The engine is at low speed most of the time – not on the highway. You operate your vehicle in dusty areas.
- You regularly tow a trailer or carry heavy loads.
- Drive with a car-top carrier.
- Stop and go driving.
- Driving in very hot or very cold weather.
If that's severe driving, what constitutes regular driving? Well, it would look something like this: I live somewhere with moderate temperatures all year round – I'm thinking San Diego here. And I live close to a freeway on-ramp. Everywhere I need to go is right off the freeway, at least four miles from my home. I can drive at a steady 60 miles per hour when I'm on the freeway.
I don't know about you, but that doesn't sound like my normal driving. It sounds more like ideal conditions. I live where it gets hot in the summer and cold in the winter. I run short errands around Coastal Maine. Occasionally we load up for family trips.
For me, normal driving includes elements of severe service driving. So here's what I tell people: think about how you drive, where you live, where you go and what you are expecting to with your vehicle in the near future.
Picture a line with 'regular' on one end and 'severe' on the other, and make a judgment on where you fall. If your regular oil change recommendation is 5,000 miles and the severe service recommendation is 3,000 – when should you change your oil? For me, it's closer to 3,000 miles. For my wife, it's closer to 5,000 miles. Your Coastal Maine Maine auto service advisor at Atlantic Motorcar will be happy to have this discussion with you and help you sort it out.
Just a quick word on why severe service intervals are shorter. One has to do with heat. That can either be external heat from the weather or engine and transmission heat from stop and go driving or working extra hard moving heavy loads or towing. The heat causes the fluids like oil and transmission fluid to break down more quickly and then they aren't as effective.
Another factor is water. Moisture naturally collects in fluids as they cool. In your motor oil, for example, if you don't drive long enough for the oil to fully heat up, the water won't evaporate. Water in the oil can lead to the buildup of damaging sludge.
If you live where the air is dusty or polluted, fluids will become contaminated and filters will get dirtier more quickly.
So make an honest evaluation of your driving conditions. You've made the commitment to take care of your vehicles, so it only makes sense to follow the right schedule.
Posted in the Service Intervals category
What is a cabin air filter? Is it:
A. A filter for your Coastal Maine house?
B. A fresh, piney scent?
C. A filter for the passenger compartment of your car?
Clever you, it’s C.
A cabin air filter cleans the outside air before it comes into the passenger compartment. It filters out common Coastal Maine air particles like dust, pollen, spores, bacteria, pollutants, exhaust gas, odors and even sparrows.
These high tech filters can block particles larger than 3 microns. By contrast, a grain of sand is about 200 microns.
Not all vehicles in Coastal Maine have cabin air filters. They are fairly new on the scene. About forty percent of new vehicles sold in Coastal Maine come with cabin air filters, but the number is growing every year.
Cabin air filters can make for a very nice driving environment. Your car can be a haven during our Coastal Maine allergy season with very little dust and pollen getting into the cabin. However, the filter eventually gets clogged. When this happens, your heating and air conditioning flow can become restricted. The filter can even get kind of smelly.
Check your owner’s manual for recommended replacement intervals. Often, the owner’s manual forgets about the cabin air filter, so ask your service technician at Atlantic Motorcar for a recommendation. It’s usually every year or 12,000 miles / 19,000 kilometers. Change it sooner if you drive in dusty conditions around the Coastal Maine area, or if you start to notice an odor from your ventilation system.
So keep your cabin air filter clean. It may not help with your brother-in-law in the backseat, but it will make your driving experience around Coastal Maine more enjoyable.
Come by Atlantic Motorcar and we'll take a look at your cabin air filter for you.
Posted in the Cabin Air Filter category
Here's an interesting statistic for our friends in Coastal Maine Maine: Only thirty percent of car batteries make it to forty-eight months. And the life expectancy varies by where you live. It ranges from fifty-one months in extremely cold areas to just thirty months in extremely hot climates.
Why is that? It turns out that it's our modern cars with all their electric accessories that are to blame. Things like, GPS, DVDs, and entertainment computers are keeping car batteries from maintaining a full charge. The longer a battery goes with a low charge, the sooner it'll die.
So you must recharge your battery. This is the job of the alternator. The problem comes when the car's demand for electricity is high and we are driving in stop and go conditions or short trips around Coastal Maine or Freeport. The alternator just can't keep up.
The result is shortened battery life. So what can we do to improve our battery's health?
We need to keep the battery as close to a full charge as possible. That can be hard because sitting for just twenty-four hours in hot weather between charges can be too long. When the weather's cold, sitting for several days will cause discharge.
So some highway driving between Camden or Brunswick will help keep a full charge if the battery has not been deeply depleted. Car batteries are not designed to be run down really low, or deep cycled, as it's called. So using your headlights or other power accessories when the car is off can deeply deplete your battery. Using the alternator to recharge from a deeply depleted state is very hard on your battery because it charges too fast. In fact, on average, your battery would only last for ten recharges like that.
If you do find yourself with a dead battery or very low battery, use a good quality battery charger to slowly bring the battery up to full charge. Follow the instructions on the charger.
Because our batteries are so often at less than a full charge, experts suggest that we use a battery charger from time to time to keep the charge up. They recommend once a month during hot weather and once every three months during colder times.
Now, a word on safety. Batteries contain sulfuric acid that can severely burn your skin and could blind you. If you find yourself with a dead battery, carefully inspect it before you jump start it. If the case is bulging, cracked or leaking, do not jump start it. Damaged batteries can explode or catch fire.
Deeply discharged batteries can freeze. Do not jump start a frozen battery.
Ask us about transmission repair, too.
Posted in the Battery category
Wheel alignment is often overlooked by busy Freeport and Brunswick drivers until serious tire damage has been done. One wheel can be knocked out of alignment by hitting a curb or pothole on a Coastal Maine expressway or surface street.
When a vehicle’s out of alignment, one or more of the wheels does not track true and pulls against the others. This causes several serious problems. First off, the tires will wear out faster and will need to be replaced prematurely. It could also lead to expensive European vehicle suspension problems.
But the big issue for Freeport, Brunswick, and Coastal Maine drivers is safety. When your European vehicle wheels are out of alignment, the vehicle will pull to one side, which could lead to an accident. When you’re out of alignment, you should have it taken care of right away at Atlantic Motorcar in Coastal Maine.
When undergoing an alignment service at Atlantic Motorcar, your European vehicle is put on an alignment rack where the tires, steering and suspension parts are checked for damage. Then the alignment is charted and checked against the factory settings.
Precision adjustments are made to bring the wheels back into alignment. This gets all four wheels going in exactly the same direction.
Brunswick drivers should be aware of the signs of alignment problems. These include the car pulling to one side. Also, the steering wheel may not be centered when you’re going straight. If you see the edges of one or more tires rapidly wearing down, you should have your Coastal Maine service center look it over. If you’ve been in an auto accident in Maine that involved a wheel, you should get your alignment checked.
Obviously, a big jolt can seriously knock things out of alignment, but Freeport drivers also need to understand that a series of smaller ones can add up.
That’s why car makers recommend periodic alignment checks. If your European vehicle owner’s manual doesn’t specify, once a year might be appropriate. Or check with Bruce Howes or your service advisor at Atlantic Motorcar in Coastal Maine.
One thing’s for sure: the cost of the alignment at Atlantic Motorcar is cheaper for Freeport drivers than having to buy a couple of new tires because of neglect.
Posted in the Alignment category