Monday, June 11, 2012

How To Save Gas In Redding

How To Save Gas In Redding

High gas prices have hit most of our budgets in the Redding area. If increased fuel costs are consuming a bigger portion of your budget, you may be tempted to skimp in some other areas – like scheduled maintenance at Bryant Automotive in Redding.

According to news reports and industry studies, you’re not alone. Nine out of ten personal vehicles on the road have at least one maintenance or repair item that hasn’t been done. Some of these items are serious safety concerns. Others are just more likely to affect the cost of operating your vehicle.

In this area, we can take a lesson from professional vehicle owners: fleet owners and operators like trucking companies and delivery services. Because their livelihood depends on it, they have gotten scheduled maintenance down to a science. And the last thing they skimp on is regular maintenance.
Why is that? Well, for one thing they know that routine maintenance prevents expensive repairs and costly breakdowns. They also know that a well-maintained vehicle uses less fuel.  For them, even a small decrease in fuel economy may mean not being profitable.

Here are some Bryant Automotive services that could potentially save you some gas in Redding: Fuel system cleaning, transmission service, differential service, wheel alignment, oil change, tune-up.

Ring any bells? Is there at least one thing on the list that hasn’t been done for your SUV?
Let’s suppose you chose to spend one hundred and fifty dollars and get caught up on some of these services and that they combine to improve your fuel economy by fifteen percent. What would that mean to your pocketbook?

Well, the average personal vehicle is driven about twelve thousand miles a year. If you get twenty miles per gallon in your SUV, over the course of one year you would pay for the hundred and fifty dollars’ worth of service and save an additional hundred and sixty five dollars if gas is at three dollars and fifty cents. If gas is four fifty, you would save two hundred and fifty-five dollars. And you’d rack up savings of three hundred and forty five dollars with gas at five and a half bucks.
Gas Price   $3.50   $4.50   $5.50
20 MPG        165      265       345
From this you can see that the more fuel costs, the more it pays to take care of your SUV. Some of us drive trucks for work or recreation – or want a large SUV for family needs. A fifteen percent improvement in fuel economy can generate huge savings – six hundred and sixty dollars a year if gas is four fifty a gallon. Take a look at this table to see where your savings could lie.
Gas Price   $3.50   $4.50    $5.50
10 MPG       480       660        840
20 MPG       165       255        345
30 MPG         60       120        180
So catch up on those services you’ve been neglecting. Talk with your knowledgeable Bryant Automotive advisor about your SUV’s needs. Get a couple done now and a couple next time. Chances are you’ll save a lot of money on fuel this year – and a lot more on repairs in years to come.
Give Dan Bryant a call at Bryant Automotive in Redding.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Customer Detective Work In Redding California 96002

Customer Detective Work In Redding California 96002

Filed under: Diagnostics
Customer Detective Work In Redding California 96002 One might say the most challenging part of being an automotive service technician in Redding is diagnosing a problem before it can be fixed.
Cars in Redding are made up of a bunch of complex systems. There usually could be a number of reasons for any given symptom. So it’s challenging to track down the actual cause of the problem. And it can be frustrating for the vehicle owner because it can take time and money to get to the bottom of a problem.
If it’s not something obvious, it’s easy for the customer to focus on the fixing and not the diagnosing.
Let us at Bryant Automotive introduce you to something we’ll call ‘Customer Detective Work‘ – that is helping the technician find clues to what’s wrong.
We start with the detective basics: What, Where and When. Play along with me; You come in to Bryant Automotive and your car is making a funny sound…
  • Where’s the sound? – ‘Around the right front wheel’.
  • What kind of sound? – ‘Kind of a clunk, clunk sound’.
  • When do you hear the sound? – ‘When I turn and accelerate.
  • Right and left? Forwards and back?’
You see where we’re going. You’re gathering additional information to help your Redding technician at Bryant Automotive know where to start. Based on your car and the tech’s experience, we’ll know where to look on you SUV and can start with the obvious suspects.

You can see how that would be more helpful than dropping the car off with a note that says “making a funny noise“.

When you think you need to bring your SUV in, make some notes about the problem it’s having. Rather than just saying “it’s leaking”, tell the tech the color of the fluid, and approximately where under the car you see the puddle.

Things like ‘the car is stalling or sputtering’ are often very hard to diagnose because they’re intermittent. They may not happen every time you drive and may not be happening when you actually bring the car in. So, it is a big help for you to describe what’s happening in as much detail as possible.

Your Redding technician at Bryant Automotive will need to be able to duplicate the problem if possible so he needs to know details, like “It stalls after it’s been driven for about 20 minutes and I go over 50 miles an hour”.

If your technician at Bryant Automotive can experience the problem personally, he’s better able to make a diagnosis and repair. And, then test to see if the repair solved the problem.

At Bryant Automotive in Redding California (96002) we install quality NAPA replacement parts. Give us a call at 530.222.3313.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Diagnose a Won't Start

This week a vehicle was towed into our shop. The primary complaint being that when you went to turn the key and start it, the engine would not crank and would instead make a high pitched "whirring" sound.  Most often when this is seen, the main problem is the starter itself malfunctioning.  Normally, when you turn the key, a gear slides into contact with the flywheel, which is attached to both the Engine and Transmission. Once the gear is in place the starter spins the flywheel, allowing the engine to start. Sometimes the gear fails to engage the flywheel and spins in place, which also results in the engine not starting.
In this particular case, the teeth on both the starter and flywheel were worn, and a few were missing. Beyond the missing teeth, most of the others on the flywheel and the teeth on the starter were worn to such an extent that they were not contacting each other. As you can see in the following photographs, there are several spots that are damaged on the flywheel.  The only solution is to replace the flywheel and starter, and in order to do that you have to partially remove the transmission to gain access to the flywheel.

 As you can see, the left side of these teeth are worn
Another area of the flywheel showing the damage on the left side (this is also the side that faces the front of the vehicle and the direction from which the starter engages)

Mouse Problems

Every once in a while we will get a car that comes into Bryant Automotive with a mysterious electrical problem. We'll run our normal diagnostics, and find the circuit that the problem is in. The difficulty comes in finding exactly where the damage has occurred.  Luckily, today's engine compartment guest has as far as we know, not damaged any wiring. But our most recent encounter with a mouse in the engine compartment led to thousands of dollars of repairs being necessary to replace the wiring loom that the mouse or rat had chewed through.

**Warning** The following are photographs of a dead mouse/rat.

Severely Damaged Rotor

This is what remains of the brake caliper
This rotor was damaged by continuing to drive the truck well past when the brake pads had worn completely through.

In this photo you can see what remains of the outer portion of the brake rotor. The fins you see are usually sandwiched between the two rotor surfaces and serve as a cooling feature. 

A Close up view of the rotor, the thin metal between each fin is what remains of the outer portion of the rotor

The drivers side rotor showing what normal wear on a rotor looks like. 

Brand New rotor
Although difficult to see, this is a view of both the inner and outer surfaces of the rotor, as well as the fins between them.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Overheating Problem


Here at Bryants Automotive we do all kinds of work on cars, trucks and vans. Lately we have had many vehicles come in with cooling system problems. A typical complaint from customers is that the vehicle is overheating. The customer has noticed this either from the heat gauge on the dash, steam rolling from under the hood.

Initially we sign up customers vehicles for a cooling system inspection. This gives the technician the time to look the entire cooling system over. The technician starts by checking the coolant level when the vehicle has come in and its level of protection (freezing and boiling point). The technician then pressure tests the system to check for leaks. Leaks can be found coming from the water pump, bypass hoses, head gasket, radiator hoses, heater hoses, engine freeze plugs, thermostat housing, and radiator.

This week we had a vehicle come in with an overheating problem. Sometimes vehicles can have more than one problem that is contributing to overheating. On this particular vehicle the technician pressure tested the vehicles cooling system and found a crack in the radiator. After replacing the radiator and filling with coolant he checked the temperature of the coolant as it worked its way through the cooling system. 

He discovered that the coolant was not changing temperature. Typically when the coolant leaves the engine on its way to the radiator it is hot, cools off in the radiator and makes its return trip back through the engine.  He deduced that one of two things was happening.That the thermostat was stuck closed (a thermostat stops coolant from flowing until reaching optimum working temperature for the motor where it then opens to let coolant freely pass through the cooling system). Or that the water pump was not working correctly.  He replaced the thermostat and was still having the coolant flow problem.

The next step was to remove the water pump and inspect the impeller. Essentially the impeller pushes the coolant through the cooling system. The water pump is driven (turned) by the car engine with the serpentine belt in this case. Below is a short video that shows the water pump and impeller.


The impeller is NOT supposed to separate from the water pump. With this vehicle the water pump was turning and the impeller was separated from the water pump and not able to do its job. Which is to push coolant through the cooling system. 

After replacing the water pump and filling with coolant we test drove the vehicle. The new water pump is doing its job in the cooling system and the vehicle no longer overheats.

This is a not-so-short description of one cars journey getting fixed here at Bryant Automotive. I hope you are a little more knowledgeable about how your cooling system works on your vehicle. 


Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Don't Let This Happen To You

A customer came into Bryant Automotive today with a complaint that the brake pedal did not feel right.  This complaint, described as a "soft" or "mushy" pedal, sometimes is due to air getting into the brake system, and is usually remedied by what is called Bleeding. To bleed the brakes, the fluid reservoir is filled, and the brake pedal pumped and depressed while a bleed screw is turned to allow air to exit at each wheel.  This vehicle however, did not have a soft pedal caused by air in the system.

This is the left front brake caliper. The brakes were worn so significantly that the brake pad had actually fallen out of the caliper.

 This was the right front. As you can see, it looks different from the the left front above. This is what the brake caliper and pad should look like.
 This shiny surface is what normal wear on a brake rotor looks like. There is some groves formed, but overall the surface is fairly smooth.  For a rotor like this we would use a lathe to smooth the surface to provide a clean surface, which translates to better friction against the new brake pads.
This is the left front Brake Rotor. As you can see, the grooves are deep and coarse.  There is also a significant lip formed at the edge of the rotor.  These are all caused by the excessive wear that occurred once the brake pad had worn through and fallen away. This rotor is not salvageable and must be replaced.