ValleyPro Autohouse News

SERPENTINE BELT

You know that long belt that snakes around the front of your engine? It’s called the serpentine belt. The serpentine belt is driven by the engine as it turns. It powers your alternator, air conditioning compressor, and power steering pump. On some vehicles it also runs the water pump, radiator fan, and power brakes. Sounds like a lot of important stuff doesn’t it? If your serpentine belt were to break on one of our Kelowna BC roads, your battery would die in a few kilometers. If it runs your fan or water pump, your engine could overheat. And steering and braking could be more difficult. Obviously, the best thing is to replace your serpentine belt before it breaks.

Kelowna BC Serpentine Belt Check your owner’s manual for when it’s recommended that you replace your serpentine belt – or just ask your Kelowna BC service advisor at VALLEYPRO Autohouse by calling 778-753-5339. He can inspect the belt as well to see if it’s in trouble.

You may have been told by a service advisor in Kelowna to look for cracks in your belt to see if it needs to be replaced. Of course, cracks are still a concern, but modern belt material doesn’t crack as often as old belts did. What we look for these days is the thickness of the belt. We have a special little tool at VALLEYPRO Autohouse that measures the depth of the grooves in the belt to see if it needs replacing.

A worn belt can slip or be misaligned, putting harmful undue stress on the accessories it runs.

Now you can imagine it’s vital for the belt to be tight, so there’s a tensioner pulley on your engine that puts pressure on the belt to keep it at the right tension. The spring on the tensioner wears out over time so we recommend replacing the tensioner pulley at the same time as the serpentine belt.

Replacing your serpentine belt on schedule, or when an inspection warrants it, will keep you from an unexpected breakdown.

EXPERT AUTO ADVICE FOR KELOWNA: IGNITION COILS

Ignition CoilGasoline and air are ignited in your engine to create a small explosion to generate power. The spark plug provides a little blast of high voltage electricity to light the fire. The key phrase here is “high voltage”. Your vehicle’s battery has just 12 volts – not nearly enough to power the spark plug. It’s the job of the ignition coils to amplify those 12 volts into the up to 100,000 volts needed.

A cable from the battery enters the ignition coil. True to its name, the coil has two windings (coils), of copper wire. The first winding uses a thicker wire and the second winding has thousands of winds of smaller wire. By the time the electricity has passed through the windings, the voltage has expanded enough to power the spark plug.

Some engines have just one ignition coil that runs through a distributor which routes a burst of electricity to the individual spark plugs. Many modern engines have one ignition coil for every two engine cylinders. Other engines are designed with a “coil-on-plug” system that has individual ignition coils that attach directly to each spark plug.

Because of the intense amounts of electricity that pass through ignition coils, they wear out. When a coil fails to provide enough electricity to fire a spark plug(s), the engine “misses”. The engine will run rough and may shut down entirely.

It’s generally advisable to replace all of the ignition coils at the same time – once one has failed, others are probably not far behind. This is also often a good time to replace the spark plugs as well.

Any time your engine is running rough, have the team at VALLEYPRO Autohouse in Kelowna check it. We have the diagnostic equipment and ability to isolate the trouble, correct it and get motorists back on the road promptly.

VEHICLE MAINTENANCE TIPS FROM VALLEYPRO AUTOHOUSE: OXYGEN SENSOR

Oxygen SensorMany Kelowna auto owners hear the term “Oxygen Sensor” and figure it must have something to do with sensing oxygen, but don’t really know much beyond that.

Let’s explain it: your vehicle has an oxygen sensor in the exhaust manifold that measures how much unburned oxygen there is in the exhaust. The sensor reports its findings to the engine control unit (ECU), which knows how much oxygen there should be in the exhaust. Based on that critical information, the ECU will adjust the amount of fuel it sends to the engine.

This feedback and adjustment loop is non-stop. The goal is to have the optimal air to fuel ratio for performance, efficiency and to lower harmful emissions.

Now there is a second oxygen sensor located in the exhaust pipe after the catalytic converter. It too measures the amount of oxygen in the exhaust after it has been treated by the catalytic converter. As this measurement is reported back to the ECU, the computer compares the oxygen levels before and after the catalytic converter to determine if the converter is still functioning properly.

So, 4-cylinder vehicles have two oxygen sensors. V-6 and V-8 engines have four sensors, two for each bank of cylinders. As you can imagine, the oxygen sensor lives and functions in a pretty hot environment so they do wear out over time. Substances in the exhaust can also damage them leading to failure. Outside elements like water and road salt can corrode an oxygen sensor. When the sensor goes bad it simply needs to be replaced.

BC motorists may be interested to know that oxygen sensors are often replaced needlessly. When the oxygen sensor returns a measurement that is out of the specified range, it may trigger a trouble code in the ECU and the Check Engine Light is illuminated.

Inexperienced Kelowna do-it-yourselfers or Kelowna parts store employees may read a trouble code that reports an out of range sensor reading. That could mean that the sensor is bad, but it could also mean that the sensor is accurately reporting a condition caused by some other issue. A skilled diagnostician at VALLEYPRO Autohouse can sort this out and will only replace the oxygen sensor when it has truly gone bad.

When you have a Check Engine Light come on and stay on, it’s good advice to have it checked out by a qualified VALLEYPRO Autohouse service specialist. The cause may be minor or quite important, so it’s best for Kelowna car owners to play it safe and let the professionals determine if it’s necessary. Give us a call

WHEN SHOULD I REPLACE MY WINDSHIELD WIPERS?

Whipers Well, most Kelowna drivers wait until they fail. The problem with that is that you find out they have failed when you actually need them most – a little too late.

Wiper blades are really an essential safety system for Kelowna drivers. As you can imagine, 90% of our driving decisions are based on what we see. If you can’t see well because your wipers can’t clear

your windshield, your ability to drive safely is significantly impaired.

So the simple answer: of course, Kelowna motorists should change your wipers if they don’t work well. But replace them before they go bad so they are always ready when that storm hits. For some Kelowna car owners, once a year may be enough. For others – those who drive a lot, whose wipers are exposed to a lot of sun, or use their wipers more – replacing the blades a couple of times a year might be in order.

There several types of wiper blades. The conventional blade is the base model. On the other end of the spectrum are beam blades. These have a solid beam that provides uniform pressure over the entire wiper surface for better contact with the windshield. And there are hybrid blades that are a combination of conventional and beam blades.

Upgraded wiper blades last longer and provide a cleaner wipe. Kelowna auto owners can always upgrade, but should never go with a lower grade blade than what was installed on your vehicle from the factory.

Finally, there are special winter blades. The special design of winter wiper blades resists snow and ice build-up in the blade. Remember, using your wipers on an icy windshield will tear up your wiper blades. Scrape your windshield before running your wipers.

Your thoughtful ValleyPro Autohouse technician can give you wiper blade options and help you select what’s best for this critical safety system.

TRANSFER CASE SERVICE

Transfer CaseQuestion: I was told I need to have my transfer case serviced. What is that?

VALLEYPRO Autohouse Answer:
On a four-wheel-drive (4WD) vehicle, power needs to be transferred to both the front and rear axles. The transfer case is the mechanism that makes that happen. There are many drivetrain configurations out there, so we’ll just talk in generalities.

Trucks and larger SUV’s are often primarily rear-wheel-drive. When the driver (or the vehicle’s computer) selects 4WD, the transfer case also sends power to the front axle. The transfer case may also contain an additional gear set for off-roading.

The transfer case is lubricated and cooled by special gear oil. Over time, the oil gets contaminated and needs to be changed, just like your engine oil and transmission fluid. Your car maker will have a schedule and your thoughtful VALLEYPRO Autohouse service specialist can help.

Now many vehicles around Kelowna have all-wheel-drive (AWD). AWD vehicles are often based on a front-wheel-drive or rear-wheel-drive vehicle with the addition of a center differential that sends power to the rear wheels when needed. This center differential, like the transfer case, has an important service schedule for replacing contaminated lubricant. The work of transfer cases and differentials is demanding and proper maintenance should not be neglected by Kelowna drivers.

Knowing the service schedule for your transfer case and differentials will help keep your sedan running well and avoid premature wear.

SERVICE INTERVALS AND SEVERE DRIVING CONDITIONS

Driving Condition

Owner’s manuals have schedules for preventive maintenance. Kelowna car owners can check on things like oil changes, transmission service and so on. They say you should change your oil every 5000 kilometers or every 6 months. Kelowna motorists understand this very well. What they may not know is that there are actually two service schedules: the regular schedule and the severe service schedule. The mileage and time intervals are lower on the severe service schedule.

Now when you hear “severe service”, you may think it doesn’t apply to you because you don’t feel your driving conditions are severe or extreme – it’s just normal everyday driving. So let’s list some of the conditions that manufacturers classify as severe so that Kelowna motorists can make the judgment on their own driving.

  • Most trips are less than six kilometers.
  • Most trips are less than fifteen kilometers and outside Kelowna temperatures are below freezing
  • You drive in very hot weather in BC
  • Driving at low speed most of the time around the Kelowna area (under 90 kph)
  • Stop and go driving
  • Operating your vehicle in dusty, polluted or muddy Kelowna conditions
  • You tow a trailer, regularly carry heavy loads or carry a car-top carrier

Most of us Kelowna auto owners operate under severe driving conditions at least some of the time. How do we know which car maintenance schedule to follow?

Carefully think about your driving conditions and decide if you should do your preventive maintenance closer to the severe service recommendation or the regular recommendation. Of course, your thoughtful VALLEYPRO AUTOHOUSE service professional can help you with

GASOLINE DIRECT INJECTION

Direct Injection

Question: My new car has a “GDI” engine. What does that mean to me and other Kelowna motorists with this new type of engine?

VALLEYPRO AUTOHOUSE Answer:
GDI stands for Gasoline Direct Injection. It’s a type of fuel injection system that is becoming very popular on modern engines. Let’s talk about the two most common forms of fuel injection. Port Fuel Injection has been common in Kelowna for the last several decades. With this type, there is a small port just outside the cylinder on the engine.

  • The fuel injector squirts a bit of gas into this area just before the intake valve opens
  • When the valve opens, air enters the port and mixes with the gas and then flows passed the valve and into the engine
  • The gas and air mixture is compressed by the piston
  • The spark plug fires, igniting the gas which pushes against the piston thus powering the engine
  • With Gasoline Direct Injection the process is a bit different.
  • First, there is no port outside the cylinder
  • When the intake valve opens, air is drawn into the cylinder
  • The air is compressed by the piston
  • At the correct time, the engine management computer signals the fuel injector to spray gasoline directly into the cylinder (hence, Gas Direct Injection)
  • The pressurized gas and air are ignited by the spark plug, powering the engine

So why did automakers move to GDI? Well, by injecting the gas directly into the engine, the management computer is able to time the injection event more precisely. Also the gas sprayed directly into the engine cools the compressed air enough to allow for better combustion. This adds up to more power and better MPG for a given engine size. Now these two types of fuel delivery systems call for different kinds of fuel injectors. Port fuel injectors squirt their fuel at 40 to 65 pounds per square inch – that’s like the pressure in a bicycle tire.

GDI injectors operate at over 2,000 pounds per square inch. Of course it’s always important to keep your fuel injectors clean – but it’s even more important for GDI injectors. When they become contaminated, the affect performance and MPG.

Speaking of fuel system cleaning, different cleaners and cleaning processes are required for GDI engines. Intake valves get a fair amount of carbon build-up over time. With port injection, some gasoline flows over the valve when it opens to let in the gas and air. This has a cleaning effect – which doesn’t occur with GDI. So pouring a bottle of fuel system cleaner in your gas tank will not reach the backside of those intake valves. A professional fuel system cleaning process at VALLEYPRO AUTOHOUSE in Kelowna will take care of that concern for Kelowna auto owners.

So, GDI will continue to be more prevalent in BC on everything from compact cars to pick-up trucks. Ask your VALLEYPRO AUTOHOUSE tech if your sedan could benefit from a fuel

Improve fuel economy and idle quality with a fuel injection cleaning and flush.

Affiliates

NAPA Auto Care Center
Red Seal Certified
Paws for a Cause
Salvation Army