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  • Tacky or Techie? The Tachometer.

    Nov 18, 2018

    There's a gauge that many vehicles have that says RPM on it.  And there are a lot of people who either don't pay any attention to it or don't even know what it is. Here's why it's a good gauge to know about.

    It's called a tachometer, and that "RPM" label means it is measuring how many revolutions per minute (RPM) the engine is turning.  Automotive experts know that a vehicle's engine can be damaged if it turns too fast (revving too high) or too slowly ("lugging" the engine).

    A tachometer (sometimes called a tach) is almost a "must-have" gauge for vehicles with a manual transmission; the driver has to manually change gears; the tach helps the driver know when revolutions are in the optimal range.

    Some say you don't need a tachometer if you drive a vehicle with an automatic transmission. It's true that most drivers of automatics don't even look at it.  But there are times when paying attention to the tach can help you prevent an expensive repair.

    Here's a good example.  Manufacturers now build many of their automatic transmission vehicles with shift paddles.  They let you shift gears without a clutch. That's manual shifting, and drivers need to know they're not revving the engine too high. That's where the tachometer comes in, since it shows you visually when you are in the red zone (RPM too high).

    Here's another way the tach can help you: fuel economy. Generally speaking, the lower the RPM, the better the fuel economy. It's not good to go too low, of course, and the tachometer will help you find that spot of maximum efficiency.

    You can also spot problems by paying attention to the tach.  When your vehicle stays in first gear longer than usual (higher reading on the tach), then the RPM dip lower than usual after shifting, it may be that your vehicle's transmission is skipping a gear.  Plus, if your vehicle's RPM go up but your speed doesn't, it could mean your transmission is slipping.  Either situation should be checked by a trained technician.

    If your commute takes you down some long grades, you might like to put your vehicle in a lower gear to help slow down the car (and not burn up the brakes). Having a tachometer keeps tabs on when your engine is revving too high.

    So, consider the tachometer a "bonus" gauge.  It's one more helpful assistant that can help you spot and prevent problems in your vehicle.

    Affordable Transmissions
    6317 WELCOME AVE N STE 1
    MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55429
    (763) 533-1169



    Cruisin' on Down Main Street

    Mar 21, 2018

    When automakers first came out with cruise control, it was a real luxury item.  The older cruise controls used a mechanical vacuum system but it worked.  Well, some of the time. 

    Now days, cruise control is all electronic, thanks to computers.  It's reliable and a real convenience on long trips.  Cruise control is offered on most vehicles and standard on a lot of them.  Because it's electronic, when it breaks, it's usually some electronic component.  Your vehicle's cruise can be the victim of a blown fuse. Or your vehicle's speed sensor, which—not surprisingly—measures your vehicle's speed, can also stop working.  And that will cause your cruise to stop cruising. 

    Vehicles with cruise control also have a built-in feature that, when the brakes are applied, turns off the cruise.  With electronic cruise control, that happens thanks to the brake pedal switch, and if a problem develops in that switch, the cruise might not work.

    The newest cruise control is called "adaptive." What that means is that it will maintain your vehicle's speed as well as the distance between you and the vehicle ahead of you.  That means if a car ahead of you slows down, your vehicle will slow down to the same speed and even stop if the car ahead stops.  Pretty cool, right? As you can imagine, adaptive cruise control is more sophisticated and has many more components than standard cruise.  The systems vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, but they use on-board radar units and cameras to calculate what your vehicle should do to maintain a safe distance and speed. 

    Finally, there are still some of the older style cruise controls out on the roads.  They'll stop working when the vacuum actuator develops a problem, a vacuum hose starts leaking or breaks or the cable between the actuator and the throttle kinks, breaks, seizes up or becomes detached. 

    If your cruise control isn't working, your service repair facility will be able to determine what kind your vehicle has and what it will take to fix it.  Good news for the cruise blues.

    Affordable Transmissions
    6317 WELCOME AVE N STE 1
    MINNEAPOLIS, MN 55429
    (763) 533-1169