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  • Beware of Potholes! (Avoiding Pothole Damage)

    Apr 25, 2021

    You may live in a region where roads become pockmarked with craters known better as potholes.  They're caused by moisture seeping through a compromised road surface that can freeze, expand and literally punch holes in the road.  And when your vehicle hits one of those holes that's big enough, the impact can flatten a tire, bend a wheel or tear apart a suspension component. 

    To minimize pothole damage, leave enough room between you and the vehicle in front of you so you can see the road surface and any upcoming potholes.  That way you'll have time to slow down and steer around them.  Also, if you see what looks like a puddle of water, it may be hiding a pothole underneath, so treat it as if was a pothole.

    If you keep your tires inflated to the manufacturer's specifications, they're more likely to withstand hard impacts.  And the slower you're going when you hit a pothole, the less likely you are to break something.   But if you do find you've hit a pothole pretty hard, here are some signs to watch out that could signal damage.

    • Your vehicle pulls to one side
    • The steering wheel shakes
    • You hear noises or clunks coming from your suspension
    • Your steering wheel is not centered when you are going straight

     

    These are all symptoms you should have checked at your vehicle repair facility as soon as you can. The longer you wait, the more damage you may be doing.

    You also may find after hitting a pothole hard that the tire on that wheel is flat. Try not to drive any more on that tire since you could do a lot more damage to the tire and/or wheel. A call to roadside assistance may save you money in the long run by limiting the damage to what's already done.

    Affordable Transmissions
    6301 WELCOME AVE N STE 28
    Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    Cold Weather Vehicle No-Nos (Items to Avoid Storing in a Freezing Vehicle)

    Mar 28, 2021

    It's always easier to leave a few things in your vehicle so you'll have them on hand.  But in cold weather, while it's a good idea to carry items such as a phone charger, blanket and shovel, there are some things you shouldn't store in your vehicle.

    • Medicines and drugs.  Cold temperatures can affect the chemical makeup of some drugs.  Avoid leaving them in a vehicle, especially those in a liquid form like insulin, eye drops and cough syrup.
    • Latex paint.  They are water based, and when they freeze, they get lumpy and lousy.  Your paint job will not be what you had in mind.
    • Cellphones and computers.  Most of these have lithium ion batteries.  If they get colder than freezing (0 degrees C, 32 degrees F), if you try to charge them, you'll more than likely ruin the batteries. 
    • Bottled water, soda, wine or beer.  OK, here's the scoop.  All of these can freeze and split the container they're in.  Yes, soda, wine and beer will take a lower temperature to freeze than water, but all of these can easily freeze if the mercury plunges low enough.  The problem isn't when they're frozen; it's when they unfreeze, drip out of their containers and leave you with a colossal mess. 
    • Musical instruments.  Guitars are made of wood.  When a guitar freezes and you bring it quickly into a warm room, you may hear cracking sounds that tell you that guitar will be not-so-gently weeping from the damage that can occur.  The same goes for wind instruments and others.  Don't ever subject musical instruments to quick temperature extremes.

     

    Take a little time and effort not to leave these things out in a frigid vehicle.  You'll likely spend far more time and money tending to the resulting consequences than if you'd just brought them inside in the first place.

    Affordable Transmissions
    6301 WELCOME AVE N STE 28
    Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    When Your Air Bag Light Comes On (Illuminated Air Bag Light)

    Mar 7, 2021

    There are some dashboard lights you should pay more attention to than others.  One is the air bag light.  If it's on and your vehicle is in an accident, your air bags probably won't do their job.

    Automakers began installing air bags in the late 1990's since they were mandatory in the United States, and manufacturers have included them in Canadian vehicles as well.  Safety experts say using a seat belt in combination with an air bag gives passengers the best chance of surviving a crash and minimizing serious injury.

    The air bag warning light takes a few different forms.  Some look like a picture of a belted passenger with an inflated air bag from a side view.  Or there may be a warning light that says something like "Air Bag," "SRS" (for supplemental restraint system), "Airbag Deactivated" or "Air Bag Off."

    Different things cause the air bag light to come on.  Your vehicle may have been in an accident during which, while the air bags didn't inflate, crash sensors were activated.  Some of them may be connected with your vehicle's seat belts.  A technician can reset the air bag if this has happened.

    Fuses can also blow which will cause the air bag light to come on.  Another possible cause? A sensor that tells the vehicle's computer whether or not there is someone riding in the passenger front seat may be malfunctioning. 

    Air bags are not for the do-it-yourselfer.  They are sophisticated systems that require specialized training and equipment to diagnose and repair.  If an air bag light is on, take it to a qualified service repair facility.  One more thing: remember that safety experts have designed air bags to work in conjunction with seat belts for maximum protection in accidents.  So always wear your seat belt.  

    Affordable Transmissions
    6301 WELCOME AVE N STE 28
    Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    Getting from E to F (Fuel Gauge Problems)

    Feb 14, 2021

    Who thinks about their fuel gauge?  You probably don't… until it doesn't work any more.  Then you have to guess how much fuel is in your tank, and that's no way to live life on the road. 

    Fuel gauges, like every other part in your vehicle, can fail.  And when yours stops working, you will probably want to head over to your service facility soon, because no one relishes running out of fuel.

    The fuel gauge system is much more than just the gauge you can see on your instrument panel. Most systems have a float inside the fuel tank that goes up and down depending on the fuel level.  It's called the fuel sending unit, and it sends an electrical signal to the gauge (on the dash) telling it to display how much fuel is left in the tank. 

    So, what could go wrong?  Well, a few things.  For one thing, corrosion from bad fuel can cause it to stick and it won't move up and down any more.  So you could fill up your tank and the gauge would still read Empty.  If a sending unit needs to be replaced, often the parts can be costly. The good news is that fuel sending units rarely fail and most drivers will never have one go bad.

    Other things that can go wrong? An electrical problem could cause a fuse to blow and you won't get a reading at all.  A technician can figure out where that electrical problem is and how to repair it.  Finally, it's possible for the gauge itself (on the instrument panel) to fail.

    One thing to keep in mind is if your fuel gauge isn't working, you might be tempted to carry around an extra container of fuel.  That's ok if it's outside the cabin, such as in the bed of a pickup.  But if you carry it inside the cabin or trunk, fuel fumes can be very dangerous for your health, even fatal.

    A working fuel gauge gives you peace of mind… so you'll never have that "empty" feeling.

    Affordable Transmissions
    6301 WELCOME AVE N STE 28
    Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    Water Everywhere (Clogged Drains)

    Nov 29, 2020

    It's bad enough when you mistakenly leave a window open in your vehicle on a rainy day and you find your carpet soaked.  But what in the world is going on when your windows are closed tight, not leaking and you STILL wind up with wet carpet? The answer could be something you might not even know your vehicle has.

    And the answer is? Drains. And those drains can get clogged.  Yes, your vehicle has several drains with tubes or hoses attached to them that you really never see.  There are some in and around the hood that channel rainwater down to the ground.  There are some that take condensation from the air conditioner and allow it to flow outside.  And if your vehicle has a retractable sunroof or moon roof, there are small drains at each corner that connect to tubes that go through the vehicle body down to an exit near the ground. 

    Considering all the leaves, dirt, dust and other debris your vehicle encounters on a daily basis, it's not surprising that these drains can get blocked.  Then when it rains, that water winds up going to the place of least resistance.  Sometimes, that's inside the cabin where it shows up as wet carpeting.

    So, what's the solution?  You may be tempted to see if you can clean out those drains yourself.  But there are many people who have tried blowing condensed air in the drains only to find that they literally blow the tubes off of their connections inside the vehicle's body.  Reattaching those can be a time-consuming, labor-intensive, expensive proposition.

    A trained technician has the equipment and knowledge to clear out those drains properly. To prevent clogged drains, regular maintenance is the key, so when your vehicle is in for other periodic maintenance like oil changes and tire rotations, the technician can make sure all drains are clear and flowing like they should.

    Affordable Transmissions
    6301 WELCOME AVE N STE 28
    Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    Drivers that "T" Us Off (Bad Driving Practices)

    Nov 15, 2020

    We've all seen drivers who do things that—let's be frank—really irritate us.  They're inconsiderate, can put people in danger and make the road a much less friendly place.  They really "T" us off.  These are the bad drivers who fit their description to a "T." 

    • The Tailgater.  You've seen this terrible driver who follows a few inches off the bumper of the vehicle ahead.  We all know what's going to happen if the driver ahead of the tailgater has to slam on the brakes.  And we've all been that driver followed by the tailgater, whose vehicle fills up your entire rearview mirror.  The tailgater is likely not in a great frame of mind and, thanks to his or her stupid driving practices, the "tailgatee" is getting pretty ticked off as well.  That's a formula for a big problem. Know anybody who respects or likes a tailgater? Didn't think so
    • The Texter. All sorts of people think they are perfectly capable of texting while driving.  It's not hard to spot them.  They're usually going more slowly than other drivers.  They may be weaving in and out of their lane.  They're looking down at their phone, not at the road.  At a stoplight, they're the ones who sit there for 30 seconds after the light has turned green.  Did you know a recent study found that a quarter of all accidents involve someone who is texting and driving?
    • The Trasher.  Their window goes down and the trash flies out.  They treat anything outside their vehicle as their personal garbage dump.  They finish up a cigarette and flick their butt out, leaving dozens a day for the rest of us to "admire." The Trasher has been around for a long time.  It's time for them to clean up their act.
    • The Turn-signal Troublemaker. They don't think they need to use turn signals because THEY know where THEY'RE going and no other driver needs that information.  They change lanes without any warning.  Or they made their move minutes earlier and have "forgotten" to turn off their signal.  Use those turn signals wisely and carefully.  And if you're not using your turn signals because they're not operating correctly? Get 'em fixed!

    Affordable Transmissions
    6301 WELCOME AVE N STE 28
    Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    Power Failure (Broken Power Seat)

    Oct 4, 2020

    Know anyone who doesn't love a power seat in an SUV, a car, truck or van? They're convenient and precise in their adjustments.  But when they break, oh, what a pain.  Not only is it inconvenient, it may leave your seat position too close to the steering wheel or too far from the pedals.  This is a must-fix problem.

    There are many things that cause a power seat to fail:

    • Seat controls.  These are either at the side of the seat or in the door.  Both are places that can be exposed to moisture or other contaminants.  When the controls stop working, they usually need to be replaced.
    • Seat motor.  Electric motors are what make a power seat move, and sometimes they fail.  Sometimes they just get worked to death and die of old age.  Replacement is the most common remedy.
    • Fuses. A power seat is, after all, powered by electricity and all vehicle power systems have fuses to protect them.  A technician can determine which fuse may have blown and replace it.  But it's also important to figure out what caused the fuse to blow and deal with that, too.
    • Wires.  There are wires under the seats that move when you move the seat.  Sometimes they get stretched, kinked or ripped.  In a power seat malfunction, it may be a wiring harness that needs to be replaced.
    • Gears.  They help the seat move and may need to be realigned or replaced.
    • Obstructions.  Yes, a piece of trash or a kid's toy has been known to jam up the works of a power seat. Taking them out of the mechanism may get your seat working again.

    Most people pay extra to have power seats in a vehicle. So make sure you keep that convenient feature working. And don't forget that it's a safety issue, too.

    Affordable Transmissions
    6301 WELCOME AVE N STE 28
    Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    Objects in the Mirror (Rearview Mirror Safety and Maintenance)

    Aug 30, 2020

    You may remember a song that went, "Objects in the rearview mirror may appear closer than they are." While that was a song about life's lessons, there are a few things we should all know about how important rearview mirrors are to safe driving.

    While new electronic devices are helping drivers be aware of surrounding traffic in high-tech ways, the good old rearview mirror is still a dependable way of letting you know what's around you.  There are usually 3 on each vehicle, 1 attached to the windshield inside and 2 attached outside on each of the front doors.

    It's important that they be adjusted properly before you start driving (not while you're driving). Experts say the windshield rearview mirror should cover the area behind the vehicle while the outside mirrors should not simply duplicate that view but extend it to the sides, where blind spots normally are.

    Your rearview mirrors must be able to hold the positions they're adjusted in; it there's play in them or they move around, you'll never be sure they're pointed in the direction that will let you see where traffic is.  The one on the windshield must be firmly attached.  If it won't stay where you want it, head to your service facility where they can tighten it or replace any parts necessary to let the mirror maintain its aim. If it has fallen off the windshield completely, a technician can reattach it with the proper adhesives or fasteners.  There may be electronics that need to be properly connected as well.

    The outside mirrors cover your blind spots and they must be able to hold their adjustments, too.  Many adjust electronically; switches and motors can fail, electrical connections can detach or become corroded and the reflective glass can crack, discolor or develop a hazy fog.  A technician can diagnose and repair those problems and recommend any replacement parts you might need.  Mirrors that are adjusted manually also should be restored to proper working order in order for you to maintain this important rear visibility.

    Drivers don't think about their rearview mirrors all that much.  On reflection, don't they deserve respect and care for the important job they do?

    Affordable Transmissions
    6301 WELCOME AVE N STE 28
    Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com




    Low Power Mystery (Ignition Coil Service)

    Jul 19, 2020

    It's no fun when your vehicle just doesn't run the way it used to.   You may notice (especially in cold weather) the engine won't start easily or when it does start, it doesn't run smoothly. It may not have much power at all. You also may have had to stop at the gas station more often, a sign your fuel economy isn't what it used to be. 

    There could be a few different things that cause those symptoms, but one culprit could be a bad ignition coil. The coil takes the voltage from your battery and multiplies it before that power is sent over to a spark plug. That allows the plug to fire off a good jolt of electricity that ignites the fuel in your cylinder and powers the engine. 

    There's usually one ignition coil for each cylinder (or sometimes for a pair of cylinders). If only one of them is not pushing out enough electricity, it can cause big trouble with your engine performance.  Other signs of a bad ignition coil include engine backfire, an oil leak and your Check Engine light coming on.   When that light comes on and you have some of those other signs, you need to have your repair facility check things out fairly soon because you may be damaging your engine and wind up with a far more expensive repair.

    A technician will check for a computer code to pinpoint which cylinder is having the problem.  Using other diagnostics, the technician can rule out other components that might be causing the engine to misfire.  Ignition coils usually last 100,000 miles/160,000 km, but other engine conditions can cause them to fail before then. 

    Your service advisor may suggest getting all your coils replaced even though only one is malfunctioning. That's probably a good idea in a higher mileage vehicle since the other coils may be close to failure, too. It's also wise to do that if your vehicle's coils are located in a hard-to-reach spot so you likely won't have to spend the money for that labor again when another one fails.

    Affordable Transmissions
    6301 WELCOME AVE N STE 28
    Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
    (763) 533-1169
    http://www.affordabletransmission-mn.com