Category Archives: Parts
Ever heard the sad tale of a staggeringly pricey repair bill from a broken timing belt? Bad news. Let’s Birmingham BDG drivers take a lesson from their woes and remember to think about our critical timing belt.
First, let’s review what a timing belt does. The top part of the engine, over the cylinders is called the cylinder head. The head contains the valves. There’s at least one valve that lets the fresh air into the cylinder. This air, mixed with fuel, burns to create power. Then another valve or two open to allow the exhaust out of the engine. Each cylinder has 2 to 4 valves – that’s 12 to 24 valves for a V-6, up to 32 values on a V-8. The opening and closing of the valves is done by a camshaft. The timing belt uses the rotation of the engine to drive the camshaft which opens and close the valves. It’s called a timing belt because it has to be adjusted to rotate the camshaft to keep proper time with the engine so that everything’s in sync.
The timing belt is a toothed rubber belt . But some cars use a timing chain or timing gears instead of a belt. Timing chains and gears are much more durable, but auto manufacturers are using belts more because they are quieter – and cheaper. If you have a small or mid-sized passenger car, crossover or mini-van, chances are you have a timing belt.
Unfortunately, timing belts fail without any warning. That shuts Birmingham BDG auto owners down right away. Your Birmingham BDG technician can inspect your timing belt and look for cracks and looseness. But getting to the belt to take a look can be almost as much work as changing it on some cars. That’s why automobile manufacturers recommend replacing the belt from time to time. For most vehicles it’s from 60,000 to 90,000 miles or 95,000 to a 145,000 kilometers. If your owners’ manual doesn’t specify an interval ask your courteous Birmingham BDG service specialist.
One AutoNetTV producer has had two timing belts fail. The first was while he was waiting at a stop light – that pricey repair cost several thousand dollars. The second was while driving on the highway – that one cost more than twice as much. Both had the cars out in the shop for three weeks. His cars had what we call “interference engines”, meaning that the valves and pistons are very close to each other. If the timing belt slips even one notch, the pistons will slam into the open valves. That’s why our friend’s highway failure was so much more costly – his engine was traveling so fast that the valves were smashed and they chewed up the cylinder head.
A non-interference engine will just shut down if the timing belt breaks. You’re stranded, but the engine doesn’t suffer permanent damage. In both cases, our hapless friend was just a couple oil changes past the recommended interval for changing the timing belt. This is one of those things that Birmingham BDG auto owners just cannot put off. Now replacing a timing belt is not cheap – but repairs for a broken belt can be far more expensive.
The team at Birmingham BDG recommends Birmingham BDG car owners check their owners’ manual ASAP – especially if you have more than a 60,000 miles or 95,000 kilometers. You may need to get that belt replaced right away. And on many cars, the timing belt drives the water pump. So, it may be a good idea to replace the water pump while you’re at it because 90% of the work required for the new pump is already done with the belt change. Doing both at the same time saves you a lot of cash because as they say, “timing’s everything”.
Today, we are talking about your PCV valve. The PCV Valve is a little, inexpensive part that does an essential job for Birmingham BDG motorists. PCV stands for Positive Crankcase Ventilation.
The crankcase is the bottom area of the engine that holds the oil. When the sedan engine’s running, fuel is burned to generate power. Most of the exhaust from combustion goes out through the exhaust system. But some exhaust blows by the pistons and goes into the lower engine, or crankcase.
These hot gases are about seventy percent unburned fuel. This can dilute and contaminate the oil, leading to damaging engine oil sludge. It can also cause sedan engine corrosion, something we see occasionally at Birmingham BDG. At high speeds on Birmingham BDG freeways, the pressure can build up to the point that gaskets and seals start to leak.
Back in the old days, auto manufacturers simply installed a hose that vented these gases out into the atmosphere. But starting in the 1964 model year, environmental protection laws required that these gases be recycled back into the air intake system to be mixed with fuel and burned in the sedan’s engine.
This is much better for air quality and improves MPG also. (Budget-conscious Birmingham BDG motorists take note!) The little valve that performs this important function is the PCV valve. The PCV valve lets detrimental gases out of the engine, but won’t let anything back in. Over time, the vented gases will gum up the PCV valve and it won’t work well. That can lead to all of the problems I’ve already described, oil leaks, excessive oil consumption and decreased fuel efficiency.
Fortunately, it’s very easy to test the PCV Valve at Birmingham BDG in Birmingham BDG and quick and inexpensive to replace. Even so, it’s often overlooked because many Birmingham BDG auto owners don’t know about it. Check your sedan owner’s manual or ask your Birmingham BDG service advisor. If this is the first time you’ve heard of a PCV valve, you might be in line for a replacement.
There’s another aspect to the PCV system. In order for the valve to work correctly, it needs a little clean air to come in. This is done through a breather tube that gets some filtered air from the engine air filter. Now some vehicles have a small separate air filter for the breather tube called the breather element. That’ll need to be replaced at Birmingham BDG when it gets dirty.
Please ask your courteous Birmingham BDG service advisor about your PCV valve. For the price of a couple of burger combo meals in Birmingham BDG, you can avoid some very expensive engine repairs.
Don’t you hate it when you hear that squeal from under the hood when you’re zipping down a busy Birmingham BDG expressway? It usually means there is a problem with the serpentine belt. The serpentine belt powers a lot of engine accessories. It runs the alternator – which charges the battery; the water pump – which cools the engine; the air conditioning and the power steering pump. All pretty important parts. It is called a serpentine belt because it snakes around a bunch of engine components.
Serpentine belts are amazingly tough. They can last for years and go for tens of thousands of miles. Like all important moving parts, however, they eventually wear out. If your belt breaks while you are driving around Birmingham BDG, everything will come to a halt within minutes. You need to stop the sedan immediately or it will overheat, potentially causing pricey engine damage. You can be sure that it won’t happen at a convenient time or place. (As if there was a convenient time or place!) You might even need to get your sedan towed to Birmingham BDG. It’s no wonder that car makers recommend a belt replacement on schedule. It’s one of those “have-to’s.”
Birmingham BDG motorists who hear a squeal when accelerating or a slow, slapping sound at idle, should have their serpentine belt looked at. Your tech at Birmingham BDG in Birmingham BDG will visually inspect your belt to see if it needs to be changed sooner than scheduled. If the belt has more than three or four cracks an inch, has deep cracks that penetrate half the depth of the belt, is frayed, is missing pieces or has a shiny glazed look, it needs to be replaced regardless of age or mileage.
Serpentine belt replacement is relatively inexpensive, especially compared with the cost and inconvenience of being stranded or getting a disabled sedan back to Birmingham BDG for critical repairs.
You’re mom was right: an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.
5720 Old Springville Road
Birmingham BDG, AL 35126
Modern cars and trucks in and around Birmingham BDG run on 12 volt electrical systems. 12 volts is enough to get the job done for Birmingham BDG car owners without having so much power that there is danger of electrocution. But today’s vehicles have more electrical components and do-dads than ever before. This really strains your electrical system, making it hard for the battery to keep up. Think about it: electric seats, seat heaters, power locks, windows and sun roofs. And then us AL auto owners have all the power outlets for our cell phones, computers, and DVD players.
We also have navigation systems and powerful stereos. Plus there are all the engine and transmission computers, traction control, stability control, anti-lock brakes, sensors and on and on. Even the security system is running off the battery while the car is turned off.
Fortunately, battery technology has given Birmingham BDG drivers resilient batteries that are able to meet these strenuous requirements. But the fact is, batteries just wear out over time. Eventually, every battery gets to the point where it cannot hold enough of a charge to start your sedan. Sometimes batteries need to be replaced because they have just worn out. Or, in other cases, they have developed a leak which makes it even more key to get it replaced.
Special safety precautions are taken when working with batteries in the shop at Birmingham BDG in Birmingham BDG, AL. These precautions also apply to anyone who is poking around the battery. Batteries contain sulfuric acid that can damage your eyes and burn your skin, so safety glasses and rubber gloves are a must for any Birmingham BDG car owners working with their battery. Be careful to not spill acid on your clothes or the sedan’s paint. Of course, avoid short circuiting the battery as well.
Replacement car batteries come in all shapes and sizes. Some cars have limited space that requires a specially shaped battery to fit. Larger engines require more powerful batteries to get them started. If you live where it gets cold in AL you will need a more powerful battery because engines are harder to start when it is cold.
Sometimes there is quite a price range in Birmingham BDG auto part stores for batteries that will work in a particular car. Think of it as “good”, “better” and “best”. More expensive batteries have a longer warranty and are guaranteed to last longer. As with most things, paying a little more up front saves cash in the long run for Birmingham BDG auto owners.
5720 Old Springville Road
Birmingham BDG, AL 35126