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108 Weaver Dr. 

Dickson, TN 



Your Complete Automotive Service Center

Dickson's 1st Auto Repair Blog


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Have you checked your tires lately?

Posted on March 11, 2013 at 2:21 PM Comments comments (370)
 I know, no one ever want to think about buying tires. There is nothing less enjoyable than spending your vacation money on something you can't even admire. But think of if this way. You and your family's safety depends on it. You should check your tires  at least once a month and before and after long trips. To determine whether you need to  buy new tires,  have your wheels balanced or have your vehicle aligned.
Underinflated tires wear out faster, create excessive heat, decrease fuel mileage, and make your vehicle much harder to handle. Overinflated tires can blow out more easily, wear out faster, and make the car unstable and unsafe to handle. New  tires on a vehicle out of alignment can wear out  as quickly as 5000 miles!
 Look for things in each tire.
 Do you see nails, stones, or other debris in the treads? Remove them. But if you're going to remove a nail, first make sure that your spare tire is inflated and in usable shape. If you hear a hissing sound when you pull a nail, push the nail back in quickly and take the tire to be fixed. If you aren't sure whether air is escaping, put some soapy water on the hole and look for the bubbles made by escaping air. If you're still not sure whether the nail may have caused a leak, check your air pressure and then check it again the next day to see whether it's lower. Tires with leaks should be patched by a professional. If the leak persists, get a new tire.
Look at the sidewalls.
 Check for deeply scuffed or worn areas, bulges or bubbles, small slits, or holes. Do the tires fit evenly and snugly around the wheel? Tires will show signs of cracking around the wheels as they age. This is caused by tires drying out and "dry rotting." When this is present tires will need to replaced as soon as possible to prevent a blowout.
Look at the tread.
Most tires have tread-wear indicators built into them . These bars of hard rubber are normally invisible at first look, but appear across treads that have been worn down to 1/16th of an inch of the surface of the tire. If these indicators appear in two or three different places,  replace the tire. If your tires don't show these indicators and you think that they may be worn too low, place a Lincoln penny head down in the groove between the treads. If you can see the top of Lincoln's head, your tire probably needs to be replaced. To measure tread wear more exactly, place a thin ruler into the tread and measure the distance from the base of the tread to the surface. It should be more than 1/16 inch deep. If your front tires are more worn than your rear ones and show abnormal wear patterns, you probably need to have your wheels aligned. 
This a a few things you can do to keep ahead of the curve so to speak. If you feel you need further assistance, check with your loacal garge. I am sure they will be glad to help.
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    Be Cool

    Posted on March 15, 2012 at 10:27 PM Comments comments (6433)
       As warmer weather approaches quickly, many of us are looking to our vehicles a/c for some comfort. Are you ready. After sitting idle for several months, some of us may receive a surprise when we first need a cool breeze.
       Your system has been working fine while the temp setting was warm, but this invites a number of things to creep up on us. Now that it is warming up, you may notice the cabin air is just not that fresh. Most of todays vehicle have a filter, much like your home a/c unit, to filter the air as it passes through your unit. This filter needs to be serviced at least yearly or approximately every 15000 miles. As times goes by this filter will become restricted and slow the airflow inside the cabin. Also as in your home if it becomes clogged you may risk your system freezing up. Your local repair shop or parts house can supply you with the proper filter for your vehicle.
       For those vehicle without a filter, mold and mildew can build up in your evaporator housing causing a musty odor upon first use. An a/c evaporator cleaner can be used to clean your system and restore it back to maximum efficiency.
       Spring is just around the corner so take a moment to check your system. You'll be glad you did one day soon.
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    Feeling Gassed at the pump?

    Posted on March 6, 2012 at 11:07 PM Comments comments (54)
    With todays price at the pump, many are looking for ways to increase fuel mileage and save on daily driving. Most fuel available contains ethanol as an additive. The ethanol content is required to be posted at the pump and its important to know what you are buying. Newer cars and trucks built have no problems performing on fuels containing 10% ethanol but many of the older vehicles are suffering from this additive . As the norm, you will see non-ethanol fuel costing 8 to 10 cents per gallon more but this is not always a bad thing. The addition of ethanol will decrease the efficiency of your vehicle, thus causing a drop in fuel mileage. In many cases you may actually spend more while paying less at the pump. While there are fewer alternatives available, the non- ethanol fuel will pay dividends in the end. Look for "non-branded" stations, meaning privately owned stores that do not fly  national brand signage. As by law these are the only ones allowed to carry non-ethanol fuel. Pay attention to the stickers on the pumps. Law also mandates if fuel has ethanol, it must be posted on the pump.
    Ethanol-based fuel, or E85, is an increasingly common alternative fuel that more vehicles can use instead of gasoline. The E85 name comes from the ethanol content, which is 85 percent (the remaining 15 percent is gasoline). An E85-compatible vehicle can run on a full tank of the fuel, a full tank of gasoline or any mixture of the two. Ethanol is a domestically produced fuel derived from biomass. In the United States, that’s mostly corn today, but technologies are being developed that soon you may begin to see more E85 pumps at your local gas stations, your car can use it only if it was designed for it. A yellow gas cap indicates E85 compatibility and it’s very important to never fill up with ethanol if your car wasn’t designed for it. Ethanol delivers about 70 percent of the energy of an equivalent gallon of gasoline, so the miles per gallon performance when using E85 is a somewhat lower than with gas.
    Keeping your vehicle tuned and serviced properly will help with maintain the best mileage. If you have previously been using fuel with an ethanol additive, it may be necessary to perform a fuel system service. Over the counter additives are good but do not do a thorough job of cleaning the complete system. Your service center will be glad to assist you in the proper way to clean your system based on type of vehicle you own. This will clean excess carbon and "gum" that builds up after extended use. Older vehicles, pre 2007 year models, we tend to see this build up causing a decrease in performance and mileage. Ethanol, being made from corn, creates a sticky residue inside the fuel system and this in turn will cause the engine to be less efficient if not service regularly.
    In short, know your fuel, know your vehicle. This will assist you in saving on fuel cost in a time when we all need help anytime we can get it.
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    Hidden Danger. Do you have time?

    Posted on January 24, 2012 at 11:34 PM Comments comments (182)
    Many of today's vehicles use  engines with overhead camshafts. These engines use timing belts and have a limited life span. Car makers use these belts instead of more durable chains because chains are noisier, less efficient and cost more to manufacture.  Your vehicle owners manual will recommend at what mileage the timing belt must be replaced.  These intervals range from every 60,000 miles to every 100,000 miles.

    The job of the timing belt is to turn the camshaft at  1/2 the speed of the crankshaft while maintaining a precise alignment.  This means that the crankshaft will make two revolutions for every revolution of the camshaft.  Engines will have at least one camshaft, or as many as four camshafts in some of the V-type engines.  The camshaft causes the intake and exhaust valves to open and close in time with the pistons which move up and down in the cylinders.  The valves must open and close at exactly the right time in relationship to the piston movement in order for the engine to run properly. 

    There are two types of engines that use timing belts.  They are described as: "Interference Engines" and "Non-interference Engines"  The difference lies in the clearance between the valves and the pistons.  On an interference engine, if the timing belt slips even one notch, the piston can crash into an open valve causing serious engine damage by bending valves and breaking pistons.  Non-interference engines will usually not self destruct, but in either case if the belt fails, the engine will immediately shut down leaving you stranded. Ask your auto tech which category your car falls into.

    Timing belts fail without warning and on some vehicles, are almost as hard to check as they are to change.  In most cases, your only protection is to change the belt at the recommended intervals. Timing belt replacement is not a cheap job but it is far less costly than the alternative.
    Many technicians  recommend that you replace the water pump during a timing belt job even if there is nothing wrong with it.  This is because 90% of the labor to change the water pump has already been done with the timing belt job and  it is good insurance to replace the pump at this time.  My feeling is that some water pumps can last the life of the car but many do fail and will cost big money to replace at a later date.  So ask your technician what his experience is with the water pump on your model car and look at how long you plan to keep the car. This way, at least you will be making an informed roll of the dice.
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    Conventional vs. synthetic oils

    Posted on January 4, 2012 at 8:01 PM Comments comments (165)

    Everyone knows, or seems to know, that synthetic oils are better than conventional oils, but do you know why?

    The fact is synthetic oils have several material advantages over their non-synthetic counterparts. Synthetic oils are structured with very specific properties, which leads to stronger oxidative protection against breakdown and lower evaporation rates under high temperature conditions. Synthetics also excel at low temperature operation and provide superior film strength.

    What do all of these features mean to the vehicle owner? Longer service life, excellent component protection, better fuel economy, enhanced performance and power, eased cold starting and quicker circulation during the initial warm-up period.
    Unfortunately, due to high cost, full synthetic oils are still not the norm for most automakers. But, even synthetic blends, which can range on average at 20-50 percent synthetic base oil use, can offer substantial performance increases over non-synthetic versions.

    Ready to make the switch?
    Don't pop the hood yet. If your engine has been running on conventional oil for a while, don't switch to synthetic oil without proper preparation.
    If you plan to switch over to full synthetic oil, prepare your engine with a Performance Oil Change Service,  with  a full synthetic oil, a engine flush to clean "sludge" from system and a de-carbonizer. Used together, these products will remove tough carbon deposits from the piston ring area as well as the rest of the oil system. Then your engine will be prepared for maximum efficiency.
    So when it comes to conventional vs. synthetic oil, why should you switch? Because, price means nothing if performance doesn't follow. Synthetics offer benefits that are worth the higher price. With today's fuel prices, increased fuel economy alone will pay the difference. In many cases a increase of up to 3 mpg can be observed dependant upon driving habits. So in closing,  how much do you value your engine?
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    Winter and My Car

    Posted on December 30, 2011 at 2:17 PM Comments comments (462)
    How to Winterize Your Car
    Come winter time there are a few things you need to know about your car. You not only get concerned about yourself in the extreme cold weather, but also about how your car is going to take the below freezing temps. It is not that your car feels the cold temps, but the below normal temperature does affect it. You may use heavy jackets and  boots to tackle the cold  yourself, but what can you do to make you car also withstand the colder weather?

    The only solution is to winterize your car by checking  or adding a few things to leesen the affects. Here is the list of things to do to winterize your car.

    Change of Engine Oil: The engine is the heart of the vehicle. Due to its inherent property, the oil gets thick as it gets cold, which then cannot lubricate the engine well.  For extreme winters one should switch to thinner or less viscous oil, such as 5W20 or 5W30. Check you owners manual for information and whats best your your vehicle.
     Engine Coolant: The coolant saves not only the engine from overheating, but also protects it against corrosion. In extreme winters, one should use the coolant with ethylene glycol as the antifreeze element, and mix it with water in the ratio as suggested in the vehicle’s manual. Generally, it is in the ratio of 60% coolant to 40% water.

    Your Battery: Check the age of your battery. If the battery is due to be replaced, be proactive before you get stranded. Otherwise, follow the  procedure of cleaning the battery terminals . Have the battery checked for its ability to hold a charge under load.

    Check the Belts and Hoses:  You need to perform a full inspection to make sure there is no wear and tear in the belts and hoses, as the cold temperatures make them brittle and crack.

     Tires: Check the air pressure in the tires, Pressure lowers with the drop in temperature. Make sure the tires are in good condition. Check the condition of tread as opposed to the wear bars between the tread.
    Wear bars are a small marker located in the water channels between the tread at various points around the tire. replacement should be when tread wears down to this elevated surface.

     Replace the windshield wiper blades, if it had not been, in about a year. Fill up the windshield washer reservoir with a winter mix windshield washer fluid, as plain water freezes in extreme cold conditions. Check that the lights, heater, and defroster are in perfect working condition.
     Get the car properly tuned, and the brakes checked if not done recently. Try to keep the gas tank full to prevent moisture entering and freezing the gas lines. Don’t forget a check the spare spare tire.

    Last, but not the least is the emergency winter kit in the trunk of your car, consisting of a blanket, ice scraper,  gloves,  and a flashlight. In addition, warm clothes, and boots may be handy also.

    A winterized car will make your trip more enjoyable, because you can now trust that the car will rough out in any cold extremes.

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    Don't Let the Heat Strand You

    Posted on July 27, 2011 at 7:24 PM Comments comments (38)
    Summer can be tough on cars, especially during high temperatures when heat can destroy batteries and stress the cooling system and tires. As a precaution, these vehicle components should be checked periodically during summer to help avoid breakdowns and car problems.

    Excessive heat and overcharging shorten the life of a battery. Heat causes battery fluid to evaporate, which then damages the internal structure of the battery. A malfunctioning component in the charging system, usually the voltage regulator, allows too high a charging rate, which will eventually destroy a battery.

    To get the most life out of a battery, the council recommends having the electrical system checked to make sure it is charging at the correct rate. If your car's battery is the type that needs to be topped off, check it often, especially in hot weather and add distilled water if necessary. Keep the top of the battery clean. Dirt can become a conductor, which drains battery power. If corrosion accumulates on battery terminals, it becomes an insulator and inhibits the current flow.

    The cooling system also works harder during hot temperatures to prevent overheating of the engine. To keep the cooling system working effectively, the coolant and distilled water mixture for a vehicle's radiator should be 50:50. As a reminder, never open a hot radiator cap when checking the coolant level in the reservoir.
    As a rule of thumb, the coolant should be changed annually on most vehicles. This will keep the cooling system fresh and clean inside, which helps prevent corrosion and assures that the coolant has the proper boiling point and protection. A pressure test, thermostat test, a cooling fan test and a visual inspection for leaks and corrosion should also be done annually. Hoses and drive belts should be checked for cracks, bulges or frayed edges.
    The radiator should be kept clean by periodically using a garden hose and a soft brush to carefully remove bugs, dirt and debris.

    Tires also need special care in warmer weather as high temperatures put added stress on them. To maximize tire life and safety, check the tire condition and inflation pressure monthly, and have the tires rotated every 6,000 miles. Summer heat will cause the pressure within a tire to rise, therefore, it's important to check the pressure when tires are cold. The owner's manual includes the recommended air pressure for your vehicle's tires.

    It takes very little time and money to make sure your car runs properly during summer, and although breakdowns happen, they can definitely be minimized by taking a few extra preventive maintenance steps.
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    Your Car Battery Life

    Posted on July 8, 2011 at 10:58 AM Comments comments (539)
    Your car battery is fighting quite a battle, on one hand to live longer and on the other to power all the new contraptions that adorn your car these days. So while the car battery continues to become more and more equipped to handle more power, the increase in power consumption of a battery and the extensive use of cars these days, brings the whole battle back to square one.

    But still, there are several factors that play their part in affecting the car battery life. The quality of the battery itself and the usage aside, a lot also depends on the overall maintenance of the car and the battery. Also the number of times that the driver sits idle loading the battery.

    The average life of a car battery today is said to be around 5 years. How long does the battery in your car last? How many years can it go without giving you too much of a problem?  You never really ask yourselves these questions till that morning when you turn the key in the ignition and get no response. And then reality strikes you, Maybe the battery is dead. After all, my car is about 5-6 years old and you have forgotten to check the battery for a few years now! A large number of battery failures are due to extereme heat and not cold. With todays vehicles being controlled by onboard computer, your battery has to work even while you sleep to keep all systems active.
    Overusing the car battery can dramatically shorten the car battery life span. So don't test it. Keep the  lights off when you don't need them, don't used unnecessary accessories too much and keep the AC and the stereo switched off when your car isn't running. Keeping all the battery operated parts of the car 'on' when the car  is not running, drains the battery a lot faster.

    Regular battery maintenance goes a long way in improving the car battery life expectancy. The next time you send your automobile for servicing , make sure that the guys check your battery. The battery cables and  terminals need to be cleaned and maintained to optimally utilize it, so that it won't give any problems in the future.  Maintaining a battery goes a long way in increasing the life. 

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    Heat and your tires

    Posted on June 27, 2011 at 11:08 PM Comments comments (261)
    Temperatures over a hundred degrees can be deadly out on the roads, if your car is not maintained properly.
    According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, 3,400 people were killed and more than 116,000 injured in tire related accidents throughout the country, in the last five years.
    When tires are rotating at 70-miles an hour, experts say the heat  really builds up, and can cause a blow out, especially if you are driving on old or under-inflated tires.
    If you take a look at any road around here, you'll find tire scraps from blowouts.
    Tires are built to take extreme temperatures, but experts say these continuous 100-plus degree summer days take their toll.
    Over time as the rubber dries out, they're not built to continue to withstand it.
    Tires have a good three to four years before they  begin to lose  their effectiveness
    That means paying close attention to trailers and cars that don't get used much. 
    Check them regularly for cracks and dryness, and the date on the side to make sure they're not too old.
    Tire pressure is also an issue.  When ever the heat rises in the air so does your tire pressure in your tires,.
    Keep on eye on it when you fill up the tank.
    The proper inflation will be on the information label inside driver's door of your car
    Make sure you keep a good check before you hit the read. It will make that trip a much safer one..
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    That Pesky Check Engine Lamp

    Posted on June 23, 2011 at 4:46 PM Comments comments (52)
    A malfunction indicator lamp (MIL), commonly referred to as the "Check Engine Light", is a warning lamp to indicate malfunction of a computerized engine management system. It is found on the instrument panel of most automobiles. When illuminated, it is typically either an amber or red color. On vehicles equipped with OBD II diagnostics, the light has two stages: steady indicating a minor fault such as a loose gas cap or failing sensor and flashing indicating a severe fault, that will eventually destroy the catalytic converter, such as a misfire. When the MIL is lit, the engine control module stores a fault code related to the malfunction, which can be retrieved with a diagnostic scan tool and used for further diagnosis. The malfunction indicator lamp usually bears the legend check engine, service engine soon, or a picture of an engine. 
    If a fault occurs during a test cycle the lamp will illuminate. It takes 3 test cycles with a fault detected in each cycle to come on if failure is of a performance nature. The lamp will illuminate on 1 failure during a test cycle with a safety related fault. In some cases the is a warning indicator that may be of a more minor nature, however many cases delay in checking can result in a much more expensive repair in the future. Most repair facilitys offer an inexpensive test to inform you of your options. There are also auto parts stores that will "pull codes" for free but many times the individual doin this does not have the technical exspertise to understand what is found. Beware of the "free check" as it does in many cases become expensive.
    If you MIL indicator is on, please don't just ignore. It has something really important to tell you. Your vehicles life may just depend on it.
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