The Pitts Repair Service Guide To Servicing Your Differential

Differential? What’s that? And what’s it for? I’ve been told by my service specialist that I need to get it serviced, but is that on the level?

Do these questions sound familiar? They’re not uncommon for Concord auto owners. A lot of us in Concord don’t know what a differential is or what it’s for. Every vehicle has a differential, and, yes, it does need to be serviced. In fact, it’s more critical to the operation of your SUV than the air conditioner or windshield wipers.

A differential allows your SUV tires to move at different speeds. This happens more than you think. The best example is when a vehicle is turning. The inside wheel travels a much shorter distance than the outside wheel during a turn. This means the outside wheel has to move faster than the inside wheel. Without a differential, your tires would hop and skip while turning. They would also lose traction in sand or snow.

The location of your differential depends on what kind of vehicle you drive. On a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the differential is located in the back. For a front-wheel drive vehicle, it is located on the front, but it is usually called a transaxle. Four-wheel drive vehicles have three differentials: one on the front, one in the back, and one in the middle. This center differential compensates for differences in speed between the front and rear wheels.

Your differential contains strong gears that need to be protected from dirt, debris, water and other contaminants. A differential is sometimes referred to as a “gear box.” The work of these gears is to transfer power from the SUV drive train to the wheels.

Your differential needs fluid to lubricate and cool the gears. This fluid, even though enclosed in the “gear box,” can get dirty because the gears grind down over time, releasing tiny bits of themselves into the fluid. Also, the additives in the differential fluid break down and need to be replaced. That’s why critical preventive maintenance for your SUV needs to include servicing the differential.

Your owner’s manual can give you recommendations on how often to service your differential. But you should also consult with your appreciative, honest, efficient Pitts Repair Service tech. Pitts Repair Service can give you some good auto advice on whether your vehicle needs to be serviced more frequently. For example, if you drive in hot or cold Concord weather conditions, your differential will need to have its fluid changed more often.

Severe conditions will also affect your car care routine, and your differential. Check your owner’s manual for a definition of “severe service” conditions that affect your vehicle. Examples may include driving with frequent stops and starts, a lot of short trips around Charlotte, hot or cold NC weather conditions, and towing.

Off-roading is particularly hard on a vehicle’s differential. If you are an off-roader, especially if you cross NC streams or waterways, it is essential that you service your differential more frequently than the recommendations suggest.

Properly servicing your differential will extend its life and keep you out of Concord auto repair shops. A smooth ride for Charlotte drivers is the result of proper preparation and smart choices.

Timing Belt

Ever heard the sad tale of a staggeringly expensive repair bill from a broken timing belt? Bad news. Let’s Concord drivers take a lesson from their woes and remember to think about our essential 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 vehicle 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 Concord auto owners down right away. Your Pitts Repair Service service specialist 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 automakers 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 appreciative, honest, efficient Pitts Repair Service tech.

One AutoNetTV producer has had two timing belts fail. The first was while he was waiting at a stop light – that expensive 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 Concord auto owners just cannot put off. Now replacing a timing belt is not cheap – but repairs for a broken belt can be far more costly.

The team at Pitts Repair Service recommends Concord auto 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 money because as they say, “timing’s everything”.

Fuel Saving Tip: Fuel System Cleaning Near Kannapolis NC

A lot of gas is wasted in the Kannapolis area by dirty fuel delivery systems.

Let’s start at the tank. The gas tank gathers dirt, rust and sediment over the years. That’s why there’s a fuel filter to clean the fuel after it leaves the tank. A dirty filter will rob the engine of the clean gas it needs to run efficiently.

Pitts Repair Service Fuel System Cleaning The fuel intake components get coated with gum and varnish over time. This results in fuel being delivered inefficiently and some of that gunk getting into the engine. A fuel system service at Pitts Repair Service will leave your intake as clean as a whistle.

The big fuel thief is dirty fuel injectors. They deliver fuel to the engine at a specified pressure and in a particular spray pattern. When they’re clogged, the fuel doesn’t get atomized the way it’s supposed to and doesn’t get burned as efficiently.

See your owner’s manual or ask your Kannapolis service advisor at Pitts Repair Service when a fuel system cleaning is recommended.

All Lined Up: Wheel Alignment Service At Pitts Repair Service

When all of your vehicle’s wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Hitting a road hazard or even just the normal bumps and bounces of everyday driving in Concord can cause your SUV’s wheels to be out of alignment.

Driving for an extended time in Concord when your wheels are out of alignment results in uneven tire wear. This is dangerous … and expensive. Worst case scenario, you have a blowout on a crowded NC freeway. It can also cause premature wear to your suspension system, which can be really expensive to repair. At the very least, you may have to replace your tires years too early.

Here are some alignment basics from Pitts Repair Service:

The first adjustment is called toe or do the wheels point in towards each other or away from each other at the front of the tire.
The next adjustment is called camber or do the wheels tip in or out at the top.
And finally, there is castor. Castor measures the angle where the front axles attach to the vehicle.

The ideal alignment for your SUV was designed by its engineers. Alignment service at Pitts Repair Service starts with an inspection of the steering and suspension – to see if anything’s bent or broken. Then your appreciative, honest, efficient Pitts Repair Service technician will look at tire condition.

From there, the SUV is put on an alignment rack and an initial alignment reading is taken. The wheels are then aligned to SUV vehicle manufacturers’s specifications.

Your SUV owner’s manual probably has a recommendation for how often your alignment should be checked – usually every couple of years. If you suspect an alignment problem, get it checked at Pitts Repair Service before you suffer expensive tire or suspension damage.

Fuel Injection Basics For Concord

All modern Concord vehicles come with fuel injection systems, so it’s a topic Charlotte auto owners need to know something about. The mighty fuel injector is a valve that delivers the gas or diesel fuel to the right place, in the right amount, at the right time; to be mixed with air and burned in the engine.

So how many fuel injectors does your car have? There’s one for each cylinder. So four, six or eight for most folks in Concord, NC. Some vehicles have 10 or 12 cylinders. The engine control computer makes adjustments to the fuel injector as it monitors the engine and other sensors. Fuel injectors are a pretty high-tech.

Pitts Repair Service can help Charlotte motorists with a fuel injector cleaning service. What’s the benefit? In order to work right, the fuel injectors have to deliver the fuel at a precise pressure at a very precise time. It’s vital that the fuel is sprayed in a particular pattern as determined by the engine design.

Over time, varnish can start to build up in the fuel injectors, effecting the pressure, pattern and timing of the fuel charge. The result is that the fuel doesn’t get burned as efficiently as it could. That robs performance and hurts MPG.

What about dirty fuel – how does that affect the fuel injectors? The fuel injectors are the last stop in the fuel system. It starts at the fuel tank. Frankly, the best way to keep your fuel injectors working well is to use high quality fuel. It’s tempting to shop for bargains in  Charlotte with fuel prices as high as they are, but major brands in the Concord, NC area have better detergents and additives and deliver consistent quality.

What about a good fuel filter? The fuel filter is a key component of the fuel system. Its job is to filter out the dirt and rust that collect in the fuel tank. If it’s clogged up, the dirt will bypass the filter and head upstream to the fuel injectors.

It’s vital to replace the fuel filter when your car maker recommends it. That’s part of a comprehensive fuel system cleaning.

There are different kinds of fuel injection systems. Port fuel injection systems, the kind most gasoline engines have, operate at 60 pounds per square inch. The injectors for the new gas direct injection engines Concord drivers are starting to see require 10 to 30 times as much pressure. And some diesel engines for passenger vehicles have injectors that operate at 30,000 pounds or more per square inch. There’s no room for dirt and gum in a precision part like that.

There are a lot of good products available in Concord, NC that can clean fuel injectors. They’re best used by Concord auto owners to prevent fouling in the fuel injectors. Many can’t clean a seriously gummed up injector – that requires a professional deep cleaning, like those we offer at Pitts Repair Service in Concord. But putting the cleaner in the fuel tank after you’ve had Pitts Repair Service take a look at your fuel system will help keep it clean. Be sure to read the label for directions.

Give us a call if you think your SUV may be ready for a fuel injector cleaning.

Manager: Chris Warren
Pitts Repair Service
325 NW Pitts School Rd.
Concord, NC 28027
704-786-6894

Charlotte Safety Systems: Tire Pressure Monitoring System

Flats, blow outs, skids and longer stopping distances can all be the result of Concord car owners driving around on under-inflated tires. Admittedly, it’s hard to tell when a radial tire is under-inflated. If your car maker recommends 35 pounds of pressure, your SUV tire’s considered significantly under inflated at 26 pounds. The tire may not look low until it gets below 20 pounds.

New laws required car makers to include a Tire Pressure Monitoring System – or TPMS system – in all cars and light trucks by the 2008 model year. The system has a dashboard mounted warning light that goes off if one or more of the tires falls 25% below automobile manufacturer’s pressure recommendations.

Charlotte Safety Systems: Tire Pressure Monitoring SystemThis technology has been used by Charlotte race car drivers for years. They are able to head off problems from under inflation by closely monitoring tire pressure on the track. It’s up to your SUV’s auto maker to determine which of many TPMS systems available they’ll use to comply with the law.

Obviously, all of this doesn’t come free for Concord drivers. U.S. government studies have estimated the net costs. Of course, the TPMS system itself will cost something. Maintaining the system will have a cost, replacement of worn or broken parts and tire repair cost increases.

The costs are partially offset by improved fuel economy and longer tire life. There’s also a potential savings in property damage avoided and fewer travel delays. The net cost is estimated to be between $27 and $100. The government predicts fewer fatal accidents. They estimate that it will cost between three and nine million dollars for every life saved.

Your safety has always been a priority at Pitts Repair Service. We want you on the road and accident free. We’ve traditionally provided things like tire rotations, snow tire mounting and flat fixes at a very low cost. We’ve been able to quickly and cheaply provide the service, and pass the low cost on to you as an expression of our good will.

That’s why we’re concerned about how our valued Concord customers will perceive the changes that this new law requires. Every time a tire is changed: taken off to fix a flat, a new tire installed, a snow tire mounted; the Pitts Repair Service service specialist is now going to have to deal with the TPMS system.

Even a simple tire rotation will require that the monitor be reprogrammed to the new location of each tire. When a car battery is disconnected, the TPMS system will need to be reprogrammed. TPMS sensor batteries will need to be changed and failed parts replaced.

Like all other Concord service centers, here at Pitts Repair Service we’ve had to purchase new scanning equipment to work with the TPMS sensors and to update expensive tire change equipment to better service wheels equipped with the new monitoring systems. Our appreciative, honest, efficient Pitts Repair Service service professionals have been thoroughly trained on many systems and new tire-changing techniques. All of this adds up to significantly increased cost to perform what was once a very inexpensive service for you.

So when you start so see the cost of tire changes, flat repairs and rotations going up at Pitts Repair Service, please keep in mind that it’s because of government mandated safety equipment. We want to keep you safely on the road – and we’re committed to doing it at a fair price. This important safety equipment will help you avoid the most common types of vehicle failure in Charlotte, and possibly a catastrophic accident.

Gas Savings In Concord: Sharpen Your Pencil

High gas prices in Concord increase the cost of living for NC car owners. You’ve probably budgeted a certain amount for vehicle related expenses. Increased fuel costs now consume a larger portion of our incomes, causing some Concord vehicle owners to skimp in other areas – like scheduled maintenance.

According to NC news reports and automotive industry studies, this is becoming increasingly more common. In fact, nine out of ten personal vehicles on the road have at least one maintenance or repair item that hasn’t been done. Some of these items pose serious safety risks. Others are just more likely to make it more expensive to drive.

Gas Savings In Concord: Sharpen Your PencilIn this area, we can take a lesson from professional Concord vehicle owners. I’m talking about fleet owners and operators. You know, Concord folks like the trucking companies and delivery services. Because their livelihood depends on it, they have gotten scheduled maintenance down to a science. And the last thing they skimp on is regular maintenance.

Why is that? Well, for one thing they know that routine maintenance prevents expensive repairs and costly breakdowns. They also know that a well-maintained vehicle uses less fuel. For them, even a small decrease in MPG may put their Charlotte business in the red.

So what does this mean to Concord drivers? Well, there’s a ninety percent chance that you’re missing some service that would improve your gas mileage. Here’s a quick reminder list:

Fuel system cleaning, transmission service, differential service, engine air filter, wheel alignment, oil change, tune up.
Ring any bells? Can most Concord drivers honestly say that there isn’t at least one thing on the list that hasn’t been done?

Let’s suppose you chose to spend one hundred and fifty dollars and get caught up on some of these services at Pitts Repair Service. Figure that they combine to improve your fuel efficiency by fifteen percent. What would that mean to your pocketbook?

Well, the average personal vehicle in Concord is driven about twelve thousand miles a year. If you get twenty miles per gallon in your SUV, over the course of one year you would pay for the hundred and fifty dollars worth of service and save an additional hundred and sixty five dollars if gas is at three dollars and fifty cents. If gas is four fifty, you would save two hundred and fifty-five dollars. And you’d rack up savings of three hundred and forty five dollars with gas at five and a half bucks.

GAS PRICE
$3.50
$4.50
$5.50
20 MPG
$165
$255
$345

From this you can see that the more fuel costs, the more it pays to keep up on scheduled maintenance. Some of us drive trucks in Concord for work or recreation – or want a large SUV for family needs. A fifteen percent improvement in gas mileage can generate huge savings – six hundred and sixty dollars a year if gas is four fifty a gallon in Concord. Take a look at this table to see where your savings could lie.

GAS PRICE $3.50 $4.50 $5.50
10 MPG $480 $660 $840
20 MPG $165 $255 $345
30 MPG $60 $120 $180

 

So catch up on those services you’ve been neglecting at Pitts Repair Service. Get a couple done now and a couple next time. Chances are you’ll save a lot of bucks at Concord gas pumps this year – and a lot more on repairs in years to come.

 

 

Charlotte Drivers: Is It Time To Replace Your PCV Valve?

Improved fuel economy has two benefits for Concord motorists: less fuel is necessary and fewer emissions are released. Charlotte cars and trucks run cleaner than ever. Concord auto owners may not realize that the first federally mandated pollution control device came out almost fifty years ago.

NC drivers that were around in the early 60’s may remember that the PCV Valve came out on 1964 model cars. PCV stand for Positive Crankcase Ventilation. Charlotte Drivers: Is It Time To Replace Your PCV Valve?The crankcase is the lower part of the engine where the crankshaft is housed and where the engine oil lives. The crankshaft is connected to the pistons that power the engine.

When fuel is burned in the SUV engine, it pushes the pistons down and the crankshaft rotates and sends power to the transmission. Some of the explosive gases from combustion squeeze past the pistons and down into the crankcase.

Now this gas is about 70% unburned fuel. If it were allowed to remain in the crankcase, it would contaminate the oil and quickly turn it to harmful sludge. Sludge is like Vaseline and clogs passages in the engine leading to damage.

Also, the pressure build up would blow out seals and gaskets. So in the old days, there was just a hose that vented the crankcase out into the air. Obviously, not good for our air quality in Concord.

Enter the PCV valve. It’s a small, one-way valve that lets out the 
harmful gases from the crankcase, and routes them back into the air intake system where they are re-burned in the engine. Fresh air comes into the crankcase through a breather tube. This makes for good circulation in the crankcase. And that gets the harmful air out. As you can imagine, however, the valve gets gummed up over time.

Charlotte drivers that skip oil changes now and then will notice that the PCV valve gets gummed up even faster. If the PCV valve is sticking in your SUV, the gases won’t circulate as well, leading to increased pressure in the crankcase. That, in turn, can lead to oil leaks. Fortunately, the PCV valve is very inexpensive to replace at Pitts Repair Service in Concord. Some can even be checked by your appreciative, honest, efficient Pitts Repair Service advisor.

Your SUV vehicle manufacturers usually recommend they be changed somewhere between twenty and fifty thousand miles. Unfortunately, PCV valve replacement is left out of some SUV owner’s manuals, but at Pitts Repair Service, we will make sure your PVC is replaced if needed.

All of us Charlotte car owners can do our part for the environment. Watch that lead foot, stay on top of our vital automotive maintenance and don’t forget to replace our PCV valve.

Fuel System Cleaning at Pitts Repair Service in Concord for Better Performance

A fuel injector is a valve that delivers fuel to a vehicle’s engine. It has to deliver the precise amount of fuel, to precisely the right place, precisely when the engine needs it. The fuel also has to be mixed with air before it can burn in the engine.

Fuel injectors are engineered to spray fuel in a specific pattern into the engine. (The pattern varies by engine type and design.) In order to achieve these spray patterns, the fuel must be pressurized.

The pressure in a fuel injection system varies depending on its type. Many gasoline engines use port injection systems, which operate with a pressure of 60 pounds per square inch. Newer direct injection systems operate at 10 to 30 times that pressure. Some diesel passenger vehicles have fuel injectors that operate at 30,000 pounds or more per square inch.

Vehicles have one fuel injector for each cylinder in the engine. Your vehicle’s control computer constantly monitors the engine and various sensors in the vehicle and adjusts the fuel injectors accordingly so that they can deliver the proper amount of fuel to the engine. As you can see, fuel injectors are a sophisticated and vital part of your vehicle’s engine.

Because fuel injectors are such precision instruments, dirt and contaminants are a serious detriment to their performance. When an injector gets gummed up, it affects the pressure, pattern and timing of the fuel delivery. The result is a decrease in MPG and loss of engine performance.

So it’s vital to keep your fuel injectors clean. That starts with keeping the fuel in your tank clean. High-quality fuel contains detergents and additives that help clean your engine. Brand-name NC fuel companies also deliver a more consistent quality of fuel than do bargain stations in the Charlotte area.

The second way to keep your injectors clean is to keep your fuel filter clean. This filter screens dirt and rust out of the fuel as it travels from the tank to the engine. If the filter clogs up, fuel will bypass it and carry its load of dirt into the engine.

Check your owner’s manual or Pitts Repair Service in Concord to find out how often you should change your fuel filter. This should be part of your regular preventive maintenance. Also, remember that if you use bargain-brand or low-grade fuels, or if you drive an older vehicle, your filter will need to be changed more often.

You can also purchase cleaners that will protect your fuel injectors. These cleaners are added to the fuel tank. They work best at preventing build-up in your fuel injectors and can clean up small amounts of carbon, gum and varnish. But they won’t be able to clean a fully gummed-up injector. Read the labels before using any of these products for full directions on their use.

If your fuel injectors are gummed up, you can get a professional deep cleaning service at Pitts Repair Service in Concord that will result in better MPG and improved vehicle performance.

Good car care will prevent serious damage to your fuel injector system. And this is one system that you want to keep in perfect condition.

Custom Wheels and Tires For Your Concord Ride

It seems like everywhere you go in the Charlotte area you see custom wheels. Big trucks, little cars, mini-vans – it doesn’t matter, motorists are expressing themselves with custom wheels. Some NC auto owners want smaller tires and wheels – some want larger – and some want them enormous. So where do you start if you want new wheels? At Pitts Repair Service, we suggest you start with your budget. We know, that sounds so practical. But if the look you’re after goes beyond just new tires and wheels and enters into the world of suspension modifications, you need to be prepared for the additional cost.

Let’s start with something easy – you want to give your ride a unique look and the stock wheel size is just right for you. One of the concerns you will have is that the new wheels have the same offset as your SUV factory wheels.

First, what is offset? The wheel bolts onto the hub on the SUV’s axle. The distance from the inside edge of the wheel to the point at which it bolts on, is the offset. If the new wheel has a different offset from the factory, the tires may rub on the inside or outside of the wheel well. That could lead to catastrophic and (pricey)  tire failure.

Your tire and wheel professional at Pitts Repair Service in Concord can help you find the right size wheel – or install adapters to make your new wheels fit. All you have to do is pick from the hundreds of styles available.

Pitts Repair Service
325 NW Pitts School Rd.
Concord, NC 28027
704-786-6894

So, what about Concord car owners who want to upsize? Well, if you choose bigger wheels, but you want to keep the same overall tire diameter, that’s pretty easy for the team at Pitts Repair Service. The same offset concerns apply. You need to know that the tires will likely be a little bit wider than the originals and you don’t want them to rub when you make sharp turns. Your tire professional at Pitts Repair Service in Concord will help you avoid this.

It is also essential to keep the same overall tire diameter because changing the rolling diameter can mess with your SUV anti-lock brakes and stability control systems. Are you starting to see why you want to speak with your appreciative, honest, efficient Pitts Repair Service tire and wheel expert at Pitts Repair Service in Concord? Is “super-size me” your motto? If it is, you are going to have to lift your vehicle to make room for those huge tires. A mild lift doesn’t require extensive modifications. An extreme lift means a lot of new hardware under the vehicle. It also means a lot of stock electronic systems need to be recalibrated to the new tire size. For example, your speedometer and odometer will give false readings if they aren’t recalibrated. (You don’t want to risk getting speeding tickets on NC interstates because your speedometer shows a lower-than-actual speed.)

Concord car owners who want to upsize should also be aware of possible performance issues. Bigger tires and wheels weigh more. NC automotive experts refer to this as unsprung weight because it isn’t held up by your SUV suspension system. Increased unsprung weight affects performance in different ways than an equivalent amount of groceries or little soccer players in the SUV passenger compartment. Acceleration is negatively affected. Stopping distances may also be increased – sometimes significantly. Concord motorists who want really big tires and wheels, might need to upgrade their brakes to compensate.

Heading the other direction, some drivers in the Charlotte area like to run smaller than standard wheels and lower the suspension. All of the same fitment issues still apply as well as calibration issues. Don’t think that SUV suspension modifications are a bad thing. Many systems actually improve ride, function and performance over the stock set-up.

Regardless of your budget, you want your SUV to continue to do all the things you need it to do. Some of those show cars and trucks you see on TV and Concord showrooms  look remarkable, but have been modified in ways that may not suit your needs. For example, if you put large rims on your SUV with low profile tires, you may be in for busted rims if you go off-roading a lot around Charlotte. There just isn’t enough sidewall to absorb the impact of thumping over rocks.

Some motorists stuff the largest tires and wheels possible in their vehicles but have to severely restrict suspension travel so that the tires aren’t rubbing all day. That can lead to a very harsh ride around NC. Again, talk with your Pitts Repair Service wheel professional about all of these things: how you drive in Concord, what look you are going for, your budget and what compromises you are willing to make.

At the end of the day, you’re going to be rollin’ out of Pitts Repair Service with one sweet ride.