Our Current Blog Articles
July 14, 2017
Warning Signs that Your Engine is Overheating
Knowing the warning signs that your engine is overheating can save you from seriously damaging your car. Bowers Automotive of Colorado Springs often receives vehicles that have been driven for too long with an overheated engine. When your engine overheats, the pistons powering your car can expand and seize in the cylinder bore. If you continue to run the engine in this state, you can end up cracking the engine block and cylinder heads, resulting in a very expensive trip to the mechanic.
Your engine can overheat for a number of reasons. Some of the most common causes of this are mechanical failures such as broken fans or blown head gaskets. Problems with your car's radiator and cooling systems, such as leaking coolant or a stuck thermostat can also result in your engine reaching a dangerously high temperature. Luckily, there are a number of warning signs that your engine is overheating. If you respond quickly, you will have the best chance of minimizing serious damage.
When the engine is running, you can expect the hood to emit heat and feel warm to the touch. This is completely normal. If however, your car's hood is extremely hot, this could be cause for concern. You should be able to comfortably place your hand on the hood for 10 seconds without burning it.
Temperature Gauge or Light
On your dashboard, you should see a warning light or gauge indicating the temperature of your engine. If the light flashes on or the gauge reads near maximum, it means there is excessive heat generating in your engine. However, this warning light cannot always be trusted to alert you of an overheating engine. It functions by measuring the temperature of the coolant, so in the case of a huge coolant leak, there would be nothing for it to measure.
If your engine is making an audible ticking noise, it means that your engine oil is failing to lubricate the moving parts sufficiently. When engine oil is overheated, it loses its lubricating properties and behaves more like water than oil. At high temperatures, if the mechanical parts of your engine are clacking against each other audibly you can expect them to undergo wear and tear at a much higher rate than usual.
Coolant Leaking on the Ground
If you notice a puddle of coolant under your car, it could be a sign of a leak somewhere in your cooling system. It also could indicate that your engine has overheated and boiled the coolant within the radiator, causing the overflow tank to release excess liquid to relieve the high pressure created. In either situation, your car's cooling system no longer has the correct amount of coolant flowing through the engine, so it will be prone to overheating.
There is a distinctive odor emitted when the engine heats up enough to start burning oil. As the temperature increases, the rubber seals, plastic valves, and bits of resin holding the whole engine together may begin to melt, releasing fumes that you would not normally smell otherwise. Most people describe this unusual odor as a 'hot' smell. It's also possible that leaking coolant containing ethylene glycol will fill your car with sweet-smelling, but toxic fumes. Any unusual odors are a bad sign and should not be ignored.
Steam Coming from the Hood
Steam billowing out from underneath your hood is a sure sign that your engine is overheating. As soon as you notice, pull over and turn off the engine. Coolant that has reached its boiling point will convert into steam and build pressure within the cooling system. When it escapes from your car’s radiator cap or coolant reservoir, you will see it coming out from the front and sides of the hood.
The thermostat in your cooling system controls the valve allowing the flow of coolant to the radiator, ensuring efficient engine function. If this valve gets stuck, the trapped coolant in the engine block will become superheated. When cold coolant comes into contact with the superheated coolant, you will hear a loud thumping noise coming from the engine area. Getting the thermostat replaced usually fixes this issue.
Reduced Engine Power
An overheated engine may not be able to deliver enough power to keep your car moving at the rate you want it to move. If you sense the power in your engine is lacking, pay close attention to odd smells or noises that can corroborate engine overheating. Keep an eye on the dashboard temperature gauge or light and pull over if you think the engine is struggling.
If you notice one or more of these signs, there is a high chance that your engine is overheating. The wisest thing to do in this situation is to safely pull over as quickly as possible and turn off your engine. This will allow the engine to cool down naturally and prevent further damage. If you are going to raise the hood to allow excess heat to escape, remember to do so with caution, as escaping steam can easily burn you.
It is best not to touch anything under the hood until the engine has fully cooled down. Attempting to check the coolant level will likely result in a bad burn if the pressure has built up from excess heat. As you wait for the engine to cool, call a trusted local mechanic for advice. With a description of the symptoms, they should be able to advise you on whether to bring the car in yourself or have roadside assistance pick it up.
At Bowers Automotive, we can offer a complete range of auto services including engine repair and replacement, cooling system diagnostics, and electrical repair. We urge our clients and all drivers to pay close attention to any warning signs that your engine is overheating. Promptly addressing the issue will usually allow you to avoid complete engine failure. Save time and money by keeping your car regularly maintained and if you do notice any of the signs, just bring your vehicle to the shop.
June 26, 2017
How to Make Your Tires Last 10 Years
The experts at Bowers Automotive in Colorado Springs have some advice on how to make your tires last 10 years. Most drivers have the idea that their tires should be changed around every two years, allowing some room for adjustment according to the road conditions and the frequency of use. It turns out that this rule of thumb is not as definite as you might think. The lifetime of a tire is highly dependent on where it is stored and how it is maintained.
It is true that the rubber material of tires does degrade over time, even without being in contact with the road. The main reasons for this are damage from ozone, temperature fluctuations, and UV rays. When stored indoors and at a stable temperature, you can prevent a lot of wear and tear on your tires. According to product specialists at Tire Rack, ordinary tires should last for six years of service and up to ten years total lifetime since manufacture.
So why do so many tires need to be changed at a much more frequent rate? The answer lies in the regular maintenance of your tires and better storage. To make the most of your tires and save money, you can follow these simple steps. Have your tire pressure checked and adjusted often. A typical tire will naturally lose 1 psi of pressure per month, and with every 10° increase or decrease of ambient temperature, you can expect to see a gain or loss of 1 psi.
Tires that are under or overinflated will suffer from an increased rate of wear and tear. If you can keep your pressure at the perfect level, you will slow down the wear of your tires significantly. The tire pressure monitoring systems in most vehicles will only alert you when the pressure has dropped below 75% of the recommended value. This is not sensitive enough to prevent damage to your tires and lower your fuel economy substantially. Checking the pressure with a gauge at ambient temperature every month and making necessary adjustments will make a big difference in the lifetime of your tires.
Keeping track of wear on your tire treads can save you some hassle in the future. When getting your vehicle serviced, make sure you have your tires rotated and balanced. This will ensure your tire treads wear down evenly and can elongate their lifetime. Depending on your daily driving conditions, weather and terrain quality, your tires may need replacing more often than every six years. Use the quarter test if in doubt. When you stick a quarter into the tread of your tire, if the top of Lincoln's head is visible, it's time for new tires!
It may not be possible for everyone to take advantage of these tips on how to make your tires last 10 years, but by taking these precautions, you will definitely extend their life and save money. Keeping your tires wearing evenly, balanced, and at the right pressure will keep them functioning safely for longer. Store your vehicle and any spare tires in an area away from direct sunlight and temperature fluctuations if possible. Bower's Automotive will gladly help you with a simple tire rotation and balance as well as complete vehicle evaluation and maintenance. Don't hesitate to call us with any questions about tire maintenance and replacement.
June 14, 2017
Auto Air Conditioning Troubleshooting
Bowers Automotive of Colorado Springs is offering our customers some tips on auto air conditioning troubleshooting, just in time for the summer months. As the temperatures rise, you will be relying on your car's AC to keep cool and comfortable. If you notice your AC system is not cooling as efficiently as it once was, it may be time to troubleshoot some common problems.
One of the most common reasons for an AC system failure is a leak in the system. If you have a loose hose, broken seal or a crack where refrigerant can escape from, you are going to see a reduction in your AC efficiency very quickly. To troubleshoot this issue, your mechanic will introduce a specialized dye into the cooling system to identify the location of the leak and then replace the faulty part. They will then refill your AC system with the right quantity of new refrigerant.
Another source of AC failure can be found in the electrical or mechanical components of the system. Your auto AC system works by moving a refrigerant like Freon through evaporator coils and condensers. As the refrigerant changes state from liquid to gas, it absorbs and transfers heat. If your evaporator coil or condenser is damaged, it is usually necessary to get them replaced.
When troubleshooting your car's AC system, it is important always to get the opinion of a professional. Some car owners like to think they can DIY all their auto issues. Unfortunately, the AC system of a vehicle is not the easiest to diagnose and repair by yourself. The main danger of trying to fix your own vehicle's AC is that you can accidentally introduce dirt into the pressurized system, or refill it with the incorrect amount of refrigerant.
Too much or too little Freon running through the system will result in unsuccessful cooling and possibly even severe damage to your AC unit. If the closed system is contaminated with dirty oil or debris, you will quickly experience the effects. Introduced debris very easily blocks the expansion valve. Once this happens, the system is unable to circulate the refrigerant and cool your car's interior. We all know that driving in an overheated car is no fun for you or your passengers.
You can take some simple steps to extend the lifetime of your air conditioning system and prevent issues. The first thing to remember is the more you use your AC, the faster it `will wear out. Try to only use your AC when you need to. When you do turn it on, close all the windows in the car. This will lessen the strain on your system. If you only use your AC in the summer, remember to turn it on every few weeks during the winter. This will keep the system lubricated and less likely to fail when you need it again in the summer.
If you suspect your car's AC unit has a problem, don't ignore it. At Bower's Automotive, we can offer a complete evaluation using the latest diagnostic tools. Our auto air conditioning troubleshooting service is affordable and worthwhile if you value comfort while driving. To schedule an appointment, simply call us or drop into our auto shop on Ford St. in Colorado Springs.
May 25, 2017
Common Problems with a Catalytic Converter
Bowers Automotive in Colorado Springs has plenty of experience solving the most common problems with a catalytic converter. If you suspect that your vehicle's catalytic converter is malfunctioning, don't delay in getting a professional opinion. The catalytic converter is a fundamental component of your exhaust system. Its job is to convert the toxic by-products of combustion into safer emissions that won't be as harmful to the environment.
The catalytic converter is located on the underside of your car between the engine and the exhaust muffler. It is susceptible to damage both internally and externally. Due to its location close to the engine, it can easily overheat if your engine overheats. It's also possible to physically damage your catalytic converter by driving over rough terrain, as it can be impacted from below. If you have any of these common problems with a catalytic converter, you should take it to a qualified technician without delay.
- Reduced Performance
If your vehicle is not reacting as fast as it usually does, or if it feels like there is no fuel reaching the engine when you press the accelerator, your catalytic converter could be the source of the problem. If exhaust fumes accumulate in the front of the catalytic converter, it can cause a build-up of back pressure in your engine.
- Increased Emissions
The role of your catalytic converter is to reduce harmful emissions. If you notice an increase in dark, odorous fumes coming from your exhaust, this is a clear sign that your catalytic converter is not working efficiently. To keep in line with legal requirements, and to prevent polluting your local environment, get your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as you notice increased carbon emissions.
- Low Fuel Economy
A failing catalytic converter can contribute to low fuel economy. If your vehicle is using fuel faster than its normal rate, it means that your car engine is combusting the fuel inefficiently. This can cause you to spend a lot of extra money in a short span of time.
- Misfiring Engine
If your engine is frequently misfiring, there could be a serious problem with the fuel delivery. Sometimes a misfiring engine causes the catalytic converter to overheat or allows uncombusted fuel to enter it. If this happens, the raw fuel can ignite, causing the metal components inside of the catalytic converter to melt and cease functioning.
- Failing Exhaust System
If you think that the performance of your exhaust system has changed significantly, it is a sign that your catalytic converter may be damaged and not capable of converting the engine fumes into less harmful emissions. If you see an increase or decrease in emissions, or a change in the smell and appearance of your emissions, you should have a mechanic check your catalytic converter.
These common problems with a catalytic converter are easier to repair if addressed quickly. In some cases, if the inner components have melted, you will need to get a complete replacement. If you have any doubts about your exhaust system, we can offer professional assistance here at Bower's Automotive. Don't hesitate to call or drop into our auto shop at 1120 Ford St., Colorado Springs.
May 17, 2017
How a Coolant Reservoir Works
Bowers Automotive in Colorado Springs knows that many clients have good general knowledge of their cars, but do you know how a coolant reservoir works? This component of your vehicle plays a major role in keeping the entire engine running smoothly. A problem with the coolant reservoir tank can quickly spell disaster for your car and an expensive trip to the auto shop. A responsible car owner knows what the coolant reservoir does and how to check if there is an obvious malfunction.
As your engine runs, it burns fuel to power your vehicle. In doing so, it produces a significant amount of heat. If the temperature of your engine rises above a certain point, it can cause severe damage to the cylinders, warping them out of shape or even cracking the head gasket. This damage can be messy and cause your car to break down. Although repairable, it will cost you a hefty amount of labor charges to get the parts replaced.
Your car's cooling system works to extract heat from the engine and prevent this kind of damage. The cooling system pumps a coolant fluid through pipes surrounding your engine's cylinders. The latent heat taken from the engine converts the coolant into a gas, and as it passes through the car’s radiator, it converts back into a liquid and expels the heat to the outside of the vehicle.
The coolant reservoir is a vital component of the cooling system. Its function is to store excess coolant fluid until required. You can locate the reservoir by following the hose from the radiator. There you will find the container, usually made of transparent plastic, that functions as the coolant reservoir. The reservoir is also the place where you add new coolant to the system, and not as some people think, directly into the radiator.
As your car's engine heats up, the pressure within the radiator builds up. To release pressure, the radiator cap allows some coolant to escape out, stored in the reservoir. This excess coolant stays here until the system cools down enough to create negative pressure and draw the excess coolant from the reservoir back into circulation. While the engine is off, your coolant reservoir should be about 30% full.
The most common reason for a vehicle to overheat is a leak in the coolant reservoir or one of the attached hoses. A leak means that the stored liquid will slowly drip out and eventually, there will be insufficient coolant running through the system. To prevent your vehicle from overheating, remember to check the level of coolant in the reservoir regularly. If you see smoke coming from your engine or notice your temperature gauge rising too high, the best course of action to take is to pull over safely and turn off the engine. An overheating engine can cause serious damage if left unchecked.
Now that you know how a coolant reservoir works and how important it is, you’re welcome to call or stop by Bowers Automotive for help with this component and much more. We’ve been serving Colorado Springs for over 26 years. Our team is always ready to help you keep your vehicle in top condition. From tire pressure to the coolant reservoir, we can help you understand how your car works and the best way to keep it maintained.