Our Current Blog Articles
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.
April 14, 2017
Car AC Repair
When it comes to car AC repair, Bowers Automotive has you covered. Since 1990, our team has been providing quality auto repair services to the drivers of Colorado Springs. We know how important it is to be comfortable while driving in the summer. As the weather heats up, it is a good idea to turn on your AC and check that it is still working well. If you have any doubts, don't hesitate to bring your vehicle in for a quick diagnosis and tune-up.
The air conditioning unit of a car is a fairly complex component, consisting of an evaporating coil, a condensing coil, and a compressor, which circulate the refrigerant liquid. A blower fan moves air across the evaporating coil where the decompressed refrigerant lowers the temperature of the air before it exits through the vents. Malfunctions in your AC unit can present different symptoms. We are going to take you through the most common AC complaints and what causes them.
You turn on the AC and crank it up to full power expecting a blast of cold wind, but all you get is a weak flow of air. Problems with airflow power usually stem from a malfunction in the blower fan. You may notice that the little air coming out of the vents is indeed cold, there's just no power behind it.
The most likely cause for this lack of airflow is a broken ventilation fan or a loose blower hose. Another possibility is mold growth in the evaporating core. The cooling process can leave residual moisture on the outer surfaces of the evaporating coil. If mold takes hold in this area, it can block the airflow, diminishing the force of air that reaches the vents.
Warm air coming from your AC unit can indicate a serious problem. If you notice a steady flow of air, but without the lowered temperature, it means something is amiss in your unit's refrigeration cycle. It is best to take your car to a qualified technician as soon as you notice this issue before it can develop into a more serious and costly problem.
Warm air coming from your AC vents means that the blower fan is still working, but the air is not being cooled enough. One of the most common reasons for this is a Freon leak. Freon is the refrigerant typically used in car AC units. If there is a damaged O-ring, a loose hose, or a broken seal somewhere in the refrigeration cycle, this refrigerant can leak out, weakening the cooling process and allowing air and moisture into the system.
Cold to Hot
Another common complaint that requires car AC repair is that the unit starts out working fine, but after a few minutes the airflow turns warm. This is a frustrating problem and can be caused by a whole range of different malfunctions. Although not as urgent as a suddenly warm airflow, this issue should be checked by your auto technician sooner rather than later.
One possible reason for this problem is a faulty compressor clutch. If your compressor does not maintain the correct pressure, it will result in warm airflow. Clogged expansion valves can also result in the air turning from cold to hot. A blocked expansion valve will prevent sufficient refrigerant from moving into the evaporator, resulting in a decrease in the cooling power of your AC unit. Lastly, leaks in the vacuum seals can compromise the whole system and lead to a decrease in cooling performance over time.
If your AC unit starts pumping out musty air with a faint smell of unwashed socks, you know you have a problem. Apart from creating discomfort to you and your passengers, this odor can indicate a serious issue in the inner workings of your car's AC system.
Bad smells from your AC vents can be caused by a build-up of dirt and grime in the air cabin filter. It is quick and easy to get this replaced. It's also possible that the bad smell stems from a moldy evaporator case. If water makes its way into the evaporator and is not drained, it can quickly lead to an accumulation of mildew and mold. This mold build-up is what you are smelling as your cold air is pushed out over it.
In auto language, the 'Black Death' refers to an irreversible and untreatable breakdown of the AC compressor due to the formation of a thick black sludge. You may not realize you have this until your AC unit completely fails. The only solution to this particular problem is a complete replacement of the compressor, and depending on the level of damage, some other components.
The Black Death occurs when you have old refrigerant fluid that has broken down or moisture contamination in the compressor. Corrosive acids form and start to erode the steel surfaces of the compressor. Continuous breakdown of these metal parts eventually mixes with the remaining refrigerant and creates a thick black sludge. This sludge makes its way throughout the AC unit, blocking valves and slowing down movement until everything comes to a complete standstill.
Your AC Units Biggest Enemy, Leaks
You may have noticed a pattern emerging in all of these potential AC failure scenarios. Leaks are the biggest cause of AC problems. Once you have a damaged seal or a loose hose somewhere in the system, the refrigerant can leak out, and moisture can get in. An AC unit with a leak is known as an 'open system,' meaning it has been compromised and it's only a matter of time before it begins to fail.
The only way to know if you have a leak in your system is to bring your vehicle to a qualified technician. At Bowers Automotive, an AC performance check is part of our routine maintenance service. Using UV lights, we can detect refrigerant leaks on the exterior of your AC system. Our team can perform a refrigerant flush to clean out the interior and replace the refrigerant with a fresh batch.
If a leak or malfunctioning part is detected early, your car AC repair should be simple, fast and affordable. Avoid having to replace your whole system by taking your vehicle for regularly scheduled maintenance checks. For more information on AC repairs or to schedule an appointment, you can contact us here at Bowers Automotive in Colorado Springs.
March 15, 2017
You Can't Buy a Car on Amazon – But You Can Research One
At Bowers Automotive, we know that many people find it easier to make purchases online. However, you can't buy a car on Amazon – but you can research one. Yes, the world’s largest online retailer can now give you insight into the vehicle you want to purchase. Feel free to shop for clothes, home electronics and groceries, then swing by Amazon Vehicles to research the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V you’ve been going back and forth about buying. You can even do it all in your pajamas, nobody’s looking!
What Is Amazon Vehicles?
In August of last year, Amazon launched a new extension of their website entirely dedicated to vehicles. Their idea was to create an online automotive community, an interactive hub, with the capacity to do everything except to purchase a car.
This new site, Amazon Vehicles, allows users to purchase car parts, accessories, and exchange reviews of cars. The site also provides many resources to help customers research both old and new models. Just find the vehicle you’re interested in learning more about, and check out its listing, including detailed specifications, multiple images, and video content. And don’t forget those user-generated reviews.
What some don’t know is that this new venture is simply an extension of Amazon’s auto parts section of the website. For many years, consumers have been able to shop for and buy replacement parts for many different vehicle models. Some speculate that savvy customers may have already been using this site to predict potential issues with cars. You can see which replacement parts are most popular and reviews often specify details on why they were needed. For the eagle-eyed consumer, this was a way of spotting weaknesses in vehicles on the market. This is the sort of information that is hard to access through usual consumer channels.
Buying Cars is More Complicated
Unfortunately, Amazon hasn't yet made the leap to online shopping for actual vehicles. The fact is that many states are limited by franchise laws that protect car dealerships, making it difficult for auto manufacturers or online businesses to sell directly to the consumer. Amazon's new foray into the automotive world can be seen as a step in the right direction. It is putting more power in the hands of the consumer and even offers recommended pricing from manufacturers.
Up until now, local car dealerships were the primary source of information on new vehicles. Some car enthusiasts may have used auto magazines or websites to help make their decisions, but most would trust the opinion of car salespeople when making a purchase. With Amazon's new tools at their fingertips, consumers can get their information, brake pad specs to potential engine issues, from an unbiased source and learn from the experience of other car owners.
For now, you can't buy a car on Amazon – but you can research one thoroughly! Getting your car serviced and repaired is another task that has to be done in person. For all your vehicle maintenance needs in Colorado Springs, Bowers Automotive is here to help! We offer the highest quality auto repair and maintenance work for a fair price. For more information, feel free to contact us or stop by our auto shop to talk to us in person.
March 3, 2017
Problems with the Ford F150 Truck
Today from our experts at Bowers Automotive, we’re going to explore some problems with the Ford F150 truck. We are always on the lookout for new technology and trends, as well as potential issues in the auto industry. We feel it is important for our customers to be fully informed on the pros and cons of a vehicle before making a purchase. Keep reading to get a bit of insight.
Choosing to drive a truck usually means you are interested in three things: extra space, a good tow rating, and payload. A truck typically weighs 12-15% more than comparable vehicles that don't have a large payload and off-road potential. Large, powerful, heavy trucks with these capabilities have a tendency to consume gas quickly. In an effort to combat this problem and to stay within new emissions and fuel economy regulations, Ford has made some drastic modifications to their F-150 line of trucks.
With a lighter steel frame, an all-aluminum body and a smaller turbocharged engine, the Ford F150 is now leading the way regarding fuel economy for similar sized trucks. Stricter EPA regulations on carbon emissions and more demanding mile per gallon standards on fuel mean that auto manufacturers are coming up with innovations in order to comply. The new F150 is certainly lighter and more economical to drive, but are consumers convinced by this overhaul on one of their favorite models?
The choice of an all-aluminum body has indeed brought up some concerns. One advantage of driving a truck is the feeling of security afforded to the driver and their passengers. Trucks are bigger, higher up on their oversized tires and usually made to be reasonably indestructible. Of course, if you want to reduce the overall weight of the vehicle without impacting the power, a lightweight material for the body makes sense. All vehicles undergo strict safety testing, so we know that the new F-150 must be resilient enough to withstand impact and protect its passengers.
Despite the F-Series being an American best-seller, Ford has reason to worry about sales on this new model. Sales of the F150 dropped sharply in 2016. Interestingly, the problem may not be closely related to Ford's revolutionary modifications of their trucks. Across the board from General Motors and Ford to Fiat and Toyota, auto sales have been steadily decreasing this year.
An increase in average cost could be a reason for such dramatic losses in sales. Between 2011 and 2016 the cost of full-size pickup trucks rose by 24%. The trend towards greener cars and hybrids could be another reason for the decline of the popular truck, although according to this Bloomberg report, Ford CEO Mark Fields has stated that Ford is set to produce its first hybrid by 2020.
Perhaps Ford is making a mistake in taking such drastic measures to change a tried and tested product, or perhaps they are ahead of the time and setting the trends for others to follow. Whichever way you see it, knowing the facts about potential problems with the Ford F150 truck makes it easier for you to shop with confidence. For more details on technical aspects of truck repair, do not hesitate to contact Bowers Automotive, your local experts on truck repairs.
February 17, 2017
Alternator Problems and Repair
Keeping your vehicle in good condition is the best way to avoid emergency breakdowns and reduce your yearly auto maintenance costs. Drivers should pay attention to their dashboard warning lights and keep up with factory scheduled maintenance. One component of your vehicle that you should be familiar with is the alternator or generator. Almost all vehicles encounter an issue with their alternator at some point. Bowers Automotive is here to give you some useful insights into alternator problems and repair.
What does the alternator do?
Before we get into the potential faults and defects of an alternator, we need to know what its function is. Your car is full of electrical components. Your lights, windshield wipers, sensors, ignition, AC, and radio all need electricity to work. A standard battery would quickly drain if it had to power all of these components simultaneously. This is where the alternator comes in.
The alternator converts mechanical energy from the engine into electrical energy which is stored in the car's battery. The serpentine belt, also known as the engine drive belt, is the key piece of machinery needed to convert this energy. While the car's engine is running, your battery is continuously charged by the alternator. This alternator or generator is responsible for keeping your car's battery running.
How do I recognize a problem with my alternator?
When an issue with your car's electrical system arises, it can be difficult to identify the source of the problem. If just one electrical component is failing, such as a single turn signal, or the windshield wipers, you probably don't need to look any further than that particular part. However, if all of your electrical systems fail simultaneously, it means you have an issue with the battery or the alternator.
Some classic signs of a fault in your alternator to watch out for include a squealing noise made by the serpentine belt or a noticeably loose belt. In order to efficiently convert energy, this belt must be properly adjusted to handle an enormous amount of tension and friction. If it is too taut, it can snap as it wears out. If too loose, it can flip or twist and fail to run smoothly. A quick visual inspection can be enough to notice an obvious problem with the serpentine belt.
Another clear sign of something wrong with the alternator is when your dashboard warning light for the alternator or battery illuminates. This alternator light is usually represented by three letters ALT or GEN, whereas a dedicated battery light will be the symbol of a battery with positive and negative terminals. If you notice either of these lights on, it is important to get your vehicle to a qualified mechanic without delay. Ignoring these lights means you will probably soon end up with a dead battery. In this case, you can ask another driver for a jump start, then get to your mechanic as soon as possible.
Other warning signs of trouble with your alternator are weaknesses in electrical systems. Dim or flickering lights can signal low battery power. If you cannot get your car to start, this could be because the battery has no power and is often due to a fault in the alternator. Of course, if you have left your car parked for a long time without turning the engine on, it is possible that the battery has simply drained.
Remember, your car's battery charges from the energy produced by your engine, and the battery doesn't store that energy forever. Complete draining of your battery can happen quickly if you accidently leave the lights or radio on while your car is parked. If you find yourself with a dead battery, you can try jump starting the battery with help from another driver. If the problem is just a drained battery, this will be enough to get you going and give the alternator a chance to start charging the battery again.
Diagnosing an alternator problem
It is possible for drivers to run some basic diagnostics on their battery and alternator before bringing it to a professional. To check the level of voltage your alternator is producing, you will need a digital volt-ohmmeter or multimeter. These are available online and from most large hardware stores. The first step is to test the voltage of your battery while the engine is off.
Take the red lead from your multimeter and place it on the positive terminal of your battery. Place the black lead on the negative terminal of the battery and set your multimeter to read DC volts. A fully charged battery will read above 12.65 volts. If your battery reads below this level, you may have a faulty battery or a problem with your alternator, and you should take your vehicle to a certified technician for further diagnosis.
If your battery reads above 12.65 volts, then continue to the next step. Remove the leads from the battery and turn on your engine. Carefully replace the red lead on the positive terminal and the black lead on the negative terminal of your battery. With the engine on and the alternator running, you should see a higher output of voltage from your battery. Typically, it will read between 13.5 and 14.5 volts.
If your reading is within the normal range, this indicates that the alternator is doing its job. Your vehicle's electrical failures may be due to a fault in the battery. If the reading shows the same voltage as the first test, then your alternator is not functioning as it should. Either way, you should take your car to an ASE certified technician for a professional diagnosis and repair.
Repairing your alternator
Alternator repairs often involve a simple replacement of the serpentine belt. The cost of this repair can vary between $60 and $200. While the replacement part itself is relatively inexpensive, most of the cost is due to labor. Replacing the belt involves disconnecting the battery, removing the belt, unbolting the alternator and removing the wire connectors. This can be a time-consuming process, and some models are more complex than others.
To ensure a quality alternator repair and a fair price, bring your vehicle to Bowers Automotive in Colorado Springs. Our technicians have over 26 years of experience in dealing with alternator problems and repair. When you entrust your vehicle to us, you can expect the highest standards and responsible workmanship. Our auto shop is fully stocked with the latest diagnostic tools and sensors for working on electrical systems. Ignition systems, batteries, alternators, and computer sensors in all makes and models of vehicles routinely repaired here. For more information and to schedule an appointment, visit our website today.