How Much is Enough for Conway, Arkansas Auto Owners? Tire Tread Depth

July 29th, 2015

Most Conway, Arkansas car owners know that tires wear out and that the wear has to do with tread depth. Most of us have heard that “bald” tires are dangerous, but most of us picture a tire with no tread at all when we think of a bald tire. And when we take our vehicles in for preventive maintenance, the technician tells us they’re need to be replaced long before all the tread is worn off. Just how much tire tread wear is too much? And how can you tell? Tires are pricey and their condition is important to the safe handling of a vehicle, so it’s critical for Conway, Arkansas drivers to know the answers to these questions.

First of all, it’s vital to understand that there may be a legal limit to tread wear. If your tires are worn past this limit, you have to replace them to be in compliance with Arkansas auto safety laws. That’s why measuring your tread wear is part of a vehicle safety inspection.

In some jurisdictions, tread must be at least 1.6 millimeters or 2/32 of an inch thick. This standard has been in effect since 1968. But this standard has recently been called into question, and some Little Rock drivers are arguing that it be changed.

The safety issue that has brought this standard under scrutiny is the ability of a vehicle to stop on a wet surface. When a vehicle has trouble stopping, most Little Rock drivers immediately look at the brakes as the source of the problem. But tires are crucial to safe stopping distances because they provide the traction required in a stop.

A tire’s contact with the road surface creates traction, which allows for effective braking. On a wet surface, a tire only has traction if it can get to the road’s surface. So tire tread is designed to channel water out from under the tire to allow it to stay in contact with the road. If the tire can’t shift the water, then it starts to “float.” This condition is called hydroplaning. It is very dangerous for Little Rock drivers since the vehicle won’t stop no matter how hard the driver presses the brakes. Steering control is also lost.

A recent study tested the stopping ability of a passenger car and a full-sized pick-up on a road surface covered with only a dime’s depth of water (less than a millimeter). The vehicles were traveling at 70 mph (112 kph) when they stopped on the wet surface. At 2/32 tread depth, the stopping distance was double that of a new tire. The passenger car was still traveling at 55 mph when it reached the stopping distance it experienced with new tires.

Let’s suppose that you’re on a busy Conway, Arkansas expressway in a light drizzle and a vehicle stops suddenly in front of you. You just bought new tires and you brake hard, missing the vehicle with only inches to spare. If you hadn’t bought those new tires, you would have crashed into that vehicle at 55 mph. That is a major difference.

What if your tires had a tread depth of 4/32? You would have crashed into that vehicle at 45 mph. Still not a good situation. But it’s better.

Now what if you were driving that pick-up truck? You wouldn’t have missed that vehicle in the first place, and you would have crashed at higher rates of speed in both of the other scenarios. The heavier your vehicle, the longer its stopping distance. It’s a matter of physics.

The results of this test has led Consumer Reports and others to ask that the standard for tread wear from 2/32 to 4/32. The increased standard will improve safety on the road and save lives here in Arkansas and nationally.

Of course, until the standard changes, you’ll have to decide whether you’ll be willing to replace your tires a little sooner.

You can use a quarter to tell if your tread wear is down to 4/32. Place the quarter into the tread with George’s head toward the tire and his neck toward you. If the tread doesn’t cover George’s hairline, you’re under 4/32. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the digits of the year.

You can measure the 2/32 tread wear with a penny. If the tread touches the top of Abe’s head, it’s at 2/32. Tires are a steep item for Little Rock motorists when it comes to car care. But their condition has a major impact on safety. We need to decide whether to sacrifice safety for economy. Keeping our tread wear above 4/32 is good auto advice.

What is That? Check Engine Light Service At Parkway Automotive

July 23rd, 2015

Okay. You went to your local Little Rock car wash and while your truck was under the dryer, the check engine light started flashing. Panic! What did you just do? Something is seriously wrong with the truck! You head for the nearest Little Rock service station, but on the way, the check engine light stops flashing, and just glows red. Hmm. Maybe things aren’t as bad as they seem. You decide to wait until payday to take your truck in to get serviced. In the meantime, the check engine light goes off. What? You decide the light must be faulty, or that when it comes on it doesn’t mean anything, or that it’s just in your truck as some sort of scam to get you to pay for unnecessary costly repairs. You’re glad you didn’t take your car to the Little Rock repair shop and resolve to ignore that engine light in the future.

Whoa! Let’s look at what really happened. Your truck was under an air dryer. Your air intake sensor measured too much air running through the engine. It sent its report to the engine computer, where a warning was triggered: there shouldn’t be that much airflow when the truck engine is idling. This is a serious problem that could cause permanent engine damage. Warning! The check engine light starts flashing, letting you know you need to take immediate action to prevent that damage.

You drive out from under the dryer, and the air intake sensor sends a new message to the computer. The computer realizes that everything is normal and tells the check engine light to stop flashing. The truck doesn’t need immediate attention; but there was a problem, and it should be checked out by your service professional. After a few days the computer senses that the problem is gone, so it turns off the warning light.

You may think this story illustrates the uselessness of a check engine light, but you should remember that a computer can’t think for itself, it can only follow its programming. It doesn’t know the difference between a car wash air dryer and a serious malfunction in your truck engine. That doesn’t make it useless. It just means you have to be the smart one.

Being smart doesn’t mean ignoring your truck check engine light. It lets you know when something is wrong, and you can prevent a lot of damage to your vehicle by paying proper attention to it.

Your engine computer is constantly collecting data about what is going on inside your truck engine. It knows what parameters are normal, and when a reading may indicate a problem. It uses the check engine light to let you know when something isn’t right. It then stores a code in its memory that a service specialist can retrieve that indicates which reading was abnormal.

The service specialist uses this code as a starting place to find out what’s wrong with your truck. It’s like going to the doctor with a fever. The fever is the reading that is abnormal — your temperature is too high — but the doctor still has to figure out what’s causing it. It’s probably an infection, but what kind? Sinus infection? Appendicitis? Flu? The problems and their solutions are quite different. But a fever also tells a doctor what’s NOT wrong with you. Fevers don’t accompany stress headaches, ulcers or arthritis, so there’s no sense in testing for those conditions.

Your Little Rock service professional responds to a trouble code in your truck’s computer in the same way. The code doesn’t say exactly what’s wrong, but it does give the technician a good indication of where to start looking —and where he/she doesn’t need to look.

Now, you wouldn’t consider diagnosing yourself with a serious medical problem; good medical advice — unless you’re a doctor. So you shouldn’t consider trying to diagnose your vehicle’s troubles by yourself; good auto advice — unless you’re a trained mechanic.

There are cheap scanners available on the market and some Little Rock auto parts stores offer to read trouble codes from your truck engine computer for you, but these are really not good alternatives to taking your vehicle to a qualified service center such as Parkway Automotive in Little Rock. Your engine’s computer has both short-term and long-term memory, and there are some codes that are specific to a particular make of vehicle. Cheap scanners can’t read an engine computer’s long-term memory nor can they interpret manufacturer – specific codes. That’s why manager Mike Mike at Parkway Automotive spends a lot of money on high-end diagnostic tools.

It’s as if you had a choice between a doctor who had a tongue depressor and a thermometer and one who had all the latest medical diagnostic equipment on hand. Honestly, which would you choose?

Getting your codes read at your Conway, Arkansas auto parts store isn’t really a money-saver, either, unless you’re a trained mechanic. You’ll end up with a code that tells you a symptom. What usually happens next is that the Conway, Arkansas parts store sells you something that directly relates to the symptom. It may or may not fix the problem. It’s actually cheaper to just go to the Parkway Automotive in Little Rock and get things fixed right the first time.

Remember, a fever can indicate a sinus infection or appendicitis. An antibiotic may be okay for that sinus infection, but it won’t help your appendicitis. Is it really wise to wait around to see if the antibiotic helps when you might have appendicitis?

Part of good car care is knowing where you can get a problem fixed, and fixed right. Preventive maintenance goes a long way to keeping you out of the repair shop, but eventually, we will all have a problem that needs fixing. Let’s do it right the first time at Parkway Automotive. In the long run, it’s actually the less pricey choice.

It Is Time To Check Your Intervals

July 15th, 2015

Part of the engineering that goes into designing a vehicle is testing the components to ensure that they meet durability and safety standards. Because of this, manufacturers have a good idea as to how long the parts in your vehicle will last under normal driving conditions. For this reason, they give us guidelines to follow regarding how often to inspect the various parts and systems on our trucks.

Vehicular components are required to meet certain standards. The government mandates some of these standards. Others are set by the auto industry. Recommended car maintenance schedules are designed to help Little Rock car owners maintain these standards. Disregarding routine maintenance or procrastinating preventive maintenance will result in lowered performance and reduced safety for a vehicle.

Maintenance schedules are designed to ensure three areas of vital automotive performance for Little Rock car owners: protection of the vehicle itself, gas mileage, and safety.

Protection

Your vehicle’s components need protection from dirt, road damage, rust, corrosion and fuel and combustion by products. Protective components include filters and fluids.

Most of the fluids in your truck are there to keep the vehicle running smoothly and to protect the vehicle from corrosion, damage or harmful contaminants. These fluids need to be changed regularly in order to continue protecting your truck.

For example, motor oil lubricates your engine, when keeps it running well, but it also contains detergents and other additives that clean your engine and protect it from corrosion. Your vehicle’s engine was engineered for best performance with a specific weight and type of motor oil. Little Rock drivers should always be careful to use the right motor oil for their engine.

Over time, the essential additives in motor oil are depleted, and the oil becomes contaminated by dirt, water and waste gases from combustion. So in order to keep your engine clean and to continue to protect it from corrosion, the oil has to be changed periodically.

Efficiency

Over time, your vehicle’s systems will get dirty and parts will wear down. Cleaning dirty systems and replacing worn parts will improve the efficiency of your vehicle, which is usually measured in terms of fuel economy and power output.

For example, your fuel system components gradually get clogged up with gum and varnish from gasoline. This restricts fuel flow, which lowers your engine’s efficiency. Gas mileage drops as a result. Cleaning your fuel system will restore fuel economy and improve gas mileage.

Safety

Some of your truck’s systems must be maintained for safety reasons. Your brakes are a prime example of this. Brake pads and brake fluid need to be replaced in order to ensure good braking power. Poorly maintained brakes lead to accidents for Little Rock motorists.

Your owner’s manual is your first resource when it comes to knowing when and how to maintain your truck. Of course, you can consult with a your Parkway Automotive service advisor. He can give you good auto advice on how to adjust your service schedule to account for climate, local road conditions and your driving distances.

Beyond routine maintenance, your vehicle also requires regular inspections. These inspections are usually recommended at specific mileage intervals, like fifteen or twenty thousand miles. The interval is based on the known life expectancy for particular components in your truck. Regular inspections will identify vehicular components that need to be repaired or replaced before damage is done to the vehicle or safety is compromised. They are also designed to safeguard the efficiency and performance of your vehicle.

The multi-point inspection that comes with a full-service oil change does not cover all of the regular inspections your vehicle needs for peak performance and safety. Check with the automotive professionals at Parkway Automotive in Little Rock to find out what additional inspections your vehicle needs and how often. Good car care requires regular and consistent maintenance. But good maintenance pays for itself in better fuel efficiency and fewer costly repairs. It may even save your life.

Hitting The Brakes In Little Rock

July 8th, 2015

Safety should always be an important element of your car care. So even if you don’t care about how your car looks, you should practice preventive maintenance to protect yourself — and other Little Rock motorists — on the road. And good safety starts with good brakes.

Brakes need a regular inspection. There are important parts that wear out or wear down, and it’s best to replace them before you have issues.

Of course, if you are having trouble with your brakes, NOW is the time to fix them. If your brake warning light is on, that’s a good sign that you need your brakes checked. Little Rock motorists can also tell something is wrong with their brakes by the feel of the pedal or unusual sounds while braking. If the brake pedal is low, feels spongy when you press it or is hard to push, that indicates a problem with your brakes. If you hear squealing, grinding or clunking noises when you brake, that can also indicate issues. If vibrations accompany braking, then it is critical to get your brakes checked.

Brakes come in two basic types. With disk brakes, a rotor is attached to the axle of the vehicle. Padded calipers straddle the rotor, which close when the brakes are applied. The resulting friction causes the rotor — and the axle — to stop turning. With drum brakes, brake pads (also called shoes) press against the inside of a drum to create friction and stop the drum, and hence the truck’s wheels, from turning.

When Parkway Automotive services your brake system, your honest service advisor checks all of the brake pads for wear. If they are too thin, they need to be replaced. This is an inexpensive repair at Parkway Automotive compared to what procrastination will cost you. If pads wear away completely, then the rotors and drums can be damaged. They will have to be either resurfaced or replaced, and that can be expensive. But if your truck brake pads are worn out, then your brakes are compromised and your stopping power is greatly reduced. You could easily wind up in an accident.

Brake pads come in several different grades such as regular, metallic and ceramic. The higher grades are more costly in Little Rock, but they also work better. Arkansas motorists who want better and smoother braking, should consider upgrading. However, Conway, Arkansas drivers should NEVER use a brake pad that is lower than your vehicle manufacturer’s recommendation.

After you your brake pads are checked at Parkway Automotive, it’s vital to have your brake fluid checked. This is a critical element in your brake system. When you press your brake pedal, you are compressing the brake fluid, creating pressure that activates the brake pads. If your fluid pressure is low, it will cut down your braking power. The pads just won’t be able to press hard enough against the rotor or drum to stop your truck. Just as with worn pads, insufficient brake fluid can lead to a harmful and pricey accident in Little Rock.

Water can build up in your brake fluid, which can cause harmful corrosion in your braking system. Eventually this can cause your brake fluid to leak. So Little Rock car owners should also change their brake fluid periodically. Your truck owner’s manual will have guidelines on how often it should be replaced or ask a honest tech at Parkway Automotive. We have been servicing brake systems in Little Rock for 13 years. 

Remember, Conway, Arkansas folks, safety first. It’s essential auto advice for all Little Rock drivers on the road. You’re not just protecting others; you’re protecting yourself.

Keep Your Tires Well Rounded in Little Rock: Tire Rotation and Wheel Balancing at Parkway Automotive

July 7th, 2015

Taking care of our tires is a vital part of car care for Little Rock drivers. We know they have to be replaced when they wear out, but tires also require some important preventive maintenance. This maintenance will improve fuel economy and extend the life of the tires, so it’s well worth the effort and expense for Little Rock car owners to get it done. Tire maintenance includes keeping tires properly inflated, rotating tires and balancing wheels.

The recommended tire pressure for a vehicle’s tires is printed on a sticker on the inside of the driver’s side doorjamb. A lot of engineering goes into calculating the correct pressure, so it’s a critical number for Little Rock motorists to know. Not following this recommendation can throw off the suspension system and can lead to pricey tire damage. Underinflated tires wear out more quickly than properly inflated tires. Vehicles also get better traction, handling and MPG on properly inflated tires. Check your tire pressure at least once a week and add air if necessary.

Don’t be tempted to add a bit of extra air to your tires when you fill them. Overinflated tires will cause the center tread to wear unevenly because of improper contact with the road. It will also lessen the handling performance of your vehicle.

Rotating tires allows all four tires on a vehicle to wear evenly. Front tires get more wear than rear tires because they do most of the work on turns. Tire rotation allows all of the tires to spend time on the front of the car so they all experience the extra wear.

For most vehicles, tire rotation is simply a matter of moving the front tires to the rear and vice versa. Some vehicles, however, recommend a cross-rotational pattern. Other vehicles use asymmetrical tires, which means the right tires have to stay on the right side of the car and the left tires on the left. Some vehicles use differently sized wheels on the front and back of the car and should not have their tires rotated.

What kind of rotation do you need? Check your owner’s manual or talk to your honest Parkway Automotive service professional. Your owner’s manual will have information about how to rotate your vehicle’s tires as well as letting you know how often you should get it done. For most vehicles, that’s usually every 5,000 miles. Your honest Parkway Automotive tech can also offer auto advice about tire rotation. A quick tire inspection can also indicate whether or not your tires are due to be rotated.

When it comes to tire maintenance for Little Rock drivers, wheel balancing is usually what we know least about. Balancing a wheel is necessary to keep it in constant contact with the road. If a tire is not balanced properly, it actually hops along the roadway. You can feel this hopping as a vibration in your steering wheel if the unbalanced tire is a front tire. You’ll feel the vibration through your seat if a rear tire is unbalance. Properly balancing your tires is critical and will extend their life span, improve handling and improve the safety of your vehicle. When you replace your tires, the new tires need to be balanced.

Never use different sized tires on the same axle of a vehicle. In other words, your front tires need to be the same size and your rear tires need to be the same size. Mixing sizes can lead to some serious handling problems for Little Rock drivers.

If you have an all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive vehicle all four tires need to be the same size. If your tires are wearing out, you can sometimes make a new tire purchase fit within your budget by only buying two tires at a time. When you do this, the new tires should be installed on the rear of the vehicle. Rear tires are more in need of the traction than your front tires to avoid spinning out on slippery surfaces. If you drive a vehicle around Conway, Arkansas, you need tires, so Little Rock car owners need to know how to care for them. The safety of your truck can depend on the condition of your tires.

Smart Little Rock Drivers Protect Against Overheating

July 1st, 2015

Engines get hot when they run. This heat can build up and damage vital engine parts, so engines need a cooling system to keep them running. Cooling system failure is the most common mechanical failure in vehicles. This is unfortunate, because these failures are usually easy for Little Rock car owners to prevent.

The radiator is the best-known and most recognizable part of the cooling system. Hoses filled with coolant (also known as antifreeze) connect the radiator to the engine. The coolant draws heat from the engine, and then flows to the radiator. Air passing through cooling fins on the radiator cools the coolant. The coolant then cycles back into the engine to start the process over again.

The most critical component of the cooling system, however, is the coolant itself. A mixture of water and coolant/antifreeze helps keep it both from freezing and from boiling away. Either can result in serious engine damage.

Different engines require different types of coolant/antifreeze. The owner’s manual will list what kind a vehicle requires. Using the wrong type or mixing different types of may void the warranty on the cooling system and may damage it as well.

Insufficient coolant can lead to engine failure. Coolant levels need to be checked regularly and topped off as necessary. If coolant levels drop quickly or consistently, the cooling system should be inspected for leaks. Coolant/antifreeze contains additives that protect the radiator and other coolant components from rust, scale and corrosion. Over time, these additives are depleted, so it is necessary for Little Rock auto owners to replace coolant at specified intervals. Changing coolant should be part of routine preventive maintenance for any vehicle.

This service is often ignored, though, since old coolant still cools the engine. Vehicle owners don’t realize there is a problem until the system fails. They are left with major repairs and possibly a damaged engine, which could have been prevented with a cooling system service at Parkway Automotive in Little Rock.

If your truck sends a warning message to check its coolant or if the temperature gauge is reading in the red or hot zone, then the cooling system needs a diagnostic examination. This service is vital and should not be put off since the potential for damage is high.

In an emergency situation, water or antifreeze can be added to your truck so that it can be driven to a service center for proper car care. For this reason, owner’s manual contains instructions for how to top off insufficient coolant – allow 45 minutes for the engine to cool before attempting to add coolant or water. However, the fluid should be added to the coolant overflow bottle, not to the radiator itself. Removing the radiator pressure cap can result in severe burns.

Topping off in an emergency, however, does not fix the problem. The vehicle should immediately be taken to your Little Rock service center or Parkway Automotive where they can inspect the cooling system, repair any leaks, and clean it if necessary. They can identify what caused the emergency situation in the first place and ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Regular maintenance of a vehicle’s cooling system is just good auto advice for Little Rock motorists. Cooling system service is relatively inexpensive and doesn’t take long at Parkway Automotive. Lack of it, however, can put a vehicle in the scrap heap.

Talk to your Parkway Automotive tech for more information.

Transmission Service at Parkway Automotive in Little Rock

June 19th, 2015

Let’s talk about transmission service. It can be easy for Little Rock car owners to forget about getting their transmission serviced because it doesn’t need it very often. It’s easier for Arkansas auto owners to remember to change the engine oil – you know, every 3,000 miles or 5,000 kilometers. But proper transmission servicing keeps your truck running smoothly and helps us car owners avoid expensive repairs down the road.

The transmission undergoes a lot of stress. The grit Little Rock car owners see in used transmission fluid is actually bits of metal that wear off the gears in the transmission. In addition to that, the transmission operates at very high temperatures. Usually it’s 100 to 150 degrees higher than engine temperatures. Those high temperatures eventually cause the transmission fluid to start to break down and lose efficiency.

As the fluid gets older, it gets gritty and doesn’t lubricate and cool the truck transmission as well – leading to even more wear. The fluid can actually get sludgy and plug up the maze of fluid passages inside the transmission. At best, your transmission won’t operate smoothly. At worse, it could lead to pricey damage.

When your transmission is running properly, it transfers more power from your engine to the drive wheels, and improves fuel efficiency. That’s why auto manufacturers recommend changing your transmission fluid at regular intervals. Your owner’s manual has a schedule for transmission service and, of course, your honest Parkway Automotive service advisor can tell you what your car maker recommends.

Hot and dusty Little Rock area conditions; towing, hauling, stop and go driving and jackrabbit starts all increase the load on the transmission and its internal temperature. That means Little Rock drivers with these types of transmission requirements need to change the fluid more often. A good rule of thumb is every 35,000 miles, 55,000 kilometers or two years. If your automobile manufacturer suggests more frequent intervals or if you’re driving under severe service conditions around Conway, Arkansas, you will need to change it more often.

Most Little Rock auto service centers (including Parkway Automotive) have the ability to perform a transmission service while you wait and the cost is quite reasonable. It’s downright cheap when you think about how much a major transmission repair can cost! Your honest Parkway Automotive service advisor will know the right type of transmission fluid to use. If it’s getting to be time to have your transmission serviced, do your truck a favor and have it done. If not this time, then on your next service stop.

The Importance Of Little Rock Drivers Following Service Intervals

June 10th, 2015

Today in our Parkway Automotive blog, we’re going to talk about following recommended service intervals. Your truck isn’t the only aspect of your life in Little Rock with recommended intervals: Let’s start with twice yearly dental check-ups and regular physical exams. How about laundry, watering the lawn and paying the bills?

Now, what would happen if you didn’t follow these intervals? Well, you’d get more cavities. You’d may not discover health conditions that could be more effectively treated with early detection. And you’d have to wear dirty clothes, be embarrassed by your brown lawn and have your utilities shut off.

The Importance Of Little Rock Drivers Following Service IntervalsClearly, there are some things in life that we have to take care of regularly. If we don’t, there are negative consequences. Our quality of life in Little Rock takes a hit and it inevitably costs more money.

So why is it so hard to remember to follow regular preventive maintenance on our trucks? Probably a couple of reasons. One is that automotive maintenance items just don’t seem that urgent. All our Little Rock neighbors can see our dead lawn, but no one knows how dirty our transmission fluid is. It’s easy to put off. The other reason is that we’re just not as familiar with automotive maintenance, so it’s a bit intimidating.

From a practical standpoint, Little Rock people don’t need to memorize their truck owner’s manuals. You can let your Parkway Automotive advisor remind you of the guidelines established by vehicle manufacturers: he has checklists of what the manufacturer recommends and can find potential problems when he inspects your truck. You really can rely on Parkway Automotive professionals to help you make good automotive decisions.

For Little Rock drivers who want to be more proactive with their truck care, here are some simple ways for Little Rock motorists to remember what has a maintenance interval.

First: Fluids. If it’s liquid, it’s got a replacement schedule. Oil, transmission fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, differential fluid, etc.

Then think tires. They need air, rotation, balancing, and alignment. And while you’re thinking tires, don’t forget brakes and shock absorbers.

And what makes your truck go? Air and fuel. Air filter replacement, fuel filters and fuel system cleaning. Of course there are more items, but if Little Rock car owners remember to take their car or truck in to Parkway Automotive for these things, their service advisor will help them with the rest.

And if you don’t follow recommended service intervals? You get lousy MPG, your truck doesn’t run as well, your safety is compromised and you’ll spend more money in the long run. So it’s the same as everything else: The quality of your motoring life takes a hit and it ends up costing you more.

Reason enough for me to follow recommended service intervals.

The Straight and Narrow: Power Steering Service at Parkway Automotive

June 5th, 2015

Service to a vehicle’s power steering system is a critical part of preventive maintenance for wise Little Rock auto owners. This system provides power to the steering wheel so you can turn it with ease. Without power steering, all of the power to turn your truck’s wheels would have to come from you.

The central element of most power steering systems is a pump. The pump pressurizes the power steering fluid, and it is this pressure that provides auxiliary steering power. A belt connected to the engine usually powers the pump, although some systems use an electric pump. Some newer trucks have an electric motor that directly provides the power steering boost.

Pressurized fluid moves from the pump to the steering gear through a high-pressure hose. A low-pressure hose returns fluid to the pump. Power steering fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the system.

Little Rock drivers should remember that fluid levels in the power steering system should be checked at every oil change. Low fluid levels can damage the pump, which can be expensive to repair. Low fluid levels may also indicate a leaky hose in the power steering system, so it is a good idea to inspect the hoses, especially if your fluid levels are low.

Power steering fluid breaks down over time, losing its effectiveness. It also gradually collects moisture, which can lead to corrosion in the steering system. So the fluid needs to be replaced occasionally. You should check with your owner’s manual or ask your honest Parkway Automotive tech to learn how often this fluid should be replaced.

When your fluid is replaced, your honest Parkway Automotive service specialist will remove the old fluid and replace it with new. Power steering fluids are not all created equal; the fluid has to be compatible with your hoses and seals. Your Parkway Automotive service advisor can ensure that you get the right fluid for your vehicle, or you can consult your owner’s manual.

Signs that your power steering system is in trouble can include the following: a steering wheel that is hard to turn, auxiliary steering power that cuts in and out, or a whining sound coming from the pump. Also, Little Rock motorists who are not topping off the power steering fluid on schedule may hear squealing coming from the engine belts.

To protect your steering system should never hold the steering wheel in the far right or far left position for more than a few seconds at a time. This can wear out your pump in a hurry.

Preventive maintenance for your steering system primarily involves the power steering components, but your steering system has other parts that can wear out or be damaged by rough Arkansas driving conditions. Such parts include the ball-joint, idler arm, steering gear, steering-knuckle and tie rod. Signs that they are in need of attention include play in the steering wheel, a vehicle that wanders, uneven tire wear and a steering wheel that is off-center. Little Rock auto owners should have their alignment checked annually. This check-up can reveal bent or damaged steering components.

For answers to other questions about your steering system, or for auto advice on any type of vehicle maintenance, check with the team at Parkway Automotive. We can steer you in the right direction when it comes to quality car care.

Below 45 Degrees in Little Rock: Consider Winter Tires

June 3rd, 2015

Remember snow tires? They were basically just regular tires with big, knobby lugs to get them through deep snow. They were loud and rode hard, and Little Rock drivers couldn’t wait to get them off the car. Then along came television advertisements for “all-season” radials. Arkansas motorists ran out and bought some and we thought we were done with snow tires forever.

Tires have come a long way since then. Modern winter tires sold in the Conway, Arkansas area are much better designed for the wide range of dangerous conditions that come with Arkansas winter weather. They are made with a rubber compound that helps them stay flexible in cold weather. Regular tires become hard and stiff at Little Rock temperatures below 45°F, which reduces their traction. That’s a key concern in winter, especially with snowy or wet Little Rock conditions. But it also means that Little Rock motorists are better off with winter tires in cold weather even when it’s dry.

The tread design on winter tires has been improved to actually move snow, slush and water. The lugs and grooves actually throw packed snow out of the tread as the tire rotates. This means the tread is open and ready to move more snow when it rolls around again. Summer tires can actually pack up with snow, which makes them more dangerous than a bald tire.

Many winter tires use a micro-pore compound that lets the tire bite into ice and snow. They have wider grooves around the tire that help expel snow. They have a rounder casing to better cut into the surface of snow. Modern winter tires available at Arkansas tire shops also have sipes, or thin slits cut into the tread. The edges of these sipes can grab ice and snow so that the tire retains traction on almost any surface. The sipes also help to expel water and slush from the tread. In short, a lot of time and engineering has gone into improving winter tires.

The all-season tire that is popular among Conway, Arkansas drivers is actually a compromise between summer and winter performance. This means they give adequate performance for Little Rock drivers in either season, but aren’t great in either. Summer tires give great performance in hot weather, but lousy performance in winter. Little Rock car owners need to put more thought into their tire choices these days, but that also means they get a lot better performance for their bucks.

If you want the performance that new winter tires can give you, you should have them properly installed at your Little Rock service center or Parkway Automotive. It’s best to purchase four snow tires and put them on all the wheels of your vehicle. But if you only want two, you need to put them on the rear of your vehicle, even if you drive a front-wheel drive vehicle. Little Rock auto owners always want to put the tires with the best traction on the rear of the vehicle.

Imagine this: You take a corner on an icy Conway, Arkansas road and your rear end starts to slide. What happened is that the front end slowed for the turn, but the rear end hasn’t figured that out yet. If you have high-traction tires on the front of your vehicle, that makes the problem worse. You’re slowing the front end faster and harder, which makes the back end fishtail even more.

Putting the higher traction tires on the rear will give Little Rock auto owners more control for turns, regardless of the type of vehicle driven. Of course, that makes putting high-traction tires on all of your wheels even smarter. Why not give all of your tires the best traction they can get? Some Little Rock assume that four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicles only need winter tires on two wheels. Why? Doesn’t it make sense to give all four wheels the same level of traction and control? Four-wheel or all-wheel drive cannot compensate for poor traction.

Another false assumption held by many Little Rock drivers is that if you have traction control and anti-lock brakes, you won’t need winter tires. Traction is important for good acceleration, steering and stopping. And tires provide traction. Traction control and anti-lock brakes can only improve on that traction. The better the traction, the better the traction control and anti-lock brakes will work. In other words, the better the tires, the better those systems will work for Little Rock motorists.

A Canadian law requires all passenger vehicles, rental cars and taxis registered in Quebec to have winter tires on all four wheels from November 15th until April 1st.

If you’re shopping for winter tires and live where there is a lot of snow in Arkansas, look for a mountain with a snowflake in it molded into the tire’s sidewall. This symbol means the tire complies with severe snow standards. All-season tires have an M&S stamped on the sidewall. M&S stands for mud and snow.

For more important auto advice about tires for any Arkansas season, talk to your honest Parkway Automotive tire professional. They can help you settle upon the right tire for your area and for your driving needs. For the best performance from your tires, whatever the season, don’t forget preventive maintenance. Keep your tires up to pressure for best durability, safety and performance, but don’t overinflate them. Remember, good car care provides the safest road for all of us Little Rock auto owners.