Archive for March, 2010

How Do You Save Gas?

Wednesday, March 31st, 2010

No one near Little Rock, Arkansas likes high fuel prices. But if one good thing has come about, it’s that people are really focused on how to reduce their fuel consumption. North Americans literally drive billions of miles less each month during times of high fuel prices. But we still need to drive, so it makes sense to try and increase our fuel economy however we can.

Let’s look at a real life example of one of our AutoNetTV producers. He has one of those really big SUVs. Lots of kids and horses to haul around, you know. His family was planning a four day camping trip. Here’s what he did to cut his fuel costs:

First, he installed a new, high flow engine air filter. Then he had his service center change his oil, flush his cooling system and service his front and rear differentials along with the transfer case. He also had a fuel system cleaning, replaced his PCV value and breather element. He also made sure his tires were up to the recommended pressure.

Now this cost several hundred dollars. But keep in mind, it all needed to be done anyway; it was all scheduled, and some of the work was overdue.

So he headed out, loaded with nine people and pulling a ton of trailer with everything needed for four days of camping. When the trip was over, he had turned in the best fuel economy he had ever gotten on that vehicle. It had improved 25 percent. He saved $48.00 on that trip alone. And the savings keep coming every day.

Here’s a quick summary of what you can do to save fuel with your Little Rock, Arkansas vehicle. First get caught up on your routine maintenance. Nearly every scheduled service item can save you some fuel. If its time for a tune-up, git ‘er done. That’s a big item.

If your check engine light is on, have Parkway Automotive figure out why and fix it. Check engine problems can be real gas wasters.

Proper tire pressure and wheel alignment can really help as well. Try not to carry around a bunch of stuff. An extra hundred pounds can cost a mile per gallon.

Now you may not want to hear this, but the single biggest fuel waster for most Arkansas people is their right foot. Zooming away from stop lights and hot rod lane changes really waste fuel. Take it easy, don’t speed and plan ahead.

Finally, you may have noticed that we haven’t mentioned any magic pills or devices that will ‘double your mileage’. That’s because there aren’t any. Some may help a bit, but there are a lot of scams. Do some research and check with Parkway Automotive before spending your hard earned cash.

Differential Service: What You Need To Know

Wednesday, March 24th, 2010

Don’t be embarrassed if you don’t know what a differential is; you will in a moment. That fact is that if you drive a car, you have a differential. Whether your vehicle is front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive or four-wheel drive, you have a differential. You might even have two or three.

As you might guess from the name, a differential’s job is to compensate for differences. Specifically the differences in wheel speed when turning. For instance, imagine taking a corner. Your inside wheel has a shorter distance to travel than the outside wheel as you go around the corner. That means that your outside wheel has to turn faster to keep pace with the inside wheel.

The differential allows the wheels to turn at different speeds while still providing power. Without a differential, our tires would scrub and hop along the pavement during turns.

You’ve probably noticed the big bugle in the middle of the rear axle when you’re behind a truck. That’s the differential. Rear-wheel drive vehicles have a differential in back. Most four-wheel drive trucks and SUVs will also have a similar differential on the front axle.

Front-wheel drive vehicles’ differential is called a transaxle because it combines the differential and transmission in one unit. An all-wheel drive vehicle will have a differential or transfer case that adjusts for speed differences between the front and rear drive wheels.

It can seem a little complicated. But you can see that all of the engine’s power is routed through your differentials. They’re strong enough to handle the work, but they need to be properly lubricated in order to stay strong. So from time to time, you need to have your differential serviced. Parkway Automotive can service your differential. The used fluid is drained and replaced with clean fluid. Some differentials also require special additives to be installed, and at Parkway Automotive we can help you with that, too.

The rule of thumb for the time and mileage interval for servicing your differential can vary greatly by vehicle. A front-wheel drive vehicle’s transaxle will need servicing more frequently than the rear differential on a pick-up truck, so check with your service advisor or your owner’s manual for recommendations.

How and where you drive will have an impact as well. If you drive on dirt roads or through streams in the central, Arkansas area, you’ll need to service the differential at Parkway Automotive much sooner than if you always stay on the local Little Rock, Arkansas pavement.

Parkway Automotive Blog Give-A-Way Winner

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

Jackie L. is the winner of a gift certificate to Capers restaurant in Little Rock  and two movie tickets to Chenal 9 Movie Theatre. Jackie will enjoy a night out on the town just for signing up on our blog. We will be doing more exciting things throughout the year- so tell your friends to take a look and learn simple car care information  by signing up for our blog. 





Fuel Injectors

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

The last new car sold with a carburetor in North America rolled out of the dealership in 1990. Since then, all new vehicles have had fuel injectors. In very simple terms, a fuel injector is a valve that squirts fuel into your engine. Your engine control computer tells the fuel injector how much gas to deliver as well as the precise time it should be delivered. Of course this happens thousands of times a minute. Fuel injection is a much more precise way of delivering fuel than carburetors. That translates into better fuel economy and power. Virtually all fuel injectors for gas engines are known as port fuel injectors because they deliver the fuel to a port just outside the cylinder. Port fuel injectors operate at about 40 to 80 pounds per square inch of pressure.

A few auto makers have introduced gas direct injection systems on some engines recently. These systems inject the gas directly into the cylinders under very high pressure – hundreds of times the pressure of port injection systems. Although more complicated, direct injection technology promises greater power with improved fuel economy, so we can expect to see more of it in the future.

As you can see, the level of precision required of your fuel injectors is very high. They need to be operating properly in order for your car to run right.

High temperatures under your hood and variations in gas quality cause fuel injectors to become fouled with wax, dirt, and carbon. Injectors can become partially clogged, preventing them from delivering the proper amount of fuel at the correct pressure. The design of each engine requires a specific spray pattern from the fuel injector that might be altered when the injector is dirty. When injectors are dirty, the fuel doesn’t burn as efficiently resulting in poor fuel economy and loss of power. So it is important to keep your fuel injectors clean.

Skilled service technicians at Parkway Automotive in Little Rock can perform a fuel system service for you. (Visit That is a fuel system service – not just fuel injector cleaning. That is because the fuel has a lot of ways to become dirty or contaminated between the gas tank and the fuel injector. A fuel system service starts with a fuel filter replacement. This filter cleans the gas as it leaves the tank. The various parts of the fuel intake system need to be cleaned from time to time to remove harmful gum, deposits and varnish. Finally, the fuel injectors are cleaned so that they operate properly and deliver the right amount of fuel at the right time.

Your West Little Rock Arkansas area service center uses a process for cleaning your fuel system that includes state-of-the-art cleaning chemicals as well as some old fashioned scrubbing. Proper maintenance of your fuel system means that you will spend less on gas, enjoy strong performance and prevent costly repairs down the road.

Proper Fluids for Your Vehicle

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

We would like to give you an update on some of the things happening in automotive fluids. You know, cars are becoming more sophisticated everyday – and fluids such as, oil, coolant and transmission fluid are becoming more specialized at about the same pace.

The do-it-yourselfer has to be pretty careful so that they do not actually harm their vehicle with the wrong type of fluid. That is why so many Arkansas car owners rely on the advice of their service consultant to not only get the correct family of fluids, but to suggest the formulation that is best for their car and the way they drive.

Let’s start with engine oil. If you have been paying attention, you will have noticed a number of new oil weights on the scene in the last several years. Modern engines are built to much tighter tolerances and have very complicated valve trains. The oil must be thin enough to lubricate complicated parts when the engine is cold. The weight of an oil is expressed in terms like 20-W-50 or 5-W-30. Manufacturers recommend the weight of oil for each vehicle they make. The recommendation is based on engine design. Your Little Rock service center will know what weight your manufacturer recommends – and it’s important to follow those recommendations. A service adviser at Parkway Automotive can also offer suggestions for special formulations and can explain conventional and synthetic oils.

Antifreeze, or engine coolant, is another area that has become more complicated. For a long time, manufacturers only called for a couple of different types of coolant. Now there are several different formulations that are needed because of the different materials that manufacturers are using to build the cooling system. Using the wrong type of coolant can actually void your warranty, so you want to get that right.

Transmission fluid is beginning to be specialized as well. New transmission designs have particular requirements that mandate the use of specific formulations. Recently, new, somewhat confusing, standards for brake fluid have also been released.

Not too long ago, there was a good chance that all of the vehicles at your house would use many of the same fluids. However, as automotive technology advances, the array of basic automotive fluids you need will grow. And, some of the formulations will cost a little more. Fortunately, your West Little Rock service center will continue to update their training to keep pace with technology so that you’ll get the right fluids your car needs. It’s all part of the commitment your service center makes to your driving peace of mind.

Air Conditioning Service

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Do you hear loud noises under the hood when you turn on your air conditioner? Do you only get cool air sporadically? If so, it is time to get your air conditioner checked. It’s real easy to take your car’s air conditioner for granted. Just push the right buttons and out comes cool, dry, clean air. But your air conditioning system needs attention from time to time to help it keep its cool.

When most people hear the words “air conditioning problems”, it sends a shiver up their spine. That is because the air conditioning system is fairly complex. It has a lot of parts and when it’s broken, it’s expensive to repair.

What things can we do to prevent air conditioning breakdowns?

A common cause of air conditioning failure is leaks. Water and air can leak into the system. The system doesn’t work as well with air in it. And water can cause rust that leads to damage of the A/C components. Also, refrigerant, the stuff that makes the air cold, can leak out, reducing the efficiency of the system, making it work harder to cool the air. Periodically evacuating the air conditioning system and recharging it keeps the proper amount of clean refrigerant in the system so it cools better and lasts longer.

You should also run the air conditioner regularly, even during Arkansas winters, so that it lubricates itself and keeps the seals from drying out, which leads to leaks. Your owner’s manual will have recommendations for how often to service your air conditioner. Of course, if it’s not working right, now is the time to get it checked. Many Conway, Arkansas service centers can inspect and test your air conditioning and offer evacuation and recharge services. We recommend Parkway Automotive in Little Rock. See for address and phone number. A quick inspection can help you avoid having to bring your air conditioner in for major repairs.

New environmental laws have stopped the manufacture of Freon, a refrigerant that was common in cars made before 1993. There is a very limited supply of Freon so the price is very steep. It may not be worth its weight in gold, but it probably is worth its weight in silver. If you have an older vehicle that uses Freon, you may want to consider having it retrofitted to use the new R134-A refrigerant. It will pay for itself in the long run. So, if your AC is just a lot of hot air, take it to Parkway  Automotive service  for an inspection.

Power Steering Service

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

For most of us, it is hard to remember life without power steering – cranking those great big steering wheels? It was a pretty good workout. Now power steering is standard. The heart of any power steering system is its pump. The pump pressurizes the power steering fluid that provides assist for steering. Most pumps are driven by a belt that is run by the engine – a few are electrically powered. A high-pressure hose passes fluid from the pump to the steering gear. A low pressure hose returns the fluid back to the pump.

These hoses can develop leaks, so it is a good idea to inspect them at every oil change. Low fluid can damage the power steering pump. That is why fluid level is on the checklist for a full-service oil change. The fluid needs to be compatible with the hoses and seals, so check your owners’ manual for the right type – or just ask your service technician.

The fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the power steering system. It breaks down as the years go by and collects unwanted moisture, so it needs to be replaced from time to time. Many manufacturers specify power steering service intervals. Unfortunately, this important service is sometimes left off the maintenance schedule. So, when in doubt, every 25,000 miles/40,000 km or two years is a good fallback. Your Cabot, Arkansas or Bryant, Arkansas service center will use a detergent to clean the system, flush out the old fluid and replace it with the good stuff.

Here are some warning signs of trouble with your power steering: It’s harder to turn the wheel, there’s erratic power assist, you hear loud whining coming from the pump (which may be difficult to hear over the loud whining coming from the backseat), you have to top-off the fluid frequently, or you hear squealing belts. Remember to never hold the steering wheel to the far right or left for more than a few seconds at a time. That will wear out your pump real fast.

Other steering components can be bent or damaged from wear or hard knocks. Ball-joint, idler-arm, steering-gear, steering-knuckle and tie rod to name a few. Warning signs here are steering play, wandering, uneven tire wear, and off-center steering wheel. An annual alignment check at Parkway Automotive in Little Rock will reveal bent or damaged steering components.

Most SUV’s, pick-ups and rear-wheel-drive cars need regular front-wheel-bearing service.

The bearings should be cleaned and inspected. If they are excessively worn, they need to be replaced. The bearings are then repacked in clean grease. It’s also recommend the wheel-seal be replaced when the bearings are serviced. Like everything else, check your owners’ manual maintenance schedule. It’s usually required around every two years or 40,000 miles/64,000 km. If you drive through water, the bearings will need service more often.

Vehicle Warranties

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

If you own a Arkansas vehicle with a warranty, beware! Many dealers and manufacturers suggest that you need to get your maintenance services at a dealership in order to keep your warranty. That simply isn’t true! You can have your vehicle serviced at your trusted, local service center without affecting your warranty. A federal law, called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, prohibits a manufacturer from voiding your warranty just because you got parts or services from a non-dealer. In fact, a manufacturer can’t require you to use their brand of oil filters, lubricant, or any other part in order to maintain your warranty protection. This protection is true for aftermarket extended warranties purchased on new or used vehicles. This protection also applies to leased vehicles. There are similar laws in Canada as well.

If a manufacturer can prove that the replacement parts or service lead to a vehicle failure, they can void a portion of the warranty. Of course, Parkway Automotive uses quality parts and fluids that meet or exceed manufacturers’ specifications. (See A lot of people do not know that service centers subscribe to data services that tell them exactly which parts and fluids meet manufacturers’ specifications. These services are updated constantly so that your Conway, Arkansas automotive service center always knows what you need for your car. You can be assured that your vehicle will receive high quality replacement parts that’ll keep you safely on the road.

Proper maintenance is so important to safety. It can also prevent costly repairs and save you money over the long haul. Just because you don’t have to go to a dealer to get your maintenance service performed doesn’t mean that you don’t need to have it done at all. In fact, some protections from your warranty require that scheduled maintenance be performed. If you miss having important work done, you may lose some warranty coverage. Refer to your owners’ manual and vehicle warranty for more details. And keep good records of the work you’ve had done.

The protection you receive under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act can save you hundreds of dollars each year. The average hourly labor rate for service is nearly twenty percent lower at independent service centers such as Parkway Automotive. We are conveniently located at 708 Kirk Road in Little Rock. So why go anywhere else?

Suspension Service

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

When you hear the word ‘suspension‘, you may think back to those energetic days of grade school. Well, your car’s suspension is actually a good thing because it keeps your car up off the road and helps provide a comfy ride. It needs to keep your wheels firmly planted over bumps and through curves. Your suspension system has many parts. If you look under your car, it’s basically everything that connects your wheels to the car’s frame. These are heavy duty parts that do a lot of work. They need to be inspected for damage and excessive wear at least once a year. A good time for this is when you get your annual alignment service.

Here are some warning signs that your suspension may have problems:

  • the car pulls to one side;
  • it wanders;
  • the steering is erratic;
  • you see uneven tire wear;
  • you experience a poor ride or handling;
  • you see oil leaking from shocks

. . . you get the picture. You just don’t feel in control when you’re driving.

Some suspension parts just wear out with use. Shocks and struts eventually lose their ability to control your ride. Wheel bearings need to be repacked every couple of years. And some suspension pieces need to be lubricated when you get your oil changed. Your service advisor can oversee an inspection and tell you what problems you may have.

If you’re in an accident, your suspension can be damaged or knocked out of alignment. Even a minor accident, like hitting a curb around Little Rock or even a large rock can mess things up. With a minor accident it’s tempting to just get an alignment or wheel balance to correct the problem. But if there’s some damage, a simple alignment won’t actually fix the problem, and you’ll just have to align it again after the repairs are made. So if you have an accident, get your suspension system inspected right away. Suspension problems should be fixed immediately because they can lead to unsafe handling.

One big cause of suspension damage is potholes – those nasty magnets that seem to draw our tires right into them. Here are some tips for avoiding damage from potholes: First, keep your tires at their full air pressure. That gives tires their maximum resiliency and will hopefully keep your wheels or other suspension parts from crunching on a big hole. Next, just pay attention. When you see a hole you can’t miss, slow down before you hit it. Driving at a slower speed will limit the damage, and may keep your drink from spilling. But don’t brake directly over the pothole. That will cause the car’s weight to shift forward and add to the potential damage.

So don’t put off an inspection of your suspension. We promise the principal won’t be involved.

Parkway Automotive
Give us a call today at 501-821-6111.
Or stop by at 708 Kirk Road, Little Rock, Arkansas 72223

Winter Tires

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

What type of technology do you use? Do you prefer an 8-track tape or an iPod? When it comes to winter tires, much of the public’s perception dates back to when 8-track was the best way to listen to the Bee Gees.

Twenty years ago, winter tires differed from highway tires only in their tread design. We called them snow tires back then and they had big, knobby lugs that were designed to give good traction in deep snow. They had the same rubber compound as regular tires and they weren’t very good on ice, packed snow or wet roads. They were not even very good on dry roads. They really helped in deep or loose snow, but they did a poor job the rest of the time. They were loud and rode hard. You couldn’t wait to get them off in the spring.

Then all-season tires started to come along. All-season tires are really a compromise between summer and winter performance. They have acceptable hot weather ride and tread life, and you can get through mild winter road conditions OK. But there are some really good reasons to consider winter tires.

Modern winter tires do a terrific job in a wide range of winter conditions. First of all, below 45 degrees Fahrenheit, regular tires become hard and inflexible. That means they don’t provide the road grip you need. Even if you don’t live somewhere with a lot of snow, but it still gets below 45 degrees in the winter, you will be safer with winter tires.

In addition, they are specifically designed to more effectively move snow and water. That’s the key to traction on ice, packed snow and wet roads. They use a micro-pore compound that allows the tire to bite into ice and snow. They also use wider grooves that run around the circumference of the tread to expel snow from the tire better. The lugs and grooves on winter tires have a special shape that throws the packed snow out of the tread as the tire turns. The tread is then open when it comes back in contact with the road and can provide good traction.

Winter tires also have a lot of sipes. Sipes are thin slits in the tread. The edge of the sipes grab ice and packed snow to provide tons of traction and to expel water and slush out of the tread. winter tires have a rounder casing to cut into the snow’s surface. The treads on regular summer tires can actually get packed with snow instead and become very slick. winter tires offer 25% to 50% more traction than all-season tires. And when it comes to stopping power, all-season tires take 42% longer to stop than winter tires. Sometimes that’s the difference between getting home safely and spending the night in a snow bank.

Now back when the 8-track was king, you just put snow tires on the drive wheels. That worked out OK because the rubber compound was essentially the same. Now, winter tires provide so much more traction than all-season or summer tires, that there’s a huge difference between the traction at the front and rear ends of the car if you only put winter tires on the drive wheels.

For example: if you take a corner on an icy road and the rear end starts to slide out, essentially the rear is trying to pass the front because it’s going faster. If you have high traction winter tires only on the front, they are going to be much more effective at transferring cornering grip and stopping power to the front wheels. This will actually cause the rear end to whip out even more.

That’s why tire manufactures instruct their dealers that they must install winter tires on the rear wheels as well whenever they put winter tires on the front end of any vehicle. It’s a major safety concern. It’s strongly recommended that winter tires be installed on all four wheels on rear wheel drive vehicles as well. The front tires do most of the steering and braking work – it only makes sense that you provide the front end with the best traction you can.

People often assume that if they have four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive they don’t need winter tires on all four wheels. Would you intentionally disconnect the four-wheel drive in poor road conditions? Of course you wouldn’t, but that’s essentially what you do if you only put winter tires on one end. It only makes sense to have the same level of traction and control at all four corners.

The province of Quebec in Canada has issued a law requiring all passenger vehicles, taxis and rental cars with Quebec license plates to install a full set of four winter tires between November 15th and April 1. It’s that important.

Many modern cars have traction control and anti-lock brakes so people may think that they don’t need winter tires. But you need traction to accelerate, steer and stop. The tires provide the traction so that the traction control and anti-lock brakes have something to work with.

Look for tires with the symbol of a mountain with a snowflake in it. This means the tire complies with the severe snow standard. All-season tires will have an M&S, for mud and snow, on the sidewall.

So when the temperatures drop below 45 degrees, be sure you have a set of four winter tires for maximum performance in snow, packed snow, ice, wet and dry roads. Your tire professional can help you find the right winter tire for your vehicle and driving needs.