Archive for May, 2010

Before You Leave Little Rock, Get A Trip Inspection

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

You know, at Parkway Automotive we get a lot of people asking about how to prepare their car for a trip. That’s a big deal. You could be driving through mountains and deserts in some pretty lonely areas outside of Little Rock so you may be anxious to know that the car is up to the task and won’t leave you stranded.

You really do need to plan ahead for a major road trip – there are a lot of things to get ready. Where should you start? You could start with the tires. Look them over for tread wear and check to see that they are properly inflated. Take a quick test drive around Little Rock to see if you can feel any vibrations: are the wheels are in balance? Is the car tracking straight? Is the alignment ok?

Come in and see us for trip inspection.

Parkway Automotive
708 Kirk Road
Little Rock, Arkansas 72223

The next thing is a full service oil change to make sure all of your fluids are topped off and you have fresh oil for the trip. And if your car has over 75,000 miles, you may consider putting in the high-mileage formulation to clean harmful sludge deposits in the engine. You may also need a new PCV valve and an engine air filter.

How about your transmission and brakes? Have you had your transmission and brakes inspected in the last six months?

How are your wiper blades? There’s nothing like not being able to get rid of the bug juice on a long road trip away from Little Rock.

Check your owners’ manual for any other recommended service and have Parkway Automotive do the multi-point inspection before you head out.

Consider also having the coolant system serviced – you want to stay within the manufacturer’s recommendations. If you’re towing a trailer you’ll want to be keep in mind that you’ll be going a long way under severe conditions.

A lot of folks overlook severe conditions like towing, or summer heat, or driving on dirt roads. Plan ahead for your next road trip – we want you to get there and back.

Little Rock Exhaust And Emissions Service

Tuesday, May 25th, 2010

Sometimes when we talk about exhaust service in Little Rock, we think about exhaust pipes and mufflers. And if you can see smoke, or if it’s too loud. But, exhaust service at a place like Parkway Automotive is really a lot more comprehensive these days.

For example, in the U.S., the federal government mandated catalytic converters for all cars in Little Rock in 1976 and on-board emission control computers in 1990. Arkansas and federal emissions requirements have forced manufacturers to come up with much more sophisticated ways to comply with environmental regulations. Cars sold in Canada follow the same guidelines.

So, exhaust service has really become exhaust and emissions service. High-tech computer-controlled emissions devices are now a big part of that. And because it’s so sophisticated, your vehicle manufacturer recommends having your emission system checked out by a qualified technician, like the ones we have at Parkway Automotive, regularly to make sure everything’s working right – which is usually every six months or 6,000 miles.

If your ‘check engine light’ comes on while you are driving around the Conway, Arkansas area, especially if it’s flashing, then you need to get your car looked at right away. Chances are it’s an emission related problem. You might have exhaust or emissions trouble if your car is hard to start, runs rough, or if it’s noisy or smoking.

So let’s review the exhaust system. Everything starts with the exhaust manifold. That’s the part that attaches to the engine and collects the exhaust from the cylinders and directs it into the exhaust pipe.

The exhaust gaskets help seal the connection with the manifold and other joints along the way. Now, if the manifold is cracked or loose, or a gasket is leaking, then dangerous gases could escape into the passenger compartment, where you ride. Carbon monoxide can be deadly, so it’s important that your exhaust system doesn’t leak.

The exhaust pipes connect the various components. They can rust or be damaged by a rock, so they need to be inspected periodically.

Next comes the catalytic converter. This part actually looks like a muffler. It changes chemicals that are dangerous to your health, and to the local Arkansas environment, into harmless carbon dioxide and water. Now it doesn’t require any maintenance itself. But eventually they wear out. If it has, you’ll probably find out when your car fails an emissions inspection.

Now the muffler. Its main job is to quiet engine noises. Mufflers work by either absorbing or baffling sound. And you can actually customize your car’s sound with different mufflers – which is pretty cool because you can change the look of your car, and the way it sounds.

Rusted or road-damaged mufflers can actually leak and they need to be replaced right away. The exhaust system is attached to the car by a series of hangers and clamps that hold the system in place. And when these hangers come loose or break then hot exhaust components can touch and melt wires, hoses and lines. Just think of the damage a hot curling iron can do – but worse. It’s not good to have that waving around.

And finally, we end at the tailpipe. Appropriate name. This is the final outlet for the exhaust. And one other component is the oxygen sensor. It monitors the oxygen content of the exhaust so the engine-control computer can adjust the fuel-to-air mix to keep the car running right.

We hope this hasn’t been too ‘exhausting’ of a discussion, but these things impact everything from life and death safety due to exhaust leaks, to just fine-tuning the sound of your ride. And talk with your service advisor at Parkway Automotive if you feel you need any of these items inspected on your vehicle, because a quick look can sure save a lot of pain down the road.

Auto Tips Videos provided for Parkway Automotive by AutoNetTV

Finding Vehicle Recall Information From Little Rock

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

No matter how well they’re made, cars are bound to have problems with their design or manufacturing. When the government thinks a problem is really serious, they require the manufacturer to issue a recall notice to Little Rock residents and to fix the car free of charge. The manufacturer then tries to contact everyone who owns that type of car in Little Rock and elsewhere until the work is done.

If you have questions about vehicle recalls, give us a call:
Parkway Automotive
708 Kirk Road Little Rock, Arkansas 72223

These recalls always affect safety, so you need to take them seriously. It’s really easy to find out if a vehicle is being recalled. For links to government sites, look in the AutoNetTV website.

Other website include:;; and All of these sites have free recall searches.

Recalls are pretty serious and don’t happen all that often. But sometimes cars have less serious problems that you still might want to know about. In this case, manufacturers issue what is known as a Technical Service Bulletin – or TSB. These bulletins tell service centers how to repair a problem that occurs frequently or is especially difficult.

The pros receive updated information through subscription plans, which are sometimes available in consumer versions too. You can buy access to these for an annual fee.

Whatever your source, pay attention to vehicle recalls to keep you and your passengers safe.

Custom Wheels and Tires

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010

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

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

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

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

So, what if you want to upsize? Well, if it is just bigger wheels you want, but you want to keep the same overall tire diameter, that’s pretty easy. The same offset concerns apply. You need to know that the tires will likely be a little bit wider than the originals and could rub when you make sharp turns. A tire professional at Parkway Automotive can help you avoid this.

It is also important to keep the same overall tire diameter because changing the rolling diameter can mess with your anti-lock brakes and stability control systems. Are you starting to see why you want to consult with a tire and wheel expert? Is “super-size me” your motto? If it is, you are going to have to lift your vehicle to make room for those huge tires. A mild lift doesn’t require extensive modifications. An extreme lift means a lot of new hardware under the vehicle. It also means a lot of stock electronic systems need to be recalibrated to the new tire size. For example, your speedometer and odometer will give false readings if they aren’t recalibrated.

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

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

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

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

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