Archive for April, 2011

Keeping Your ‘Old Faithful’ Auto Running

Friday, April 29th, 2011

At Parkway Automotive we’ve had a lot of people asking how they can make their vehicles last longer. These questions are actually a reflection of a trend that’s been building for several years. The median age of personal vehicles is now over nine years. And 33 percent of all vehicles on the road have over 75,000 miles on them. It looks like it’s going to keep heading in that direction for a while. With high fuel prices a lot of folks are putting off buying a new car. Thanks to AutoNetTV, we can provide you with a video answer to this question.

So let’s say you’re one of the average people in the Conway, Arkansas area; you’ve got a nine year old car with 80,000 miles on the odometer. What can you to do make it last another year or two?

Let’s start with the premise that there’s no reason that a modern car can’t run for 200,000 miles with proper care. The engineering and manufacturing quality is there.

Of course, some parts will wear out along the way, but there’s no reason for a catastrophic meltdown if you stay on top of your recommended maintenance. The maintenance schedule in some owner’s manuals runs out at 60,000 miles or so: how do we know what to do when we’re way past that?

It is a challenge, for example: If a service is recommended every 15,000 miles for the first 60,000 miles you can just keep getting it done at least every 15,000 miles after you hit 60,000 miles. But, it gets more complicated because older engines lose some efficiency, are dirtier inside and are just more stressed. That means it’s very important to not miss any scheduled services. Skipping just one oil change, for example, leaves an opportunity for harmful sludge to build up.

So all the usual things like oil changes, transmission service, coolant service, brakes, power steering, fuel system cleaning – all that stuff need to be maintained. People responsible for fleet vehicles around Conway, Arkansas are positively religious about scheduled maintenance. They know that money spent on maintenance saves them three ways:

  1. it saves fuel;
  2. it prevents costly repairs, an;
  3. they can postpone purchasing new vehicles.

Having the oil changed may be the most important thing. A full service oil change means that all of your other fluids get topped off so they are never low enough to cause damage. It also gives your technician a chance to spot problems in the early stages so that you can fix them before they get expensive. And it gives you a touch point with a professional along the way to remind you of things that aren’t scheduled as often – things like differential service and timing belt replacement.

If you live in the Conway, Arkansas area and have an older vehicle, you may need to follow the severe service maintenance schedule. Check your owner’s manual and talk with your service advisor at Parkway Automotive. Conditions inside an older engine, transmission and cooling system can arguably be considered severe – so shorter intervals could well be called for.

And, we would strongly encourage you to consider using high mileage formulation fluids. They’re fluids like engine oil, transmission fluid and coolant that are formulated for older engines. They have special additives to clean deposits, and to condition and restore seals and gaskets that dry out with age. Some people start using higher mileage formulations at around 50,000 miles as a preventive measure.

Of course you also want to still look marvelous in your older car. Salt and road grime wreak havoc on your paint job and can lead to body rust – so regular washing is very important. Also, a good quality waxing is recommended at least twice a year.

Give us a call for more information:

Parkway Automotive
708 Kirk Road
Little Rock, Arkansas 72223

ICE – In Case Of Emergency In Little Rock Arkansas

Friday, April 29th, 2011

Sometimes the unthinkable happens in Little Rock Arkansas. A terrible accident and those involved aren’t able to provide rescuers with emergency contact information.

You have people in the Little Rock Arkansas area who you’ll want to be contacted to arrange help, give consent to treatment, and inform paramedics of medical conditions, allergies or medications.

Too often, our Arkansas police and rescue workers must sift through pockets, glove compartments, wallets, purses and cell phone directories for clues – often wasting precious time.

A brilliantly simple solution is now spreading around the globe: ICE. ICE – standing for In Case of Emergency, is a way to identify emergency contacts in your cell phone directory.

Simply put ‘ICE’ before a contact name in your cell phone, like ‘ICE – Dad’, ‘ICE – Nancy’, or ‘ICE – Doctor Roberts’. Rescuers will be able to quickly identify your emergency contacts, saving valuable time.

Bob Brotchie, a Cambridge, England paramedic came up with the idea and started a promotional campaign in England in 2005. This powerful idea is now being heavily promoted in Little Rock Arkansas and in other countries. Rescue workers all know of how many times they are unable to find a wallet or purse on an accident victim, yet they are seldom without their cell phone.

There are national and worldwide disaster databases, but participation can cost up to two hundred dollars a year. ‘ICE’ is free to the 276 million cell phone users in the U.S.

It is easy and just takes a few minutes to designate some ICE contacts in your cell phone. Remember to keep the listings current.

Please join Parkway Automotive in getting the word out. Help us put Little Rock Arkansas on ICE!

Upsizing Wheels and Tires

Thursday, April 28th, 2011

At AutoNetTV we love doughnuts. So let’s pretend you have three doughnuts right in front of your for our discussion of upsizing wheels and tires. Hey, don’t eat them now – your going to need them later.

Many people want to accessorize their car – you know, make it theirs. One of the easiest ways to get a custom look is to get some new wheels. There are thousands of wheel designs out there to get you the look you want. And for many, that look includes bigger wheels. It used to be that cars came from the factory with 15 or 16 inch wheels. Now 16, 17 and even 18 inchers are standard. And the factories are offering optional wheel packages up to 20 inches or more.

So let’s talk about what to consider when you want to upsize your wheels. It’s not exactly a do it yourself project, so you need to know a thing or two before you get started. The most important term to know is rolling diameter. The rolling diameter is simply the overall height of your tire. Unless you want to modify your suspension, you’ll want to keep your rolling diameter the same when you upsize your wheels.

Let’s think about those three golden doughnuts in front of you. They’re all about the same size. So if we pretend they’re tires, they would have the same rolling diameter. The doughnut hole is the size of the wheel. Now pretend we’ve made the hole bigger on some. That’s like having a bigger wheel – but the rolling diameter is the same.

It’s important to keep the rolling diameter the same for several reasons. First of all, if the tire is bigger, it might not fit in the wheel well. Next the speedometer, odometer and anti-lock brake system are all calibrated for the factory rolling diameter. In order for your anti-lock brakes to work properly, the rolling diameter must stay within 3% of the factory recommendation. If you ignore that, you run the risk that your anti-lock brakes won’t work properly.

Some cars today have electronically controlled suspension that will be negatively affected by changing the rolling diameter. Let’s think about the doughnuts again. You see, as the size of the wheel gets bigger, the sidewall gets shorter. The tire holds less air, so the sidewalls are made stiffer to compensate.

Low profile tires from top manufacturers use special compounds that give the sidewall the strength it needs without compromising ride quality. As you increase your wheel size, you’ll typically get a slightly wider tire. This means that you have a larger contact patch. The contact patch is part of the tire that contacts the road. Because there’s more rubber on the road, the vehicle will handle better. And braking distances will be shorter. A lot of people with trucks or SUV’s love the extra control.

You do have to watch out that the contact patch isn’t so big that the tires rub in turns or over bumps. What we’re talking about here is fitment. Your tire professional can help you get this right. He’ll install your new wheels, add spacers if needed to make sure your brakes fit inside your new wheels, and get you rolling.

Also, if you drive off-road a lot, you may need a higher profile tire to protect your new rims. And make sure your new tires have the load rating you need if you tow a trailer or haul heavy loads. Again, your tire professional knows how to help.

And don’t forget about tire pressure. If you have larger rims, your new tires will hold less air and they’ll need to run a slightly higher pressure. Forget that and you’ll wear your tires out fast. Finally, get an alignment after you get your new shoes. AutoNetTV wants you to safely have the look you want.

Runnin’ On Empty

Wednesday, April 27th, 2011


Higher gas prices are causing more drivers to stretch each tank as far as possible. AAA is delivering gas to over 15,000 stranded motorists each month, which is up almost 13%.

Driving on an almost empty tank can cause expensive repairs to a vehicle.  Most newer cars have the fuel pump located inside the fuel tank. The fuel sloshing around in the tank is what helps keep the fuel pump motor from running hot. So a consistently low fuel tank could lessen the lifespan of an expensive ($500 and up) fuel pump.  Run low on fuel and your fuel pump is working overtime!
Running near empty can also cause any sediment that has accumulated in the tank to be more aggresive towards clogging the fuel pump, fuel filters and fuel injectors.  Keeping your tank above 1/4 full, will insure a longer life for your fuel pump.

Engine Air Filter

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

You may have found yourself in the following situation: You go to get your oil changed and the service adviser recommends you get a new engine air filter. You say yes, but because you didn’t know what an air filter is or what it does, you were too embarrassed to ask.

First of all, you did the right thing by getting a new one. And, you should never be too embarrassed to ask for more information. It’s your money and you have a right to understand what you’re paying for. Let’s review what an air filter does.

Air is the focus of this discussion. What is the air like outside right now? Can you see the smog? Is it full of pollen? How about dust? Anyone with hay fever can tell you that there’s plenty in the air that you can’t see. Well, it’s the engine air filter’s job to clean that air before it goes into your engine, to mix with the fuel and be burned. Without a filter, the inside of your engine would be extremely dirty from all the gunk that was burned in the cylinders.

In fact, for every gallon of gas you burn, your engine needs 12,000 gallons of air. That little filter does a very big job. It’s no wonder that the air filter gets dirty and needs to be replaced. Think about a vacuum cleaner. When the bag gets full of dust and dirt, the vacuum doesn’t clean as well. It can’t move enough air to create good suction. A clogged engine air filter is the same way – the engine can’t get enough air to burn the fuel efficiently. That means less power and wasted gas.

That’s why your manufacturer has recommended that you change your filter at regular intervals. Of course the conditions you drive in will affect how quickly the filter gets dirty. If you drive where it’s very dusty or where there’s lots of pollen or pollution, you may need to change the filter sooner. The filter is easy to check visually, so your service technician can quickly make the call. He might recommend immediate replacement, or simply let you know that it is getting close and that you’ll need to replace it soon – like at your next oil change.

Because a severely dirty air filter hurts your fuel economy, many people find that a new air filter pays for itself in gas savings before the next oil change. They also make premium air filters that have been proven to increase your horsepower and torque. If more power is important to you, a high performance air filter is some of the cheapest horsepower you can buy.

The better your car breathes, the better it runs – kind of like people. And don’t worry – if you have a question or don’t understand a recommendation just contact Parkway Automotive at 501-821-6111 or


Air Conditioning Service

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Working up a sweat is a great thing to do in a gym, but not in your car. When your car’s AC System has a problem, you’ll often feel it right away. The question is, how long do you put up with it? You know, the old comfort versus cost dilemma. But a more comfortable drive has a lot of benefits, and keeping the AC System well maintained can help prevent expensive repairs.

A common cause for AC failure is water and air in the system. The system does not 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 try to cool the air. That is why 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 in the winter, so that it lubricates itself and keeps the seals from drying out. The seals can crack and that leads to leaks. Your owner’s manual will have recommendations for how often to service your air conditioner. Some Little Rock automotive service centers also have this information as part of their computer databases. A service advisor at Parkway Automotive can give you more information. Call 501-821-6111 to schedule an AC check.

Of course, if your AC currently isn’t working right, then now is the time to get it checked. Many service centers can inspect and test your air conditioning and offer evacuation and recharge services. This goes a long way to avoiding having to bring your air conditioner in for major repairs.

Recent 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 Arkansas vehicle that uses Freon, you may want to consider having it retrofitted to use the new EPA-approved R134a refrigerant. It will pay for itself in the long run.

E-85 Fuel Safety Advice From Parkway Automotive

Wednesday, April 20th, 2011

Today at Parkway Automotive we want to talk with you about a very important safety issue. This automotive safety warning is coming from a very unusual source: fire fighting experts. You’ve probably heard of E-85 gasoline being offered in the Conway, Arkansas area. Some newer vehicle models are specifically built to run on E-85 – the rest are not.

Does your vehicle use E-85 gasoline? Bring it down to Parkway Automotive at 708 Kirk Road in Little Rock, Arkansas 72223 to find out, or give us a call to make an appointment by calling 501-821-6111.

E-85 gasoline has been developed to fight air pollution and reduce oil consumption. E-85 fuel is a mix of 85% ethanol, a grain-base alcohol, and 15% gasoline. So-called Flex-Fuel vehicles are designed to use either normal gasoline or E-85 gas. The result is lower harmful exhaust emissions to our local Conway, Arkansas community.

All gas engines can run with up to 10% ethanol and in fact a lot of gasoline sold in the Little Rock Arkansas area does contain some ethanol. The problem comes when well meaning people without Flex Fuel certified vehicles put E-85 into the tank.

At a 15% concentration, the potential for problems arises. Because of the chemical differences between ethanol and gasoline, special seals and gaskets are needed for Flex Fuel vehicles in Little Rock Arkansas. In a normal engine, the ethanol in E-85 gas will eat away important seals and gaskets. This leads to gas and oil leaks.

You can imagine the fire hazard caused by leaking gasoline. Fire fighting experts caution consumers to only use E-85 if they know they vehicle is certified to handle it. They expect vehicle fires to increase because of using the wrong fuel in non-Flex Fuel vehicles.

So are people who don’t have a Flex Fuel vehicle but use E-85 to help the environment actually putting themselves at risk? Yes. In fact, service and repair centers in Little Rock Arkansas are being warned to purchase fire extinguishers that use the special foam needed to extinguish ethanol fires as a precaution in case starting-up an ethanol damaged engine leads to a fire.

Obviously, this isn’t something you want to have in your Little Rock Arkansas garage at home, either. If you have a Flex-Fuel certified vehicle, feel free to protect the environment by using E-85 gasoline. If not – please do not use E-85 in an engine that’s designed to run on unleaded gasoline only. At Parkway Automotive we are concerned about your safety. If you have questions or want to find out how to determine if your vehicle can safely use E-85, go to for more resources.

Take a look at our attached auto safety tips video from Auto Tips Videos.

Can Car Scent Keep You Safe On Arkansas Roads?

Friday, April 15th, 2011

Here’s a travel tip that’ll I’ll bet you didn’t know, and, it might keep you safer…

The average American commuter in Arkansas spends two and a half hours daily in their car.

The government says a hundred thousand auto accidents yearly are caused by drivers who fall asleep at the wheel. (Aggressive driving is the number one traffic safety concern.)

So what does this have to do with how your car smells while you’re driving around Arkansas?

Well, which scent did you think makes drivers more alert?

Is it:

  • A. Strawberry
  • B. New Car
  • C. Pine
  • D. Warm Vanilla Breeze

It’s C. Drivers are more alert and have less fatigue with pine scent in the car, according to AroMetrics.

And, drivers were less angry with overall improved driving performance with strawberry and pine scents.

And you thought they just smelled nice.

Parkway Automotive
708 Kirk Road
Little Rock, Arkansas 72223

Service Center Standard and Procedures

Friday, April 15th, 2011

All pilots have checklists for every aspect of flying. They always use their checklists even if they only have two steps on them. They do this simply because a checklist is a great way to not forget important steps. It is also how you can assure a predictable outcome.

That is why Cabot, Arkansas and Bryant, Arkansas automotive service centers have procedural standards for each service they perform. Technicians are trained step by step. And they perform the procedures step by step, the same way each time. By training to procedural standards, centers can assure a quality outcome. The job is done right every time and you are happy with how your car performs.

Each company trains its technicians to standards. The industry as a whole is very committed to standards of excellence and encourages individual service center operators to apply them to every vehicle they service.

An example is how service technicians grade problems and communicate their recommendations. If a technician tells you that a repair or replacement is required it must meet the following criteria:

  1. The part no longer performs its intended purpose
  2. The part does not meet a design specification
  3. The part is missing

The technician may suggest repair or replacement if:

  1. The part is close to the end of its useful life – just above discard specifications or likely to fail soon
  2. To address a customer need or request – like for better ride or increased performance
  3. To comply with maintenance recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer
  4. Based on the technician’s informed experience

Here are some examples:

An exhaust pipe has rusted through and is leaking. Replacement is required because the part has failed. If the pipe were rusted, corroded or weak, but not leaking, the technician may suggest it be replaced because it is near the end of its useful life and replacing it now may be more convenient for the customer.

Suppose a customer wants to improve his car’s handling, but his shocks haven’t failed. The technician may suggest replacement of the shocks to satisfy the customer’s wishes.

Under these guidelines the service center must refuse partial service of a required repair if the repair creates or continues an unsafe condition. Let’s say a customer has a cracked brake rotor. This is a dangerous condition that must be repaired. If the customer does not want to replace the rotor, but instead just wants new brake pads installed, the shop must ethically refuse the partial repair. That can be an upsetting conversation, but understanding that service centers operate under service standards and procedures is comforting. You want your service to be done right and to have confidence in your technician’s recommendations.

The automotive service industry and Parkway Automotive want the best for you and for you to keep coming back. AutoNetTV is committed to providing automotive maintenance information to help you be confident in your service decisions.

The Harm In Skipping An Oil Change For Little Rock Drivers

Wednesday, April 13th, 2011

People in Little Rock have been hearing a lot about higher oil change intervals these days. Maybe you’re wondering: What are the key issues?

Some new vehicle manufacturers in Little Rock are now recommending much higher oil change intervals than they have in the past. As much as 5,000 to 8,000 miles or more. This practice came under scrutiny when four of the largest new car manufacturers announced that owners like those in Little Rock were experiencing engine damage resulting from these higher oil change intervals.

The manufacturers’ standard oil drain service for particular vehicles was scheduled at around 7,500 miles. People following these recommendations were experiencing engine damage. It turns out that oil sludge was building up. This caused small oil passages to clog and engine parts to fail.

What causes oil sludge? It’s a factor of time and mileage. There are hot spots in every engine that cause oil burn off that leads to sludge. Also, water from normal condensation can build up in the oil. This water also creates sludge. Severe driving conditions lead to more rapid sludge formation.

Visit Parkway Automotive in Little Rock, Arkansas 72223

Severe driving around Little Rock includes short trips under four miles or trips under ten miles in freezing conditions. The engine just doesn’t get warm enough for the water in the oil to evaporate.

Severe conditions are at the heart of the problem. Stop-and-go driving, towing, dusty conditions, heavy loads, very hot or very cold temperatures, a car top carrier – these are all conditions that would suggest that the severe service schedule should be considered.

The severe service schedule has much shorter oil change intervals. People in Little Rock just need to honestly evaluate how they drive to determine if they should change their oil closer to the severe service schedule, or to the standard schedule.

Some types of truck will give oil change reminders. But it’s important to know how that reminder is determined. For some, the reminder simply comes when the standard mileage interval has rolled around. Others use a computer algorithm that takes into consideration the number of cold starts, trip length, engine temperature and so on. It’s programmed to approximate where on the standard/severe service spectrum you fall. Some more expensive vehicles actually have sensors that test the cleanliness and effectiveness of the oil.

For the rest of us, better safe than sorry should be the guiding principle. Talk with your Little Rock service advisor at Parkway Automotive and work it out together. Find out what kind of oil the factory sends out in your vehicle. Sometimes it’s a premium grade that costs more than standard oil – but it may be what’s needed to meet a higher factory recommended interval.

If you’re realistically conservative, standard grades of oil will take care of you year after year. If you want to push the limits, ask for a premium grade oil to give you extra protection.

So, what happened with those manufacturers with the problems from higher oil change intervals? They ended up extending the engine warranty for parts that were affected by oil sludge. But they had a stipulation – they lowered the oil change interval and the vehicle owner had to provide proof of oil changes at the new lower interval to keep the extended warranty.