Archive for August, 2012

Engine Air Filter From Parkway Automotive

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

You may have found yourself in the following situation: You go to get your oil changed and the service adviser at Parkway Automotive 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, but 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 from any of our Parkway Automotive staff. 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 in Little Rock right now? Can you see any smog? Is it full of pollen? How about dust? Anyone in Arkansas 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 an engine air filter, the inside of your engine would be extremely dirty from all the gunk that was burned in the cylinders.

Parkway Automotive
708 Kirk Road
Little Rock, Arkansas 72223

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 ask.

When Are Your Tires Worn Out?

Thursday, August 23rd, 2012

Hey Conway, Arkansas, are your tires worn out? What is the standard for our Arkansas streets? How can you tell on your truck?

While there may be legal requirements for the Conway, Arkansas area, there are safety concerns that go beyond meeting minimum replacement mandates.

2/32 is the depth of the tire tread wear indicator bars that US law has required to be molded across all tires since August 1, 1968. When tires are worn so that this bar is visible, there’s just 2/32 of an inch – 1.6 millimeters – of tread left. It’s that level of wear that’s been called into question recently.

We’re referring to the Consumer Reports call to consider replacing tires when tread reaches 4/32 of an inch, or 3.2 millimeters. And the recommendation is backed by some very compelling studies.

The issue is braking on wet surfaces in and around Conway, Arkansas. Most of us think of our brakes doing most of the work, but if you don’t have enough tread on your tires, the brakes can’t do their job. When it’s wet or snowy, the tread of the tire is even more critical to stopping power.

Picture this: you’re driving over a water covered stretch of road near Conway, Arkansas, Arkansas. Your tires must be in contact with the road in order to stop. That means that the tire has to move the water away from the tire so that the tire is actually contacting the road and not floating on a thin film of water.

Floating on the surface of water is called hydroplaning. So if there’s not enough tread depth on a tire, it can’t move the water out of the way and you start to hydroplane.

In the study a section of a test track was flooded with a thin layer of water. If you laid a dime on the track, the water would be deep enough to surround the coin, but not enough to cover it.

A car and a full-sized pick-up were brought up to 70 miles per hour, or 112 kilometers an hour and then made a hard stop in the wet test area. Stopping distance and time were measured for three different tire depths:

  • New tire tread depth
  • 4/32 of an inch
  • 2/32 of an inch

So what happened with the 2/32 tires on the car? Get this – when the car had traveled the distance required to stop with new tires, it was still going 55 miles an hour. Stopping distance was nearly doubled to 379 feet and it took 5.9 seconds.

Wow! That means if you barely have room to stop with new tires, you would hit the car in front of you at 55 miles an hour with the worn tires.

Now, with the partially worn tires – at 4/32 of an inch – the car was still going at 45 miles an hour at the point where new tires brought the car to a halt. It took nearly 100 feet more room to stop and 1.2 seconds longer. That’s a big improvement. We can see why Consumer Reports and others are calling for a new standard.

Of course, stopping distances were greater for the heavier pick-up truck.

How do you know when your tires are at 4/32 of an inch? Easy; just insert a quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn’t cover George Washington’s hairline, it’s time to replace your tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.

You may remember doing that with pennies. A penny gives you 2/32 to Abraham Lincoln’s head. The quarter is the new recommendation – 4/32.

How do people feel about replacing their tires earlier? Well, tires are a big ticket item and most people want to get the most wear out of them that they can. But do you want that much more risk just to run your tires until they are legally worn out?

For us, and we would guess for many, the answer is “no”.

Parkway Automotive
708 Kirk Road
Little Rock, Arkansas 72223

Wheel Balancing

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

So you love our job, and your family life is great: You have achieved balance. But can you the same for your wheels? You can tell if your tires are out of balance by vibrations at higher speeds. If one of the front tires is out, you feel the vibration in the steering wheel. If it’s a back tire, you’ll feel the vibration in your seat.

Tires and wheels are pretty heavy. When a tire is mounted on a wheel, it is usually not perfectly balanced. So the tire technician will spin the tire on a machine to determine where it’s too heavy. He will then place weights on the wheels in strategic locations to balance it out. When a tire is out of balance, it actually bounces down the road instead of rolling smoothly. Since the average size tire rotates at about 850 revolutions per minute at 60 MPH, it is actually slamming into the pavement 14 times a second. That’s where you get your vibration.

Most people are surprised at how smoothly their car rides after balancing all four wheels.

Most high-quality tires hold their balance pretty well. They just get out of balance gradually with normal wear and tear. If you suddenly feel a vibration, it is probably because you lost a wheel balancing weight along the way. Definitely get a balance if you feel a vibration, change your rims or have a flat repaired. Putting off a needed balance job leads to excessive tire wear, wear to your shocks, struts, steering and suspension parts. wheel balancing not only improves your ride and handling, but also can save you some big repair bills and possibly an accident. Additionally, you will get better gas mileage.

Some people have their tires balanced at every rotation. Others do it every other time. Check your owners’ manual for your requirements, or ask your technician. Doing thus will put you on the path to mechanical wheel balance


Fall and Spring Checkup In Little Rock

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

When I was a kid in Little Rock, my dad always made sure he took the cars in for Spring and Fall checkups. I was telling a friend that it’s about time to get into Parkway Automotive for my checkup and he said that he read on the internet that modern cars don’t need seasonal service.

My friend is (technically) right about some things, but from a practical standpoint, a seasonal check up still makes sense.

Back when my dad was teaching me about how to take care of the family truck, most cars used a different weight of oil in the winter and in the summer. But most of today’s modern engines run the same oil year round. High-tech engines and high-tech motor oils are better able to handle the seasonal changes.

Your owner’s manual or Little Rock service advisor at Parkway Automotive can tell you the right oil to use.

Of course, you’re concerned about the coolant or antifreeze. You don’t want to overheat in the Arkansas summer or freeze up in the winter. Your engine cooling system protects against both of these things. And modern coolant, or as it’s sometimes called; ‘antifreeze’, is up to doing both very well. It’s designed to last for more miles than most people drive in a year or two.

So how does a Spring and Fall check-up fit in? Let’s start with Spring. Summer is coming. That means heat, more miles driven and road trips. It just makes sense to check your fluid levels and do a visual inspection to see that everything is up to snuff.

You may not be scheduled to drain and replace the coolant for some time, but you need to make sure you have enough coolant, and that you don’t have any leaks or hoses that are about to fail.

That’s pretty practical; a check-up to see if there are any problems or emerging conditions that could later become a problem, like a cracked belt.

And the same principle applies for getting ready for winter. Cold weather means lots of failed batteries. It takes more power to crank up a cold engine, and cold also decreases the available cranking power the battery has available.

So a battery test in the Fall could tell you if you’ve got a battery that is running on its last legs. And of course, if you live where winter temperatures get below 45 degrees or you have ice and snow, you’ll want to consider changing to winter tires.

So Spring and Fall auto checkups at Parkway Automotive are practical reminders to get ready for the demands of the hot and cold seasons to come.

And odds are that you have one or more routine services that are due anyway. Like a transmission service, brake or power steering fluid, differential service – stuff like that. Are your wiper blades still good? Are your headlamps starting to dim?

So Spring and Fall: change your clocks, replace the batteries in your smoke detectors – and get a check-up for your cars.

See, dad was right again.

Come and see us at Parkway Automotive for your Spring and Fall automotive checkup.
Parkway Automotive
708 Kirk Road
Little Rock, Arkansas 72223

Keeping Your Little Rock Air Fresh When Driving With A Clean Cabin Air Filter

Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

What is a cabin air filter? Is it:

A. A filter for your Little Rock house?
B. A fresh, piney scent?
C. A filter for the passenger compartment of your car?

Clever you, it’s C.

A cabin air filter cleans the outside air before it comes into the passenger compartment. It filters out common Little Rock air particles like dust, pollen, spores, bacteria, pollutants, exhaust gas, odors and even sparrows.

These high tech filters can block particles larger than 3 microns. By contrast, a grain of sand is about 200 microns.

Not all vehicles in Little Rock have cabin air filters. They are fairly new on the scene. About forty percent of new vehicles sold in Little Rock come with cabin air filters, but the number is growing every year.

Cabin air filters can make for a very nice driving environment. Your car can be a haven during our Little Rock allergy season with very little dust and pollen getting into the cabin. However, the filter eventually gets clogged. When this happens, your heating and air conditioning flow can become restricted. The filter can even get kind of smelly.

Check your owner’s manual for recommended replacement intervals. Often, the owner’s manual forgets about the cabin air filter, so ask your service technician at Parkway Automotive for a recommendation. It’s usually every year or 12,000 miles / 19,000 kilometers. Change it sooner if you drive in dusty conditions around the Conway, Arkansas area, or if you start to notice an odor from your ventilation system.

So keep your cabin air filter clean. It may not help with your brother-in-law in the backseat, but it will make your driving experience around Little Rock more enjoyable.

Come by Parkway Automotive and we’ll take a look at your cabin air filter for you.