Lucas Auto Care's Automotive Blog

Porsche

The SRS, supplemental restraint system, is also known as the airbag light. This indicator shows when there is fault either in the seatbelt system or in the airbag itself. The Porsche SRS light will come on when there is any sort of electrical fault in any of the mentioned systems. The most common issue that cause the Porsche SRS light to come on is the seatbelt buckle. In August of 1999 Porsche switched the buckle connector to gold plated connectors.
The original connector would easily corrode, and instead of there being a dramatic issue in this safety feature of the vehicle. Porsche decided to correct the issue across the board by changing the connectors plating. Along with replacing or cleaning the buckle connector, you need to re-solder the ground cable. This is part of the reason a professional should always be contacted. The Porsche SRS light indicates some sort of malfunction in any one of the safety systems. The reason you should have a professional technician check the system after the Porsche SRS light comes on is because you don’t always know why it came on. Yes, most commonly before the new millennium, it was a wire malfunction.
Most recently Porsche has gone through a great deal to correct any possible malfunctions before they occur. That is where the professional comes in. Having the vehicle properly diagnosed, you will be able to properly identify the problem with the code from the diagnostic tool. Seeing that Porsche has been correcting certain malfunctions, recently the most common reason for the Porsche SRS light to come on is because of replacing seat or a steering wheel. Even though this is the most common reason, it isn’t always the exact reason. Simply put, when the Porsche SRS light comes on you should have a diagnostic ran on the vehicle to make sure the issue isn’t one that could be life threatening.

Cooling System Components


Today we want to talk about a key system in our cars – the cooling system. It’s one of those things that Houston car owners don’t give much thought to until it fails and then they’re stranded by the side of a road in Houston.

Cooling systems fail more often than any other mechanical system – usually because of neglect. Don’t you hate it when something breaks, and you could have done something to prevent it?

The good news is that if Houston drivers take care of their cooling systems they can keep working for the life of their car.

Here at AutoNetTV and Lucas Auto Care in Houston, we emphasize important preventive maintenance services like replacing your coolant according to the factory schedule. But the various parts that make up the cooling system need attention too. The major components of the cooling system are the water pump, freeze plugs, the thermostat, the radiator, cooling fans, the heater core, the pressure cap, the overflow tank and the hoses.

It sounds complicated, but we Houston auto owners don’t have to be experts – we can leave that to our honest service professional at Lucas Auto Care. But, having an overview will help us remember how to take care of your car’s cooling system.

Most Houston folks would be surprised to know that burning fuel in your engine produces up to 4,500 degrees of heat. And all that heat has to be dealt with. If the heat can’t be drawn off the engine, the pistons will literally weld themselves to the inside of the cylinders – then you just have to throw the engine away and get a new one. That would cost thousands of dollars.

Now the water pump is what forces the coolant through passages in the European Car engine to absorb heat. The pump is driven by a belt that needs replacement from time to time. And the water pump will eventually wear out and need to be replaced. Spending some cash on replacing the belts and water pump is much less than the cost of repairing the extremely costly damage that can be done when an engine seizes.

There’s another little but critical part of the coolant system that protects the engine. It’s called a freeze plug. If you remember from high school chemistry, water expands when it freezes. In very cold areas, the coolant can actually freeze when the European Car is left sitting.

It is hard to believe, but the expanding frozen coolant is effective enough to actually crack the engine block. The freeze plugs fit into the engine block. They fit tight enough to withstand the pressure of a running engine, but can expand or pop out if the coolant freezes. These little things save a lot of engine blocks.

That brings up a good point. An engine has to work in all kinds of TX temperatures – extremely hot as well as very cold. How does the European Car cooling system adapt to external temperatures as well as varying operating conditions?

Well, it’s much like the way you keep your Houston house at a comfortable temperature all year round – with a thermostat. The thermostat in your European Car controls how much coolant flows through your engine. When the engine is cold, it restricts coolant flow until the engine comes up to an efficient operating temperature. Then it starts opening up to move more coolant to keep the temperature within a specified range.

The thermostat needs to be replaced from time to time as well. It’s easy for your Lucas Auto Care technician to diagnose a failed thermostat and is fairly inexpensive to replace. We can do this for you at Lucas Auto Care in Houston, just give us a call: 281.379.5800. Now we’ve been talking about all this heat we’ve got to get rid of, but haven’t really talked about where it goes. That’s where the radiator comes in. The hot coolant passes through the radiator. Air flows past the cooling fins and cools the coolant.

The radiator has two tanks that hold coolant: sometimes one at the top and bottom or one on either side. If you have an automatic transmission in your European Car, one of the tanks will also contain a second tank that cools the transmission fluid. Large SUV’s and trucks often have a separate transmission cooler. So when Houston auto owners drive around Houston, the air is forced past the radiator. But driving doesn’t produce enough air flow. So the radiator has cooling fans that force fresh air over the radiator. These fans may be powered by a belt or by electric motors.

Houston motorists also have something called a heater core. The heater core is like a mini radiator. A small fan blows air over the heater core and into the passenger compartment of your European Car. That’s how Houston auto owners warm their cars when it’s cold out in TX.

Next is the radiator cap. With most newer cars around Houston, you never remove the radiator cap, except to replace it. You add coolant through the overflow tank. The radiator cap is also called a pressure cap, because its important job is to maintain pressure in the cooling system.

High pressure raises the boiling point of the coolant, so it cools more effectively even in very demanding Houston conditions. That is why Houston auto owners need to replace the cap from time to time. The team at Lucas Auto Care recommends changing it out every time you replace your coolant.

Coming back to the overflow tank, it is critical because when the coolant gets hot it expands and the overflow holds the extra volume. The tank helps maintain the proper level of coolant and keeps air out of the system. Houston motorists should never open the radiator cap or over flow tank when the engine is hot. This could lead to serious burns.

What else do we Houston car owners need to do to keep our cooling systems working well? Well, there are the hoses that hook all of these pieces together. They’re obviously very tough to deal with the pressure and high temperatures. But they do get worn. Sometimes they get spongy from the heat. Sometimes they lose their connection to the radiator, water pump, etc. It’s a great idea to have your Houston service center or honest Lucas Auto Care service specialist inspect your hoses at least once a year and replace them, if needed, before they break.

The team at Lucas Auto Care can check your cooling system and make any necessary adjustments or repairs. Give us a call at 281.379.5800.

Lucas Auto Care
12600 Grant Road
Houston, TX 77429
281.379.5800

Fresh Air Inside Your Car in Houston

Air quality has certainly become a hot issue in our modern Houston world. We install air filters on our ventilation systems and in our vacuum cleaners. There’s a filter that cleans the air going into our European Car’s engine — so why not one for the air in the passenger compartment?

Foreign and domestic auto makers haven’t been ignoring the issue. Cabin air filters are becoming a standard feature on newer vehicles. These filters can clean particles out of the air down to three microns, which accounts for pollen, dust and most pollutants. Spring motorists who suffer from allergies or have a respiratory disorder should be a lot more comfortable. And even if you don’t have a medical need for the filter, the cleaner air in your car just might help you breathe better, figuratively as well as literally.

Cabin air filters are still fairly new in Houston, so you’ll have to check your European Car owner’s manual to see if you have one. If you do, your routine car care will have to include changing the filter as part of your critical preventive maintenance. The owner’s manual will give recommendations on how often the filter has to be changed, but if the air where you live in TX is particularly dirty or if you’re prone to hay fever, you may want to change it more often.

Your honest Lucas Auto Care service professional can also offer suggestions on how often to change your cabin air filter in your Houston area. They’re the ones who actually see the dirty filters, after all.

There is no standardized location for cabin air filters. Houston motorists can usually find them in the European Car engine compartment or under the dashboard, but they might be somewhere else. So the ease of changing the filter will depend on its location. Some are readily accessible, but others make you wonder how they got installed in the first place. Bring your car into Lucas Auto Care and we will locate your cabin air filter for you.

However, if you have a newer European Car, it’s good auto advice to find out if it has a cabin air filter. If it does, you should change the filter regularly. A sure sign that a filter needs to be changed is that the interior of your European Car will start to smell bad. That smell is exactly how some Houston car owners discovered that they had cabin air filters in the first place!

Cabin air filters are just one more way we have to stay safe, stay healthy, and stay on the road in Houston.

What’s Up With Diesels in Houston?

Would you be surprised to learn that about half of the passenger cars in Europe have diesel engines? You might also be surprised to learn that most auto manufacturers produce a variety of diesel-fueled cars for purchase abroad.

Diesel-fueled vehicles haven’t been as popular in the North American markets like TX. But that won’t be true for long. North Americans are seeing a lot more diesel-fueled vehicles on the road. And we’re not talking about buses and trucks. These vehicles will be passenger cars, pick-ups and SUV’s.

There are two reasons for this. The first is a recent change in environmental laws that have upgraded emissions standards for diesel fuel in North America. Diesel fuel in North America used to have higher sulfur content than European fuel, meaning that it was a dirtier fuel to burn. That was okay for larger vehicles, but the lighter-weight engines in passenger vehicles just couldn’t tolerate it.

But that high sulfur content is now a thing of the past. Fuel producers are now required to sell cleaner diesel fuel in Houston. That opens the North American market to more diesel-powered vehicles. The second reason we’re going to see more of these vehicles in Houston is that they’re more fuel-efficient than their gasoline-powered counterparts. Diesel fuel has higher energy density than gasoline. That translates to more power per barrel of fuel. In your tank, that translates to better engine performance and about 20% more miles per gallon.

Houston car owners may associate diesel engines with black smoke, noise and a definite “shake, rattle and roll.” That’s also a thing of the past. Modern diesel engines are smooth and quiet and produce cleaner emissions than gasoline engines. Also, forget that three-second wait behind a diesel vehicle at a stoplight. Modern diesels are just as quick to accelerate as other vehicles on Houston roads.

Diesel engines have other advantages over gasoline engines. Diesel engines are heavier than gasoline engines because they require more heavy-duty parts, but that means the engines are more durable and can last longer than gasoline engines. Also, diesel engines may be the engines of the future since they can burn many of the new bio-fuels.

Bio-diesel can be manufactured from vegetable oils, including used cooking oil from Houston restaurants. Just think, one day you could fuel your vehicle on stuff that was once considered waste—one step closer to a cleaner environment here in TX. And if you think hybrid cars are environmentally sound, consider what a diesel-electric hybrid could mean. They will soon be available for
Houston motorists.

Houston motorists who are considering buying a diesel-fueled vehicle, should know that essential preventive maintenance and inspection schedules are different for a diesel engine than a gasoline engine. Diesel fuel is harder on emissions systems than gasoline, so the filters and other devices have to be changed and checked more often. Also, the fuel injection system operates at much higher pressures for diesel than for gasoline, so keeping it clean becomes a higher priority.

When you switch from a gas vehicle to a diesel, you’ll have to learn some new rules of car care. But you won’t be alone. Most
Houston service centers are aware that diesels are coming to North America and are already prepared to provide service for diesel engines. At Lucas Auto Care, we are well-versed in diesel technology. You can rely on our team of automotive professionals to provide quality service for diesel powered vehicles.

Looking Down the Road – Headlamps

If you’ve ever been driving around Houston and had a headlamp go out, you’ve probably just wanted to replace the bad bulb. If your car uses halogen headlamps, they dim over time. So if you just put in one, they won’t have the same brightness which can be distracting and will affect your field of vision.

To have your headlights inspected, visit us at Lucas Auto Care. We’re at 12600 Grant Road in Houston, TX 77429. Or give us a call at 281.379.5800

Experts in Houston recommend replacing your halogen headlamps every year. It’s easy to remember if you do it when daylight savings time changes in the fall. That way you’ll have bright headlamps for those long Houston winter nights.

There are other types of headlamps in addition to halogen. There are the old standard bulbs that have been around for decades. These are OK, but you can usually upgrade to halogen. They cost a little more but you can’t believe the difference. If you do a lot of night driving you might want to use a premium halogen bulb that filters out the yellow hues and give a very white light that’s a lot like daylight.

You may have noticed those bluish headlights on luxury cars. They are high intensity discharge or, HID lamps. They really light up the road. You can upgrade to HID on some vehicles. These cost quite a bit, but they’ll last for the life of your car. If you want your Houston friends to think you have HIDs, you can get halogens with a bluish tint – no one needs to know.

Seriously, though, night driving is all about reaction time – time to stop – time to get out of the way. You can’t react to what you can’t see. You need headlamps that’ll give you a good view down the road and good peripheral vision as well. And your headlights need to be aimed correctly so you can see and also, to keep your lights from shining off into on-coming traffic.

You may have seen older vehicles with headlights that are awfully dim and maybe even yellow. That’s because the plastic headlight lenses have gotten cloudy and yellowed with age. They can be replaced, but many Houston service centers offer a service to restore the lens that’s a lot cheaper.

You can’t drive if you can’t see. AAA reports that nine out of ten vehicles have dirty or yellowed headlamps. So run the window squeegee over your headlights when you gas up to clear the dirt and bugs. Get your lenses restored if they need it and don’t forget to replace your standard or halogen bulbs every fall.

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