Lucas Auto Care Video Lessons

Using Proper Fluids In Your European Car Or Other Vehicle

Today Lucas Auto Care is talking about the proper fluids for your vehicle. It’s become more complicated with changes in automotive design and manufacturing. It’s not that people in TX are confused as much as they don’t realize how much things have changed in recent years.

If you have questions about the fluids in your vehicle, please don’t hesitate to stop by Lucas Auto Care. You can find us on 12600 Grant Road in Houston, TX 77429.
Just give us a call at 281.379.5800

Let’s take engine oil. Twenty or thirty years ago, there were just a handful of different weights of oil. The weight of an oil is a scientific measure of its properties, particularly its viscosity or thickness.

It was common in those days to use a lighter weight oil in the winter when it’s cold outside. That way the oil would be able to splash around inside the engine and protect the parts before it was fully warmed up. And a heavier weight oil would be used in the summer. The thicker oil wouldn’t thin out too much in the summer heat and vaporize in the engine.

Modern valve trains have become very complicated with more moving parts and small passages than ever before. The valve train is in the top of the engine, so when the car has been turned off for a while, the oil tends to run down to lower areas and the valve train parts are vulnerable at start-up, before the oil starts circulating.

So new weights of oil have been introduced to meet the engineering specifications of these newer engines.

Manufacturers are recommending specific weights of oil. The recommendation is often printed on the oil fill cap. It’s certainly in the owner’s manual. Of course, your Houston TX auto service center can look it up for you.

It’s more important than ever to have the correct weight of oil. The wrong weight could actually harm the engine.

Other fluids are also becoming more sophisticated. In the last few years new types of transmission, power brake fluid and coolant have all been introduced for some of the same reasons as for engine oil.

In addition, vehicle manufacturers are now using a wider variety of materials in these systems. Looking at the cooling system as an example, it used to be that the parts were all made out of steel or iron and the hoses were rubber. Now, some parts are plastic, aluminum or other materials.

So the anti-corrosion additives contained in the coolant, or anti-freeze, need to be different in order to protect the different materials used to make the cooling system. If you use the wrong coolant that wasn’t formulated to protect your plastic cooling system parts, they could become corroded and fail. And if you’re using the wrong coolant, your cooling system won’t be covered under warrantee. So it’s important to use the right coolant and to not mix different types.

Your owner’s manual or your Houston TX service advisor at Lucas Auto Care can make sure you’re using the right type. You may have heard of universal coolant. Universal, or global, coolant can be added to other types without harmful reactions. That’s OK for an emergency top off, but following your manufacturer’s recommendation for your European Car or other auto type is always a safe bet.

In the area of brake fluid, there are a couple of new formulations. It’s important to remember that the new ones aren’t better than the old ones. They’re just different formulations for different vehicles. So if your vehicle calls for DOT 3, using DOT 4 or DOT 5 is not an upgrade. Use the recommended formula.

There are fluid formulations for vehicles with higher mileage. These are special engine oil, transmission fluid, and so on that contain additives to condition and restore seals and gaskets in older engines.

They’re fine to use as long as they’re a variant of the proper fluid. In other words you can use a high mileage engine oil as long as it’s also the correct weight recommended by the manufacturer. Same goes for transmission fluid; as long as it’s the right type for your transmission.

Because There’s more to “Just Fixing It”

At Lucas Auto Care, we understand car repair can be a stressful event. We strive to provide our customers with comprehensive information as to why the repair is required, how the component failure occurred, and what preventative maintenance measures can be taken to prolong the success of the repair and avoid failure in the future.

Our professional ASE-certified Lucas Auto Care technicians are trained to diagnose and repair broken or faulty system components that make up your vehicle’s complex systems, including the heating and cooling, brake, steering and suspension systems and more. Be it a broken belt, leaky hose or anything in between, you can count on Lucas to do the job right, keep you informed and get you safely on your way.

Making an appointment is as easy as scheduling online, calling your local store or walking in.  At Lucas Auto Care, we are committed to providing best-in-class service, information and leaving you with a feeling of confidence that the job was done right.

Houston Tire Repair

Most Houston motorists have experienced a flat tire. You know it’s inconvenient and a pain. Our tires are important. Keeping them in good working order isn’t just a big safety issue – it also has a financial impact. With high gas prices, we’ve all heard about the importance of keeping proper tire pressure to get the best possible fuel economy. In addition, proper inflation promotes even tread wear so your tires last longer.

There’s another danger to under-inflated tires. Low tire pressure puts added stress on the structure of the tire itself, causing it to break down prematurely. Also, under-inflated tires generate more heat which also reduces tire life. So get those slow leaks fixed quickly – don’t just keep airing them up every few days. You want to avoid serious tire damage.

Tires can also be damaged by road hazards in and around Houston. Punctures, cuts and unfortunate encounters with curbs or potholes can also cause damage that could lead to tire failure. Sometimes, it’s something that an inspection would reveal. Try to remember to check your tires when you’re pumping fuel. Look for slashes, missing chunks, nails or screws in the tread or just uneven wear. Of course check the air pressure too.

Now tire damage can be on the inside where you can’t see it until it’s removed from the wheel. Such damage could come from a severe impact, driving on a flat or even just low pressure. Some punctures can cause internal damage that is too extreme to be repaired. You may see our Lucas Auto Care tire professionals take the time to remove your flat from the rim and inspect the inside before repairing it, which means we’re just following best practices.

Of course, some tires just can’t be repaired. A puncture may be too large to plug. Also, the puncture could be in a location that’s not safe to repair like in the sidewall or outer portion of the tread. So called run-flat tires should not be repaired because their design is such that internal damage can’t be detected by a visual inspection.

Houston car owners should only hire qualified tire professionals to perform repairs – we have a whole team of them at Lucas Auto Care. Houston folks can buy self repair kits, but we advise you to save those for emergencies, like when you’re off-roading and need a quick fix so you can hobble back to civilization and get professional help. If you need to use a repair-in-a-can product, remember it’s a temporary measure only and your tire needs to be properly repaired as soon as possible.

Here are some other considerations: A DIY flat repair may void your tire manufacturer’s warranty – just something to keep in mind. Also, if you repair a speed rated tire, you should not use it in any motorsports or operate it above legal speed limits. Your honest Lucas Auto Care tire specialist will repair your tire whenever it’s safe to do so and he’ll advise you when it’s better to replace it. So watch those curbs and keep the air – on the inside.

Lucas Auto Care
12600 Grant Road, Houston, TX 77429
281.379.5800

Suspension Service At Lucas Auto Care In Houston

Suspension systems function effectively for many years and tens of thousands of miles. Eventually, however, European Car suspension components do wear out, but how long that takes depends a lot on how you drive around Houston and Tomball.

As you can imagine, if most of your driving is on smooth TX highways, your shock absorbers will last a lot longer than if you do most of your driving on bumpy Houston roads or haul heavy loads. In addition to just wearing out, European Car suspension components can be damaged in an accident or by a hard impact – like a pothole, hitting a curb or a rock in the road. Because the life span of shocks can vary so widely, European Car auto makers recommend periodic inspections.

Suspension Service At Lucas Auto CareDuring an inspection at Lucas Auto Care in Houston, your honest automotive service technician will check for worn, broken or missing parts.

Here’s a quick rundown of suspension system components:

First there are the springs which hold the weight of your European Car. There are several varieties of springs. Springs are obviously heavy duty parts that rarely break or wear out. Shock absorbers work in conjunction with springs to smooth out the ride and help keep the tires on the road. Good shocks are essential for handling performance and ride comfort.

You’ve probably heard of struts. They combine a shock absorber and a coil spring in one unit. Shocks and struts will wear out over time. If your tires develop a cupped wear pattern, your shocks or struts may be wearing out. This is from the shocks bouncing unevenly. You may notice a floaty or drifting sensation when cornering. If the front of your European Car dives excessively when stopping, or rocks back and forth after you’ve stopped, your shocks may be worn out. And if they are leaking fluid, it’s definitely time to replace them at Lucas Auto Care.

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, visit Lucas Auto Care for a suspension inspection. Same if you’ve been in an accident that involved one of your wheels. If your European Car suspension actually fails, it could lead to a serious accident, so don’t put it off.

When you replace your shocks, it’s usually a good idea to replace all four at the same time. That’ll give you more even handling. Talk with your Lucas Auto Care technician because you don’t want a big difference between the performance of your shocks from wheel to wheel, and replacing all may be the safest bet.

There are different grades of shocks and struts. You always want to use a replacement shock or strut that equals the one that came as original equipment when your European Car was new. But remember, they were designed to meet the expected needs of the broad range of Tomball people who buy that particular vehicle. Your needs may be more specialized.

For example, if you want increased handling performance, your honest Lucas Auto Care advisor can recommend an upgraded shock or strut specially designed for improved handling. If you haul heavy loads or trailers, we can recommend some heavy duty shock absorbers.

Houston Alignment Service

Your car might have an alignment problem if: it drifts or pulls to one side, your steering wheel is off center, you have uneven tire wear or your car doesn’t feel like it handles right. When all of a vehicle’s wheels are lined up exactly with each other, your wheels are in alignment. Running into potholes, smacking a curb or other object are great ways to knock your car out of alignment. Then one or more of your wheels starts pulling in a slightly different direction and the problems begin.

Driving for an extended time when you’re out of alignment causes your tires to wear unevenly and excessively. This can be dangerous and expensive. You’ll have to replace your tires sooner, but even worse – you may cause premature wear to your suspension system, which can be really expensive.

The front wheel alignment is adjustable on all vehicles, and the back wheels are also adjustable on some cars. The adjustment can go three different ways. The first adjustment is called toe. The next adjustment is called camber. And finally, there is castor. The engineers who designed your vehicle determined the alignment settings that will give you the best handling and safety.

There are several things involved in an alignment check. First, there’s an inspection of the steering and suspension – it should be checked to see if anything’s bent or broken. Then the tire condition needs to be inspected. From there, the vehicle is put on an alignment rack and an initial alignment reading is taken. If all four wheels are adjustable, they are lined up perfectly parallel with the vehicle’s center line. If the back wheels aren’t adjustable, a technician at Lucas Auto Care can determine the direction they push and then aligns the front wheels to match.

Lucas Auto Care
12600 Grant Road
Houston, TX 77429
281.379.5800

Like most things, your manufacturer has suggested a mileage interval for having your alignment checked. But if you run into a curb, pothole or something else that’s given you a big jolt, pay attention to whether your vehicle is pulling to one side when you drive. It’s better to have your alignment checked before waiting to see if there is uneven tire tread wear – by then, the damage is done.

Getting your alignment checked when needed is a great way to extend the life of your tires and suspension parts. It also makes sure that your tire meets the road properly for maximum performance and safety.

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