How to Replace a Clutch

How to Replace a ClutchThis week at Bowers Automotive of Colorado Springs, we want to talk about how to replace a clutch. Understanding the basic inner workings of your vehicle and getting it to an automotive professional on time can make a huge difference in the cost and simplicity of a repair job.

A failing clutch is a common enough problem that usually occurs when the clutch ‘slips’ or completely fails to engage or disengage. This issue can occur for a number of reasons which we will discuss in more detail, along with an explanation of the method used to replace the faulty components in a failing clutch.

How Does the Clutch Work?

The clutch in manual transmission vehicles is used to allow the driver to change gears. To understand how the entire clutch system works and be capable of repairing or replacing it, you must have a basic understanding of all the different components of the clutch system and how they interact with each other. The clutch pedal, when pressed down by the foot of the driver, will disengage the clutch and allow the car to freewheel from the engine. Slowly easing off the clutch pedal engages the engine to the transmission and allows the transfer of engine power to the wheels.

When the clutch pedal is pressed, the clutch master cylinder produces hydraulic pressure using brake fluid from its reservoir. The hydraulic pressure created controls the movement of the clutch slave cylinder which is located on the bell housing of the transmission. The clutch slave cylinder is responsible for pushing the throwout bearing against the clutch pressure plate. The clutch pressure plate is in turn connected to the engine’s flywheel and crankshaft. Between the pressure plate and flywheel, there is located an asbestos-lined clutch disc which is used to create the necessary friction. 

The pressure of the throwout bearing causes the clutch disc to engage or disengage with the flywheel, allowing power to be transferred to the transmission input shaft. When the clutch pedal is engaged, and the engine is running, the clutch disc is stopped, while the flywheel and pressure plate are rotating at engine speed. This allows you to shift gears without grinding. It is the wearing down of the clutch disc surface that eventually causes the whole clutch to start ‘slipping’ over time. Other reasons for a faulty clutch include brake fluid leaks from the hydraulic components or faulty seals around the master and slave cylinders.

Servicing the Clutch

The most common reason for your vehicle to need a clutch service or replacement is a worn out clutch disc. The replacement components needed for this service include a new clutch disc, pressure plate, and throwout bearing. The first step in servicing the clutch is to jack up the vehicle and support it securely on jack stands. To reach the clutch system, the transmission must be removed first. In some models, it is also necessary to physically remove the exhaust system and drive shaft to access the transmission and clutch.

Once there is clear access to the clutch, the pressure plate can be removed from the flywheel. The pressure plate is securely bolted to the flywheel, and the clutch disc is held in place between them. As the bolts are undone, the pressure plate will move away from the fly disc, and the clutch disc must be supported to prevent it from falling out unexpectedly. When both the pressure plate and clutch disc have been worked free, it will be possible to inspect the surfaces for wear.

Inspecting the abrasive surfaces of a clutch disc usually reveals obvious signs of wear. Often, the asbestos or brake pad material used to coat the disc will be worn very thin, showing exposed metal. The surface of the flywheel can be examined for cracks and hot spots which may have appeared due to the intense friction. One important part of the clutch service is to re-machine the flywheel if it is not going to be replaced.

The next step in how to replace a clutch is to replace the pilot bearing. Over time this bearing can get worn out or lock up. If this happens, it is likely to allow the transmission’s input shaft to wander too much and make it difficult to disengage the clutch. After replacing the pilot bearing it is time to match up the new clutch. Placing the old clutch beside the new clutch disc and line them up to check that they have the same diameter and that the surface area of the abrasive material is similar. If there is a significant difference, there may be trouble engaging or disengaging the clutch with the replacement disc.

When it comes to how to replace a clutch, the flywheel and pressure plate contact surfaces should first be degreased with brake cleaner. The clutch disc has one side that protrudes more than the other. The protruding side must face the pressure plate. The pressure plate and clutch disc can then be lined up with the alignment dowels of the resurfaced flywheel and bolted in by hand. Before tightening the bolts, a clutch alignment tool can be used to ensure the disc lines up perfectly with the pilot bearing.

The bolts can then be gradually tightened in a star pattern to add pressure evenly and gradually. Before finishing the job, it is recommended to replace the throwout bearing, as this component has a high rate of failure. If the throwout bearing is attached to the clutch slave cylinder, then both should be replaced as one unit. The transmission and other components can then be replaced in the reverse order to how they were removed. When driving the vehicle straight after a clutch service, shifting gears can feel a little clunky over the first few miles as the clutch goes through its ‘breaking in’ period before smoothing out.

Knowing how to replace a clutch can be useful, especially for car enthusiasts. To do the job yourself, you will need the right tools and suitable protective clothing and a mask for working with asbestos. To save yourself time and possible frustration, it is recommended that you allow our team at Bowers Automotive to take care of your car for you. We offer a full range of high quality and affordable auto repair services to the drivers of Colorado Springs. Come see us!

Warning Signs that Your Engine is Overheating

Warning Signs that Your Engine is OverheatingKnowing the warning signs that your engine is overheating can save you from seriously damaging your car. Bowers Automotive of Colorado Springs often receives vehicles that have been driven for too long with an overheated engine. When your engine overheats, the pistons powering your car can expand and seize in the cylinder bore. If you continue to run the engine in this state, you can end up cracking the engine block and cylinder heads, resulting in a very expensive trip to the mechanic.

Your engine can overheat for a number of reasons. Some of the most common causes of this are mechanical failures such as broken fans or blown head gaskets. Problems with your car’s radiator and cooling systems, such as leaking coolant or a stuck thermostat can also result in your engine reaching a dangerously high temperature. Luckily, there are a number of warning signs that your engine is overheating. If you respond quickly, you will have the best chance of minimizing serious damage.

Hot Hood

When the engine is running, you can expect the hood to emit heat and feel warm to the touch. This is completely normal. If however, your car’s hood is extremely hot, this could be cause for concern. You should be able to comfortably place your hand on the hood for 10 seconds without burning it.

Temperature Gauge or Light

On your dashboard, you should see a warning light or gauge indicating the temperature of your engine. If the light flashes on or the gauge reads near maximum, it means there is excessive heat generating in your engine. However, this warning light cannot always be trusted to alert you of an overheating engine. It functions by measuring the temperature of the coolant, so in the case of a huge coolant leak, there would be nothing for it to measure.

Ticking Noise

If your engine is making an audible ticking noise, it means that your engine oil is failing to lubricate the moving parts sufficiently. When engine oil is overheated, it loses its lubricating properties and behaves more like water than oil. At high temperatures, if the mechanical parts of your engine are clacking against each other audibly you can expect them to undergo wear and tear at a much higher rate than usual.

Coolant Leaking on the Ground

If you notice a puddle of coolant under your car, it could be a sign of a leak somewhere in your cooling system. It also could indicate that your engine has overheated and boiled the coolant within the radiator, causing the overflow tank to release excess liquid to relieve the high pressure created. In either situation, your car’s cooling system no longer has the correct amount of coolant flowing through the engine, so it will be prone to overheating. 

Smells “Hot”

There is a distinctive odor emitted when the engine heats up enough to start burning oil. As the temperature increases, the rubber seals, plastic valves, and bits of resin holding the whole engine together may begin to melt, releasing fumes that you would not normally smell otherwise. Most people describe this unusual odor as a ‘hot’ smell. It’s also possible that leaking coolant containing ethylene glycol will fill your car with sweet-smelling, but toxic fumes. Any unusual odors are a bad sign and should not be ignored. 

Steam Coming from the Hood

Steam billowing out from underneath your hood is a sure sign that your engine is overheating. As soon as you notice, pull over and turn off the engine. Coolant that has reached its boiling point will convert into steam and build pressure within the cooling system. When it escapes from your car’s radiator cap or coolant reservoir, you will see it coming out from the front and sides of the hood.

Thumping Noises

The thermostat in your cooling system controls the valve allowing the flow of coolant to the radiator, ensuring efficient engine function. If this valve gets stuck, the trapped coolant in the engine block will become superheated. When cold coolant comes into contact with the superheated coolant, you will hear a loud thumping noise coming from the engine area. Getting the thermostat replaced usually fixes this issue.

Reduced Engine Power

An overheated engine may not be able to deliver enough power to keep your car moving at the rate you want it to move. If you sense the power in your engine is lacking, pay close attention to odd smells or noises that can corroborate engine overheating. Keep an eye on the dashboard temperature gauge or light and pull over if you think the engine is struggling.

If you notice one or more of these signs, there is a high chance that your engine is overheating. The wisest thing to do in this situation is to safely pull over as quickly as possible and turn off your engine. This will allow the engine to cool down naturally and prevent further damage. If you are going to raise the hood to allow excess heat to escape, remember to do so with caution, as escaping steam can easily burn you.

It is best not to touch anything under the hood until the engine has fully cooled down. Attempting to check the coolant level will likely result in a bad burn if the pressure has built up from excess heat. As you wait for the engine to cool, call a trusted local mechanic for advice. With a description of the symptoms, they should be able to advise you on whether to bring the car in yourself or have roadside assistance pick it up.

At Bowers Automotive, we can offer a complete range of auto services including engine repair and replacement, cooling system diagnostics, and electrical repair. We urge our clients and all drivers to pay close attention to any warning signs that your engine is overheating. Promptly addressing the issue will usually allow you to avoid complete engine failure. Save time and money by keeping your car regularly maintained and if you do notice any of the signs, just bring your vehicle to the shop.

How to Make Your Tires Last 10 Years

How to Make Your Tires Last 10 YearsThe experts at Bowers Automotive in Colorado Springs have some advice on how to make your tires last 10 years. Most drivers have the idea that their tires should be changed around every two years, allowing some room for adjustment according to the road conditions and the frequency of use. It turns out that this rule of thumb is not as definite as you might think. The lifetime of a tire is highly dependent on where it is stored and how it is maintained.

It is true that the rubber material of tires does degrade over time, even without being in contact with the road. The main reasons for this are damage from ozone, temperature fluctuations, and UV rays. When stored indoors and at a stable temperature, you can prevent a lot of wear and tear on your tires. According to product specialists at Tire Rack, ordinary tires should last for six years of service and up to ten years total lifetime since manufacture.

So why do so many tires need to be changed at a much more frequent rate? The answer lies in the regular maintenance of your tires and better storage. To make the most of your tires and save money, you can follow these simple steps. Have your tire pressure checked and adjusted often. A typical tire will naturally lose 1 psi of pressure per month, and with every 10° increase or decrease of ambient temperature, you can expect to see a gain or loss of 1 psi.

Tires that are under or overinflated will suffer from an increased rate of wear and tear. If you can keep your pressure at the perfect level, you will slow down the wear of your tires significantly. The tire pressure monitoring systems in most vehicles will only alert you when the pressure has dropped below 75% of the recommended value. This is not sensitive enough to prevent damage to your tires and lower your fuel economy substantially. Checking the pressure with a gauge at ambient temperature every month and making necessary adjustments will make a big difference in the lifetime of your tires.

Keeping track of wear on your tire treads can save you some hassle in the future. When getting your vehicle serviced, make sure you have your tires rotated and balanced. This will ensure your tire treads wear down evenly and can elongate their lifetime. Depending on your daily driving conditions, weather and terrain quality, your tires may need replacing more often than every six years. Use the quarter test if in doubt. When you stick a quarter into the tread of your tire, if the top of Lincoln’s head is visible, it’s time for new tires!

It may not be possible for everyone to take advantage of these tips on how to make your tires last 10 years, but by taking these precautions, you will definitely extend their life and save money. Keeping your tires wearing evenly, balanced, and at the right pressure will keep them functioning safely for longer. Store your vehicle and any spare tires in an area away from direct sunlight and temperature fluctuations if possible. Bower’s Automotive will gladly help you with a simple tire rotation and balance as well as complete vehicle evaluation and maintenance. Don’t hesitate to call us with any questions about tire maintenance and replacement.

Auto Air Conditioning Troubleshooting

Bowers Automotive of Colorado SpringsAuto Air Conditioning Troubleshooting is offering our customers some tips on auto air conditioning troubleshooting, just in time for the summer months. As the temperatures rise, you will be relying on your car’s AC to keep cool and comfortable. If you notice your AC system is not cooling as efficiently as it once was, it may be time to troubleshoot some common problems.

One of the most common reasons for an AC system failure is a leak in the system. If you have a loose hose, broken seal or a crack where refrigerant can escape from, you are going to see a reduction in your AC efficiency very quickly. To troubleshoot this issue, your mechanic will introduce a specialized dye into the cooling system to identify the location of the leak and then replace the faulty part. They will then refill your AC system with the right quantity of new refrigerant.

Another source of AC failure can be found in the electrical or mechanical components of the system. Your auto AC system works by moving a refrigerant like Freon through evaporator coils and condensers. As the refrigerant changes state from liquid to gas, it absorbs and transfers heat. If your evaporator coil or condenser is damaged, it is usually necessary to get them replaced.

When troubleshooting your car’s AC system, it is important always to get the opinion of a professional. Some car owners like to think they can DIY all their auto issues. Unfortunately, the AC system of a vehicle is not the easiest to diagnose and repair by yourself. The main danger of trying to fix your own vehicle’s AC is that you can accidentally introduce dirt into the pressurized system, or refill it with the incorrect amount of refrigerant.

Too much or too little Freon running through the system will result in unsuccessful cooling and possibly even severe damage to your AC unit. If the closed system is contaminated with dirty oil or debris, you will quickly experience the effects. Introduced debris very easily blocks the expansion valve. Once this happens, the system is unable to circulate the refrigerant and cool your car’s interior. We all know that driving in an overheated car is no fun for you or your passengers.

You can take some simple steps to extend the lifetime of your air conditioning system and prevent issues. The first thing to remember is the more you use your AC, the faster it `will wear out. Try to only use your AC when you need to. When you do turn it on, close all the windows in the car. This will lessen the strain on your system. If you only use your AC in the summer, remember to turn it on every few weeks during the winter. This will keep the system lubricated and less likely to fail when you need it again in the summer.

If you suspect your car’s AC unit has a problem, don’t ignore it. At Bower’s Automotive, we can offer a complete evaluation using the latest diagnostic tools. Our auto air conditioning troubleshooting service is affordable and worthwhile if you value comfort while driving. To schedule an appointment, simply call us or drop into our auto shop on Ford St. in Colorado Springs.

Common Problems with a Catalytic Converter

Common Problems with a Catalytic ConverterBowers Automotive in Colorado Springs has plenty of experience solving the most common problems with a catalytic converter. If you suspect that your vehicle’s catalytic converter is malfunctioning, don’t delay in getting a professional opinion. The catalytic converter is a fundamental component of your exhaust system. Its job is to convert the toxic by-products of combustion into safer emissions that won’t be as harmful to the environment.

The catalytic converter is located on the underside of your car between the engine and the exhaust muffler. It is susceptible to damage both internally and externally. Due to its location close to the engine, it can easily overheat if your engine overheats. It’s also possible to physically damage your catalytic converter by driving over rough terrain, as it can be impacted from below. If you have any of these common problems with a catalytic converter, you should take it to a qualified technician without delay.

  1. Reduced Performance

If your vehicle is not reacting as fast as it usually does, or if it feels like there is no fuel reaching the engine when you press the accelerator, your catalytic converter could be the source of the problem. If exhaust fumes accumulate in the front of the catalytic converter, it can cause a build-up of back pressure in your engine.

  1. Increased Emissions

The role of your catalytic converter is to reduce harmful emissions. If you notice an increase in dark, odorous fumes coming from your exhaust, this is a clear sign that your catalytic converter is not working efficiently. To keep in line with legal requirements, and to prevent polluting your local environment, get your vehicle to a mechanic as soon as you notice increased carbon emissions.

  1. Low Fuel Economy

A failing catalytic converter can contribute to low fuel economy. If your vehicle is using fuel faster than its normal rate, it means that your car engine is combusting the fuel inefficiently. This can cause you to spend a lot of extra money in a short span of time.

  1. Misfiring Engine

If your engine is frequently misfiring, there could be a serious problem with the fuel delivery. Sometimes a misfiring engine causes the catalytic converter to overheat or allows uncombusted fuel to enter it. If this happens, the raw fuel can ignite, causing the metal components inside of the catalytic converter to melt and cease functioning.

  1. Failing Exhaust System

If you think that the performance of your exhaust system has changed significantly, it is a sign that your catalytic converter may be damaged and not capable of converting the engine fumes into less harmful emissions. If you see an increase or decrease in emissions, or a change in the smell and appearance of your emissions, you should have a mechanic check your catalytic converter.

These common problems with a catalytic converter are easier to repair if addressed quickly. In some cases, if the inner components have melted, you will need to get a complete replacement.  If you have any doubts about your exhaust system, we can offer professional assistance here at Bower’s Automotive. Don’t hesitate to call or drop into our auto shop at 1120 Ford St., Colorado Springs.

How a Coolant Reservoir Works

Bowers AutomotiveHow a Coolant Reservoir Works in Colorado Springs knows that many clients have good general knowledge of their cars, but do you know how a coolant reservoir works? This component of your vehicle plays a major role in keeping the entire engine running smoothly. A problem with the coolant reservoir tank can quickly spell disaster for your car and an expensive trip to the auto shop. A responsible car owner knows what the coolant reservoir does and how to check if there is an obvious malfunction.

As your engine runs, it burns fuel to power your vehicle. In doing so, it produces a significant amount of heat. If the temperature of your engine rises above a certain point, it can cause severe damage to the cylinders, warping them out of shape or even cracking the head gasket. This damage can be messy and cause your car to break down. Although repairable, it will cost you a hefty amount of labor charges to get the parts replaced.

Your car’s cooling system works to extract heat from the engine and prevent this kind of damage. The cooling system pumps a coolant fluid through pipes surrounding your engine’s cylinders. The latent heat taken from the engine converts the coolant into a gas, and as it passes through the car’s radiator, it converts back into a liquid and expels the heat to the outside of the vehicle.

The coolant reservoir is a vital component of the cooling system. Its function is to store excess coolant fluid until required. You can locate the reservoir by following the hose from the radiator. There you will find the container, usually made of transparent plastic, that functions as the coolant reservoir. The reservoir is also the place where you add new coolant to the system, and not as some people think, directly into the radiator.

As your car’s engine heats up, the pressure within the radiator builds up. To release pressure, the radiator cap allows some coolant to escape out, stored in the reservoir. This excess coolant stays here until the system cools down enough to create negative pressure and draw the excess coolant from the reservoir back into circulation. While the engine is off, your coolant reservoir should be about 30% full.

The most common reason for a vehicle to overheat is a leak in the coolant reservoir or one of the attached hoses. A leak means that the stored liquid will slowly drip out and eventually, there will be insufficient coolant running through the system. To prevent your vehicle from overheating, remember to check the level of coolant in the reservoir regularly. If you see smoke coming from your engine or notice your temperature gauge rising too high, the best course of action to take is to pull over safely and turn off the engine. An overheating engine can cause serious damage if left unchecked.

Now that you know how a coolant reservoir works and how important it is, you’re welcome to call or stop by Bowers Automotive for help with this component and much more. We’ve been serving Colorado Springs for over 26 years. Our team is always ready to help you keep your vehicle in top condition. From tire pressure to the coolant reservoir, we can help you understand how your car works and the best way to keep it maintained.

Car AC Repair

Car AC RepairWhen it comes to car AC repair, Bowers Automotive has you covered. Since 1990, our team has been providing quality auto repair services to the drivers of Colorado Springs. We know how important it is to be comfortable while driving in the summer. As the weather heats up, it is a good idea to turn on your AC and check that it is still working well. If you have any doubts, don’t hesitate to bring your vehicle in for a quick diagnosis and tune-up.

The air conditioning unit of a car is a fairly complex component, consisting of an evaporating coil, a condensing coil, and a compressor, which circulate the refrigerant liquid. A blower fan moves air across the evaporating coil where the decompressed refrigerant lowers the temperature of the air before it exits through the vents. Malfunctions in your AC unit can present different symptoms. We are going to take you through the most common AC complaints and what causes them.

Weak Airflow

You turn on the AC and crank it up to full power expecting a blast of cold wind, but all you get is a weak flow of air. Problems with airflow power usually stem from a malfunction in the blower fan. You may notice that the little air coming out of the vents is indeed cold, there’s just no power behind it.

The most likely cause for this lack of airflow is a broken ventilation fan or a loose blower hose. Another possibility is mold growth in the evaporating core. The cooling process can leave residual moisture on the outer surfaces of the evaporating coil. If mold takes hold in this area, it can block the airflow, diminishing the force of air that reaches the vents.

Warmer Airflow

Warm air coming from your AC unit can indicate a serious problem. If you notice a steady flow of air, but without the lowered temperature, it means something is amiss in your unit’s refrigeration cycle. It is best to take your car to a qualified technician as soon as you notice this issue before it can develop into a more serious and costly problem.

Warm air coming from your AC vents means that the blower fan is still working, but the air is not being cooled enough. One of the most common reasons for this is a Freon leak. Freon is the refrigerant typically used in car AC units. If there is a damaged O-ring, a loose hose, or a broken seal somewhere in the refrigeration cycle, this refrigerant can leak out, weakening the cooling process and allowing air and moisture into the system.

Cold to Hot

Another common complaint that requires car AC repair is that the unit starts out working fine, but after a few minutes the airflow turns warm. This is a frustrating problem and can be caused by a whole range of different malfunctions. Although not as urgent as a suddenly warm airflow, this issue should be checked by your auto technician sooner rather than later.

One possible reason for this problem is a faulty compressor clutch. If your compressor does not maintain the correct pressure, it will result in warm airflow. Clogged expansion valves can also result in the air turning from cold to hot. A blocked expansion valve will prevent sufficient refrigerant from moving into the evaporator, resulting in a decrease in the cooling power of your AC unit. Lastly, leaks in the vacuum seals can compromise the whole system and lead to a decrease in cooling performance over time.

Smelly Air

If your AC unit starts pumping out musty air with a faint smell of unwashed socks, you know you have a problem. Apart from creating discomfort to you and your passengers, this odor can indicate a serious issue in the inner workings of your car’s AC system.

Bad smells from your AC vents can be caused by a build-up of dirt and grime in the air cabin filter. It is quick and easy to get this replaced. It’s also possible that the bad smell stems from a moldy evaporator case. If water makes its way into the evaporator and is not drained, it can quickly lead to an accumulation of mildew and mold. This mold build-up is what you are smelling as your cold air is pushed out over it.

Black Death

In auto language, the ‘Black Death’ refers to an irreversible and untreatable breakdown of the AC compressor due to the formation of a thick black sludge. You may not realize you have this until your AC unit completely fails. The only solution to this particular problem is a complete replacement of the compressor, and depending on the level of damage, some other components.

The Black Death occurs when you have old refrigerant fluid that has broken down or moisture contamination in the compressor. Corrosive acids form and start to erode the steel surfaces of the compressor. Continuous breakdown of these metal parts eventually mixes with the remaining refrigerant and creates a thick black sludge. This sludge makes its way throughout the AC unit, blocking valves and slowing down movement until everything comes to a complete standstill.

Your AC Units Biggest Enemy, Leaks

You may have noticed a pattern emerging in all of these potential AC failure scenarios. Leaks are the biggest cause of AC problems. Once you have a damaged seal or a loose hose somewhere in the system, the refrigerant can leak out, and moisture can get in. An AC unit with a leak is known as an ‘open system,’ meaning it has been compromised and it’s only a matter of time before it begins to fail.

The only way to know if you have a leak in your system is to bring your vehicle to a qualified technician. At Bowers Automotive, an AC performance check is part of our routine maintenance service. Using UV lights, we can detect refrigerant leaks on the exterior of your AC system. Our team can perform a refrigerant flush to clean out the interior and replace the refrigerant with a fresh batch.

If a leak or malfunctioning part is detected early, your car AC repair should be simple, fast and affordable. Avoid having to replace your whole system by taking your vehicle for regularly scheduled maintenance checks. For more information on AC repairs or to schedule an appointment, you can contact us here at Bowers Automotive in Colorado Springs.

You Can’t Buy a Car on Amazon – But You Can Research One

You Can't Buy a Car on Amazon – But You Can Research OneAt Bowers Automotive, we know that many people find it easier to make purchases online. However, you can’t buy a car on Amazon – but you can research one. Yes, the world’s largest online retailer can now give you insight into the vehicle you want to purchase. Feel free to shop for clothes, home electronics and groceries, then swing by Amazon Vehicles to research the Toyota RAV4 and Honda CR-V you’ve been going back and forth about buying. You can even do it all in your pajamas, nobody’s looking!

What Is Amazon Vehicles?

In August of last year, Amazon launched a new extension of their website entirely dedicated to vehicles. Their idea was to create an online automotive community, an interactive hub, with the capacity to do everything except to purchase a car.

This new site, Amazon Vehicles, allows users to purchase car parts, accessories, and exchange reviews of cars. The site also provides many resources to help customers research both old and new models. Just find the vehicle you’re interested in learning more about, and check out its listing, including detailed specifications, multiple images, and video content. And don’t forget those user-generated reviews.

What some don’t know is that this new venture is simply an extension of Amazon’s auto parts section of the website. For many years, consumers have been able to shop for and buy replacement parts for many different vehicle models. Some speculate that savvy customers may have already been using this site to predict potential issues with cars. You can see which replacement parts are most popular and reviews often specify details on why they were needed. For the eagle-eyed consumer, this was a way of spotting weaknesses in vehicles on the market. This is the sort of information that is hard to access through usual consumer channels.

Buying Cars is More Complicated

Unfortunately, Amazon hasn’t yet made the leap to online shopping for actual vehicles. The fact is that many states are limited by franchise laws that protect car dealerships, making it difficult for auto manufacturers or online businesses to sell directly to the consumer. Amazon’s new foray into the automotive world can be seen as a step in the right direction. It is putting more power in the hands of the consumer and even offers recommended pricing from manufacturers.

Up until now, local car dealerships were the primary source of information on new vehicles. Some car enthusiasts may have used auto magazines or websites to help make their decisions, but most would trust the opinion of car salespeople when making a purchase. With Amazon’s new tools at their fingertips, consumers can get their information, brake pad specs to potential engine issues, from an unbiased source and learn from the experience of other car owners.

For now, you can’t buy a car on Amazon – but you can research one thoroughly! Getting your car serviced and repaired is another task that has to be done in person. For all your vehicle maintenance needs in Colorado Springs, Bowers Automotive is here to help! We offer the highest quality auto repair and maintenance work for a fair price. For more information, feel free to contact us or stop by our auto shop to talk to us in person.

Problems with the Ford F150 Truck

Problems with the Ford F150 TruckToday from our experts at Bowers Automotive, we’re going to explore some problems with the Ford F150 truck. We are always on the lookout for new technology and trends, as well as potential issues in the auto industry. We feel it is important for our customers to be fully informed on the pros and cons of a vehicle before making a purchase. Keep reading to get a bit of insight.

Choosing to drive a truck usually means you are interested in three things: extra space, a good tow rating, and payload. A truck typically weighs 12-15% more than comparable vehicles that don’t have a large payload and off-road potential. Large, powerful, heavy trucks with these capabilities have a tendency to consume gas quickly. In an effort to combat this problem and to stay within new emissions and fuel economy regulations, Ford has made some drastic modifications to their F-150 line of trucks.

With a lighter steel frame, an all-aluminum body and a smaller turbocharged engine, the Ford F150 is now leading the way regarding fuel economy for similar sized trucks. Stricter EPA regulations on carbon emissions and more demanding mile per gallon standards on fuel mean that auto manufacturers are coming up with innovations in order to comply. The new F150 is certainly lighter and more economical to drive, but are consumers convinced by this overhaul on one of their favorite models?

The choice of an all-aluminum body has indeed brought up some concerns. One advantage of driving a truck is the feeling of security afforded to the driver and their passengers. Trucks are bigger, higher up on their oversized tires and usually made to be reasonably indestructible. Of course, if you want to reduce the overall weight of the vehicle without impacting the power, a lightweight material for the body makes sense. All vehicles undergo strict safety testing, so we know that the new F-150 must be resilient enough to withstand impact and protect its passengers.

Despite the F-Series being an American best-seller, Ford has reason to worry about sales on this new model. Sales of the F150 dropped sharply in 2016. Interestingly, the problem may not be closely related to Ford’s revolutionary modifications of their trucks. Across the board from General Motors and Ford to Fiat and Toyota, auto sales have been steadily decreasing this year.

An increase in average cost could be a reason for such dramatic losses in sales. Between 2011 and 2016 the cost of full-size pickup trucks rose by 24%. The trend towards greener cars and hybrids could be another reason for the decline of the popular truck, although according to this Bloomberg report, Ford CEO Mark Fields has stated that Ford is set to produce its first hybrid by 2020.

Perhaps Ford is making a mistake in taking such drastic measures to change a tried and tested product, or perhaps they are ahead of the time and setting the trends for others to follow. Whichever way you see it, knowing the facts about potential problems with the Ford F150 truck makes it easier for you to shop with confidence. For more details on technical aspects of truck repair, do not hesitate to contact Bowers Automotive, your local experts on truck repairs.

Alternator Problems and Repair

Alternator Problems and RepairKeeping your vehicle in good condition is the best way to avoid emergency breakdowns and reduce your yearly auto maintenance costs. Drivers should pay attention to their dashboard warning lights and keep up with factory scheduled maintenance. One component of your vehicle that you should be familiar with is the alternator or generator. Almost all vehicles encounter an issue with their alternator at some point. Bowers Automotive is here to give you some useful insights into alternator problems and repair.

What does the alternator do?

Before we get into the potential faults and defects of an alternator, we need to know what its function is. Your car is full of electrical components. Your lights, windshield wipers, sensors, ignition, AC, and radio all need electricity to work. A standard battery would quickly drain if it had to power all of these components simultaneously. This is where the alternator comes in.

The alternator converts mechanical energy from the engine into electrical energy which is stored in the car’s battery. The serpentine belt, also known as the engine drive belt, is the key piece of machinery needed to convert this energy. While the car’s engine is running, your battery is continuously charged by the alternator. This alternator or generator is responsible for keeping your car’s battery running.

How do I recognize a problem with my alternator?

When an issue with your car’s electrical system arises, it can be difficult to identify the source of the problem. If just one electrical component is failing, such as a single turn signal, or the windshield wipers, you probably don’t need to look any further than that particular part. However, if all of your electrical systems fail simultaneously, it means you have an issue with the battery or the alternator.

Some classic signs of a fault in your alternator to watch out for include a squealing noise made by the serpentine belt or a noticeably loose belt. In order to efficiently convert energy, this belt must be properly adjusted to handle an enormous amount of tension and friction. If it is too taut, it can snap as it wears out. If too loose, it can flip or twist and fail to run smoothly. A quick visual inspection can be enough to notice an obvious problem with the serpentine belt.

Another clear sign of something wrong with the alternator is when your dashboard warning light for the alternator or battery illuminates. This alternator light is usually represented by three letters ALT or GEN, whereas a dedicated battery light will be the symbol of a battery with positive and negative terminals. If you notice either of these lights on, it is important to get your vehicle to a qualified mechanic without delay. Ignoring these lights means you will probably soon end up with a dead battery. In this case, you can ask another driver for a jump start, then get to your mechanic as soon as possible.

Other warning signs of trouble with your alternator are weaknesses in electrical systems. Dim or flickering lights can signal low battery power. If you cannot get your car to start, this could be because the battery has no power and is often due to a fault in the alternator. Of course, if you have left your car parked for a long time without turning the engine on, it is possible that the battery has simply drained.

Remember, your car’s battery charges from the energy produced by your engine, and the battery doesn’t store that energy forever. Complete draining of your battery can happen quickly if you accidently leave the lights or radio on while your car is parked. If you find yourself with a dead battery, you can try jump starting the battery with help from another driver. If the problem is just a drained battery, this will be enough to get you going and give the alternator a chance to start charging the battery again.

Diagnosing an alternator problem

It is possible for drivers to run some basic diagnostics on their battery and alternator before bringing it to a professional. To check the level of voltage your alternator is producing, you will need a digital volt-ohmmeter or multimeter. These are available online and from most large hardware stores. The first step is to test the voltage of your battery while the engine is off.

Take the red lead from your multimeter and place it on the positive terminal of your battery. Place the black lead on the negative terminal of the battery and set your multimeter to read DC volts. A fully charged battery will read above 12.65 volts. If your battery reads below this level, you may have a faulty battery or a problem with your alternator, and you should take your vehicle to a certified technician for further diagnosis.

If your battery reads above 12.65 volts, then continue to the next step. Remove the leads from the battery and turn on your engine. Carefully replace the red lead on the positive terminal and the black lead on the negative terminal of your battery. With the engine on and the alternator running, you should see a higher output of voltage from your battery. Typically, it will read between 13.5 and 14.5 volts.

If your reading is within the normal range, this indicates that the alternator is doing its job. Your vehicle’s electrical failures may be due to a fault in the battery. If the reading shows the same voltage as the first test, then your alternator is not functioning as it should. Either way, you should take your car to an ASE certified technician for a professional diagnosis and repair.

Repairing your alternator

Alternator repairs often involve a simple replacement of the serpentine belt. The cost of this repair can vary between $60 and $200. While the replacement part itself is relatively inexpensive, most of the cost is due to labor. Replacing the belt involves disconnecting the battery, removing the belt, unbolting the alternator and removing the wire connectors. This can be a time-consuming process, and some models are more complex than others.

To ensure a quality alternator repair and a fair price, bring your vehicle to Bowers Automotive in Colorado Springs. Our technicians have over 26 years of experience in dealing with alternator problems and repair. When you entrust your vehicle to us, you can expect the highest standards and responsible workmanship. Our auto shop is fully stocked with the latest diagnostic tools and sensors for working on electrical systems. Ignition systems, batteries, alternators, and computer sensors in all makes and models of vehicles routinely repaired here. For more information and to schedule an appointment, visit our website today.