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Combustion Choreography: Timing Belt Replacement at Jones Automotive in Belton

Posted October 28, 2018 01:29 AM

Have you ever seen a ballet performance? Have you wondered how all of those dancers manage to travel all over the stage jumping and twirling and never crash into each other? That's the job of a choreographer.

Our auto engines are also highly choreographed. Pistons travel up and down inside cylinders. Valves at the tops of the cylinders open to let air and fuel in or exhaust out. These valves have to open and close at precisely the right time or the engine will run poorly if at all. The movement of the valves and pistons must be in harmony with each other. This choreography is the job of the timing belt or timing chain.

Timing belts, or chains, rotate the shafts that control the opening and closing of the valves. Timing chains are metal and durable enough that they may never need to be replaced.

Most vehicles, however, use a timing belt. Timing belts are tough and flexible, and considering the work they do, they last a long time for Belton auto owners . But they do wear out. If they break, the consequences for Belton drivers can spell disaster.

No matter what kind of engine you have, a broken timing belt will cause the engine to shut down or will lead to major engine damage. But in some engines, the valves protrude down into the cylinders enough that if the timing belt breaks, the pistons can smash the valves, bending or breaking them. If the engine is spinning fast enough, the broken parts can then shred the cylinder head. This adds to thousands of dollars of engine damage.

The only way the damage can be avoided by Belton auto owners is by replacing the timing belt on schedule. Most vehicle manufacturers recommend replacing the timing belt at 60,000 miles (100,000 kilometers), but others can go as long as 90,000 or 100,000 miles (145,000 to 160,000 kilometers). Check the schedule for preventive maintenance in your owner's manual. If you're due or overdue for a timing belt replacement, don't put it off. Get it done now at Jones Automotive in Belton.

Your friendly and knowledgeable Jones Automotive technicians probably aren't great dancers, but they can offer you some great auto advice on how to keep your engine properly choreographed. Don't hesitate to consult them about replacing your timing belt or any other car care concerns you may have.

Jones Automotive
103 N Main Street
Belton, Texas 76513
(254) 939-3785



Regular Schedule or Severe Service Schedule at Jones Automotive?

Posted October 21, 2018 07:02 AM

Today's Jones Automotive article focuses on severe service maintenance. Many Belton drivers are not aware of them and yet there are also very vocal advocates in Texas who think that severe service schedules apply to everyone. Somewhere between a complete lack of awareness and the dire blanket statements lies a reasonable approach to severe service maintenance at Jones Automotive.

To back up a little, vehicle owner's manuals have schedules for preventive maintenance: things like oil changes, transmission service and so on. They say you should change your oil after a certain distanced traveled or after so many months. Belton drivers understand this very well. What they may not know is that there are actually two service schedules: the regular schedule and the severe service schedule. The mileage and time intervals are lower on the severe service schedule.

Now when you hear 'severe service,' you may think it doesn't apply to you because you don't feel your driving conditions are severe or extreme – it's just normal everyday driving in the Belton area. So let's list some of the conditions that classify as severe so that you can make the judgment on your own driving.

Before we start the list, here's a point of contrast that definitely is not severe driving. Driving down your nearest Texas interstate at the highway speed limit on a 75 degree F/24 degree C day loaded only with your passengers. This is an easy trip for your vehicle: your engine is loafing along at low RPMs, no heavy loads to pull and moderate Belton temperatures. Now let's look at some severe service driving conditions.

Most trips around Belton are less than four miles/six and a half kilometers. When your vehicle engine cools down, moisture condenses in the engine. This water in the oil doesn't get a chance to evaporate on short trips because the oil doesn't get hot enough. A lot of short trips in your vehicle means a lot of water build up. And water in the oil leads to the creation of sludge which can damage the engine. Changing the oil more frequently keeps sludge from building up. By contrast, highway driving warms the engine up and gets the water burned off.

Here's another example. Most trips around Belton are less than 10 miles/16 km and outside temperatures are below freezing. This is the same reasoning, but in very cold Texas weather it takes even longer for the oil to get hot enough to evaporate the water, hence 10  miles/16 km as opposed to 4 miles/6.4 km.

Next, you drive in very hot Texas weather. The hotter it is outside, the more cooling the engine, transmission, brake fluid and so on becomes. The environment in which the fluids reside is more hostile, and the fluids simply break down faster. Therefore, the lower change interval.

Another: driving at low speed most of the time. Every vehicle engine has what's called its power band. This is a range of RPMs in which it's most efficient. Low speed driving doesn't keep the engine in its power band so it's working harder. This is one of the reasons that ratings are worse in downtown than on the highway.

Stop and go driving in Belton is another severe service condition. You're always accelerating, which works the vehicle engine and transmission harder. Then you're stopping, which works the brake fluid harder, causing it to get very hot. Highway driving, on the other hand, requires far less horsepower to maintain its speed than getting a stationary vehicle from a stop light up to 25 mph/40 kph. A lot of this and you'll need to follow the severe service schedule.

Also on the list is operating your vehicle in dusty, polluted or muddy conditions. Obviously, your engine air filter and cabin air will get dirty faster and need to be changed more frequently as will your breather element. Some of this dust and dirt will make its way into your fluids. They will simple get dirty faster and won't protect the components as well as fresh fluids.

Finally, you're driving under severe conditions in Belton when you tow a trailer, regularly carry heavy loads or carry a car-top carrier. This is pretty obvious. You'll spend more time in lower gears so the engine and transmission work much harder and create more heat. Brakes will be more stressed stopping the heavier loads.

Sounds like most of us in Belton operate under severe driving conditions at least some of the time. How can Belton drivers know which schedule to follow?

Think of it as a spectrum with "always driving under severe conditions" on one end and "never driving under severe conditions" on the other end. Some will be at one extreme or the other, but most of us will fall somewhere in between.

Carefully think about your driving conditions and decide if you should do your preventive maintenance closer to the severe service recommendation or the regular recommendation. Of course, your Jones Automotive service advisor can help you with your decision.

Jones Automotive
103 N Main Street
Belton, Texas 76513
(254) 939-3785



TPMS: Tire Pressure Monitoring for Your Belton Vehicle

Posted October 14, 2018 08:33 AM

Belton drivers may know that all 2008 model year and newer cars, mini-vans and light trucks in Texas come with a tire pressure monitoring system. Many slightly older vehicles around the Belton area have these systems as well. A tire pressure monitoring system – called TPMS – consists of sensors on each wheel that measure tire pressure.

If tire pressure drops 25 percent below the vehicle manufacture’s recommended pressure, the sensor sends a signal to a monitoring unit that causes a warning to light up on the dashboard. When drivers see the warning light, they know it's time to put some air in the tires.

There are many benefits to people in Belton who drive with properly inflated tires. First is cost savings. Running at the correct air pressure improves fuel economy. Driving on underinflated tires is like driving through sand – it drags down your fuel economy. Drivers in Belton will also see longer, more even tread wear so your tires will last longer.

Another important benefit of properly inflated tires is increased safety for Belton vehicles. Underinflated tires become hotter, and that heat can actually lead to tire failure – possibly resulting in an accident. Your vehicle and the tires themselves will just perform better and more safely around Belton with properly inflated tires.

Local Texas consumer groups and law-makers advocate TPMS systems hoping that they will save lives, property damage and inconvenience. While you can't put a value on saving a life, Belton drivers should keep in mind that TPMS systems aren't free.

The systems themselves are added into the price of the vehicle. The batteries in the sensors will have to be replaced from time to time. Parts will break and need to be replaced. In colder climates around Texas, ice and salt are frequent causes of failure.

In addition, there are other behind-the-scenes costs we want you to be aware of. Every time a tire is replaced, repaired, rotated or balanced, the tire technician has to deal with the TPMS system.

Belton service centers such as Jones Automotive must purchase equipment used to scan and reactivate the TPMS system after every tire service. Because older tire change equipment can damage TPMS sensors, your Belton area service center may need to buy expensive, new tire changers.

Since there is no uniformity among manufacturers, technicians need to be trained on several TPMS systems. These behind-the-scenes costs are very real to Belton service center managers.

That's why the team at Jones Automotive is anxious for people in the Belton area to understand the financial impact of TPMS systems. In the past, we've been able to quickly and cheaply provide tire services and then pass the low cost on to customers as an expression of our good will. But now even these simple jobs take much longer and require equipment.

Sensors will need to be removed and reinstalled. Even a tire rotation will require that the monitor be reprogrammed to the new location of each tire. When a vehicle battery is disconnected, the TPMS system will need to be reprogrammed.

So when you start so see the cost of tire changes, flat repairs and rotations going up in Texas, please keep in mind that it's because of this new safety equipment. The team at Jones Automotive just wants to keep you safely on the road – and we're committed to doing it at a fair price.

It's important to remember that the TPMS warning only comes on when a tire is severely underinflated. You'll still want to check your tire pressure regularly. At every fill-up is best, but you should check pressure at least once a month. Here's wishing you safe travels.

Contact Jones Automotive for more information about Tire Pressure Monitoring Systems.

 Jones Automotive
103 N Main Street
Belton, Texas 76513
(254) 939-3785



Diesel Maintenance for Texas

Posted October 07, 2018 11:01 AM

At Jones Automotive we hear from a lot of people who are excited about the new diesel engines that will soon be available in passenger cars and SUV's. But our Texas friends are often curious about the preventive maintenance requirements. People may not know that diesel engines have long been used extensively in Europe and Asia. In fact, in some markets, there're nearly as many diesel powered passenger cars as there are gasoline.

Here's who's announced or is expected to announce new diesels for North America: BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Volkswagen, Nissan, Honda, Toyota, Hyundai and Subaru. Of course, the US auto makers will be expanding their diesel offerings as well. Diesels will become a very big deal here in Texas.

You may ask, why has it taken so long getting to Texas and North America? There are a bunch of reasons like fuel tax policies and such, but the biggest hurtle was that Texas diesel fuel had a high sulfur content – too high for the latest generation of highly refined diesel engines. Recent government mandates to remove sulfur now opens up Texas to the engines the rest of the world's been enjoying for a long time.

Why are diesels so popular worldwide? Well, for starters, diesels get up to 30% better fuel economy than gas engines. And they last a lot longer. And modern diesel engines are refined, quiet and powerful – and there's none of that black smoke we used to see.

Some people may think that diesels create more pollution. But, you need to rethink diesels. Environmental pollution standards for diesel cars and light trucks are scheduled to be as strict as they are for gasoline vehicles. A modern diesel engine is as clean as a gas engine.

Repair costs are similar to vehicles with gas engines. As with gasoline engines, proper maintenance is the key to long engine life and to avoiding repairs. So pretty much what we have come to expect with gas vehicles; coolant system service, transmission service, power brakes, power steering, differential, filters, fuel system and so on. And the payoff for you, if you're the kind that likes to keep your vehicles for a long time, is that a properly maintained diesel engine can last for many, many years.

Jones Automotive
103 N Main Street
Belton, Texas 76513
(254) 939-3785