Differential Service at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley
Nov 28, 2013
Here at AutoNetTV, we have national viewers, like your neighbors in Lancaster, who write to us with questions or feedback. One common question we're asked is: "What is a differential and what does it do?" You may have been told by your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor that your differential needs serviced, or it's seen it as an option up on the service menu. Differential service at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley covers a lot of things, so let's first talk about what a differential does.
As you drive through a turn, your outside wheels and inside wheels turn at different speeds. Kind of like the cars going around a race track - the ones driving in the outside lanes have a greater distance to travel than the cars in the inside lanes. The differential is what allows the outside and inside drive wheels to rotate at slightly different speeds so that the tires don't hop or skip while taking corners, or lose traction in dirt or snow on Lancaster area roads. Differentials have gears in them that transfer the power from the drive train to your wheels - which is why they're often referred to as gear boxes. The gears need to be very strong to do this work, and they need to be properly protected so that they'll last.
All vehicles in Lancaster have some form of differential. If you have a front-wheel drive car, your differential is sometimes called a transaxle and is located in the front. If you have rear-wheel drive, the differential is in the back of the car. Lancaster auto owners with a four-wheel drive vehicle have a differential in the front and the back - and in the middle as well. The center differential adjusts for differences in speed between the front and rear wheels.
Differential fluid lubricates and cools the gears. Over time, the fluid can get dirty from bits of the gears grinding off. The additives that keep the fluid clean and protect the differential break down over time. So your vehicle manufacturer has scheduled intervals for you to have your differential fluid changed. Talk to your friendly and knowledgeable The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor if you are not sure about your recommended schedule.
Fuel Injection Keeps Getting Better for Lancaster Motorists
Nov 21, 2013
Lancaster residents know that engines burn fuel to operate. Fuel is pumped from your fuel tank to your engine where it is squirted—or injected—into your engine's cylinders. This is the function of the fuel injectors.
There are two ways to inject fuel into an engine. Fuel needs air to burn, so in the first method, fuel is injected into a port and allowed to mix with air—and before it is drawn into the cylinders. In the second method, fuel is injected directly into the cylinders and mixes with air after it enters the engine.
Direct injection engines burn fuel more efficiently than conventional engines. Some models can deliver the power of a V8 with the economy of a V6.
For example, in one family of engines, the conventional version (a V6) delivers about 250 horsepower. The direct injection version delivers over 300 horsepower and gets about the same . The turbocharged version delivers 350 horsepower.
Why the big difference in power? Direct injection systems allow fuel to be squirted into the engine at hundreds of times the pressure of a conventional engine. This atomizes the fuel better (breaks it down into tinier droplets), which means more of it gets burned, which translates to more power for your engine. It also results in cleaner emissions and improved fuel economy.
Fuel injectors are precision instruments. They have to deliver the right amount of fuel at exactly the time the engine needs it. They are also engineered to inject fuel with a specific spray pattern. This spray pattern allows for maximum fuel efficiency and proper atomization.
Direct injection engines require a much higher degree of precision than conventional engines. For this reason, they are equipped with more sophisticated computers.
When fuel injectors get dirty, their precision drops off. The spray pattern won't be precise, and the timing of fuel delivery may be off. This decreases fuel efficiency and fuel economy for Lancaster drivers as well as delivering less power to the engine.
Fuel injectors are not cheap to replace. Direct injection fuel injectors are even more expensive. And we're talking a mortgage payment to buy a set of new fuel injectors for a diesel engine.
So keeping your fuel injectors clean is just good auto advice for Lancaster residents. The best way to do this is to change your air and fuel filters regularly and practice other habits of good vehicle care and preventive maintenance at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster. Cleaning additives in your fuel can also help.
If you do end up with gum or varnish in your fuel system, you'll need a professional fuel system cleaning. This will clean out your whole system, including the injectors. The good news is that with proper maintenance, your fuel injectors will last for a long time.
Fuel System Cleaning at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster for Better Performance
Nov 13, 2013
A fuel injector is a valve that delivers fuel to a vehicle's engine. It has to deliver the precise amount of fuel to precisely the right place, precisely when the engine needs it. The fuel also has to be mixed with air before it can burn in the engine.
Fuel injectors are engineered to spray fuel in a specific pattern into the engine. (The pattern varies by engine type and design.) In order to achieve these spray patterns, the fuel must be pressurized.
The pressure in a fuel injection system varies depending on its type. Many gasoline engines use port injection systems, which operate with a pressure of 60 pounds per square inch. Newer direct injection systems operate at 10 to 30 times that pressure. Some diesel passenger vehicles have fuel injectors that operate at 30,000 pounds or more per square inch.
Vehicles have one fuel injector for each cylinder in the engine. Your vehicle's control computer constantly monitors the engine and various sensors in the vehicle. It also adjusts the fuel injectors accordingly so that they can deliver the proper amount of fuel to the engine. As you can see, fuel injectors are a sophisticated and vital part of your vehicle's engine.
Because fuel injectors are such precision instruments, dirt and contaminants are a serious detriment to their performance. When an injector gets gummed up, it affects the pressure, pattern and timing of the fuel delivery. The result is a decrease in fuel economy and loss of engine performance.
So it's important to keep your fuel injectors clean. That starts with keeping the fuel in your tank clean. High-quality fuel contains detergents and additives that help clean your engine. Brand-name California fuel companies also deliver a more consistent quality of fuel than do bargain stations in the Lancaster area.
The second way to keep your injectors clean is to keep your fuel filter clean. This filter screens dirt and rust out of the fuel as it travels from the tank to the engine. If the filter clogs up, fuel will bypass it and carry its load of dirt into the engine.
Check your owner's manual or ask the pros at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster to find out how often you should change your fuel filter. This should be part of your regular preventive maintenance. Also, remember that if you use bargain-brand or low-grade fuels, or if you drive an older vehicle, your filter will need to be changed more often.
You can also purchase cleaners that will protect your fuel injectors. These cleaners are added to the fuel tank. They work best at preventing build-up in your fuel injectors and can clean up small amounts of carbon, gum and varnish. But they won't be able to clean a fully gummed-up injector. Read the labels before using any of these products for full directions on their use.
If your fuel injectors are gummed up, you can get a professional deep cleaning service at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster that will result in better fuel economy and improved vehicle performance.
Good vehicle care will prevent serious damage to your fuel injector system. And this is one system that you want to keep in perfect condition.
With front-wheel drive being so common these days in Lancaster, California, the differential is just taken care of during a transmission service, so most Lancaster drivers don't even have to think about it. And rear-wheel drive differentials don't need to be serviced for years, so it's understandable that it's not something on the top of Lancaster customers' minds. It's not uncommon for drivers to not know they have a differential let alone know that it needs service.
Call The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley in Lancaster at 661-949-8484 for information about differential service, or stop by our Lancaster, California, auto center at 226 West Avenue I, 93534.
To better understand what a differential does, think about our local Lancaster high school track. There are lanes marked off on the track. For the longer distance races, the starting lines are staggered. The starting lines for the outside lanes are ahead of the starting lines for the inside lanes. That's to compensate for the longer length of the outside lanes. Staggering the starting lines means that each runner has the same distance to run.
The differential compensates for the difference in speeds between the inside wheel and the outside wheel in a turn, because they have to travel together through slightly different distances.
It's a very important function. When you think of it, all the power to get a vehicle moving goes through the differential. Most cars in the Lancaster, California area weigh between 3,000 and 6,000 pounds (1,400 and 2,800 kg) – trucks even more. The power from the engine goes through the transmission and then through the differential to the drive wheels.
That's a lot of work and requires very heavy duty parts. And those parts need protection. The differential fluid lubricates the gears in the differential and keeps them cool.
The fluid eventually gets dirty and worn down. Some kinds of differentials require special additives that break down over time. So vehicle manufacturers recommend intervals for replacing your differential fluid.
The professionals at The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley will drain the used fluid and check it out for metal bits, which could be a sign of excessive wear on the gears. Then they’ll replace the fluid and install the additives if necessary.
Your The Car Doctors of the Antelope Valley service advisor can look up the vehicle manufacture's recommended service interval or you can check your owner's manual. Give us a call at 661-949-8484 for more information about your differential service.