Monthly Archives: August 2017

Engine Air Filter’s To Blame

Wait a minute. The author meant to say, ‘oil filter’ you’re probably telling yourself. No, we really meant ‘engine air filter.’ If your car’s engine air filter is torn or clogged, your engine is probably running on dirty oil. Think about it. A vehicle ingests about 10,000 gallons of air to burn a single gallon of fuel. And if you add to it all the contaminants that the air along roads and highways contains – soot, dust, debris, leaves, straw, tiny bits of rubber – imagine the amount of dirt that can enter the engine compartment each time you take your vehicle out. When considering an engine air filter replacement for your vehicle, the two most important criteria to consider are ‘capacity’ and ‘efficiency.’ Capacity is the amount of dirt the filter can hold before it begins to restrict the flow of air and efficiency describes how well it captures the dirt before it can enter the engine’s combustion chambers.

That is why ‘capacity’ and ‘efficiency’ are two of the most important criteria in determining the quality of an engine air filter. For instance, Purolator’s PureONE engine air filter’s oil-wetted, high-capacity media offers up to twice the capacity of conventional filters to trap contaminants smaller than the size of a grain of sand and is 99.5 percent efficient. This means it traps 99.5 percent of particles 200 microns in size or larger. To clarify, one micron is a millionth of a meter. Likewise, Purolator Classic air filter’s multi-fiber, high-density media traps 96.5 percent of such contaminants. Also important to consider is the design and construction of the filter. The media in a panel-type filter is attached to a binding so it can hold its shape. If the adhesive used to attach the media to the binding framework is of inferior quality, it may melt or soften due to high under-hood temperatures. This may cause the media to pull away leaving a gap that will allow unfiltered air to enter the engine and do damage. Or, if the air filter begins to get clogged, the engine vacuum can suck in the media, causing it to rupture and once again allow unfiltered air to bypass and enter the engine.

Changing your car’s engine air filter is quick, easy and inexpensive. Older cars often had a round air filter resting in a round housing under a lid held in place by a wing nut. Today’s more advanced fuel-injected engines normally use a flat, rectangular panel-type air filter that resides in black plastic duct work in the engine compartment. Usually, all you need to do is release several clamps, separate the housing halves, lift out the old filter, and install the new one. It’s usually that simple, O’Dowd said. And your local mechanic or parts store counterman should be happy to show you where your air filter is located. Most people should change their vehicle’s engine air filter once a year or every 12,000 miles unless you’re driving in unusually dirty or dusty conditions, said O’Dowd. Because of the long intervals between changes it’s important to install the best filter possible for reliable and efficient filtering.

Automotive Technicians

Car owners know they should keep their vehicles in good operating condition, but often they do not know where to turn for dependable service or what to look for in a repair shop. ASE tests and certifies automotive professionals in all major technical areas of repair and service. With more than 360,000 currently certified professionals, the ASE program is national in scope and has industry-wide acceptance and recognition. ASE-certified technicians and parts specialists can be found at every type of repair facility, from dealerships, service stations, and franchises to parts stores, independent garages, and even municipal fleet yards.

Certification Benefits Motorists

ASE certifies the technical competence of individual technicians, not repair facilities where they work. Before taking ASE certification tests, many technicians attend training classes or study on their own in order to update their knowledge. By passing difficult, national tests, ASE-certified technicians prove their technical competence not only to themselves, but to their employers and their customers. ASE does not certify repair shops or monitor individual business practices, but it stands to reason that those shop owners and managers who support their employees’ efforts to become ASE-certified often will be just as proactively involved in the other aspects of their businesses as well, says Molla.

How Certification Works

There are specialty exams covering all major areas of repair. There are nine tests for auto technicians alone: Engine Repair, Engine Performance, Diesel Engine, Electrical/Electronic Systems, Brakes, Heating and Air Conditioning, Suspension and Steering, Manual Drive Train and Axles, and Automatic Transmissions. There are also exams for collision repair, school bus and transit bus technicians, damage estimators, parts specialists, and others. ASE certification is not a designation for life, however. All ASE credentials have expiration dates, and ASE requires automotive service professionals to retest every five years to demonstrate a commitment to continuing education and stay abreast of continually changing technologies in order to retain certification.

Finding ASE-Certified Technicians

Repair establishments with at least one ASE technician are permitted to display the blue and white ASE sign and often do outside and inside their facilities. Each ASE professional is issued personalized credentials listing his or her exact area of certification and an appropriate shoulder insignia. Technicians are also issued certificates that employers often post in the customer-service area. Businesses with a high level of commitment to the ASE program (75 percent of service personnel certified) are entitled to a special “Blue Seal of Excellence” recognition from ASE, with distinctive yellow and blue signage. These elite facilities are among the best in the national. More than 1,500 businesses participate in this growing program.

Careers in Auto Repair

An indisputable fact of American life: our enduring love affair with our vehicles, some defining this as our freedom of mobility. Freedom becomes the active word. Another fact of American life is our shortage of people to repair these 233 million vehicles. The Bureau of Labor Statistics’ forecasts that repair shops nationwide face an annual shortage of about 35,000 auto technicians through 2010.

While the shortage is serious and could become increasingly so, the good news is that this situation identifies an excellent field of opportunity for young people looking for a satisfying career. That old label of an auto mechanic as a “grease monkey,” fortunately has gone out with high button shoes. “The reality is,” says Mark Boswell of Goodyear Gemini Automotive Care, “that auto technicians are highly trained specialists typically holding well-paying jobs in comfortable surroundings.” Addressing this issue, the industry emphasizes that opportunities present themselves to women in positions ranging from repair technicians to service advisors to parts and accessory sales. The industry is actively soliciting women who might be seeking careers with excellent benefits, opportunities seldom found in many fields.

ASE (National Institute For Automotive Service Excellence) for years has certified women for positions in the automotive service and parts industry, further underscoring the fact that automotive repair no longer is gender specific. The Car Care Council now has a Women’s Board consisting of women who are active in the industry in positions ranging from public relations to shop ownership to parts and equipment sales. Women often are found to be adept in computer technology, less inclined to be intimidated by computers than men. Regardless of gender, the pay scale is good. The national average salary for an auto technician is $41,588, according to the National Automobile Dealers Association.

“Now, good technicians can make $70,000 with a little experience and the highest-paid can make $120,000,” according to John Dodson of the NASCAR Technical Institute, a division of Universal Technical Institute. “Because of the electronics and computers that are component parts, working with cars is tantamount to working with computers. High tech training is indispensable and, therefore, valuable.”

It’s a challenging field. Being an automotive technician is a job that requires detective skills because you have to keep digging at it until you figure it out. It’s not unusual for some technicians to take specialized courses five or six times a year. They also are encouraged to become ASE certified, which increases their value to the workplace and significantly can increase hourly wages. In addition to independent service facilities, including specialty stores, the ever-expanding motorsports sector may be the magnet to attract people. It’s an exciting field and can be lucrative for bright, energetic young technicians.

For some automotive enthusiasts, many of whom are NACSAR fans, the idea of working with a race team could be a dream come true. A head start could result from the specialized training offered by NASCAR Technical Institute, the exclusive educational partner of NASCAR. Located in Mooresville, North Carolina, at the heart of racing country, this is the country’s first technical training school to combine a complete automotive technology program and a NASCAR-specific motor sports program. In addition to general training programs and those related to racing, NTI offers manufacturer-specific advanced training for several makes of vehicles.

Automatic Transmission

The automatic transmission is a pretty incredible device when you get a chance to look inside of it.  The technology that is needed to eliminate manual shift transmission needs to have electronics and hydraulics to work in unity.  The transmission fluid flows throughout the whole transmission like oil in an engine.  It cleans, lubricates, cools and actuates the different assemblies that cause the automatic shifting to occur for thousands of miles. Rubber seals, gaskets, shift valves and clutches all must perform their jobs flawlessly or the automatic transmission is useless.

Automatic transmission fluid change intervals are much longer than that of engine oil since the fluid is not exposed to the high heat and combustion gases that engine oil is constantly dealing with.  The transmission fluid does break down due to the physical stress placed on it during normal operation.  As it wears it can no longer protect the seals, clutches and such that it is supposed to protect.  The detergents will weaken, allowing a varnish type material to start coating the hard metal parts and cylinders inside the unit.  Seals that are in place to control the flow of the fluid or lock up clutches start to harden with age, allowing fluid to leak by not applying the proper forces needed for good shifts.

When the transmission is serviced in many of today’s vehicles, the main transmission pan is dropped, allowing for some of the transmission fluid to come out of the unit.  This can amount to four or six quarts of fluid leaving another four or more quarts still remaining in the transmission.  So only about half of the fluid may really be changed normally during this service. If an automatic transmission exhibits any symptoms such as soft and sloppy shifts, shifts that are very firm and harsh, or slow engagement when placed in drive or reverse these can all be the result of a transmission’s normal wear.   Because of the construction of the automatic transmission out of many individual parts, leaks can also occur at many different locations.  Many seals and gaskets are used in the building of the transmission.  As they wear and age, leaking can occur.  If the leakage is great enough to lower the fluid level substantially, erratic transmission operation will occur with major internal damage to follow.