Did You Know? Service Notes: August 2014

Written by mitch. Posted in Blog, Consumer, General Community

Before we begin a discussion focused on performance degradation and the consequences of worn or damaged Struts and Shocks… And, the fact that “like new” performance is dialed in at the factory for just about 50,000 miles… It might be a better idea to start with a quick explanation of just what a McPherson Strut and/or a Shock Absorber is and exactly what it is they do? The purpose of a McPherson Strut or Shock Absorber is to control spring and/or suspension movement. In other words, the shocks and struts are there to mitigate or dampen road surface irregularities and imperfections: bumps, potholes, dips, etc. They are designed to reduce bounce, sway, roll acceleration squat or braking dip and/or dive.

Now, back to the design life of a Strut or Shock: It’s the truth! Fifty-Thousand Miles of like-new performance is what the factory shoots for when that Strut or Shock is first designed for that vehicle’s front or rear suspension. That doesn’t mean the Strut or Shock is likely to fall apart after just 50,000 miles! But, it does mean that the performance you can expect from that vital suspension component will begin to slowly degrade soon after that mileage milestone has been reached. Slowly is the operative expression in that last paragraph… In fact, the loss of performance is so slight and it takes place over such a long period of time it’s barely noticeable for most people. So, how can you know if or when it’s time to replace your Struts and/or Shocks. Here are a few of the same “Drive Test Tools” we use and the beauty of almost all of them is that you won’t have to drive your vehicle over 5 mph for most of them!

The first is a Quick Acceleration Test… If you’re teaching one of your kids to drive, you won’t have to perform this test yourself. All you have to do is put your son or daughter behind the wheel for the first time, ask them to pull away from the curb and then watch what happens.If you accelerate quickly and the nose of the vehicle “pops” up more than an inch or so, chances are the Struts have lost a good part of their effectiveness.The next test would be a “sway test.” That’s where you move the steering wheel first to the right quickly, then to the left and then back again to the center while moving forward at or close to 5 mph. If the body of the vehicle leans to one side or the other enough to make you uncomfortable chances are the struts and shocks are worn beyond an acceptable standard.The final test would be a quick or abrupt stop. If the nose of the vehicle dips down… a lot, you have a pretty good indication the front struts have lost their ability to control the vehicle’s ride properly.Just a quick note of caution… While all three tests can be done effectively at speeds of no greater than 5 mph, you should still exercise great caution when choosing where and when you decide to perform the test. Large (preferably empty) parking lots and/or deserted side streets work well..And, remember, there really isn’t any reason to exceed 5 mph. So, trying this out while you’re on the freeway in the middle of your morning commute – although, exciting – wouldn’t necessarily be an especially great idea!

Latest Greatest: Implications of the Latest Round of Recalls…

Written by mitch. Posted in Blog, Consumer, Uncategorized

Latest Greatest… Service Notes: August 2014

There’s been a lot on the news lately about the General Motors recall (Multiple recalls, actually…) and rightly so. It’s the largest in automotive history, figured in the tens of millions of vehicles.

To compound matters, General Motors has been joined in the quest to see who can generate the most Recalls by just about every other vehicle manufacturer on the planet! (Here are just a couple of the many sites you can visit to see how many vehicles have been affected and whether or not your vehicle may be one of those included: http://www.recalls.gov/nhtsa.html  http://autos.aol.com/info/recall/ .
GM Ign Sw Recall image
The whole notion of having to bring your vehicle back to the dealer – which is where you will have to go if the vehicle is involved in a Recall, especially if you want to have the service provided at the manufacturer’s cost and not yours – is stressful enough.

But, far more distressing is the impact the Recalls themselves, coupled with the cost and the fallout from the cover-up, are likely to have on the Technical Service Bulletins that regularly flow from the factory alerting their service network and members of the independent segment of the repair community of potential engineering problems.

The great fear is that in order to ensure there is no “Paper Trail” documenting fore-knowledge of a potentially lethal defect and then tying it back to the manufacturer that built the vehicle, the flow of that kind of service information would be cut off at the source in the spirit of “Plausible Deniability.”No one is speculating on how that kind of critical information might be shared in the future… All we know is that it is just about impossible to “fix” a flaw that was engineered in at the factory without the factory redesigning the part or reprogramming whichever module (computer) is responsible contributing to the flaw!However, everyone agrees, that kind of information is essential to work on today’s highly sophisticated and technologically advanced vehicles.We’ll continue to keep you informed as this story continues to enfold… And, we’ll let you know when you can get involved and how you can do your part to ensure the flow of vital information to and through the Automotive Aftermarket continues.