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Articles:

Visual Blind Spots When Driving Around Houston Texas

When we drive on our Houston Texas streets, we encounter blind spots. We can greatly reduce our blind spots by properly adjusting our mirrors to give the widest coverage possible. Make the adjustments to your vehicle before you start to drive. First, adjust your rear view mirror to give the best possible view directly to the rear of your vehicle or other vehicle type. You don't need it to get a better view of either side of the car, the kids in the back seat or your dazzling smile. The rear view mirror should look to the rear. Next, lean your head until it almost touches the driver's side window. Adjust your side mirror so that you can just barely see the side of your car. Now, lean your head to the middle of the car and adjust the outside mirror so that you can barely see the right side of the car. With your vehicle mirrors adjusted this way, you'll have  ... read more

Houston Drivers Ask: Why is My Check Engine Light On?

The Check Engine Light strikes fear into the hearts of some and is totally ignored by just as many.  Just what it means is a mystery to most of us. First, if your check engine light is flashing, that means that something is wrong that could cause severe damage to the catalytic converter or other components.  Get that taken care of right away.  If your check engine light is flashing, you shouldn’t drive at highway speeds, tow or haul heavy loads.  Take it easy all the way to the service center. If the light is glowing steadily, you should keep an eye on it for a day or two.  If the light doesn’t go off, schedule an appointment with your service advisor to get it checked out. Some more information on how the Check Engine Light works may be informative.  Most of your engine functions are controlled by a computer, not surprisingly, called an engine control computer.  The computer can adjust many engine parameters for environmental condition ... read more

Kacal's Auto & Truck Service Tech Question On Your Battery

Kacal's Auto & Truck Service Tech Question: I'm David in Houston, Texas. For the last year and a half I've had some battery problems. I had trouble starting my car so I bought a new battery at a parts store in Houston. At first everything was fine, then about six months later I had problems starting my car again, so I got a new battery. Again, everything was fine for another five or six months then I had trouble starting my car again. I went to get another battery and the parts guy said why do you need another battery, weren't you in a few months ago? So he tested my battery and it was OK. Apparently I've been replacing good batteries. What's wrong with my vehicle? Kacal's Auto & Truck Service Answer: Look, we can't fault David for not knowing what's wrong with his vehicle – he just didn't have enough information. And frankly, neither do I. Let's talk about where our friend went wrong and what ... read more

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Headlamps

You may be surprised to learn that 40% of traffic fatalities take place at night even though there’s 60% less traffic.  It goes to show how important proper visibility is to nighttime driving. Obviously, a clean windshield is important – so are good wiper blades.  Your headlights play a big role as well.  There are two main concerns.  One is with the headlamp, or bulb.  The other is with the lens.  The fact of the matter is that headlamps go dim over time.  You just need to replace them.  Some vehicles come with a standard blub which you can replace, or you can upgrade to a halogen bulb that’s much brighter.  Halogen costs a little more, but you’d be amazed at the difference. It’s a good idea to replace your headlamps once a year.  The idea is that your lamps never dim to the point that they become a safety issue.  Just take care of it at a fall oil change so that your lights will be bright for the ... read more

What Causes a Car To Overheat?

What Causes a Car To Overheat?

When you are driving your vehicle, you want all to be right with it and you do not want to encounter any issues along the way. If you are in motion and begin to see smoke coming from underneath your hood, you know immediately there is an issue and you may become scared or even frustrated; knowing there is something you will have to handle. Seeing smoke one of the first thoughts may be that your vehicle is probably overheating… you know to pull over immediately, turn your vehicle off and access things, but then there is the thought of why this could be happening. While you know there is an issue with your vehicle, you know that it is overheating and it shouldn't be… but you may not know exactly why this is happening. Here are some issues that may be occurring to cause your car to overheat. Leaks in Your Cooling System: This is generally the main reason your vehicle will overheat. Any small leak can lead to an expensive pair if you wait too long to take care of it ... read more

Fuel Filter

The function of a fuel filter is pretty self-explanatory.  It filters your fuel.  The fuel filter is in the fuel line somewhere in between the fuel tank and the engine.  Both gas and diesel vehicles use fuel filters. There’s not a lot of dirt in the fuel supply, but there is enough that you want to screen it out.  The problem gets worse the older your vehicle becomes.  That’s because dirt, rust and contaminates will settle out of the fuel and onto the bottom of the fuel tank.  After a car is five years or older, it can have a fair amount of sediment built up.  That just means that the fuel filter must work harder as your car ages.  It’ll get clogged sooner and need to be replaced more often. A symptom of a clogged fuel filter is that the engine sputters at highway speeds or under hard acceleration.  That’s because enough fuel is getting through around town, but when you need more fuel for speed, enough can’t ... read more

Alternator

Your alternator makes electricity to start and run your engine and all the electrical systems in your vehicle. That’s everything from the on-board computers to the turn signals. And of course, there is the entertainment system, seat heaters, power windows, and everything you plug into the power outlets. After your alternator makes enough electricity to do all that, it recharges your battery with what’s left over. When you constantly have a low or dead battery, the alternator is usually a prime suspect. However, the alternator is just one component of the starting/charging system and a problem with any of the other components could be the actual cause. In addition to the alternator, the charging/starting system includes the battery, starter, serpentine belt system, and all the electrical cables that connect them. Your technician has a systematic process of testing components and connections to get to the source of your problem. The initial symptoms determine where to begi ... read more

What are the Symptoms of a Failing Fuel Filter?

What are the Symptoms of a Failing Fuel Filter?

A fuel filter is part of a vehicle's fuel system, eliminating the impediments that lead to the cars' starting and running issues. Its function is to filter out any potential form of dirt and fragments such as paint chips and rust particles from entering the fuel pump, thus protecting the engine from wearing out and wreaking-havoc on the vehicle. Therefore, fuel filters need routine maintenance and replacements for longevity, ensure the engine operates at its peak performance, and prevent sudden breakdowns and unnecessary repair expenses. Being keen to notice the signs that show the need for a new fuel filter is essential, and the following three symptoms are enough to know a failing fuel filter and request a replacement. 1. Problems in starting the engine Given that fuel filters are installed for the engine's protection, once it becomes difficult to start the engine, it will sign a failing fuel filter, and checking if it is clogged is the necessary step ... read more

The Smell of Danger (What Causes Gasoline Odors?)

A driver recently noticed that her garage had begun to smell like gasoline after she parked her vehicle inside. Her Check Engine light had also just come on. This was something she'd never experienced before. So, she called up her NAPA Service Advisor and asked what was causing it. The answer, of course, is that many things can cause a sitting vehicle to smell like gasoline fumes. But it can sometimes be tricky to track down the source, so here are a few things you can look for that may help your NAPA AutoCare Center technician pinpoint the origin of the odor. Gasoline odors can be caused by a leak somewhere in the fuel system, meaning gasoline can be dripping out. Some possibilities? It could be a break in a fuel line. You could have a leaky fuel-injection line or injector. There's a vent for your fuel tank that may also leak. The fuel filler neck can wear out and fail. One thing you should look for is to see if there are any puddles of gasoline on the floor of your garage ... read more

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Busted In Houston: The Maintenance Free Myth.

Quality surveys report fewer problems with new Houston cars than ever before. So does that mean that modern vehicles have become maintenance free? Back when cars spent more time in Houston repair shops, Texas drivers were more mindful of routine service. Now, it's much easier to put it off. Take Houston tune-ups for example. In the days of mechanical ignition systems, an engine needed to be tuned-up every couple of years. If your engine was out of tune, you knew it. It ran poorly and got bad fuel economy driving on Texas streets and highways. Now, the ignition system is electronic and controlled by the engine management computer. Spark plugs rarely get fouled and will last for as much as a 100,000 miles/150,000 kilometers. So vehicle tune-ups used to force you in for service, and while you were there, you just took care of whatever else was on the list. So what's the benefit to keeping up with factory scheduled maintenance at Kacal's Auto &a ... read more

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