Direct Fuel Injection Update From Welch Automotive

For those of you in Franklin North Carolina who pay attention to these things, you may have been hearing about the new direct injection engines and want to learn more about them. Some deliver the power of a V8 with the economy of a V6.

For example, in one family of engines the conventional V6 makes about 250 horsepower. The direct injection version of the same engine makes over 300 horsepower and gets essentially the same gas mileage. The turbocharged version makes over 350 horsepower.

So what are the differences from a conventional engine?

The core difference is in the fuel injection system. The system most vehicles use now is called a port injection system. The fuel injector squirts fuel into a port just outside the cylinder where it’s then drawn into the engine with the air.

With a direct injection system, the injector squirts the fuel directly into the cylinder. The gain in power and economy come because fuel injected directly into the cylinder during the combustion cycle is burned much more efficiently.

First, the fuel is squirted in at hundreds of times more pressure, so it’s atomized much better and burns cleaner and stronger. The other big advance is in electronics. Faster engine management computers can control the additional precision required to manage direct fuel injection.

Fuel injectors are precision instruments. They have to deliver a precise amount of fuel at exactly the right time. The design of the engine also dictates a particular spray pattern for the fuel. If a fuel injector is dirty or gummed up, it can’t do its job as well. That means less power and worse fuel economy for your truck and can lead to damaged fuel injectors.

Replacing fuel injectors isn’t cheap. Direct injection injectors are even more expensive because of the extremely high-pressure they use. Same thing for diesel fuel injectors; we’re talking mortgage payment-range to replace a set of diesel injectors.

A professional fuel system cleaning from Welch Automotive gets out the gum and varnish in the whole system, including the fuel injectors. Keep those injectors clean and they’ll last a long, long time.

Service to Improve Fuel Economy


The price of gas in North Carolina has got Franklin motorists talking. It seems that Franklin folks who need a bigger vehicle to carry family and gear, or provide four wheel drive, are hit especially. That is why we thought it would be good to review some things that anyone can do to improve fuel economy.

First let’s start with how we drive in the Franklin area. Franklin drivers may not realize that they can really save bucks on gas by just changing a few driving habits. One of the biggest is jackrabbit starts – you know, flooring the gas as soon as the light turns green. That really wastes a lot of fuel. Building up your speed at a slower pace uses less fuel and is easier on your engine and drive train. And don’t drive with one foot on the brake. That’s also a drag on fuel efficiency, and it wears out your brakes faster too.

Another thing Franklin car owners can do is drive slower – but only when it’s safe. Sometimes on the freeway we drive an extra five … ten . . . twenty … over the speed limit. We do it to save time, but it only saves a few minutes out of maybe an hour long drive, and we may use 10 to 15 % more gas. Just leave Franklin a little bit earlier, save some money and arrive more relaxed.

Franklin drivers can also try and combine all of their errands for the day into just one trip, rather than several. If you can put off a trip today that can be combined with one tomorrow – you can save some time and bucks.

Using your cruise control can save income too. Driving in Franklin at a constant speed really improves gas mileage. Be sure to only use your cruise control in North Carolina under safe conditions – you can look in your owner’s manual for some critical good tips on using your cruise control.

Did you know that reducing the weight in your truck saves gas? Clean out the trunk or back seat from time to time so that you are not paying to carry around a lot of stuff around Franklin you do not need in the car. If you live in North Carolina where there is snow and ice, clear it off your car. They add weight and mess with aerodynamics too.

Another tip is to avoid long idle times, which includes warming it up when you start. Modern engines do not require a long warm up to get going – just take it easy for a couple of miles.

Be sure to get a new gas cap if yours leaks or is worn.

Now, let’s start talking mechanical. Bottom line – the better you maintain your vehicle, the less fuel you will use. It all adds up in a big way. For example, replacing your dirty engine air filter will pay for itself in improved fuel economy before your next oil change – and will keep saving you money after that.

A clean, well-maintained fuel system really pays big dividends in fuel efficiency for Franklin car owners. A clogged fuel filter wastes gas. So does a dirty fuel system, grimy fuel injectors and plugged up PCV valves. A fuel system service decreases the gas you use, and increases the power – so Franklin auto owners can’t go wrong with that.

Some of us Franklin auto owners ignore our Check Engine light. But fixing the problem that caused the light to come on will usually save some fuel as well. It may be a bad oxygen sensor that can really rob your fuel economy.

And, it may be time for a tune-up. Tune-ups should improve your gas mileage. Don’t overlook the essential routine maintenance items, like scheduled oil changes, transmission and cooling system service. Dirty or low fluids actually use more fuel. Just look at your auto maker’a recommended service intervals in the owner’s manual, or ask your Welch Automotive service advisor for the schedule.

Don’t forget your tires. Under-inflated tires waste gas. And if your wheels are out of alignment you won’t get the gas mileage you need.

None of these things are very complicated or expensive for Franklin drivers to stay on top of. When you maintain your car properly, you save gas today, and prevent pricey repairs tomorrow.

Budgeting for Maintenance In Franklin, North Carolina

Life’s full of surprises in Franklin, North Carolina, some of which cost money. A leaky roof, a broken tooth, or an unexpected car repair. Welch Automotive and AutoNetTV have done some research on how we can budget for proper vehicle care.

Most Franklin drivers do their best to budget for scheduled vehicle maintenance. What’s hard is unexpected repairs. The truth is that our trucks can stay on the road longer than ever before with proper maintenance. That’s because of improved vehicle design and manufacturing quality. But some of those same improvements also lead to higher repairs costs.

Let’s take the fuel pump. Previous generations were often stranded by the side of the road by vapor lock. This occurred when the gas vaporized between the gas tank and the fuel pump. Fuel just stopped flowing. Franklin drivers in this situation had to sit and wait until the car would start again. To alleviate the problem, fuel pumps are now located inside the gas tank. This is a great solution, but when the fuel pump fails, it’s a much more expensive to replace it.

Sealed wheel bearing assemblies are another example. These wheel bearings can’t be serviced – you just have to replace the entire assembly when it starts to fail. That costs several times as much as service on non-sealed bearings.

So we all benefit in Franklin, North Carolina from design improvements, but we need to plan for key repairs down the road.

There’s a tool that can be found on Edmunds.com that Franklin folks can use to prepare their service and repair budget.

Let’s suppose you have a 2003 Toyota Camry – a very popular car in Franklin, North Carolina. It’s now paid for and you’d like to keep it running for the next three years. You can go to Edmunds’ True Cost to Own calculator and enter your vehicle’s data. The calculator will provide estimates of what it’ll cost to service and repair your vehicle over the next five years. The estimate is based on where you live in or near Franklin, North Carolina, your auto manufacturer’s recommendations and repair experience for your particular model.

Of course these are just estimates – there’s no way to predict what’ll actually happen to the car in your driveway, but it’s a good starting point.

The calculator also has estimates for depreciation, financing, insurance, taxes and fuel costs.

Let’s focus on maintenance and repair. This table shows that the average monthly cost of maintenance and repairs is eighty-three dollars. That may sound like a lot, but compare it to a new car payment.

Budgeting for Maintenance

So if you set aside eighty-three dollars a month, you’d go a long ways towards taking care of routine maintenance and being prepared for the unexpected repairs that arise.

Of course, you can’t predict when something will go wrong or how expensive it will be, but at least you have a reasonable target to shoot for.

Some Franklin auto owners are afraid of what can go wrong with their older truck so they buy a new one. That’s fine if you really want a new truck, but if you properly maintain your older vehicle, you’ll save a lot of income on new car payments and North Carolina auto insurance. It just makes good economic sense.

Get with your technician at Welch Automotive and work out a plan for keeping your truck on the road.

You can visit Welch Automotive at 1108 Depot St. in Franklin, North Carolina 28734 or just give us a call at 828.524.3117.

The Welch Automotive Guide To Caring For Your Transmission

Most cars and trucks have automatic transmissions, yet a lot of Highlands / Cashiers auto owners only have a fuzzy understanding about what a transmission does. Think back to the last time you rode a bike in Highlands / Cashiers. You started out in a lower gear and shifted to higher gears as you went faster. Down shift for hills, stuff like that. Think of your legs as the engine – there’s an ideal speed you can pedal and you change gears to leverage the work you’re doing.

Lower gears for power on hills or for starting out. Higher gears for more speed. That’s what the automatic transmission does – it automatically starts in lower gears and shifts up to higher gears to go faster on North Carolina expressways. And automatically shifts back down to climb Highlands / Cashiers hills, pass or start up again.

truck automatic transmissions have certainly gotten more sophisticated in recent years. They have more speeds than before: the base is four speeds, five is very common.

At Welch Automotive, we routinely service transmissions with six speeds and several have seven or even eight speeds. As you can imagine, this means more parts. Any they all have to fit into roughly the same space.

Transmissions are computer controlled these days, with some high end transmissions having two or three computers. Transmissions are engineered to last. But they are also engineered to tighter tolerances. If a portion of the transmission is starved for lubrication, it can lead to failure.

Not enough fluid can starve the transmission or dirty transmission fluid can clog small passages in the transmission, then the lubricant is blocked and can’t get to all the parts to protect them, so they wear out prematurely. The technicians at Welch Automotive see far too many transmissions that needlessly failed due to neglect.

And, as you can imagine, repairing one of these new transmissions at any Franklin service center can be quite costly. That’s why car makers have a schedule for how often you should change the fluid and what type of fluid to use.

It’s really important for Highlands / Cashiers auto owners to carefully follow the manufacturer’s transmission service schedule.

At Welch Automotive in Franklin, we hope you never become shiftless in Highlands / Cashiers because you didn’t take care of your transmission.

Synthetic Oil For Franklin Autos

If you aren’t currently using synthetic motor oil in your Franklin vehicle, maybe now’s the time to consider it. Need more information? Well, synthetic motor oil is a substitute for petroleum based oil.

Synthetic oil doesn’t gel or gum-up like petroleum based oil and it doesn’t vaporize as easily. It protects better in severe driving conditions like stop and go driving around Franklin, as well as in very hot or very cold conditions. More and more new vehicles are being delivered with full synthetic motor oil; with the recommendation to use synthetic for the life of the vehicle.

Why is this? Synthetic motor oil maximizes engine power and fuel economy. To see why; we’d need a microscope, so we’ll have to settle for using our imaginations.

The molecules of conventional motor oil are long hydrocarbon chains. Synthetic motor oil, on the other hand, has uniform, round molecules. Which is more slippery, a pile of pencils or a pile of marbles?

Synthetic motor oil lubricates better because there’s less friction. That means better wear protection, cooler operating temperatures, more power and better fuel economy. And synthetic oil doesn’t sludge up like conventional oil, so it prevents those small oil passages from clogging up.

Some manufacturers are extending oil change intervals. The added protection of synthetic oil covers you for these longer intervals. Talk with your service advisor about how you drive and see if he thinks you can benefit from synthetic oil. Also ask about the appropriate oil change interval for synthetic, because it may very well be longer than for conventional oil.

Most of us here in Franklin have a busy life and might occasionally miss an oil change; go ahead admit it. Since we’re not perfect, doesn’t it make sense to use a motor oil that’s got your back?

Now synthetic oil costs more. But it lasts longer, protects better and increases fuel economy. You’ll likely save money in the long run. If you’re serious about making your car last longer, start using synthetic motor oil right away.

Give us a call at 828.524.3117 to schedule an oil change, or visit us at our Welch Automotive website.

Which Item is Most Stolen from Vehicles in Franklin?

Which item is most often stolen from vehicles in Franklin?

Is it:

  1. Stereo
  2. Wheels
  3. Air Bag
  4. DVD System

Well, if you said stereo – you used to be right. But airbags have now surpassed stereos as the biggest target for theft in Franklin – approximately 50,000 a year are stolen across the country. New airbags cost about $1,000, but go for $50 to $200 on the black market in Franklin.

Stolen airbags are making their way back into cars that have been in an accident. Of course, the danger to the consumer of having a stolen airbag installed is that you can never be sure what may have previously affected them and if they will work right when you need them.

Contact Welch Automotive for more information about where to get your airbags checked or replaced.
Find us at 1108 Depot St., Franklin, North Carolina 28734
You can reach us by phone at: 828.524.3117

There are reports that 1 in 25 airbag replacements are stolen or salvaged airbags – or no airbag is installed at all.

That is definitely one car part you don’t want to take a chance with, so Welch Automotive recommends following these guidelines:

  • Use a reputable collision repair center that employs ASE certified mechanics (we can offer recommendations at Welch Automotive).
  • Inspect the invoice to ensure that the repair shop purchased the airbag from a manufacturer, dealer, or recycler. If you can inspect the airbag prior to installation, it should be packaged in a sealed container from the manufacturer.
  • You will see the SRS light (Supplemental Restraint System) when you first start your vehicle up. This tells you that the airbag system is activated. If you do not see the SRS light, there is likely a problem with the airbag system.

For more information, contact John at Welch Automotive by calling 828.524.3117.

Why is My Check Engine Light On?

Your browser does not support video

 

The Check Engine Light strikes fear into the hearts of some Franklin car owners and is totally ignored by just as many. Just what it means is a mystery to most of us Franklin car owners.

Let’s get the urgency issues out of the way first. If your check engine light is flashing, that means that something is wrong that could cause critical engine damage. Naturally, you need to get that taken care of right away. If your check engine light is flashing, you shouldn’t drive at North Carolina interstate speeds, tow or haul heavy loads. Take it easy all the way to your Franklin service center.

Why is My Check Engine Light On?

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 honest Welch Automotive service specialist to get it checked out.

Some more Franklin information on how the Check Engine Light works may be informative for Franklin drivers. Most of your engine functions are controlled by a computer, not surprisingly, called an engine control computer. The computer is able to adjust many engine parameters for environmental conditions, engine condition and even the way you drive.

In order to make these adjustments, the computer relies on a network of sensors to provide data. The computer knows the proper operating range for each sensor. When a sensor reading is out of range the computer runs some tests and may turn on the truck’s Check Engine Light.

A simple example is a loose or missing gas cap. This may cause one of the sensors to read out of range. The computer doesn’t know if it’s a serious condition that caused the reading or just a loose gas cap, so it stores a trouble code and turns on the Check Engine Light.

Now when you tighten up the gas cap the sensor readings will be in the correct range. The computer will keep checking on the report for a day or two. Since a bad reading didn’t come up again, it turns off the Check Engine Light. The computer will also try to make adjustments to compensate for some readings. If it can do so, it’ll then turn off the Check Engine Light.

If the problem can’t be resolved then the light will remain on and you should get your truck looked at. Your honest Welch Automotive service advisor will plug a scanner into the on-board diagnostic port and read the trouble code stored in the computer. The trouble code will give the technician a starting place as he diagnoses the cause of the problem.

Looking Down the Road – Headlamps

If you’ve ever been driving around Franklin and had a headlamp go out, you’ve probably just wanted to replace the bad bulb. If your car uses halogen headlamps, they dim over time. So if you just put in one, they won’t have the same brightness which can be distracting and will affect your field of vision.

To have your headlights inspected, visit us at Welch Automotive. We’re at 1108 Depot St. in Franklin, North Carolina 28734. Or give us a call at 828.524.3117

Experts in Franklin recommend replacing your halogen headlamps every year. It’s easy to remember if you do it when daylight savings time changes in the fall. That way you’ll have bright headlamps for those long Franklin winter nights.

There are other types of headlamps in addition to halogen. There are the old standard bulbs that have been around for decades. These are OK, but you can usually upgrade to halogen. They cost a little more but you can’t believe the difference. If you do a lot of night driving you might want to use a premium halogen bulb that filters out the yellow hues and give a very white light that’s a lot like daylight.

You may have noticed those bluish headlights on luxury cars. They are high intensity discharge or, HID lamps. They really light up the road. You can upgrade to HID on some vehicles. These cost quite a bit, but they’ll last for the life of your car. If you want your Franklin friends to think you have HIDs, you can get halogens with a bluish tint – no one needs to know.

Seriously, though, night driving is all about reaction time – time to stop – time to get out of the way. You can’t react to what you can’t see. You need headlamps that’ll give you a good view down the road and good peripheral vision as well. And your headlights need to be aimed correctly so you can see and also, to keep your lights from shining off into on-coming traffic.

You may have seen older vehicles with headlights that are awfully dim and maybe even yellow. That’s because the plastic headlight lenses have gotten cloudy and yellowed with age. They can be replaced, but many Franklin service centers offer a service to restore the lens that’s a lot cheaper.

You can’t drive if you can’t see. AAA reports that nine out of ten vehicles have dirty or yellowed headlamps. So run the window squeegee over your headlights when you gas up to clear the dirt and bugs. Get your lenses restored if they need it and don’t forget to replace your standard or halogen bulbs every fall.

Recommended Service Intervals At Welch Automotive

Most people in the Franklin area are aware that automotive manufacturers have recommended service intervals. Following recommended service intervals is very important. The engineers that design our vehicles have tested the various systems and components to meet durability and safety standards. Some of these standards are self-imposed and others, like those for emissions components, are government mandated for the areas around Highlands / Cashiers, Sylva and Otto in North Carolina.

The maintenance schedules are designed to achieve the standards. Think of the benefits of following recommended intervals as falling into three general categories: Protection, Efficiency and Safety.

Protection. Let’s start with motor oil. First of all, the engineers recommend a particular weight and type of motor oil for your truck. All of their oil change recommendations assume using the proper motor oil. Motor oil contains detergents and other additives that clean the engine and provide corrosion resistance. Over time, the additives are depleted. The oil also becomes contaminated by water, dirt and combustion gases.

Extending your interval beyond the recommendation means that your truck engine will be operating without the full protection of fresh motor oil. It also means that sludge can form in contaminated oil and clog up passages in the engine, starving parts from needed lubrication.

Efficiency. Some services are designed to keep automotive systems operating efficiently. For example, the fuel system gets clogged up with gum and varnish from the fuel. Fuel doesn’t flow efficiently which reduces fuel economy. A fuel system cleaning restores the fuel system’s efficiency and increases your gas mileage.

Safety. Your brakes are obviously one of the most important safety systems on your truck. The manufacturer has scheduled brake pad replacement as well as power brake fluid drain and replacement intervals. Because brakes are so important, a brake inspection is also on the schedule to head off problems before they result in an accident.

Check your owner’s manual for recommended service schedules or talk with your Franklin service advisor at Welch Automotive by calling 828.524.3117. You’ll find our shop located at 1108 Depot St. in Franklin, North Carolina 28734.

You may be surprised to learn that various inspections may be on your list of factory recommendations for your truck. These inspections are usually at major intervals like fifteen or thirty thousand miles. They’re designed to uncover important parts that may be close to failing.

Your truck owner’s manual can tell you when to change your oil, but it can’t tell you that you have a radiator hose that’s bulging and about to burst. For that you need a trained auto technician. These scheduled inspections are in addition to the multi-point inspections done with a full-service oil change.

Transmission Service

Let’s talk about transmission service. It can be easy to forget about getting your transmission serviced because it doesn’t need it very often. It’s easy to remember to change the engine oil – you know, every 3,000 miles or 5,000 kilometers. But proper transmission servicing keeps your car running smoothly and helps you avoid costly repairs down the road.

The transmission undergoes a lot of stress. The grit you see in used transmission fluid is actually bits of metal that wear off the gears in the transmission. In addition to that, the transmission operates at very high temperatures. Usually it’s 100 to 150 degrees higher than engine temperatures. Those high temperatures eventually cause the transmission fluid to start to break down and loose efficiency.

As the fluid gets older, it gets gritty and doesn’t lubricate and cool the transmission as well – leading to even more wear. The fluid can actually get sludgy and plug up the maze of fluid passages inside the transmission. At best, your transmission won’t operate smoothly. At worse, it could lead to costly damage.

When your transmission is running properly, it transfers more power from your engine to the drive wheels, and improves fuel economy. That’s why manufacturers recommend changing your transmission fluid at regular intervals. Your owner’s manual has a schedule for transmission service and, of course, your service center can tell you what the manufacturer recommends.

Hot and dusty conditions; towing, hauling, stop and go conditions and jack rabbit starts all increase the load on the transmission and its internal temperature. That means you need to change the fluid more often. A good rule of thumb is every 35,000 miles, 55,000 kilometers or two years. If your manufacturer suggests more frequent intervals or if you’re driving under severe service conditions, you will need to change it more often.

Most service centers have the ability to perform a transmission service while you wait and the cost is quite reasonable. It’s downright cheap when you think about how much a major transmission repair can cost! Your service technician will know the right type of transmission fluid to use. If it’s getting to be time to have your transmission serviced, do your car a favor and have it done. If not this time, then on your next service stop.