Today at Welch Automotive we want to talk with you about a very important safety issue. This automotive safety warning is coming from a very unusual source: fire fighting experts. You’ve probably heard of E-85 gasoline being offered in the Franklin area. Some newer vehicle models are specifically built to run on E-85 – the rest are not.
Does your vehicle use E-85 gasoline? Bring it down to Welch Automotive at 1108 Depot St. in Franklin, North Carolina 28734 to find out, or give us a call to make an appointment by calling 828.524.3117.
E-85 gasoline has been developed to fight air pollution and reduce oil consumption. E-85 fuel is a mix of 85% ethanol, a grain-base alcohol, and 15% gasoline. So-called Flex-Fuel vehicles are designed to use either normal gasoline or E-85 gas. The result is lower detrimental exhaust emissions to our local Franklin community.
All gas engines can run with up to 10% ethanol and in fact a lot of gasoline sold in the Franklin, North Carolina area does contain some ethanol. The problem comes when well meaning motorists without Flex Fuel certified vehicles put E-85 into the tank.
At a 15% concentration, the potential for problems arises. Because of the chemical differences between ethanol and gasoline, special seals and gaskets are needed for Flex Fuel vehicles in Franklin North Carolina. In a normal engine, the ethanol in E-85 gas will eat away vital seals and gaskets. This leads to gas and oil leaks.
You Franklin car owners can imagine the fire hazard caused by leaking gasoline. North Carolina fire fighting experts caution drivers to only use E-85 if they know they vehicle is certified to handle it. They expect vehicle fires to increase because of using the wrong fuel in non-Flex Fuel vehicles.
So are drivers who don’t have a Flex Fuel vehicle but use E-85 to help the environment actually putting themselves at risk? Yes. In fact, service and repair centers in Franklin, North Carolina are being warned to purchase fire extinguishers that use the special foam needed to extinguish ethanol fires as a precaution in case starting-up an ethanol damaged engine leads to a fire.
Obviously, this isn’t something you want to have in your Franklin, North Carolina garage at home, either. If you have a Flex-Fuel certified vehicle, feel free to protect the environment by using E-85 gasoline. If not – please do not use E-85 in an engine that’s designed to run on unleaded gasoline only. At Welch Automotive we are concerned about your safety. If you have questions or want to find out how to determine if your vehicle can safely use E-85, go to www.e85fuel.com for more resources.
Take a look at our attached auto safety tips video from Auto Tips Videos.
As Franklin consumers, we live in a disposable society. It’s amazing all the stuff we throw away.
New stuff comes out so fast in North Carolina, and much of it is fairly cheap, so we just toss the old and move on. It seems like when we were kids in Franklin, our parents were real sticklers about taking care of our stuff – especially parents who grew up in the Depression. You know, hang up your clothes, polish your shoes, put away your toys. If something got lost or ruined by neglect, tough, we had to do without.
Franklin drivers couldn’t afford new cars very often, so we tried to make them last as long as we could. It’s a good thing that cars are more reliable these days. They just don’t break down as often. And the good news for us Franklin penny pinchers is that a modern car can easily go 200,000 miles with proper care. The engineering’s there and so is the manufacturing quality. The missing ingredient is us making sure we follow the auto maker’s maintenance schedules.
Is it really that bad for Franklin motorists to get off schedule? Well, it all adds up. Every time you go a couple thousand extra miles between oil changes, you’ve created an opportunity for dangerous sludge to form and clog passages. Then some parts don’t get oiled and they start to wear out faster.
Skip a cooling system service, and the corrosion inhibitors become depleted, and the radiator starts being damaged – one step closer to a failure. The same thing is true for transmission service, power brakes, fuel system cleaning – really everything on your schedule.
It’s also even more important for older vehicles in the Franklin area. Those engines and other systems have had more time to get dirty, so they’re working harder anyway. But it’s never too late for Franklin auto owners to get back on track with critical maintenance and to hold off further expensive damage.
It’s just another example of our parents knowing what’s best. (Surprising how often that happens.) And it really does start with the oil change, just like Dad said. When you get a full service oil change they top off all your fluids and check for other items that are on your maintenance schedule. That’s like your safety net; go in for oil changes on time, and let your service professional at Welch Automotive in Franklin help you keep track of the rest.
Of course, it is inevitable for Franklin car owners that some things are going to wear out along the way – essential stuff like alternators, water pumps and such – they don’t last forever. But that stuff is cheaper than a new car payment. And taking care of problems early means they have less time to cause other problems. It’s like having high cholesterol; you don’t want to wait for a heart attack before you address it.
Welch Automotive 1108 Depot St. Franklin, North Carolina 28734 828.524.3117
Your cooling system is very important. It circulates coolant through the radiator and your engine to protect your car from overheating. There are five main components to the cooling system:
the radiator cap
the thermostat and
the water pump
The cooling system is critical for Franklin drivers. It circulates coolant through the radiator and your engine to protect your truck from overheating. There are five main components to the cooling system:
the radiator the radiator cap the hoses the thermostat and the water pump
The water pump’s like the heart of your cooling system, circulating the fluid throughout your truck. It’s a small pump that’s driven by the engine; usually by belt, but sometimes by a chain or gear.
The water pump only operates when the engine’s running. Water pump failure is pretty routine. We see it often at Welch Automotive. Some start failing at around 40,000 miles, but most fail by 100,000 miles. Consult your auto maker’s owners’ manual or honest Welch Automotive tech to see what’s recommended.
Since a water pump either works or it doesn’t, you need to change it when it fails. Water pumps fail in one of two ways: the bearings fail or they begin to leak. It’s possible to have a leak from a cracked water pump, but it usually leaks at the gasket where it attaches to the engine.
So how can Franklin car owners tell when the water pump is failing? If you can hear a low-pitched grinding sound coming from the water pump – it’s got a problem. If you can see coolant in that area, you’ve got a leak.
Some water pumps are driven off the timing belt. They might be under a plastic cover so you can’t see the water pump. Look for coolant on the driveway. If you see some, have your Welch Automotive service advisor check it out.
Most timing belts need to be changed at 60,000 miles – some longer. It’s a good idea to change your water pump at the same time if it’s one of those that’s driven off the timing belt. To start with, 90% of the work’s already done with the timing belt change. And, if you don’t, and develop a leak later, you’ll have to change the belt again along with the water pump because the belt will have been contaminated by the leaking coolant.
Franklin auto owners can replace a failed water pump with a brand spankin’ new one or with a rebuilt pump. Rebuilt will save you some income, but ask your honest Welch Automotive technician what he thinks. Don’t feel too bad if your water pump gives out. They will all wear out eventually. Your Welch Automotive technician can get you back on the road and on with your life.
A lot of us Franklin car owners like our vehicles to reflect our personalities. We’re picky about color and body style. We’ll customize anything from floor mats to window tints to license plates. One popular way for North Carolina car owners to customize a vehicle is to get new wheels.
Wheels come in thousands of designs. Custom wheels can add personality, style or sass to a vehicle. Many of these customizations involve getting a bigger wheel.
Fifteen or sixteen-inch wheels used to be the factory standard, But today, because a lot of Franklin motorists like the look of larger wheels, many vehicles are available with seventeen or eighteen-inch wheels. Optional wheel packages of twenty inches or more are also available in Franklin.
If you want to upsize the wheels on your current vehicle, however, you should know it’s not a do-it-yourself project. There are important factors involved in ensuring your wheel change doesn’t jeopardize the safety of your vehicle.
First of all, it’s essential for North Carolina drivers to understand rolling diameter. The rolling diameter is the overall height of a tire. If you increase the rolling diameter of your tires when you upsize your wheels, you may have to modify your suspension to make sure the larger tires fit in the space and don’t rub in turns or over bumps. If that’s more work than you’re willing to do or pay for, then you need to maintain rolling diameter when you change your wheels.
It’s not as hard for Franklin car owners as it sounds. Imagine a doughnut. That doughnut represents rolling diameter, so you can’t make the doughnut bigger. However, you can increase the size of the doughnut hole. That gives you a bigger wheel. Tires with reduced sidewall on larger wheels will preserve your rolling diameter.
Rolling diameter is vital because your wheels and tires still need to fit inside the wheel well. Also, your speedometer, odometer and anti-lock brakes are all programmed to work with a specific rolling diameter. You’ll throw off the readings on your speedometer and odometer if you change your rolling diameter. And for your anti-lock brakes to work properly, your rolling diameter has to be within 3% of factory recommendations. While some Franklin drivers who upsize may not be concerned about meter readings, throwing off the brake system is a serious safety hazard.
Further, many vehicles in Franklin are now equipped with electronically controlled suspensions. Changing the rolling diameter will negatively affect this system as well, which can lead to a less smooth ride and lower handling performance as well as dangerous safety concerns.
Your honest Welch Automotive tire professional may be able to reprogram your vehicle’s computer to adjust for a larger (or smaller) rolling diameter.
So to maintain rolling diameter, you’ll need tires with a shorter sidewall. These tires will be designed to give the sidewalls the strength they need to maintain ride quality. Consider that doughnut again. As the wheel (the doughnut hole) gets bigger, the sidewall of the tire (the width of remaining doughnut) gets shorter. That means the tire holds less air. The sidewalls have to be made stiffer to compensate for the decreased air capacity.
To improve their strength, the shorter tires will also be slightly wider than your previous tires. But this means you’ll have a larger contact patch, or, in other words, a larger area of tire making contact with the road. This can actually increase your handling performance and decrease braking distances. Many North Carolina auto buffs customize their wheels just for this reason—they want the improved performance rather than looks or style. If you drive a truck or an SUV around Franklin, you might be interested in the extra control an upsized wheel can provide.
Now, that larger contact patch still has to fit inside your wheel well without rubbing when cornering or when bouncing over bumps or potholes on Franklin roads. This is termed fitment, and you may need a few critical adjustments so your new wheels will fit properly. You may need spacers so that your brakes will fit inside the new wheels, as well.
Welch Automotive tire professionals are experts at mounting, adjusting and customizing wheels. They can give you a lot of good auto advice about wheels and tires and how they affect driving performance and car care. They can help Franklin car owners select wheels and tires that will suit their driving needs and habits.
For example, if you drive off-road around Franklin, you should consider a higher profile tire. This type of tire will protect your rims from pricey damage while you’re bouncing over rocks. Or, if you tow a trailer or haul heavy loads around North Carolina, you’ll want a tire with a load rating equal to your demands. Your honest Welch Automotive tire professional can help you with these types of concerns.
Once you’ve got your new wheels, have your honest Welch Automotive service advisor check to see if you need an alignment. You don’t want those new wheels and your higher performance compromised by poor alignment. Get the most out of your investment by getting the work done right at Welch Automotive in Franklin.
Last but not least, remember tire pressure. With larger wheels, your new tires will hold less air and they’ll need slightly higher pressure. You’ll need to stay on top of vital preventive maintenance and keep them properly inflated. Be sure to check their pressure at least once a week. If you don’t keep your tires at their correct pressure, they will wear out really fast. It will also curtail your braking and handling performance.
So smile and show off your vehicle around Franklin. Make it all yours. Bumper stickers, vanity license plates, custom wheels — strut your stuff!
Franklin service centers have a menu board that lists the services they provide. Some Franklin drivers may not be familiar with all of the items on the board so here is a quick description of some of the typical services that might be listed.
Welch Automotive fuel system cleaning: Over time, the truck fuel system gets gum and varnish built up. A fuel system cleaning gets rid of that and cleans out the fuel injectors. Saves gas, by the way.
Welch Automotive headlamp replacement: Halogen and standard headlamps gradually fade. It’s usually good to change them every year or so.
Welch Automotive inspections: Franklin drivers get inspections for many reasons. Maybe they’re going on a trip or just want to make sure their vehicle’s ready for North Carolina summer or winter. Maybe they just bought a used truck and want to give it the once over. An inspection may reveal some things that are broken or are getting close to having a problem.
Welch Automotive oil change: – there are several options: Some Franklin centers offer just an oil change and new filter as an option. Most will also check and top off all of your other fluids and do a quick visual inspection with a full service oil change. In my way of thinking, the full service option is best because it makes sure you have adequate fluids and may uncover an emerging problem. There may also be options for higher mileage fluids or an upgrade to synthetic oil. Welch Automotive PCV valve replacement in Franklin: PCV stands for Positive Crankcase Ventilation valve. It’s a little part that releases pressure from the engine. It can get gummed up and that can lead to engine damage. Just needs to be changed now and then.
Welch Automotive power steering service: Often overlooked. Your honest Welch Automotive technician will evacuate the old fluid, clean out the system and replace it with clean fluid. Keeps the truck system running well for a long time. Welch Automotive serpentine belt service: That’s the belt that powers the truck engine’s accessories like the alternator, air conditioner, power steering and brakes. You’ll want to replace the serpentine belt before it breaks, because that’ll shut you down.
Welch Automotive shocks and struts: This starts with an inspection of the suspension components. Shocks last a long time and wear out slowly, so many Franklin people don’t notice when it’s time to change them. If they’re worn or leaking, they need to be replaced. Welch Automotive transmission service: This involves removing the transmission fluid and replacing it with clean fluid. It’s like an oil change for your transmission.
Welch Automotive tire rotation and wheel balancing: The tires are rotated from front to back using the recommended rotation pattern. This helps tires wear more evenly. Wheels need to be balanced from time to time to keep them turning without any wobble or bounce. Helps the ride and saves tire wear.
There’s a segment of the Highlands / Cashiers population that’s not committed to proper vehicle maintenance. Mistaken perceptions have crept into the North Carolina area over time. Many Highlands / Cashiers motorists think the root lies in the fact that modern cars are so reliable. Reliability has improved dramatically in recent years. Quality surveys report fewer problems with new cars than ever before.
Back when cars spent more time in the repair shop, Highlands / Cashiers drivers were more mindful of routine service. Now, it’s much easier to put it off.
Take tune-ups for example. In the days of mechanical ignition systems, an engine needed to be tuned-up every couple of years. The ignition points had to be replaced, spark plugs and coils replaced and the timing adjusted. If your engine was out of tune, you knew it. It ran poorly and got bad fuel economy.
Now, the ignition system in your truck is electronic and controlled by the engine management computer. Spark plugs rarely get fouled and will last for as much as a hundred thousand miles. So tune-ups used to force you in to Welch Automotive for service and while you were there you just took care of whatever else was on the list.
Also, in recent years, a large percentage of new cars in Highlands / Cashiers have been leased. These folks plan on turning the car in after two or three years, so they haven’t focused on the maintenance that helps your car last longer.
Given all that, what’s the benefit to keeping up with factory scheduled maintenance? Well, your truck will perform better and return better fuel economy.
Those benefits pay for themselves as they go along. The big plus is that major repairs are prevented. And these aren’t just repairs that are a long ways off. Modern truck engines are far more sophisticated and have many parts that are in critical need of proper lubrication. Missing just one oil change can allow oil sludge to start forming. Sludge clogs small engine passages, robbing parts of the lubrication they need. An expensive failure could easily occur within two or three years.
And modern engines require more sophisticated fluids. Because of the different types of materials that are used to make auto parts, things like aluminum, plastics and steel, different types of additives are required to protect automotive components from corrosion. These additives deplete with time as well as with use.
For example, your truck engine coolant could actually become so corrosive that it eats holes in your radiator or other cooling system parts. Of course, that could lead to massive engine damage, all for the want of replacing the coolant on schedule.
Taking care of the little things now prevents big problems later. At Welch Automotive, we have been taking care of all those little things for 12 years. Your truck still needs to be taken care of – it’s just that some of those points of care have changed with automotive advancements. The need for proper maintenance in Highlands / Cashiers did not go away.
Every Franklin vehicle owner has to purchase tires at some time or another, so it’s a good idea to understand what the choices are. The best seasonal performance is achieved by purchasing tires to match the season you are driving in. Summer tires are designed for hot temperatures. The tread is engineered for good traction on dry or rainy North Carolina roads. But the rubber compound in summer tires gets stiff when temperatures drop below 45°F, and snow and mud can pack into the tread, reducing the traction of the tire.
Winter tires are designed for good traction on snowy surfaces. The tread actually throws snow off of the tire as the wheel turns. The rubber compound in a winter tire is soft so that it will remain flexible at Franklin temperatures below 45°F. At higher temperatures, however, the softer rubber wears down rapidly.
All-season tires sacrifice some of the extreme performance of summer or winter tires, but they maintain adequate traction in either type of Franklin weather.
So your first consideration when buying a tire is where you live in North Carolina and where you usually drive. If you require maximum summer and winter performance you can go with dedicated summer and winter tires; you would just need to change out your tires each spring and fall.
For serious winter driving in North Carolina, look for tires with a severe snow rating. These tires are labeled with a mountain-and-snowflake logo.
Your second essential consideration is the quality of tire to purchase. Summer, winter and all-season tires come in a variety of grades and styles at North Carolina tire stores. Franklin car owners will want to purchase a tire that will give them good wear and that will handle their driving style and road conditions. Your Welch Automotive tire professional can give you auto advice as to which type of tire will best fit your needs.
Franklin car owners who drive off-road around North Carolina may want to look at a high-grade tire that is designed for off-road use. These tires are designed to handle the extra wear of off-roading while still giving good performance on Franklin streets and highways. There are a number of options to choose from so that you can find the right tire whether you are only an occasional off-road explorer or a serious rock climber.
New wheels can be purchased in Franklin as a statement of style or to add personality to your truck. There are almost unlimited options. If you change the size of the wheels on your truck, however, you will need to get some professional help to make your vehicle compatible with its new wheels. Talk to your Welch Automotive tech for more information about tires.
The price of gas and the uncertain economy are both causing North Carolina residents to review their finances. More and more Franklin auto owners are opting to keep their vehicles longer and put off purchasing a newer car. It is estimated that two-thirds of the vehicles on the roads of North America today have over 75,000 miles on them. And the average age of vehicles is now over eleven years. That translates to some car care issues that many Franklin men and women haven’t dealt with in the past. Older vehicles simply have different maintenance requirements than newer ones. Learning those requirements presents a challenge for Franklin auto owners because many owner’s manuals only publish maintenance schedules up to 60,000 or 90,000 miles. Vehicle owners have to keep good records and be more involved in planning preventive maintenance if they want to keep their trucks on the road. First of all, any service in your owner’s manual that comes with a recommended mileage interval should be continued at that interval.
For example, if it is recommended that you change your oil every 5,000 miles, you should continue to change your oil every 5,000 miles. The owner of an older vehicle has to recognize that his engine is operating under higher stress than a new one. It’s just starting to show its age. So many experts suggest that the “severe service schedule” should be followed once a vehicle has racked up some serious miles. On this schedule, the mileage interval for many services is shortened or should be performed more often. Check with your honest Welch Automotive service specialist.
Franklin drivers who own older vehicles should also be careful not to neglect or postpone oil changes. A full-service oil change is more critical for an older truck than for a new one. Older engines have had a lot of time to build up sludge in their oil compartment, so changing the oil at regular intervals is a must. Skipping an oil change compounds the sludge problem. With a full-service oil change, the vehicle’s fluids are also checked and topped off. Your honest Welch Automotive service specialist will also let you know if these fluids need to be replaced. Older trucks have older seals and gaskets, which often develop tiny leaks. Regularly checking fluids will compensate for these leaks and offer a heads-up about any serious ones. So, again, it is important to stay on schedule and not skip or procrastinate a fluid check.
Older seals and gaskets begin to dry out and show their age by becoming brittle. High-mileage formulation oils and fluids can help extend the lives of these gaskets and seals. These products contain additives that recondition seals and gaskets and keep them from leaking. High-mileage formulas cost more than standard products, but in the long run they can pay for themselves by preventing more costly repair bills.
If a vehicle is getting on in years or mileage, its parts are as well. High-mileage car maintenance requires necessary repairs and replacements. Timing belts, radiator hoses, parts of the suspension system, anti-lock brakes, air bags, water pumps, alternators and batteries will not last forever and will wear out in higher-mileage vehicles. They need to be inspected regularly by your honest Welch Automotive service professional and replaced as necessary.
But don’t go running for the new car lot just yet. These repairs may sound like a lot, but in total, they’re still cheaper for Franklin motorists than new car payments. And if you stay on top of them and budget for them, they aren’t as burdensome as it may appear.
If you plan on driving your vehicle into its high-mileage years, there are two relationships you need to develop. The first is with your Franklin service center. Your Welch Automotive tech can offer you invaluable auto advice and help you develop a service plan that is right for you and your vehicle. Second, you need to develop a relationship with your truck itself. You don’t need to name it, but you should become familiar with its noises and idiosyncrasies. Pay attention to changes in its habits such as new or unusual sounds, smells, vibrations, etc. Taking note of such things and sharing them with your service advisor can help stave off a lot of big-ticket repair issues.
As we get older, keeping up with a diet and exercise plan becomes more and more critical to maintaining good health. It’s the same with our vehicles. A preventive maintenance plan and smart car care will keep them on the road and keep them safe for a good many years to come.
It’s important for Franklin car owners to know battery basics. First, let’s talk about which is harder on a battery – hot or cold North Carolina weather. Most Franklin car owners think it’s cold weather because that’s when we call on our batteries to have enough power to start a cold truck engine.
However, heat does more damage to a battery than cold. Truth is, our batteries start to die a little from day one. Keeping a full charge slows the process, which is hard with short Franklin trips because the alternator doesn’t have time to fully recharge the battery from starting the engine. Franklin car owners can top off the charge with a computer controlled battery charger – say, once a month in the North Carolina summer and every three months during the winter.
As far as how long a battery will last, statistics show that 70% have given up the ghost within four years. By that time, they aren’t capable of taking a full charge like they used to, and your truck alternator has to work overtime to keep up. This causes your alternator to wear out early.
If you’re pushing 4 to 5 years on your battery, see your honest Welch Automotive service advisor for a battery test to see if it’s recommended to replace it. Not only can you avoid getting stranded with a dead battery, but you’ll save unnecessary wear and tear on your truck alternator.
Give us a call
Welch Automotive 828.524.3117 1108 Depot St. Franklin, North Carolina 28734
A good suspension system gives a vehicle a smooth, even ride while providing Franklin car owners with good handling and control. But like any system on your truck, essential parts of the suspension system can wear out, leading to a lower ride quality and safety concerns. So it’s a good idea for Franklin drivers to remember an inspection of their suspension system in their schedule of a vital preventive maintenance. Springs do most of the work of the suspension system. The most common types of springs are coil and leaf, but air springs and torsion bars are becoming more common. The body of the vehicle is “suspended” by the springs.
If springs were the only working component in your suspension system, however, you’d spend your travel time bouncing up and down like a bobblehead. That’s where your shocks come in. They keep the rebound, or bounciness, of the springs under control. Shocks also keep your tires on the road, which keeps the driver in control of the truck. Some vehicles have struts in their suspension system. Struts are a compact combination of springs and shocks. They do the same critical job but in a single package.
Shocks wear out gradually, so it can be difficult for Franklin auto owners to notice when they need to be replaced. There’s no definitive point when a vehicle’s ride goes from smooth and controlled to a bit imprecise. To check if your shocks or struts are worn, you should first do a visual inspection on them. If they are leaking fluid, they need to be replaced.
There are other less obvious signs that your suspension system needs critical attention. For example, an uneven, cupping wear on your tires may indicate that your shocks are worn. If your vehicle feels “floaty” when you turn, or, in other words, you don’t feel that you have full control of the vehicle, you should check your shocks. Also, if the front end of your vehicle dips noticeably when you stop, it’s time for new shocks.
Your owner’s manual gives recommendations on how often the shocks should be checked, usually between 15,000 and 30,000 miles (24,000-50,000 km). If one of your shocks does need to be replaced, you should replace all four. This will keep your suspension even and ensure good handling of your vehicle. If you carry heavy loads, tow a trailer or drive on uneven Franklin area terrain, you might also consider upgrading to a heavy-duty shock.
Regular shocks contain hydraulic fluid. The essential fluid helps them absorb the bumps or “shocks” of the road so the impact doesn’t transfer to the truck’s body. Premium shocks are filled with compressed nitrogen gas, which costs more but does a better job of controlling body motions. Regular shocks can develop air bubbles that reduce their effectiveness; the premium shocks don’t have this problem. So if you want higher handling performance, if you drive off-road around North Carolina or if you just want added comfort, you should look at upgrading to premium shocks or struts.
Replacing struts can put your truck out of alignment, so an alignment check should always follow this type of repair. Talk to your honest service specialist at Welch Automotive in Franklin.