Drive Train Service in Franklin at Welch Automotive

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The drive train in your vehicle includes all the essential components that transfer power from the transmission to the wheels. Those components differ depending on what type of vehicle you drive, namely, front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive or four-wheel drive. The preventive maintenance your driveshaft needs will also differ by what type of vehicle you drive.

Let’s start with front-wheel drive. In this vehicle, the transmission and the differential are combined in one component, known as the transaxle. The transaxle is connected to two half-shafts (axles), which are then connected to the wheels with a constant velocity (or CV) joint, which is protected by an airtight rubber boot.

Welch Automotive service for this type of driveline includes servicing the transaxle and inspecting the CV boot. If the boot is damaged, the CV joint will need to be inspected, and the boot will need to be replaced. If you hear a clicking noise in your wheel wells when you turn, you may have a damaged CV joint. A damaged CV joint should be replaced.

Rear-wheel drive vehicles generally have a transmission in the front of the car and the differential in the back. A driveshaft (it looks like a long tube) connects the transmission to the differential. Some vehicles may have a two-piece driveshaft, which are connected to the differential with universal joints or U-joints. Again, the differential is connected to two half-shafts that go out to the wheels.

Welch Automotive service on the drive train on a rear-wheel drive vehicle starts with servicing the differential. It will need its fluid drained and replaced regularly. The seals on the axles should also be inspected for wear or leaks. Leaking or damaged seals may mean the axle needs to be serviced as well. Also, U-joints can wear out. If you hear clunking or feel a jolt when you shift into drive or into reverse, it could indicate a driveline problem.

All-wheel drive trucks provide power from the transmission to all of the wheels, instead of just to the front or rear. The advantage is that the vehicle can adapt to different driving conditions and transfer more power to the front or back wheels as needed. The disadvantages are that the driveline is more complicated, and the vehicle weighs slightly more.

Many all-wheel drive vehicles are based on a front-wheel drive set-up. They also have a differential in the rear and one in the center of the vehicle that allows power to transfer to the front and rear. A shaft runs from the transfer case to the center differential, and another from the center differential to the rear differential.

Servicing an all-wheel drive at Welch Automotive involves servicing ALL of the differentials and inspecting the joints and seals for wear, leaks or damage.

Four-wheel drive vehicles are rear-wheel drive vehicles that have an option to transfer power to the front wheels. In other words, they can be driven as either rear-wheel or four-wheel drive vehicles. These vehicles are specifically designed for the harsh driving conditions Franklin car owners encounter off-road. The driveline in a four-wheel drive vehicle is similar to that of an all-wheel drive vehicle. The center differential, however, is a transfer case. Maintenance requires servicing both of the differentials and the transfer case, as well as an inspection of the joints and seals.

Franklin car owners would be wise to check with their owner’s manual for recommendations on how often to service their truck drive train. It’s also good auto advice to check with your honest Welch Automotive service advisor as well. You may live in an area in North Carolina where weather or driving conditions require more frequent servicing of the drive train.

If you drive off-road, it is vital to service your driveline more often frequently than the typical recommendation. Conditions encountered off-road around the Franklin area are particularly hard on your driveline.

Good car care at Welch Automotive in Franklin always includes taking care of your driveline. Without it, your truck becomes a very large paperweight.

Welch Automotive is located at 1108 Depot St. in Franklin. We provide comprehensive auto repair and maintenance services for residents of Franklin, Sylva, Otto, Highlands / Cashiers and Franklin.

Maintenance Free Myth


Sometimes we hear Franklin motorists say, “What’s up with all this maintenance stuff? Modern cars just don’t break down.” While it is true that today’s cars and trucks are extremely reliable, they are also becoming increasingly complicated and use more exotic materials than ever before. All that complexity demands higher tolerances for everything. For example, most Franklin auto owners don’t realize how high tech automotive fluids have become. Fluids like, engine oil, transmission fluid, coolant and brake fluid.

Did you know that a modern engine would not run for more than a few months using motor oil formulas from 30 years ago? Today’s automotive fluids contain a much higher percentage of additives to protect your vehicle’s components from premature wear and corrosion. Time and miles march on for all of our cars. Please don’t think we’re using scare tactics to get you to take care of your maintenance – but here are some personal stories from AutoNetTV staff members to emphasize and show how important it is to get things done when they are due. Names are withheld to avoid embarrassment to those who should know better. Even though they should know better, it usually comes down to real life: time and cash. But they are tales of a stitch in time saves nine.

The first comes from a staffer who bought a used pick-up truck for his son. The oil was clean and all the fluids were topped off. A short time later, the truck overheated on a highway in North Carolina and shut down. The repair shop diagnosed the problem: the radiator pan was corroded and dumped the coolant. Even though the coolant level was correct, it was clear that the coolant had never been completely replaced – just topped off from time to time. While this kept the engine cool, all of the anti-corrosion additives had worn out; the coolant became acidic and ate through the radiator pan. The cost: hundred of dollars and four days in the shop. This demonstrates the need to get your coolant exchanged on schedule.

Another story involves the true cost of skipping an annual inspection. Our staffer took his SUV in for the North Carolina safety inspection to renew his registration. At the Franklin inspection station, he learned that the law had changed and that his newer rig only required an inspection every two years. He was very happy to save the bucks. The problem was, his rear brake pads were very worn. Two months later, it was bad enough that he could hear the grind – over the radio, DVD player and the kids. He took it in to get the bad news. Both of the rear brake rotors were damaged. The left one could be resurfaced. The right had to be replaced. So saving a little bucks on his safety inspection turned into an extra $500 over what brake pad replacement would have been. Moral of the story for Franklin motorists: don’t skip your essential annual inspections. The irony is that many Franklin service centers would have done a brake inspection for free.

Next: a teenage daughter and a curb. Daddy’s little princess smacked a curb when she turned into a shopping center and popped the tire. The problem came when Dad didn’t get an alignment. The impact was hard enough to ruin the tire – so it was powerful enough wreck the alignment. But instead of an alignment after the first tire, Papa ended up buying a second tire a few months later – and then an alignment.

Situation: son and wife with cars from the same automobile manufacturer with essentially the same engine. Our staffer checked the son’s maintenance schedule and saw that it needed a timing belt replacement at 90,000 miles/145,000 km. He had it done – it cost several hundred dollars. His wife’s car had about 60,000 miles/97,000 km, so it should be ok for a while. Right? Wrong. The problem was that the wife had the turbo charged version. Its belt was scheduled for replacement at 60,000 mi/97,000 km. At 63,000 mi./101,000 km, the belt snapped on the interstate. The valves all crashed down into the cylinders at high speed and the entire head was shredded and had to be replaced. The cost: several thousand dollars. Does he wish he had checked the auto manufacturer’s maintenance schedule? You bet he does – every time he passes a big-screen TV.

The team at Welch Automotive in Franklin recommends taking care of little things before they become big things. And when you take care of the little things, you can make your car run better and is more economical to operate in North Carolina. Remember to save those maintenance records. It’ll show potential buyers that you’ve taken care of your vehicle and it will help you get a better price. Or when you buy a used car, check those records. If there aren’t any, assume that the maintenance hasn’t been done and take it to your Sylva or Otto service center or Welch Automotive in Franklin for an inspection. Take care of unperformed vital routine maintenance sooner rather than later.

Welch Automotive
1108 Depot St.
Franklin, North Carolina 28734
828.524.3117

Save Fuel By Watching Your Weight

Most Franklin auto owners are all talking gas mileage right now. Better gas mileage. Fewer emissions. North Carolina folks want to save the environment and our pocketbooks.

And we Franklin motorists all know — or should know — that preventive maintenance will help maintain maximum gas mileage. But is there something more we can do? After all, some of us Franklin motorists can’t cut back on our driving, and others would like to do more to economize.

Weight is one major enemy of gas mileage. The more you lug around in your vehicle, the more fuel you have to burn to get from Franklin to Highlands / Cashiers to Sylva. And that means buying more gas and producing more emissions.

Of course, your vehicle’s weight isn’t negotiable. And you can’t do much about the weight of your passengers. And this isn’t an article about diet and exercise.

But look around your car. Are you hauling a bunch of unnecessary weight around Franklin? Do you really need your golf clubs every time you leave your Franklin neighborhood? Store sports equipment in the garage. Load it when you need it and store it when you don’t. Who knows? The extra exercise just might reduce the other type of weight in your vehicle.

The same goes for anything else in your truck: make-up kits, music collections, extra electronics, spare clothing; whatever your particular extras may be. Pack it when you need it; store it when you don’t.

Clean out your vehicle. You’d be surprised how much weight you’re lugging around in plain old junk. Toss old papers, leftover food, and regular old dirt. Even if it’s not a lot of weight, you’ll feel better when you get into your car. A good cleaning is also part of good car care.

Now, don’t toss stuff you really do need. You do need that spare tire — the one in your trunk. And a kit of emergency essentials is not a bad idea. But just carry around the day-to-day essentials. You can pack a more extensive kit and store it in your garage, then toss it in the car when you go on a longer trip, but you don’t have to lug it around Franklin all the time.

After all, are you a driver? Or are you a junk chauffeur?

Lose the junk and save some income
.

Make Your Vehicle Last

We live in such a disposable society. It’s amazing all the stuff we throw away. New stuff comes out so fast, we just toss the old and move on. In the old days North Carolina folks were real sticklers about taking care of their things. If something got lost or ruined by neglect, tough – they had to do without. Most Franklin drivers couldn’t afford new cars very often, so they had to make them last as long as they could.

It’s a good thing that cars are more reliable these days for Franklin car owners. They just don’t break down as often. And the good news for us North Carolina penny pinchers is that a modern car can easily go 200,000 miles/320,000 km with proper care. The engineering and the manufacturing quality is tremendous. The missing ingredient is us Franklin car owners making sure we follow the auto manufacturer’s recommended maintenance schedules.

Every time you go a couple thousand extra miles between oil changes you have created an opportunity for sludge to be formed and clog passages. Then some truck parts don’t get properly lubricated 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. Same thing is true for transmission service, power brakes, fuel system cleaning – really everything on your schedule.

It is probably even more important for older trucks. Those engines and other systems have had more time to get dirty, so they are a bit more stressed anyway. But it is never too late to get back on track with your auto maintenance and to hold off further damage.

And it really does start with the oil change. When you get a full service oil change in Franklin at Welch Automotive, we top off all your fluids and check for other items that are on your maintenance schedule. It’s like your safety net. Go in for an oil change on time, and let your honest Welch Automotive service professional help you keep track of the rest.

Some things are going to wear out along the way, things like alternators, water pumps, etc. But fixing those at Welch Automotive is cheaper than a a costly new car payment for Franklin drivers. And taking care of problems early means they have less time to mess with other things. It is like having high cholesterol – you don’t want to wait for a heart attack before you address it.

A Cold Day In Franklin

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Most Franklin motorists worry about a breakdown or a tire blowout on a busy North Carolina freeway but don’t worry too much about failure of their air conditioning system. A breakdown at the side of the road can be a miserable and dangerous affair during Franklin rush hour, but so can a long ride in a hot truck.

A lot of Franklin drivers judge their vehicles’ air conditioning systems as “non-essential” and so may neglect them in favor of repairs and maintenance that keeps the truck running. But preventive maintenance of an air conditioning system is simple and inexpensive, while auto a/c repair can be very pricey in Franklin.

Otto auto owners should have the refrigerant in their air conditioning system checked regularly to ensure it is adequate and clean. Air conditioning systems often fail because air and water have contaminated the refrigerant. Air reduces the efficiency of the refrigerant, and water can cause rusting of the system’s components. If your refrigerant is contaminated, the system should be evacuated and recharged. This will actually extend the life of your air conditioning system, preventing costly repairs, and keep it at peak performance.

Inadequate refrigerant indicates a leak in the air conditioning system. Over time, seals in the system can crack, causing the refrigerant to leak out, reducing the efficiency of the system. Replacing these seals will keep your truck air conditioning system at its best, and, again, will help you avoid more costly repairs.

At Welch Automotive, we advise our Franklin customers to run their air conditioner periodically in the winter. This will keep the seals from drying out and cracking, saving them the inconvenience of this relatively minor repair.

Check with your truck owner’s manual or with your Franklin technician for information about how often your truck air conditioning system should be serviced.

Another piece of good auto advice: if your truck air conditioner isn’t working or is starting to show signs of breakdown, NOW is the time to get it fixed at Welch Automotive in Franklin. Waiting will only increase the chances that you are in for major repairs and a significant repair bill.

On a final note, if you own an older vehicle, you should check into upgrading the air conditioning system. Vehicles manufactured before 1993 often contained a refrigerant known as Freon. The manufacture of Freon was outlawed in 1993, leading to an ever-dwindling supply, which leads to an ever-steeper price for Franklin motorists in North Carolina. If your vehicle still uses Freon, you should have it retrofitted to use the new, EPA-approved R134A refrigerant. The retrofit will actually pay for itself by reducing the cost to recharge the refrigerant in your truck.

Remember, preventive maintenance — of your entire car — will keep you on the road. And, in this case, it will help you keep your cool!

The Welch Automotive Guide To Custom Wheels

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If you’re interested in customizing the wheels and tires on your truck, there are a few things you should know first.

Most importantly, the wheels you buy need to fit your vehicle. Not all wheels are created equal. Too many Franklin drivers have bought a set of wheels that caught their eye, then, after going to the work of mounting them, have found that the wheels don’t fit right and the tires rub against the truck when they turn or go over a bump.

To ensure a proper fit, you can consult with your Welch Automotive tire professional. He/she can also help you find tires that are suited to your driving habits as well as your truck. You may find their auto advice invaluable, and you’ll probably be happier with your new wheels once you purchase them.

But if you just have to have that set of wheels, and you’re willing to pay for them, you can modify your vehicle to fit the wheels. Again, you should seek a knowledgeable Franklin professional’s help ahead of time. For example, if you want a bigger set of wheels on your pickup truck, you can get a suspension lift so they will fit the truck. A professional Franklin custom wheel shop can help you get the work done right.

The anti-lock brakes and stability control system on your truck are engineered to work with a particular height of tire. This is another reason drivers should be careful when purchasing custom wheels in Franklin. The new wheel and tire combo needs to match the height of the tires that came with your vehicle.

Your car’s computer gauges your speed by the revolution of your tires and sends commands to the brakes and traction control based on that speed. If you put larger or smaller tires on your truck, your computer is calculating the wrong speed and, consequently, sending incorrect commands to the brakes and traction control. This can have serious consequences as it may result in pricey damage to your vehicle or, worse, an accident.

If you change the size of your wheels, you need to get your engine’s computer reprogrammed at Welch Automotive to accommodate the new tire size. New wheels shouldn’t just fit your vehicle, they should also fit your lifestyle. There are hundreds of styles and sizes to choose from. You should do a little research about which wheels and tires will best fit your personality, give you the performance you want, and meet your handling needs. We’re not saying you shouldn’t personalize your ride, we just want you to be happy with the result. Talk to us at Welch Automotive in Franklin.

After all, good car care isn’t just about preventive maintenance. It’s also about making good choices.

Stay Headed In The Right Direction, Franklin

Power steering is standard on nearly every car and truck in Franklin, North Carolina these days. Now there are some exotic, new types of power steering systems, but for the most part, the general setup is a pump that’s driven by a belt powered by the engine.

Contact the automotive professionals at Welch Automotive in Franklin for questions about your power steering.

The pump generates power that assists car owners as they steer their truck around Franklin, North Carolina. Power steering systems use hoses to move pressurized fluid back and forth. These hoses can develop leaks so it’s a good idea to have your Franklin service professional inspect them at every oil change.

A check of the power steering fluid level is on the list for every full service oil change at Welch Automotive because low fluid can damage the power steering pump. And the fluid needs to be compatible with the hoses and seals, so it’s important to use the correct type –just ask your tech at Welch Automotive.

In addition to providing boost, the fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the power steering system. Over time, the lubricants and detergents diminish so Franklin car owners need to replace their old fluid with clean, fresh fluid periodically.

Excess moisture can collect in the power steering fluid as well. That can lead to rust and corrosion as well as reduce the effectiveness of the fluid. Many manufacturers outline power steering service intervals in the owner’s manual. Unfortunately, this critical service is sometimes left off the maintenance schedule. For Franklin drivers who are not sure, every two years is a good rule of thumb. 

At Welch Automotive, we use a detergent to clean the system, flush out the old fluid and replace it with new fluid.

Now, if you are experiencing high steering effort, erratic power assist, loud whining coming from the pump you may have a power steering problem. Another sign for Franklin auto owners is having to frequently top off the fluid.

Holding the steering wheel to the far right or left for more than a few seconds at a time can wear your pump out real fast. AutoNetTV wants you to be sure to service your power steering system regularly at your service center or Welch Automotive in Franklin to keep you headed in the right direction.

Welch Automotive
1108 Depot St.
Franklin, North Carolina 28734
828.524.3117

Franklin Tire Repair

Most Franklin drivers have experienced a flat tire. You know it’s inconvenient and a pain. Our tires are important. Keeping them in good working order isn’t just a big safety issue for North Carolina drivers – it also has a financial impact. With high Franklin gas prices, we’ve all heard about the importance of keeping proper tire pressure to get the best possible fuel economy. In addition, proper inflation promotes even tread wear so your tires last longer. 

There’s another danger to under-inflated tires for Franklin car owners. Low tire pressure puts added stress on the structure of the tire itself, causing it to break down prematurely. Also, under-inflated tires generate more heat which also reduces tire life. So get those slow leaks fixed quickly – don’t just keep airing them up every few days. You want to avoid costly tire damage.

Tires can also be damaged by road hazards in and around Franklin. Punctures, cuts and unfortunate encounters with curbs or potholes can also cause damage that could lead to tire failure. Sometimes, it’s something that a diagnostic examination would reveal. Try to remember to check your tires when you’re pumping fuel. Look for slashes, missing chunks, nails or screws in the tread or just uneven wear. Of course check the air pressure too.

Now tire damage can be on the inside where Franklin drivers can’t see it until it’s removed from the wheel. Such damage could come from a severe impact, driving on a flat around Franklin or even just low pressure. Some punctures can cause internal damage that is too extreme to be repaired. You may see our Welch Automotive tire professionals take the time to remove your flat from the rim and inspect the inside before repairing it, which means we’re just following best practices.

Of course, some tires just can’t be repaired at your Franklin service center or Welch Automotive. A puncture may be too large to plug. Also, the puncture could be in a location that’s not safe to repair like in the sidewall or outer portion of the tread. So called run-flat tires should not be repaired because their design is such that internal damage can’t be detected by a visual inspection by your honest Welch Automotive service professional.

Franklin drivers should only hire qualified tire professionals to perform repairs – we have a whole team of them at Welch Automotive. Franklin folks can buy self repair kits, but we advise you to save those for emergencies, like when you’re off-roading and need a quick fix so you can hobble back to Franklin civilization and get professional help. If you need to use a repair-in-a-can product, remember it’s a temporary measure only and your tire needs to be properly repaired as soon as possible.

Here are some other considerations: A DIY flat repair may void your tire manufacturer’s warranty – just something to keep in mind. Also, if you repair a speed rated tire, you should not use it in any motorsports or operate it above legal speed limits. Your honest Welch Automotive tire specialist will repair your tire whenever it’s safe to do so and he’ll advise you when it’s better to replace it. So watch those curbs and keep the air – on the inside.

Welch Automotive
1108 Depot St.
Franklin, North Carolina 28734
828.524.3117

At Welch Automotive we install quality NAPA replacement parts.

Defensive Driving In Franklin North Carolina

There was a man in Franklin who learned that most car accidents occur within a mile of home – so he moved. (Just Kidding!)

When we think of defensive driving, we often focus on our local North Carolina highway situations. The fact of the matter is we need to be just as careful close to home in Franklin, because that’s where we do most of our driving. We can’t let our familiar surroundings keep us from driving defensively.

Defensive driving begins with the proper attitude. Have in mind that you won’t let anyone take your safety away from you. You’ll be aware of your surroundings, road conditions, other vehicles and hazards. And the first person to be concerned with is you: start with your own environment.

Don’t leave without securing all occupants including children and pets. Watch for loose items that can become projectiles during evasive maneuvers.

Driving too fast or too slow increases the chance of an accident.

Never drive impaired: Alcohol is a factor in half of all fatal crashes. Never drink and drive.

Other impairments include being sleepy, angry, daydreaming or talking. If you suddenly wonder how you got where you are – you’re not paying enough attention.

Keep your windows clean and uncluttered. No fuzzy dice and stickers.

Keep your car in good shape so that it handles properly: Maintain tires, lights, brakes, suspension, wheel alignment and steering.

Always use your turn signals while driving around Franklin North Carolina. Avoid other vehicles’ blind spots.

Don’t drive faster than your headlights – if you can’t stop within the distance you can see, you’re going too fast.

Avoid driving over debris in the road. Even harmless looking items can cause damage or an accident.

Keep your wheels straight when waiting to turn at an Franklin North Carolina intersection. That way if you’re hit from behind, your car won’t be pushed into on-coming traffic.

My daddy always said that when you drive, you’re actually driving five cars: yours, the one in front, the one behind and the ones on either side. You can’t trust that other drivers will do the right thing, so you’ve got to be aware of what they’re doing at all times.

If you see another car driving erratically, weaving, crossing lanes, etc., stay back. Take the next right turn if you’re downtown Franklin, or take the next exit on the North Carolina highway. Notify the police if you see someone driving dangerously in our Franklin community.

Never follow too close. The minimum distance is the two second rule. Pick a landmark ahead, like a tree or road marker. When the car in front of you passes it, start counting: ‘one-one-thousand, two-one-thousand’. If you pass the landmark before reaching two-one-thousand, you’re following too close.

Remember that the two second rule is the minimum – it assumes you’re alert and aware. Three seconds is safer. Move out to five seconds or more if it’s foggy or rainy.

Someone will inevitably move into your forward safety zone – just drop back and keep a safe distance.

If someone follows you too closely, just move over.

Don’t play chicken by contesting your right of way or race to beat someone to a merge. Whoever loses that contest has the potential to lose big and you don’t want any part of that. So stay alert, constantly scan around your car and arrive safely.

Welch Automotive
1108 Depot St.
Franklin, North Carolina 28734
828.524.3117

Another Couple of Years: Making Your Vehicle Last At Welch Automotive

A while back, the Cash for Clunkers program was all over the North Carolina news. Franklin people could trade in their old vehicle for a new one that got better gas mileage and receive a government rebate.

A lot of Franklin motorists had so-called clunkers that they wanted to keep. They’re good commuters, Franklin grocery getters or toy haulers. They enjoy that fact that they’re paid off, or soon will be. They would gladly like to keep their trucks for 200,000 miles or more – as long as it’s economical to do so.

There are plenty of Franklin drivers whose vehicles are running after 150,000 or 200,000 miles. We can learn from what they’re doing to keep our own trucks on the road in North Carolina.

The astute Franklin drivers of high-mileage cars often report a common denominator of never skipping an oil change.

Another Couple of Years: Making Your Vehicle Last At Welch AutomotiveThat may sound a bit unsophisticated, but it’s really not. First off, oil is the life blood of your truck’s engine and it needs to be clean to properly lubricate. Skipping oil changes leads to clogged oil filters and sludge that is dangerous for your engine.

There’s another vital reason why the scheduled oil change is so important for Franklin car owners. It’s simple – a Welch Automotive professional is going to be looking at your car. All of your fluid levels will be inspected and topped off so they won’t get so low that damage can be done. If there is a significant fluid loss, let’s use brake fluid as an example, your Welch Automotive technician can look for the cause of the loss and find the problem before it leads to an accident or costly repair.

Your honest Welch Automotive service advisor will also visually inspect your truck for worn belts and hoses, uneven tire wear, leaking shock absorbers and more. Problems get addressed before they lead to repairs that cost more than the car’s worth.

And your Welch Automotive advisor will be able to remind you of other key services that the factory recommends you get done. Just think of that oil change the same way as you do about going to your Franklin dentist for your six month cleaning and checkup. Don’t skip it.

Realistically, things are going to wear out as your truck gets older. On the way to 200,000 miles you’ll go through several batteries, probably a couple of alternators and water pumps, a set of shocks and likely some brake rotors.

Of course, these things cost some bucks, but they are less expensive than new truck payments in Franklin. With proper service at Welch Automotive in Franklin and regular inspections, you’ll keep surprise repairs to a minimum and more cash in your wallet.