How Long Does an Alignment Take?

Wheel alignments are an essential service. When your vehicle is out of alignment, your tires will wear faster, your fuel mileage can be lower, and in serious cases, your car will pull to the left or right. Alignments should be done once a year, after new tires are installed, or after any suspension work.
You may wonder what is involved in a wheel alignment, and how long they take. In this article, we will go over the details of this service!

What is Involved in a Wheel Alignment?

Alignments ensure the wheels of your car are aligned parallel to each other. As you drive, your vehicle will slowly come out of alignment, and impact with potholes, curbs and other debris can cause it to become completely misaligned.
Aligning a vehicle involves adjusting three different suspension angles.

1.) Caster

The caster angle determines the angle of the steering axis. A positive caster angle places the steering axis ahead of the tire contact patch, allowing the wheels to return to center after a turn, and contributing to much greater stability while driving. The caster angle is not adjustable on most modern vehicles, but if it is off due to worn-out components it must be corrected.caster angle graphic

2.) Camber

The camber angle determines the amount of inward and outward tile the wheels have. A slightly negative camber can positively impact weight distribution while corning, but too much camber can lead to uneven tire wear due to a smaller contact patch

wheel camber angle graphic

3.) Toe

The toe angle impacts the way your vehicle steers and goes down the road. When the toe is out of alignment, your car can end up “dragging” one or more of your tires, leading to uneven, rapid tire wear.

toe angle graphic

How Long Does a Wheel Alignment Take?

A wheel alignment is a straightforward procedure. Modern alignment racks allow technicians to quickly determine any out-of-line components with precision. On average, you can expect a wheel alignment to take around an hour. Some factors can make the procedure more challenging for the technician, and thus take longer.

Vehicle Age

The age of the car has a significant impact on the time it takes a technician to align it. Suspension components are exposed to extreme temperatures, road salt, water, oil, and debris, and are not touched very often. As a result, hardware can become seized to the point of needing to be replaced.

Type of Vehicle

Sport’s Cars

The type of vehicle can drastically impact the amount of time required to perform an alignment. Any car with sport-oriented suspension will typically take longer to align. For example, a Porsche 911 can take up to three hours to align correctly!

Classic Cars

Classic vehicles utilize shims to correct the toe and camber. Installing shims and rechecking alignment is time-consuming. Many times, this will compound with issues like old and rusted components, further contributing to the time needed to align it.

High End/Luxury Vehicles

Certain higher-end vehicles will have more adjustability in the suspension that can take a technician a significant amount of time to access.

How Often Should I Get an Alignment?

For preventative maintenance, it is not a bad idea to get your vehicle aligned once a year. However, if you hit a curb, pothole, or large debris, or get in an accident, you should have an alignment performed. Additionally, any time the suspension is worked on or modified, such as when installing a lift kit, an alignment must be performed.

Get your Wheels Aligned at Scott’s U-Save!

If it is time for an alignment, visit Scott’s U-Save! With three shops in New Lenox and Steger Illinois, as well as Schererville Indiana. We can align any vehicle, from cars to medium-duty trucks. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online today!

Does Running your Car A/C Lower Gas Mileage?

Gas is expensive right now. In June 2022, the national price for regular gas reached over $5 per gallon. It’s also really hot, which means most drivers are turning the A/C on high on their commute to work or road trips. With so many feeling the pinch of high gas prices, drivers are looking for any way to get a few extra MPG out of their cars. Will turning off the A/C help? In this article, we are going to answer this age-old question once and for all!

Running the A/C Lowers Fuel Economy

Looking at this issue purely based on whether the air conditioning system uses more fuel, it would appear that going with the windows down and the A/C off is the way to go. A/C systems work by cycling refrigerant through a series of components, transitioning from a liquid to a gas and back again. This system runs on power from the engine. Any extra load on the motor will reduce fuel economy.

If you left the system off and just drove with the windows down, you would always get better MPG, right? Not quite.

Having the Windows Down Will Also Decrease Fuel Economy

Driving with the windows down creates a significant amount of drag. If you are driving over 40 MPH, having the windows down can have an even greater impact than running the air conditioning.

A/C On the Highway, Windows Down in Town

To achieve the best fuel economy while trying to stay cool, you need to be strategic with your usage of the air conditioning. If you are driving at slower speeds, you will save gas by forgoing the air conditioning and letting fresh air in the car through the windows. Like we said before, at high speeds it’s more efficient to keep the A/C on low with the windows up.

Other Factors

Newer A/C systems are going to be more efficient, and vehicles with larger engines will be able to run the system with less of a load impact. On the flip side, large vehicles will normally have more space that needs to be cooled, which causes the A/C to work harder for longer.

Park In the Shade

When you get in your car in the afternoon after it’s been baking in the sun, the first thing you usually do is turn on the A/C at full blast. With the inside of the car being so hot, the air conditioning is working extremely hard to cool it down. If you can keep your interior temperature down by parking in the shade or the garage, you won’t need to crank the air conditioning as soon as you start your car.

A/C Service at Scott’s U-Save

The debate between windows down and air conditioning doesn’t mean anything if you’re A/C doesn’t work. If the air coming through your vents is not as cold as it once was, it’s probably time to get it serviced. The experienced technicians at Scott’s U-Save can quickly diagnose and repair your air conditioning system, regardless of what’s wrong. With three locations in Steger IL, New Lenox, IL, and Schererville, IN, we are conveniently located to best serve you. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online today!

Can I Drive with a Flat Tire?

Flat tires are the worst. It’s bad enough when you get a flat in your driveway, but when you get one while driving, it can be even more difficult to deal with. By far the best way to deal with a flat tire is to remove it and put your spare on, but this isn’t always possible. Maybe you don’t have a safe place to pull over, or maybe you’ve never changed a tire before and don’t know how to do it.

In a situation like this, it can be tempting to limp along with a flat tire, but this can be dangerous and cause expensive damage to your vehicle. Read on to learn why it’s a bad idea to drive on a flat tire, and what you can do to get your vehicle to a safe place to fix it!

Is it Safe to Drive With a Flat Tire?

The short answer is NO. It would be best if you did not drive on a flat tire. Not only is it a safety risk, but you can also cause more damage to your vehicle.

Poor Handling and Traction

Driving on a flat tire is a safety issue. If one tire has no air pressure, the handling characteristics of your vehicle will change significantly. Acceleration, cornering, and braking will all be impacted and can put you at risk of getting in an accident.

Damage to Wheels

Tires are mounted on the wheels of your car and filled with air. Air pressure keeps the tires inflated and the rim off the ground. When a tire is flat, the weight of your car will be placed on the metal wheel. Driving on the rim can result in bending or other damage. Depending on the severity, the wheel may need to be replaced entirely.

Damage to Other Components

Beyond wheel damage and safety, driving with a flat can cause your vehicle to come out of alignment or damage the steering and suspension systems.

What to do If You Can’t Change a Flat

If you are in a situation where you are unable to put your spare tire on, you should do everything you can to avoid driving. The options you have will vary depending on the severity of the damage to the tire.

Fix-A-Flat

If you have a small puncture, a can of Fix-A-Flat will let you drive further to get help. Fix-A-Flat contains both air and tire sealant and will give you temporary mobility. You should not use it as a permanent solution though.

Call a Tow Truck

In the case of severe blowouts, the tire damage may be so substantial that no amount of air or Fix-A-Flat can help. If you see chunks of rubber or the tire has dismounted from the rim, your best bet is to call a tow truck if you can’t put on your spare.

blown out tire

How to Avoid a Flat Tire

The most obvious way to avoid driving on a flat tire is to not get a flat in the first place, but that is not always possible. Collisions with road debris and potholes can cause unplanned blowouts. However, keeping track of the condition of your tires can help prevent small leaks from leaving you stranded.

Check Tire Pressure Every Month

Driving with low tire pressure can put you at greater risk for flats or blowouts.

Manually checking your tire pressure is a great way to help prevent flats. While most modern vehicles have systems on board that monitor tire pressure, they may not alert you until the pressure drop significantly. Handheld tire gauges are inexpensive and can be bought at a local auto parts store.

When checking tire pressure, be sure to do it when the air in the tires is cold, around 3 hours after driving. When you drive, the air in the tires will expand and throw off the reading.

checking tire pressure with gauge

If you are unsure what your tire pressure is supposed to be, you can usually find this information in the driver’s side door jamb.

Get your Tires Rotated and Inspected 

Tire rotation keeps tread wear even. They also provide an opportunity to have your tires inspected for damage and tread depth.

Consider Run-Flat Tires

If you want to take the worry out of getting stranded, run-flat tires are a great option. Run-flat tires are engineered to support the weight of your vehicle even when they go flat, allowing you to temporarily continue driving. Most run-flat tires offer a 50-mile flat-driving range at a maximum speed of 50 miles per hour. In the majority of situations, this should be more than enough to get you to a safe place to pull over, or a tire shop like Scott’s U-Save.

Final Thoughts

If you have standard tires, you should not drive if you have a flat. Depending on the severity of the damage, a can of fixing a flat or calling a tow truck are your best options. Regular tire maintenance can help prevent a flat tire, and run-flat tires can solve the problem altogether.

Tire Services at Scott’s U-Save

Whether you need flat tire repair, new tires, or tire rotations, Scott’s U-Save is your one-stop destination. We have three locations in New Lenox IL, Steger IL, and Schererville IN. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online today!

 

3.6L Pentastar V6 Oil Filter Housing Leak Guide

One of, if not the most common issue we see at our three stores is a leaking oil filter housing on the 3.6L Pentastar engine from Chrysler. Why is this one of the most common issues we see in our store? Well, it’s a very popular engine. Production started in 2010 and now there are over 10 million vehicles on the road with this engine. The Fiat Chrysler 3.6L V6 Pentastar engine is versatile, allowing it to be in sedans, pickup trucks, minivans, and SUVs. Common vehicles with this engine are the Jeep Grand Cherokee, Wrangler, Chrysler Pacifica, Grand Caravan, Town and Country, Dodge Journey, Durango, and Ram 1500-ProMaster. 

Pentastar engine disassembled

Diagnosing Oil Filter Housing Leaks

Our mechanics’ extensive experience with these engines means they can not only repair intricate engine problems but also diagnose them correctly. It takes a bit of time for the oil to accumulate enough to see the oil leaking onto the ground. Why is this? The oil filter housing sits in a valley towards the back passenger side of the engine. When the oil filter housing leaks there is plenty of room below the housing to collect the oil. So, it’s hard to determine if your oil filter housing is leaking by looking under the engine for oil. You will commonly see the oil pooling up visually with a flashlight.

Why Does the Oil Filter Housing Leak? 

Well, the oil filter housing used on the engine is made of plastic. This plastic sees a good amount of heat while the engine is running. But when the engine is off the housing is exposed to the atmospheric temperature. Over the years, that is a lot of thermal cycling on a piece of plastic. The housing is mounted onto the engine block which is made from cast aluminum. During thermal cycling, the plastic of the oil filter housing and the aluminum of the engine block expand and contract at different rates. The gasket between the two is asked to do a lot of work because the gap between the two pieces is ever-changing.

What Can Prevent the Engine Oil Filter Housing from Leaking? 

Unfortunately, it’s a design flaw that causes the oil filter housing to leak. So, nothing can be done to prevent the oil filter housing from leaking. However, when we replace your oil filter housing at Scott’s U-Save, we will not use the OE plastic housing but upgrade to an aluminum housing. The housing should have been aluminum from the start. Once the oil filter housing is replaced with an aluminum part we seldom see the housing leak again.

Regular Oil Changes

Since you can’t prevent the oil filter housing from leaking, you should regularly have your oil changed. This ensures a technician is consistently inspecting your vehicle. Or, you can regularly check your dipstick to make sure you’re not running the engine low on oil. The engine takes 0W20 oil. 0W20 oil only comes as synthetic oil. So, your common oil change interval is 5,000-6,000 miles.

Why is There so Much Labor to Replace an Oil Filter Housing on an Engine?

 On the engine, the oil filter housing is located under the intake manifold. So, this manifold must be removed to reach the oil filter housing. This not only includes the labor to remove the housing, but you will also need an intake gasket to be replaced. These gaskets are for one-time use. At Scott’s U-Save, we highly suggest doing a tune-up at the same time you do the oil filter housing. The reason is, that the spark plugs are also located under the intake manifold. If you’re already paying to take off the intake manifold, replace the gasket, and re-stall you should replace all wearable parts. This would be your spark plugs, possibly your ignition coils, and your spark plug boots. Any time we do a tune-up we highly recommend a fuel service be done at the same time. This will clean up the fuel lines, injectors, and the back of your engine valves.

What is the Typical Cost of Replacing the Engine Oil Filter Housing? 

We just discussed a few other parts that should be replaced at the same time. But, just replacing the oil filter housing with upgraded aluminum housing is around $800.

Get Your Oil Filter Housing Replaced at Scott’s U-Save!

The skilled and experienced technicians at Scott’s U-Save have replaced oil filter housings on countless 3.6L Pentastar engines. We have three locations in Steger IL, New Lenox IL, and Schererville IN. If your engine is leaking oil, give us a call or schedule an appointment today. 

Can a Bad Fuel Injector Damage My Engine?

If you pop the hood of a car from the ’60s, ’70s, or ’80s, you’ll likely see a carburetor sitting on top of the engine. Before the rise of electronic fuel injection (EFI), carburetors were the standard system used for delivering air and fuel to the combustion chambers in an engine.

Fuel Rail Assembly Removed From Car

As technology changed and advanced, fuel injection systems have taken over. EFI systems consist of a fuel pump, fuel rails, oxygen sensors, and fuel injectors. EFI also utilizes a computer to control the amount of fuel being injected into each cylinder. Electronic fuel injection offers better fuel economy, consistent power at verifying elevations, and generally less maintenance. While there are many components that make an EFI system work, in this article we are going to focus on the fuel injector, and the potential problems that can arise if one fails.

What is a Fuel Injector?

The fuel injector is a component that controls the amount fuel being delivered prior to combustion. These small parts connect to the fuel rail and the either the engine block (or the intake manifold on some port injected vehicles), and plug into a harness that communicates with the ECU

Volkswagen Fuel Injector

What Causes Fuel Injector Failure?

While EFI systems are generally pretty reliable, fuel injectors can run into some problems. The spray nozzle on the end of the injector can become clogged with carbon deposits, preventing it from closing entirely. The plastic electrical connection points are exposed to extreme temperatures and can become brittle, causing issues with connectivity. Lastly, rubber seals in the injector can dry out and crack, causing external leaks.

Symptoms of Fuel Injector Problems

Failed or failing fuel injectors can cause a variety of issues.

  1. Misfires
  2. Rough Running
  3. Sluggish Acceleration
  4. Reduced Fuel Economy
  5. Check Engine Light
  6. Fuel Oder

And more.

Can Faulty Injectors Cause Engine Damage?

Most of the time, the symptoms of a failed injector will be significant enough that you will get it fixed quickly. In all likelihood, you will not run into this sort of damage because you won’t be driving with a faulty injector for long. That being said, there are some serious (and expensive) consequences that can happen if you neglect to replace a bad injector.

Hydro Locking

If the injector fails in a way that causes it to dump fuel constantly into the cylinder, the engine can hydro lock. Hydro locking occurs when the path in the combustion chamber that normally compresses vapor and gasses is filled with liquid. The liquid is unable to compress to the same degree and can result in a bent connecting rod, piston damage, or worse.

Bent Connecting Rod Resulting From Hydro Locking
This connecting rod bent as a result of hydro locking from a failed injector dumping excess fuel into the cylinder.

If severe engine damage happens as a result of hydro locking, your motor will need to be rebuilt or replaced.

Bearing Damage

Oil’s lubrication capabilities are reduced when fuel is mixed in with it. Without proper lubrication, damage to the bearings can occur. If this happens, the engine will need to be opened up and bearings will need to be replaced.

Catalytic Converter Damage 

A faulty injector that consistently dumps excess fuel can damage the catalytic converters. When unburned fuel enters the catalyst, it can combust. The extreme heat given off by combustion can wreak havoc on the inside of the expensive catalyst. Replacing failed catalytic converters is extremely expensive.

Flooded Engine

If you have a failed fuel injector dumping excess fuel into your engine, it can end up flooded. In a similar situation to hydro locking, your engine can flood when you go to start it up and the injector fills the cylinder with unburned fuel. As a result, your car will not start.

Don’t Put Off Fuel Injector Issues

If you’ve noticed symptoms of injector failure while driving, don’t delay! While the risk of severe engine damage is relatively low, it’s not impossible. More importantly, replacing a bad fuel injector will improve the fuel economy, engine power, and overall drivability of your vehicle.

Fuel Injector Replacement at Scott’s U-Save

At Scott’s U-Save, we want to keep your vehicle running at its best and prevent catastrophic damage whenever possible. We have teams of ASE-certified technicians at our locations in New Lenox and Steger Illinois, as well as Schererville Indiana. Give us a call or schedule an appointment online today!