Have you ever gone to Las Vegas to listen to an orchestra? The musicians take the stage early and tune their instruments. Each individual instrument must be in tune, but the critical thing is for the entire orchestra to be in tune with each other. That’s why they tune up together.
Now this is no surprise; I’m going to relate the orchestra to your car. Your engine has many component systems that each need to be working properly. And the components need to be working in sync, all timed up together in order for the engine to work efficiently.
We call this, (ta-da) a tune-up. When an orchestra’s out of tune you get a bad concert. When your vehicle’s out of tune you get bad performance and bad fuel economy.
So check your owner’s manual for recommended tune-up intervals. Or ask your Las Vegas and Henderson service advisor at Frank’s European Service what he thinks.
…Just be careful not to say you want to make beautiful music together – that kinda makes us uncomfortable.
Most cars and trucks have automatic transmissions, yet a lot of Boulder City motorists only have a fuzzy understanding about what a transmission does. Think back to the last time you rode a bike in Boulder City . 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 Nevada freeways. And automatically shifts back down to climb Boulder City hills, pass or start up again.
Mercedes-Benz 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 Frank’s European Service , 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 Frank’s European Service see far too many transmissions that needlessly failed due to neglect.
And, as you can imagine, repairing one of these new transmissions at any Las Vegas and Henderson service center can be quite costly. That’s why auto makers have a schedule for how often you should change the fluid and what type of fluid to use.
It’s really important for Boulder City drivers to carefully follow the manufacturer’s transmission service schedule.
At Frank’s European Service in Las Vegas and Henderson, we hope you never become shiftless in Boulder City because you didn’t take care of your transmission.
When we shop for shoes, most of us know that we can get two pairs of cheap shoes or one good pair for about the same price. And since the two cheap pairs wear out in about the same time as the good pair, there really is no difference in cost. If you like having a closet full of shoes to match your moods and outfits, then cheap shoes can be what you want. But if you spend a lot of time on your feet, you probably know that cheap shoes can come with an added cost of sore feet and other foot ailments. When you add in the benefits of comfort and protection, the more expensive shoes are actually the better value.
Buying tires at Frank’s European Service in Las Vegas and Henderson is a lot like buying shoes, except that Las Vegas and Henderson auto owners’ vehicles don’t have changeable apparel and don’t need a closet full of tires to match. Vehicles spend a lot of time on their tires—all the time, in fact—so they need tires that can stand up to the job. Tires are work shoes: they have to deal with a lot of Nevada road conditions, all while carrying the weight of a vehicle and its passengers.
Bad tires, like cheap shoes, can also be a safety concern for Las Vegas area drivers. Tires need good traction, and they need to be strong enough to handle the loads they carry. Vehicles that carry heavy loads or tow trailers around Las Vegas and Henderson need tires with a high load rating, in the same way that you are better off on a rough Nevada mountain trail with sturdy hiking boots rather than flip-flops.
The best tires on the market are called Tier 1 tires. These are high-quality tires engineered to stand up to a lot of wear while maintaining good traction. They are also the most expensive tires on the Las Vegas area tire market, although prices don’t vary much from brand to brand.
Tire chain stores in Las Vegas and Henderson often carry tires with their own brand name. These are private label tires. They are less expensive than Tier 1 tires, but are still a quality product. In fact, many private label tires sold in Las Vegas are manufactured by the same companies that make Tier 1 tires. Don’t hesitate to ask your Frank’s European Service tire professional who makes their private brand.
The cheapest tires on the Nevada tire market are Tier 3 tires. Most of these tires are imported from Asia or South America, and they just don’t have the same standard of engineering behind them that the higher-priced tires have. When it comes to Tier 3 tires, Las Vegas and Henderson folks get what they pay for.
At Frank’s European Service , we sometimes express tire quality in terms of the warranty. In other words, we call a tire a “40-thousand-mile tire,” or a “60-thousand mile tire.” This refers to the number of miles a tire will be under warranty. Tires with a higher mileage warranty are made with higher quality rubber compounds and have more tread. As you might expect, they also cost more than tires with low mileage warranties.
Cheap tires often have no warranty at all. However, if you find yourself in a position where you need new tires and you’re really strapped for cash, purchasing Tier 3 tires is better than waiting until you can afford Tier 1. It’s always better for Las Vegas and Henderson drivers to drive on new tires, even cheap ones, than driving on tires that are worn past their safety limits.
That said, if you’re driving on Tier 3 tires, it’s a good idea to budget and plan to buy higher-quality tires the next go-around. Two sets of cheap tires may wear out in the same time as one set of quality tires, but the quality tires actually cost less than two sets of cheap tires. That’s the great fallacy of cheap tires. In the long run, they actually cost more than good tires, and come with significantly reduced performance and durability to boot. Not exactly the best value for Las Vegas car owners.
So, some good auto advice for Las Vegas and Henderson motorists would be to always buy as much tire as you can afford. That way you’ll get the most durability and performance and the most mileage out of every tire. Plus, with a better tire, there’s some peace of mind that comes with knowing you won’t have to purchase tires as often.
Good car care requires checking your tires occasionally for tread wear and road damage. Practicing this preventive maintenance can help you avoid flats and blowouts.
There are a lot of new features, both optional and standard, on Las Vegas and Henderson drivers’ vehicles these days. One you may not have heard of is called a cabin air filter. Simply put, its job is to keep the air in the passenger compartment of your car nice and clean.
A cabin air filter is similar to the filter you use on your furnace at home in Las Vegas and Henderson. Cabin air filters can catch particles down to three microns. By comparison, a grain of sand is 200 microns. So cabin air filters are effective against dust, dirt, pollen, mold spores and most pollutants in our Las Vegas atmosphere. Good news if you suffer from any types of allergies, or if you live in an area in Las Vegas and Henderson prone to air pollution.
Cabin air filters are generally located in the engine compartment or under the dashboard. They can be tricky to access and replace, so you’ll probably want to go to your professional Frank’s European Service tech to get it done. Check your Mercedes-Benz owner’s manual to find out if your Mercedes-Benz is equipped with a cabin air filter and how often it should be changed. Recommendations vary, but generally a cabin air filter should be changed every twelve to fifteen thousand miles.
Of course, if you are an allergy sufferer in Boulder City , you may want to replace it more often. Also, if you do a lot of driving in polluted or dusty areas in Nevada, you’ll also want to shorten the cabin air filter replacement period. Dirty air filters just don’t work well, and they can exude an unpleasant odor if ignored for too long.
Most Las Vegas and Henderson folks know that good car care includes keeping your Mercedes-Benz clean, including the air inside the passenger compartment, so changing your cabin air filter should be part of your routine preventive maintenance. It’s good auto advice as well as good medical advice that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You really shouldn’t wait until the interior of your car starts to smell and your eyes start to water before you change your filter. And trying to cover it up with a dangling green pine tree is not the right answer, either!
Cabin air filters can be a welcome relief to Las Vegas and Henderson allergy sufferers, but they’re also a great idea for anyone in Las Vegas who just wants to breathe better.
Your engine is like a finely choreographed dance. All the parts have to work together. If the timing is off at the ballet, dancers crash into each other and fall down. It the timing is off in your engine, it may not run at all. One of the most intricate dances in your engine, has to do with the combustion cycle.
Your Mercedes-Benz engine has cylinders in which a piston travels up and down. At the top of the cylinders are valves open to bring in the air and fuel. And there are valves that open to let out the exhaust after the fuel has been burned.
Call Frank’s European Service at 702-365-0900 for answers about your timing belt, or drop by our Las Vegas and Henderson Nevada service center on 1931 N. Rainbow Boulevard, 89108
It’s critical that the values be timed to open and close at precisely the right time in the combustion cycle, or the engine will run poorly or not at all.
The timing belt is responsible for rotating the shafts that control the valves. It’s vital and precision work. Timing belts are made of very tough flexible material. They can last a long time. But they eventually wear out and can break. The consequences can be disastrous.
In some engines, the valves actually protrude far enough into the cylinders that they could come in contact with the piston. If the timing belt breaks, the pistons will smash into the valves. Valves get bend or broken. If the engine is spinning fast enough, the broken parts will shred the cylinder head as well. Repairing this damage can cost several thousand dollars.
It’s a sad day when this happens; especially since it usually can be avoided. Manufacturers have issued recommendations for when you should replace your timing belt. For some engines, it’s at 60,000 miles. For others it’s at 90,000 miles or more. If you’re approaching 60,000 miles, or have passed it, make sure you check your owner’s manual or with your Las Vegas and Henderson Nevada auto service advisor at Frank’s European Service for when the timing belt should be replaced. Don’t let this one slip by.
Now some timing belts are visible and can be inspected. Others are hidden under a protective cover and are hard to get to. Some timing belts also drive the water pump. If you have a leaky water pump, the coolant will contaminate the timing belt and could make it fail sooner. So if you have this kind of engine, get it in to Frank’s European Service for an inspection right away if you have a coolant leak.
Most people in the Las Vegas area with this engine design end up with a new timing belt when they replace the water pump. And when you’re having your timing belt replaced on schedule, check with your Las Vegas and Henderson Nevada auto service advisor at Frank’s European Service to see if it makes sense to install a new water pump, even if it isn’t currently having problems, since most of the labor is already being done any way for the timing belt replacement.
As a heads up; larger engines will often have metal timing chains rather than belts. The chains don’t need to be replaced like belts.
We’ve already told you how very expensive it can be to get your car running again after a timing belt fails. You also need to know that replacing the timing belt is very labor intensive and is one of the most costly maintenance services you will have. So if you will be at the point where your timing belt should be replaced in the next year or so, ask for an estimate from Frank’s European Service in Las Vegas and Henderson Nevada so you can begin to prepare for the expense.
We at AutoNetTV are committed to helping you make your driving experience as safe and economical as possible. Frank’s European Service , your Las Vegas and Henderson service center, can be a valuable partner. Please take advantage of their knowledge and experience, and check out http://AutoNetTV.com for more great auto tips.
Some people have asked if they will save more money with reconditioned electric batteries over hybrid batteries.
At this point, I don’t know how much the battery pack comparison is. I’m pretty sure it’s similar, because you’re still dealing with 350 or 400-volt battery packs. I don’t think there’s going to be a substantial cost saving between hybrid versus electric, so the cost savings should be right there about the same. It is still 70-75 percent cheaper than replacing that battery. You’re saving the environment and saving money. I suggest that you repair your car instead of just throwing parts away.
Another question is whether electric vehicles have less power than hybrids.
It’s a funny phenomenon. An electric motor instantly gets full power. What I mean by that is when you step on the gas in a gasoline engine, the engine has got to kind of wind up or rev up to get to its sweet spot of power, so to speak. With an electric motor, as soon as you hit that accelerator, it’s on and ready to go. They feel like they accelerate very rapidly and they don’t have that power loss sensation. It’s a really cool feeling to hit that pedal and the car just launches.
People also wonder about long-distances and electric power.
Power can be defined two different ways: How fast you get up to speed, and when you’re moving along.
The Teslas can go 75 mph and even faster. Some of the other electrics are limited in their speed because of range issues. The smaller the battery pack, the battery technology, the battery cooling technology all play a role in range and acceleration. The harder you drive, the faster you go, the faster you deplete your energy source. But it’s the same exact thing as a gasoline engine. One is electricity, and the other one is gasoline.
There are gauges on electric vehicles that tell you range to empty, or how many miles you need to go before you need to recharge. What’s really cool is the worst thing you can do to a battery in an electric vehicle is run it down to zero volts — but the computers protect that from happening. They really keep the battery from getting overly damaged. If you were to run your battery all the way down, you don’t have to worry about damaging it. The computer is going to shut it off before that happens.
A stop at most recharging stations takes about 30 minutes.That’s a typical amount of time with the superchargers, and it’s longer without the supercharger. In other words, conventional charging actually takes longer. But that technology is changing.
Tesla did something amazing. They opened their patent for their supercharger and suggested that the manufacturers let whoever wanted to use it on their electric vehicles to feel free, and just charge a small fee to help charge the supercharger network. It’s kind of like an option on your car. If you get the supercharger option, that’s $2,000 that helps support the supercharger network.
So, you’re going to see more of that. As battery technology improves, we’re going to see lower charge times. We’re going to see longer ranges too. As the technology improves, cars will be able to go further. It won’t be uncommon to be able to go 350 or 450 miles on a single charge, which in most cases will get you to your destination.
The current range distance changes, because there are so many variables. For example, if you bought a Tesla, there are two or three battery pack options for different power ratings and ranges. When you buy the vehicle, they’ll tell you that at that time what works for you, and you’ll find it on our Website too…probably on the hybrid service page.
What is the difference between an electric car and a hybrid vehicle?
An electric car is run on 100 percent electricity with no gasoline engine – no air filters, no oil filters, no engine oil, no engine. One hundred percent electric. The car gets recharged either in your home — you pull into your garage and plug your car into an outlet. Many places of employment now offer charging stations. A lot of hotels offer charging stations.
Tesla — probably one of the most famous electric cars in the last 100 years has what’s called superchargers, where their very high voltage, direct current charges the cars very rapidly in 30 minutes or less in most cases. You can get maybe an 80 or 90 percent charge, which is enough to drive across country. Tesla has done that a number of times. They’ve driven their cars cross-country with those superchargers.
You’ve got to think of things a little differently because people recognize gas stations.
We know what they look like when we’re driving down the road, and I can see my range to empty. I kind of get a feel that I need to get gas. With electric card, you just need to think of things differently.
With the smartphone technology and a lot of the Internet technology on cars now, it’s just a matter of typing in, “Where’s the next charging station?” You just have to think of things a little differently. Range anxiety is a big problem for a lot of people. They go, “I’m going to run out of electricity and then I won’t be able to go.” But that happens when they run out of gas too? They don’t think of that, because they’re so accustomed to being able to buy gas wherever they go.
We’re going to see more and more of electric vehicles that uses 100 percent electricity, and uses no gasoline — especially when people start to realize that 90 percent of their driving is probably 50 miles a day or less.
What do we need gasoline engines for if we’re just going back and forth to work or the grocery store? An electric car will do just fine, and that’s going to become more popular also. That’s saving the environment.
Some hybrid vehicles are smaller, more economical, and less powerful, but there are hybrid vehicles – Mercedes Benz just came out with an electric hybrid S-class — and I promise that will have all the power you need.
Audi is using hybrid technology on their twin turbo engines. They’re going to have part of the electric battery pack propel the car and part of the electric battery pack electrically operate the turbo chargers, so I don’t think the idea of less powerful hybrids is going to apply anymore.
A lot of people are driving cars with hybrid technology and don’t even realize it until somebody points it out to them.
The cars are getting so good and feel so seamless that you’re not going to notice. Less power was probably the case a while ago, but you’re going to see that changing. As engine technologies continue to get better with turbo chargers, direct fuel injection and a lot of these other technologies, we’re going to have smaller and more efficient engines with the same power levels that we as Americans have grown to love.
Some people who prefer European vehicles might be less likely to want a hybrid because they drive it for performance and comfort, but they also drive them for the power that they have.
But there are more hybrid and more electric-only European cars available. Right now you can buy a BMW I3 — a 100 percent electric vehicle that is on the market. Right now you can buy a Mercedes-Benz B Class — a 100 percent electric vehicle, on the market for sale right now. Smart cars, which are made by Mercedes —100 percent electric are available on the market right now.
Between that and drivers’ desire to have better fuel economy, you’re going to see more and more hybrid technology come in. Mercedes and BMW owners are not going to sacrifice power for economy. They’re just not. If they were going to do that, they would buy the Toyotas or some of the other cars out there that are available with the hybrid power.
They’re going to want it and the manufacturers are going to deliver on all brands across the board.
At my shop in Henderson, we’ll be able to tell you how good the car is, instead of just saying it starts, it runs, it operates – “Relax, it should be ok.” We can actually perform very specific tests to tell you the state of health on the electric motors and tell you “Yes, this motor is good,” or, “It’s only got 10 percent life left.” Nobody else can do that if they don’t have the equipment.
We are one of the only shops that have this proprietary technology — furthermore, it’s scientific.
Most repair shops can do a visual inspection.
They might be able to scan for what we call trouble codes — like if your check engine light has ever come on, it will store a code in the computer, and that will tell you whether or not there’s a current problem.
We can take that a step further.
We can test specifically the electric motor or the generator and not just tell you if it’s “go” or “no go.” We can tell you how good — which is an absolutely phenomenal peace of mind, because if it does not have a current problem and it has not failed, generally you wouldn’t know. If I can tell you that it’s got 90 percent life left or 80 percent life left, then you can purchase that car with confidence.
Here’s an example. Let’s say there’s a hybrid failure on your car. The warning light is on, it doesn’t drive. If you tow it to the dealer they’re going to hook their scanner up to the same ones we have access to. The scanner will say bad: electric motor – replace transmission.
Here at Frank’s, we’re going to be able to take that transmission out, take it apart, replace just the bad electric motor and not only save you thousands of dollars on the battery, but save you thousands of dollars on unneeded repairs because this is a new technology.
These are things that are unknown to the general consumer, and it just puts all those fears aside. So we’ll be able to tell you the state of health on the vehicle, and do those specific repairs to save you a lot of money.
I think the overall impact of hybrid vehicles on the environment is favorable.
Just think about the fewer brake pads that wear out. So that means there are less brake pads being thrown away in the trash, and less gasoline being used.
To me personally, using the least amount of gasoline – if we’re going to continue to buy our gas overseas, we need to get off it. We need to stop using it. Now — using electric and electric hybrid technology — is the best way to do it.
Some people may wonder about the amount of batteries now and how to dispose of them.So let’s separate what kind of batteries we have.
Your conventional car has a lead-acid or absorb-glass battery with primarily lead components in it. That’s probably the number one, best recycled item we have. I think that’s because consumers don’t generally get to just throw away their batteries like they do their aluminum cans and bottles. Almost every single battery supplier will charge you a small fee when you buy it in order to get that old battery back. If it’s $10 or $15, you’re going to bring that old battery back. That’s what keeps those batteries in the recycling phase.
The new batteries on the hybrid cars are either nickel-metal hydride or lithium. What are we going to do with those batteries? That’s why we aligned ourselves with the hybrid shop, so we can prevent those batteries from being replaced and now try to figure out what to do with them.
Our goal is to help keep old batteries out of the landfill by refurbishing and conditioning these batteries on a regular basis. I’m sure the technology will come where they start to recycle these batteries but until then we see no reason to just replace it when it can be repaired. I think that is going to help the environment the most.
Not everyone has this kind of proprietary technology specifically for hybrids.
If you are in the Henderson or Las Vegas area, come see us. If you happen to be reading our blog and you are out of town, you can go to www.thehybridshop.com and see the list of the only shops that have this proprietary technology.
The engineer who designed this was involved with a major manufacturer in electric car programming in the 90s. Their electric hybrid cars very recently came out. It was his goal to see technicians get trained on how to service these cars without just going to a dealership and having a dealer put their scanner on it and say, “It’s good or no good.”
Part of the process of not only checking the batteries is the state of health for the electric motor, the state of health for the generator, and the state of health for various components in the hybrid system.
So the issue is that technicians are not just being trained on the batteries, they’re being trained on the entire system so that we can keep these hybrid cars on the road longer and trouble free and keep these older parts out of landfills.