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Articles:

Shifty Letters PRNDL (Transmission)

You probably figured out those shifty letters.  They're what you see on your automatic transmission shifter and stand for Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive and Low.  Your automatic transmission is one of the great automotive inventions; here are some ways you can keep yours working well. Maintain your transmission regularly.  A technician will check your transmission fluid's level and even its appearance and smell.  If it's dark or has an unusual odor, that could be a sign of trouble. Change from one transmission direction gear into another only when your vehicle is stopped.  So many drivers want to switch from Reverse to Drive quickly or the other way around.  If you do that when the vehicle is moving, you can damage your automatic transmission. Keep your vehicle's cooling system in top shape.  What does the cooling system have to do with the transmission? It helps keep the transmission fluid from overheating.  Follow the manufacturer's recommendati ... read more

Categories:

Transmission

Alleviate the Creaks and Squeaks (Chassis Lubrication)

If your vehicle creaks and squeaks when you drive down the road, it may mean that some of the metal parts are rubbing against each other and need to be lubricated.  Those could be parts of the suspension, steering system and the drivetrain.  Years ago, most vehicles had to have their chassis (what you think of as the frame) regularly lubricated.  Newer vehicles are made with what some call "lifetime lubrication," but there are still parts of the chassis that need to be maintained with lubricants.  Your service advisor can help you know when that needs to be done. In your owner's manual, the vehicle's manufacturer lists components that need regular maintenance. Things like u-joints, steering joints, sway bars, bushings and joints in the suspension. Some of them may have that "lifetime lubrication," while others may not. When you bring your vehicle in for service, a technician will look for any parts that have grease fittings.  They will inspect these components ... read more

Differential Service

When you're driving and turn a corner, you probably aren't aware of all that's going on with your wheels.  The outside wheels have a longer distance to travel than the inside wheels, so there are gears that allow the wheels to go at different speeds when you turn.  That set of gears is called a differential.  In front-wheel drive vehicles, it's by the transmission and called a transaxle.  Rear-wheel drive vehicles have the differential, naturally, on the rear axle. Many all-wheel and four-wheel drives add a center differential since power has to go to the front and rear wheels. (Some newer vehicles power wheels with electric motors, but that's a whole different story.) Time and distance traveled eventually can take their toll on the differential, and you may notice some noises you hadn't heard when your vehicle was newer.  Sometimes you'll hear a whir that might change in pitch when you turn.  You may hear clicking sounds when you're moving.  Others d ... read more

Put the Brakes On! (Brake Caliper Replacement)

Keeping your vehicle's brakes in top shape is one of the most important things you can do for your safety and those on the road with you. Most drivers know a little about brake pads and rotors but maybe not so much about another brake component called the calipers. Disc brakes work by a mechanical system that presses your brake pads against discs called rotors (you can usually see these discs through your wheels). The friction stops your vehicle smoothly when everything is working the way it should.  The calipers use the hydraulic pressure of the brake fluid to apply the stopping power.  After they've been on your vehicle for a while, the calipers can get stuck or wear out.  If calipers on one side of the vehicle work correctly and not on the other, you might feel a pull in one direction.  You might feel the same kind of pull if the caliper is stuck and is applying constant pressure.  You might hear scraping or squealing coming from a stuck caliper and you migh ... read more

Categories:

Brakes

A Head Start on Starting (Battery Testing)

If your vehicle isn't starting or doesn't sound like it used to when you crank it, the culprit may be the battery.  You may have left a light on, or something plugged into one of charging ports.  Maybe you accidentally left your vehicle in the "on" or "accessory" position when you last got out. Maybe you've left it in the garage or driveway for a long time without starting it.  That can spell the end for a vehicle battery. It's also possible that your battery is just simply too old. There's no standard lifespan of a battery, but 3-5 years is about average, even though some people only get 2 and heavier duty batteries may last many more. It's possible your battery is defective, too.  And it could be your vehicle's charging system isn't recharging the battery.  Whatever the cause, if you're having problems with your battery, it's a good idea to bring it in and have us perform a thorough battery test.  With state-of-the-art testing equipment, a technician wil ... read more

Categories:

Battery

TCB your PCV (PCV Valve Replacement)

Your gasoline engine goes through some exhausting work.  Yes, it's truly exhausting, as in: it produces exhaust! And when your engine starts behaving like it's exhausted, such as running poorly or getting lousy fuel economy, the trouble may be something called a PCV valve. Did you know it's a series of explosions that creates the power in your engine? The spark plugs ignite a mixture of gasoline and air and BANG! A whole bunch of those and you're engine is humming away. Leftover vapors from those explosions go into your crankcase, which is also a place where engine oil goes.  Those vapors still have a lot of unburned fuel in them, and if they had nowhere to go, they'd turn your oil into a thick mess called sludge, not good for a smooth running engine.  Engineers came up with an idea. Re-direct those gasses building up in the crankcase into the engine's air intake and mix them with fresh air.  That way the unburned fuel could go through the engine again and produce p ... read more

Categories:

PCV Valve

Not-So-Smooth Operator (Transmission Signs of Trouble)

You are heading down a flat, newly paved street when all of a sudden you feel it.  Your vehicle jumps a little bit when you're accelerating and changing gears.  You know it's not the surface of the road because it's smooth as silk.  So what did you just feel? That kind of jumping—or grinding or slipping—during gear changes could be a sign of trouble in your automatic transmission.  And it's important to get it checked out fairly soon because some transmission problems that aren't fixed early can lead to more involved and expensive repairs. By far most vehicles on the road in North America have automatic transmissions, and they are workhorses.  Unlike early cars with balky, hard-to-shift manual transmissions, the latest automatics allow you to drive without having to even think about gear changes.  But you should know about a few signs of trouble to look for if they ever start showing up. When you first get going and shift your vehicle from Par ... read more

Categories:

Transmission

Heat and your Tires (Tire Pressure Monitoring System)

With hotter weather and brutal heat waves becoming more common, the pressure in your vehicle's tires goes up.  After all, heat causes air to expand, and the air in your tires follows the laws of physics. Overinflated tires can reduce your vehicle's traction, cause a hard, punishing ride and make your tires wear out faster; all are important safety issues. Four out of every ten drivers rarely check tire pressure. Some rely on their vehicle's tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS) to keep an eye on proper tire inflation.  But it's not designed to do that. TPMS is a safety feature that has been required on vehicles made in 2008 or later, using sensors in the wheels that alert you to tire pressure problems.  That warning can be a light on your dash, a digital message or a readout of the pressure in each individual wheel.  But a study showed that more than 40 percent of drivers don't even know what the tire pressure monitoring light symbol looks like! One looks like a ho ... read more

Categories:

TPMS

Rotation Explanation (Tire Rotation Patterns)

You may notice that when you get your vehicle's oil changed, your service adviser may recommend that you have your tires rotated at the same time.  The reasons are simple.  That will allow your tires to wear more evenly and reduce the noise your tires make as you drive down the road. There are different ways of rotating tires. If your vehicle has non-directional tires and the same size wheels at each corner, here are the different rotation patterns. For all-wheel drive and rear-wheel drive vehicles, one is called the rearward cross pattern.  The rear tires are moved to the front and stay on the same side of the vehicle, and the front tires are moved to the rear on the side opposite of where they were on the front.  For all-wheel and four-wheel drive vehicles, use the X pattern.  The rear tires are moved to the front on the opposite side of the vehicle, and the fronts are moved to the rear on the opposite side of where they were on the front. For front-wheel dri ... read more

Road Ready (Trip Inspection)

Maybe you've been cooped up for a while and are yearning for a change of scenery.  Or maybe you need to visit a relative who lives far away.  You choose not to fork out the big bucks for airline tickets, so it's time for a road trip.  Make sure you're road ready by having your vehicle professionally inspected before the big drive. One of our technicians can check out several of your vehicle's most important systems so you can be more confident that you'll be able to go the distance without a breakdown.  Here are a few things a trip inspection may include: Your vehicle stops with brakes that, in turn, stop the tires.  They must both be in sound condition. The technician can look at your tire tread, the condition of the sidewalls, and note the tires' age.  Brakes have pads and rotors that should meet certain specs, so an expert inspection of their condition is important, too. A technician can check other vital fluids such as engine coolant, power steering, t ... read more

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