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The Edible Engine

You may have had a friend whose vehicle was the victim of hungry rodents.  After all, mice, rats and squirrels—even rabbits—have been known to gnaw on wires in engine compartments, causing vehicle electrical systems to go haywire.  They can disable a vehicle completely and be very expensive to fix.

In 2017, some drivers noticed their vehicle's wiring was being chewed and found out the automaker was using a relatively new material for covering their wires: soy.  Many of the repairs to their new vehicles weren't covered under warranty by the manufacturer when it was discovered rodents were eating the wiring.  So the owners filed a class action suit, saying the soy covering was essentially baiting the critters. 

The automakers tell a different story, saying mice, rats and squirrels have been chewing through wire insulation long before it was made out of soy. 

Regardless of what the insulation is made of, vehicle owners should make sure rodents aren't chowing down and creating a problem in the engine compartment.  They can have their repair facility check for these signs:  Little bits of acorns, leaves, chewed up plastic and animal droppings in the engine's nooks and crannies.  Using a black light, your technician can detect animal urine, a sure sign that they've been using your engine compartment as a warm apartment, a nest and a dining room. 

You can take steps to prevent rodents from chomping your vehicle's parts.  Honda—one of the vehicle manufacturers that uses soy-based wiring covering—makes a rodent tape.  It contains a spice called capsaicin that rodents find too hot to handle.  Other preventative measures include installing metal mesh around wiring harnesses or spraying the engine compartment with special rodent-repellants. 

Rodent damage can cost one vehicle owner thousands of dollars to fix, not the kind of bite anyone wants taken out of their bank account. 

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481

PDR: Good Service and Good Fuel Economy

Most Urbana auto owners want to save on gas and seek our advice on improving economy. At PDR, we are frequently asked, however, if it is really worth the extra effort. Just how much money can Urbana drivers actually save?

In today's PDR article, we're focusing on the things you can do to improve your vehicle’s economy driving around Illinois. We'll tell you the potential savings per gallon of gas at $3.50, and we'll show a chart that also shows the savings at $3.00 and $4.00.

DOLLARS PER GALLON $3.00 / $3.50 / $4.00

TUNE UP 4%.12.14.16

The next item is replacing a clogged engine air filter. Your engine needs enough air to burn fuel efficiently for the best mileage. A clean air filter means you get plenty of air. The fact that the air's clean protects your engine. That can save you up to 10 percent or 35 cents a gallon.

DOLLARS PER GALLON$3.00 / $3.50 / $4.00

AIR FILTER 10%.30.35.40

Fixing a faulty oxygen sensor can improve economy by up to 40 percent. That's a whopping $1.40 in savings per gallon. Bring your car to PDR in Urbana and we'll check your oxygen sensor.

DOLLARS PER GALLON$3.00 / $3.50 / $4.00

FAULTY O2 SENSOR 40%1.201.401.60


Chances are that if your oxygen sensor is kaput your Check Engine light will come on. Now, there are any number of things that could cause your Check Engine light to come on besides oxygen sensor problems. But if it's on, get it checked out as soon as you can at PDR.

Here's an easy one for Urbana auto owners. Inflate your tires to the recommended pressure. That could save you three percent or 11 cents a gallon. Even a little drop in pressure will bring down your economy, so check your tires every week.

DOLLARS PER GALLON$3.00 / $3.50 / $4.00

TIRE INFLATION 3%.09.11.12

Your vehicle has recommended a specific weight of motor oil. The recommendation is based on engine design and will give you the best protection. Using a heavier weight could cost one to two percent in reduced economy, or up to seven cents a gallon.

Another thing Urbana vehicle owners can do to improve that costs nothing is to toss the junk out of our trunks. In other words, clean out the car and stop hauling around non-essentials. Don't treat your vehicle like a storage locker. Dumping 100 pounds of extra weight adds up to a 2% savings at the pump.

So when you tell someone you were going somewhere anyway and they're welcome to come along, that's okay. But if someone tells you they need to come along and it's no harm to you since you were going anyway—well, now you can tell them, “Sorry, dude, but you're an extra fifteen cents a gallon!”

All joking aside, let's all do ourselves a favor and fatten up our wallets by practicing good car care and better driving habits in Illinois.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481
http://www.pdrauto.com

The Best Test

Would you buy a jacket without even trying it on? Probably not, but it might surprise you that one study shows about half the people buy a vehicle after a short test drive around the block or none at all.  If you're in the market for another vehicle, make sure you check out the most important things so you'll know if that's the right vehicle for you.

Check out the gadgets.  Love a good sound system? Then turn it up loud.  Does it have enough bass for you? See how you like its navigation system if it has one.  Try pairing your Bluetooth smartphone with the vehicle.  Test out how to set the cruise control and how steady it keeps the speed. Back up and check out the rearview camera. If you buy this vehicle, you'll have to live with all of these things every time you drive.

Test the vehicle on roads you know.  See how it handles bumps and potholes, how it takes that tight curve that you drive every day to and from work.  Driving on familiar roads gives you a chance to compare what you know with what you're thinking about buying.

Check the fit.  One suburban mom drove a full-sized SUV and loved it until she got it home and realized it was too high for her old garage.  Remodeling the garage would be the only answer! Try installing your child seats.  Size matters, especially in a vehicle.

Gauge the fuel economy. Many vehicles have a trip computer that will calculate fuel economy quickly.  Here's a tip: you can reset it before your test drive and when you're finished, check it and see what fuel economy you got.  It will be a smaller sampling than would be ideal, but it will give you an idea.

Take as much time as you can.  A lot of sellers will pressure you to restrict your test drive to 10-15 minutes.  Ideally, you'd like to have that vehicle for a week, but that's usually not possible. So, try for something in between. Remember, this could be your vehicle for years to come.

Keep in mind that every vehicle will feel strange to you at first. Buying a vehicle is a little like getting married.  You want that marriage to be happy, and you want it to last, so take the time to get to know it as well as you can.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481

How Does PDR Know What to Recommend?

When you drop your vehicle off at PDR in Urbana, they don't just poke around under your hood looking for stuff to do. PDR professionals have lists and procedures they follow for different types of service. First of all, your Urbana service center will note the mileage on your vehicle. They'll then check to see what inspections and services the vehicle manufacturer recommends for a vehicle of your make, model and mileage. If you are a regular customer, they will also check your vehicle's history.

If the vehicle manufacturer's recommendations go beyond the services you've ordered, they'll let you know. They'll also indicate whether those services are urgent or if you can wait a while to take care of them. The PDR pros won't do work that you don't agree to.

They will, however, perform inspections while they're servicing your vehicle. They'll check belts, filters and fluids. They'll check your windshield wipers for wear. They'll let you know if there's an urgent problem that needs taken care of, and they'll give you a heads-up about problems that might be developing. If repairs or services are in order, you are given options based on driving needs and budget.

You can think of it like a trip to the dentist for a check-up. The dentist will check if you've had x-rays recently. If not, he'll get your permission to take new ones. Then the hygienist will clean your teeth and check your gums. At the end, the dentist comes in and inspects your teeth. You'll be told if you need any work done, about problems that are developing, and if anything is urgent. You'll be given different care options and recommendations on where to get work done that is beyond your dentist's usual purview. Then you'll be sent to the front desk for appointments and paperwork.

These procedures make sure your teeth are in good working order and that you are apprised of any problems. Then you can make a decision as to what work you want done and when. PDR in Urbana operates the same way. They want Urbana drivers to be able to make informed decisions about their car care.

Preventive auto maintenance is a lot like dental check-ups. Small problems can quickly develop into big ones. A cavity becomes a root canal. A dirty filter becomes engine damage. Skipping check-ups for either your teeth or your vehicle can lead to repairs.

PDR follows industry guidelines. A part is replaced only if it can no longer perform its function, no longer meets its design specifications or is missing – or if you ask for upgraded performance. Your PDR service advisor will recommend a part be replaced if it is showing signs that it will soon fail.

Dentists often offer services that go beyond routine care, such as teeth whitening. Service centers also offer Urbana drivers help with upgrades to a vehicle. They'll know what parts are needed and how to perform the work so that safety and performance aren't compromised. You can rely on the pros at PDR for good auto advice.

The next time you're headed to the dentist's office, think about the vehicle you're riding in. Is it time for it to get a check-up, too?

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481
http://www.pdrauto.com

Steering Clear in Urbana

Those who know vehicles believe the steering system may be the most vital component of them all. Perhaps you've found over the years your steering has gotten loose. Or maybe suddenly, your steering wheel has gotten very hard to turn. Let's steer you in the direction of understanding why this may be happening.

First, loose steering. This can likely be the result of wear and tear on the components that connect the steering mechanism with the wheels. Those parts can be ball joints, Pitman arms or tie rods. These parts take a lot of abuse on the road, thanks to railroad tracks, potholes, uneven surfaces: you name it. It's important that they be checked regularly and maintained at PDR.

Second, the hard-to-turn wheel. Virtually all vehicles on the road have power steering. There are a couple of different types, though, so let's deal with each. By the way, when they fail, your vehicle's steering can suddenly go from easy peasy to really hard to control.

Some vehicles have hydraulic power steering. It uses a hydraulic fluid that can either leak out or become contaminated. When that happens, you can lose that power assist. There's also a belt involved, and if it becomes worn, stretched or cracked (or even breaks), you'll find yourself struggling with the wheel. If you hear a loud whine coming from the area in the engine compartment when you are steering, that could mean your power steering pump is failing. The best way to avoid these problems is regular maintenance.

Recently, manufacturers have been using electric power steering systems that have some advantages over hydraulic systems. They have electric motors that—like everything mechanical—can fail. Sometimes a fuse to the power steering motor will blow, but simply replacing the fuse often doesn't get to the root cause of the problem. A PDR technician can evaluate the system and recommend a solution.

Steering issues are all about safety and should be addressed as soon as possible. When you tell your service advisor, try to be specific about the signs and symptoms. It's one way to steer clear of trouble on the road.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481
http://www.pdrauto.com

For Brakes' Sake (Brake Rotor Service in Urbana)

Think of how much abuse your brakes take. Day in and day out, they stop your vehicle when it's going fast and when it's going slow. Maybe your vehicle has been vibrating when you brake, or maybe it seems like your stopping distance is a little bit longer than it used to be.

Then it's time to get your brakes checked out. After all, you have to be able to stop if you want to be safe. Nearly all newer vehicles have disc brakes on the front, and many have that type of brake on all four wheels. That makes it likely you'll be getting disc brakes fixed at some time in your vehicle's lifetime.

Knowing how disc brakes work is as easy as riding a bicycle. If your bike had hand brakes, you'll probably remember a mechanism that squeezed a couple of pads on each side of your bicycle wheel when you applied the brakes. Disc brakes are similar; but instead of the bike wheel, there's a metal disc instead. If that disc is warped or has irregularities in it, it's going to vibrate.

It used to be that rotors were thick, and when they warped, a technician could "turn" them to scrape off a layer of metal so their sides were straight again. The latest vehicles are using thinner, lighter rotors with a slightly different construction. Now, it's likely that rotors that are resurfaced this way will not have enough metal left to work safely. In fact, some manufacturers advise only replacing rotors that are worn out.

Newer designs have reduced rotor prices, and in many cases, the labor cost of turning the rotors is higher than buying new. There are times, though, where your rotors can be resurfaced and still meet manufacturer specifications.

If you have a rotor replaced on one side of your vehicle, it might be a good idea to replace rotors on the other side, too.

Maybe you're looking for the new rotors to last longer than the ones that were on there. New technologies can offer a longer lifespan in a premium rotor. Armed with knowing the type of driving you do, you and your PDR service advisor can make the best decision on which direction you want to go with your new brakes.

PDR
1008 N. Cunningham Avenue
Urbana, Illinois 61802
217-367-9481
http://www.pdrauto.com