Car Care Tips- Air Conditioning Leaks

Walter writes: I have a 89k mile 2004 Camry that has had one AC problem after another. The latest is a leak that can’t be found. I have to add Freon every 6 months and no one can detect a leak, but it has to have one. What can I do? It’s getting expensive!

Mike: Walter, let me explain little of the problem. Your AC system contains about 24 ounces of a pressurized refrigerant. Because the system is under constant pressure and subjected to extreme vibration and high temperatures, it is not unusual to develop a slow leak. Even if the system only leaks an ounce a week, your system quits cooling in 3 months. Unfortunately, small leaks are usually impossible to locate with a hand held “sniffer,” but there is a solution. Have your service department add fluorescent refrigerant dye to the system. This dye won’t wash off and allows a tech to locate that leak using a UV light and special glasses. I have used it for years and have never failed to locate a leak this way. It is a good idea to ask your service department to add the dye whenever they open the system for any reason. That way it is already there and if, (or when) a leak develops, it is easier to find.

Here is a tip: Mike: I get questions about this every week, so I’ll talk again about oil change intervals. If you are one of those of that is still changing their oil every 3k miles you are wasting money and resources. Advances in oils and engine technology has pushed that standard 3k mile interval to either 4 or 5 thousand miles. I recommend going 4k miles if you are using premium oil and 5k if you are using synthetic blend. (like most newer cars use) The real test is to try it for an interval or two and have your oil change guy check to see if it is too dirty or ok. If the oil looks too bad, then shorten the interval a little, if it still looks good, go a little farther. Everyone’s driving habits are a little different. Find out what works for you and go with it. -MH

Listen to The Automotive Reporter radio program with Mike Herzing and Harold Gunn Sunday mornings from 8:00-9:00 on KGOW 1560AM “The Game”

Mike Herzing publishes the website: www.letstalkwheels.com. Mike has owned Accurate Auto Center in Tomball, TX since 1979 and is a former ASE Certified Master Tech.

This announcement was brought to you by Honda Cars of Katy, please call with any questions at 281-994-0055.

Car Care Tips- Transmission and Gas Expenses

Jimmy writes: I have a 78K mi, 2003 Civic with an automatic transmission. I’d like to put in a manual transmission instead of the automatic. Is it hard to do, and is it expensive?

Mike: Jimmy, The body, the wiring, the electronics, the suspension, the emissions, the drive shafts, and even the pedals are different between the automatic and the manual. You would have to do so many modifications that it would be thousands cheaper to sell the one you have and buy one with a manual transmission. This is a can of worms you do not want to open. –MH

Lenora writes: I have a 2006 Tundra that I truly love. I have a habit of driving until I am almost out of fuel before I fill up. My husband says I am always running around with the fuel gauge on “E”. I was told that this habit could cost me an expensive fuel pump someday. Is that true?

Mike: Yes Lenora, it is true, and let me explain: Your vehicle’s fuel injection, like all of them, requires high fuel pressure. A small electric fuel pump is located inside the fuel tank and “pushes” the fuel to the injectors. Because of this high pressure, the pump works really hard and uses the fuel to keep cool. (if it sounds crazy to have an electrical device immersed in gasoline- it is) Running your fuel level low constantly causes these little pumps to run hot and have a much shorter life. With replacement pumps costing $400 or more plus the cost of removing the fuel tank to replace them, you might want to change this habit. -MH

Here is a tip: Do not use premium fuel unless your car manufacturer says to.  If your owners manual says put in 87 octane…..DO IT. Contrary to what you might believe, it isn’t like giving your dog a treat. You are throwing money out the window if you are filling up on Premium and you only need Regular. You also could be setting yourself for a soft carbon problem if you combine short trips along with premium fuel. What you CAN do is stay away from discount fuels. The major brands have superior cleaning agents and additives that make them perform much better.

Listen to The Automotive Reporter radio program with Mike Herzing and Harold Gunn Sunday mornings from 8:00-9:00 on KGOW 1560AM “The Game”

Mike Herzing publishes the website: www.letstalkwheels.com. Mike has owned Accurate Auto Center in Tomball, TX since 1979 and is a former ASE Certified Master Tech.

This announcement was brought to you by Honda Cars of Katy, please call with any questions at 281-994-0055.