Archive for the ‘Parts’ Category

Today, we are talking about your PCV valve. The PCV Valve is a little, inexpensive part that does an essential job for Grand Rapids drivers. PCV stands for Positive Crankcase Ventilation.

The crankcase is the bottom area of the engine that holds the oil. When the sedan engine’s running, fuel is burned to generate power. Most of the exhaust from combustion goes out through the exhaust system. But some exhaust blows by the pistons and goes into the lower engine, or crankcase.

These hot gases are about seventy percent unburned fuel.
PCV Valve Service At Ervine's Auto Repair In Grand RapidsThis can dilute and contaminate the oil, leading to damaging engine oil sludge. It can also cause sedan engine corrosion, something we see occasionally at Ervine’s Auto Repair. At high speeds on Grand Rapids freeways, the pressure can build up to the point that gaskets and seals start to leak.

Back in the old days, vehicle manufacturers simply installed a hose that vented these gases out into the atmosphere. But starting in the 1964 model year, environmental protection laws required that these gases be recycled back into the air intake system to be mixed with fuel and burned in the sedan’s engine.

This is much better for air quality and improves gas mileage also. (Budget-conscious Grand Rapids motorists take note!) The little valve that performs this important function is the PCV valve. The PCV valve lets detrimental gases out of the engine, but won’t let anything back in. Over time, the vented gases will gum up the PCV valve and it won’t work well. That can lead to all of the problems I’ve already described, oil leaks, excessive oil consumption and decreased fuel efficiency.

Fortunately, it’s very easy to test the PCV Valve at Ervine’s Auto Repair in Grand Rapids and quick and inexpensive to replace. Even so, it’s often overlooked because many Grand Rapids drivers don’t know about it. Check your sedan owner’s manual or ask your Ervine’s Auto Repair service advisor. If this is the first time you’ve heard of a PCV valve, you might be in line for a replacement.

There’s another aspect to the PCV system. In order for the valve to work correctly, it needs a little clean air to come in. This is done through a breather tube that gets some filtered air from the engine air filter. Now some vehicles have a small separate air filter for the breather tube called the breather element. That’ll need to be replaced at Ervine’s Auto Repair when it gets dirty.

Please ask your honest and efficient Grand Rapids service advisor about your PCV valve. For the price of a couple of burger combo meals in Grand Rapids, you can avoid some very pricey engine repairs.

Today we want to talk about timing belts. They’re something that many Grand Rapids drivers don’t know much about and yet your vehicle won’t run if it’s broken – and it could cause many thousands of dollars damage if it does break. A broken timing belt is usually a tale of woe. Even though timing belt replacement is scheduled in the owner’s manual, it’s not the kind of thing that most Grand Rapids car owners remember because it’s not well understood.

Let’s review what a timing belt does. As you know, the engine’s power is generated in the cylinders. A piston rides up and down in the cylinder. During the first down stroke, an intake valve at the top of the cylinder opens and air and fuel is drawn into the cylinder. Then the piston returns to the top, compressing the fuel and air mix. At the top, the spark plug fires, igniting the fuel pushing the piston down in the power stroke. As the piston once again returns up in the final stroke of the cycle, an exhaust valve opens at the top of the cylinder and the exhaust is pushed out. The timing belt is what coordinates the opening and closing of the intake and exhaust valves. It’s called a timing belt because the valves have to open and close at just the right time.

Now, not all Wyoming and Kentwood vehicles have timing belts. Some have timing chains. Like the name implies, they use a chain rather than a belt to perform the function. It used to be that most engines used timing chains, which are extremely durable. Manufacturers started using belts rather than chains to save money in the manufacturing process. So now we’re left with a component that can break. They sort of shifted the problem to us. There are two broad categories of engine design: interference and non-interference. If the timing belt on a non-interference engine breaks, the engine simply stops running. That could be very dangerous depending on where you are at the time, but it causes no internal engine damage.

Interference engines, on the other hand, will get real messed up when the timing belt breaks, because the valves will actually fall down into the path of the pistons. Things get chewed up when that happens and it’ll cost thousands to repair the engine.

So, what are the warning signs? Unfortunately, there really aren’t any. There aren’t tell-tale sounds. In some vehicles, a technician from Ervine’s Auto Repair may be able to see part of the belt for a visual inspection, but many have a cover that’s in the way. The reality is that if the belt slips even one notch, it might as well be broken for all the damage it’ll cause. There’s no middle ground.

So how can we avoid these problems? Simply replace the timing belt when your owner’s manual calls for it. It can be 60,000 miles; it might be 90,000 or 100,000 miles. The point is, if you have 60,000 or more miles, ask your Ervine’s Auto Repair service advisor right away if your manufacturer requires a timing belt replacement.

Contact Ervine’s Auto Repair to learn more about your car’s Timing Belt
You can find us at:
4311 Stafford SW
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49548
Or call us at (616) 532-6600

Sometimes you can go quite a while without a failure, but we’ve seen them happen within a couple of oil changes of being due. It’s not worth the risk.

What does it cost to replace a timing belt in Kentwood or Byron Center? Well, that really depends on what kind of car you have. I can tell you that it’s usually not very easy to get to the timing belt – you often have to remove some accessories to get at it. It isn’t a cheap procedure, but it’s a fraction of what it could cost to repair the damage caused by a failure.

At Ervine’s Auto Repair we’re all about trying to prevent costly repairs, keeping you and your passengers safe and increasing your driving enjoyment. Thanks to AutoNetTV for their great auto video tips.

Like everything automotive, there have been great strides in headlight technology in recent years. We can all drive more safely at night because of it. Good headlights improve visibility down the road, enabling you to see farther. They also improve your peripheral vision, helping you to see the sides more clearly. The more you can see, the quicker you can react to road conditions. This is important because nearly half of traffic fatalities take place at night. And as the country’s population ages, everything that helps older eyes is welcome.

Most new cars come with halogen headlamps. A decade ago, halogens were exotic and expensive. Now that they are standard equipment, the price has come way down. Many luxury cars are equipped with high intensity discharge, or HID, headlamps. You have probably seen them on the road, they’re very bright and have a bluish tint.

From behind the wheel, there is no doubt that HID headlamps are the best thing going. However, many people complain about HID lights in on coming traffic or when they approach from behind. In fact, when the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called for public comment, they received a record number of complaints about HIDs. This has lead to several studies – your tax dollars at work. Some expect future regulation of HID lamps.

All halogen headlamps dim over time. Experts recommend that they be changed out once a year. AutoNetTV suggests you replace your headlamps in the fall at the end of Daylight Savings Time. It’s easy to remember – when you change your clock, change your headlamps. Remember to replace all headlamps at the same time – then all your lights will be equally bright. You will appreciate it during those long winter nights.

If you have an older car with old style headlamps – they make halogen replacement lamps for most cars. You’ll be amazed at the difference this upgrade will make.

In addition to regular halogen lamps, you can upgrade to premium lamps that filter some of the yellow light, making a bright white light that’s more like natural sunlight. This light’s easier on the eyes and should improve reaction time.

Now, you may be able to step up to HID headlamps, depending on the kind of car you drive. These lamps should last the life of your car, but cost several hundred dollars a pair. If you want other drivers to think you’re running HID lamps, you can even buy regular halogens that have a bluish tint. Does she or doesn’t she? Only her Michigan automotive service technician knows for sure.

Over time, plastic headlight covers can get cloudy or yellowed. In fact, AAA reports that nine out of ten headlights are dirty or yellowed, greatly reducing vision. In addition to helping you replace your headlamps, many service centers such as Ervine’s Auto Repair in Grand Rapids, Michigan can restore your headlight covers. Headlights can be restored at a fraction of the cost of replacing.

Don’t you hate it when you hear that squeal from under the hood when you’re driving aroun Grand Rapids? It usually means there is a problem with the serpentine belt. The serpentine belt powers a lot of engine accessories. It runs the alternator-which charges the battery, the water pump-which cools the engine, the air conditioning and the power steering pump. All pretty important parts. It is called a serpentine belt because it snakes around a bunch of engine components.

Ervine’s Auto Repair
4311 Stafford SW
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49548
(616) 532-6600

Serpentine belts are especially tough. They can last for years and go for tens of thousands of miles. But, with time they wear out. If your belt breaks while you are driving, everything will come to a halt within minutes. You have to stop the car or it will overheat, potentially causing major engine damage. And it probably won’t be at a convenient time or place. You might even need to get your car towed to a service center. That is why manufacturers recommend a belt replacement on schedule. You really should get it done on schedule because a belt failure will definitely take you off the road.

If you hear a squeal when accelerating or a slow, slapping sound at idle, you should have your serpentine belt looked at. Your Grand Rapids area service technician at Ervine’s Auto Repair will visually inspect your belt to see if it needs to be changed sooner than scheduled. If the belt has more than three or four cracks an inch, has deep cracks that penetrate half the depth of the belt, is frayed, is missing pieces or has a shiny glazed look, it needs to be replaced regardless of age or mileage.

Serpentine belt replacement is relatively inexpensive, especially compared with the cost and inconvenience of being stranded or getting a disabled vehicle back to Ervine’s Auto Repair for repairs.

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Modern cars and trucks in and around Kentwood run on 12 volt electrical systems. 12 volts is enough to get the job done without having so much power that there is danger of electrocution. But today’s vehicles have more electrical components and do-dads than ever before. This really strains your electrical system, making it hard for the battery to keep up. Think about it: electric seats, seat heaters, power locks, windows and sun roofs. And then we have all the power outlets for our cell phones, computers, and DVD players.

We also have navigation systems and powerful stereos. Plus there are all the engine and transmission computers, traction control, stability control, anti-lock brakes, sensors and on and on. Even the security system is running off the battery while the car is turned off.

Fortunately, battery technology has given us resilient batteries that are able to meet these strenuous requirements. But the fact is, batteries just wear out over time. Eventually, every battery gets to the point where it cannot hold enough of a charge to start your car. Sometimes batteries need to be replaced because they have just worn out. Or, in other cases, they have developed a leak and need to be replaced.

Special safety precautions are taken when working with batteries in the shop at Ervine’s Auto Repair in Grand Rapids Michigan. These precautions also apply to anyone who is poking around the battery. Batteries contain sulfuric acid that can damage your eyes and burn your skin, so safety glasses and rubber gloves are a must. Be careful to not spill acid on your clothes or the vehicle’s paint. Of course, avoid short circuiting the battery as well.

Replacement batteries come in all shapes and sizes. Some cars have limited space that requires a specially shaped battery to fit. Larger engines require more powerful batteries to get them started. If you live in a cold climate you will need a more powerful battery because engines are harder to start when it is cold.

Sometimes there is quite a price range for batteries that will work in a particular car. Think of it as “good”, “better” and “best”. More expensive batteries have a longer warranty and are guaranteed to last longer. As with most things, paying a little more up front saves money in the long run.

Ervine’s Auto Repair
4311 Stafford SW
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49548
(616) 532-6600

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Ervine's, a Grand Rapids auto repair shop, provides a wide-range of car repair services from ASE Certified Master Technicians. In addition, we also offer free loaner cars, 24-hour automotive assistance, free Wi-Fi and Starbucks coffee while you wait in our comfortable lobby!

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Customer Reviews

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  • Chelsea Vives:
    Awesome service!! They were extremely helpful and friendly! I loved how they were accommodating to the customers and being very organized with after hours drop-offs and pick-ups. They were also very quick with fixing my car which was great.


    Andy Krafft:
    Ervine's has provided great service for me throughout my college years! They do their best to make time for customers and understand the importance and value in quality service. Would definitely recommend!


    Erin O'Brien-Jenison:
    The staff is very friendly. The technicians take the time to explain repairs in detail. The loaner car service is very convenient for my family. Each of my experiences with Ervine's has been very positive.

  • Jamie Riehle:
    My car needed a lot of work and being relatively new to the area, I had to rely on online reviews. Ervine's got great feedback, so I made an appointment through their website. I was contacted almost immediately and scheduled very quickly. The repairs took a few days, but with the free loaner it was no big deal. They explained everything to me, helped me prioritize which repairs to do first, and Jamie even entertained my 5-year-old while I spent 10 minutes on the phone with my bank to get my payment to go through. I may have been able to find someplace a little cheaper, but you can't pay for the excellent customer service at Ervine's. The lobby is clean, has fresh coffee, and is very professional. As a woman I've been intimidated going into car shops but I never felt that way at Ervine's. I'll definitely be returning.

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  • Kaitlin McDowell:
    I had a great experience at Ervine's. I know very little about my car beyond turning it on, so I was relieved when the staff were willing to spend extra time explaining to me exactly what is going on and helping me to be an informed consumer. I also appreciated that they are not trying to sell something-- I did not actually need the repair that the dealership had told me to IMMEDIATELY deal with, and the folks at Ervine's were willing to tell me that when they could have made a buck doing the repair. The visit was so painless I even got to run errands while I was waiting using one of their fabulous loaner cars. Thank you so much!

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