Your modern vehicle's engine is a highly sophisticated piece of equipment. The days of your father's gas-guzzler are long gone—instead, Federal Exhaust Emission and Fuel Economy regulations demand that today's vehicles be equipped with electronic engine control systems, to curb carbon emissions and increase fuel efficiency. With technically-advanced control systems taking the place of simple engine components, common maintenance services such as tune-ups are also a thing of the past. Regular services (such as spark plug and filter replacements) are still required, as well as a computerized analysis of your vehicle's control computer. Our factory-trained technicians are here to provide these basic services.
Here's how your modern vehicle's control computer operates:
A network of sensors and switches convert and monitor engine operating conditions into electrical signals. The computer receives this information, and, based on information and instructions coded within this savvy computer program, commands are sent to three different systems: ignition, fuel, and emission control. Whenever a problem arises (as seen by that nagging "check engine" light), our service pros check whatever command is prompted, in addition to the status of your engine control computer and sensors. That way you'll know if your vehicle's performance is caused by a real problem, or just a sensor/computer issue.
Here's a brief overview of your vehicle's sensory components:
• Mass airflow sensor
• Throttle position sensor
• Manifold absolute pressure sensor
• Coolant temperature sensor
• Exhaust oxygen sensor
• Crankshaft position sensor
• Camshaft position sensor
A control arm is a part of the front suspension. Some cars have one control control arm on each side; other vehicles, including many trucks have two (upper and lower) control arms on each side of the front suspension. The internal side of the control arm is connected to a vehicle's body or a frame through the rubber bushings (control arm bushings). An outer end of the control arm holds a ball joint. A ball joint could be bolted to or pressed into the control arm. Sometimes, a ball joint is an integral part of the control arm and if it goes bad the whole control arm must be replaced.
One of the common problems with control arms is when the control arm bushings wear out. Sometimes the bushing can be replaced separately. Typically they have to be pressed into the control arm.
In some cars if the control arm bushings go bad, the whole control arm has to be replaced as it comes as an assembly.
After the control arm bushings or the whole control arm is replaced, the wheel alignment must be performed on most cars.
The axle on your vehicle is the structural component that connects two wheels together on opposite sites. It's a load-bearing assembly that acts like a central shaft, maintaining the position of the wheels relative to each other and to the vehicle body. The construction of your axle is designed according to what your vehicle is built for; trucks and off-road vehicles are equipped with axles that keep the wheel positions steady under heavy stress (ideal for supporting heavy loads), while conventional axles are constructed for the needs of the general consumer. But no matter what you drive, remember that your vehicle's axle must bear the weight of your vehicle (plus any cargo) and the acceleration forces between you and the ground. So when it comes to axle inspection, we are your source for professional, knowledgeable service—essential for the equipment that carries you and your family to wherever you need to go.
Here is a brief description of the most common axle design:
Simply put, a drive axle is one that is driven by the engine. Typically found in modern front wheel drive vehicles, a drive axle is split between two half axles, with differential and universal joints between them. Each half axle is connected to the wheel by a third joint—the constant velocity (CV) joint—that allows the wheels to move freely. This joint allows the shaft to rotate, transmitting power at a constant speed without a significant increase in friction and heat. CV joints are usually dependable, but, as is the case for all of your vehicle's moving equipment, they do require regular inspection. An easy way for you to tell if you need to see us for axle repair is to go out to a large space (such as a parking lot), and slowly drive in tight circles. If you hear a clicking or cracking noise, you have a worn joint, and it must be repaired immediately.
All front-wheel drive cars as well as some four-wheel drive vehicles have Constant Velocity joints or CV joints on both ends of the front drive shafts; the inner CV joints connect the drive shafts to the transmission and the outer CV joints connect the drive wheels to the drive shafts. The CV joints are needed to transfer the torque at a constant speed to the steered wheels as well as to accommodate up and down motion of the suspension. A CV joint is packed with a grease and sealed tight by a rubber or plastic boot. A CV joint doesn't need any maintenance and can last very long, as long as the protective CV joint boot is not damaged.
All front-wheel drive cars have Constant Velocity joints or CV joints on both ends of the drive shafts (half shafts).
Inner CV joints connect the drive shafts to the transmission, while the outer CV joints connect the drive shafts to the wheels. Many rear-wheel drive and four-wheel drive cars as well as trucks also have CV joints.
The CV joints are needed to transfer the torque from the transmission to the drive wheels at a constant speed, while accommodating the up-and-down motion of the suspension. In front-wheel drive cars, CV joints deliver the torque to the front wheels during turns. There are two most commonly used types of CV joints: a ball-type and a tripod-type. In front-wheel drive cars, ball-type CV joints are used on the outer side of the drive shafts (outer CV joints), while the tripod-type CV joints mostly used on the inner side (inner CV joints).
A CV joint is packed with a special grease and sealed tight with the rubber or plastic boot, that is held in place with two clamps. A CV joint doesn't need any maintenance and can last very long, as long as the protective CV joint boot is not damaged. It's not uncommon to see a car with over 300,000 miles with still original CV-joints.
The most common problem with the CV joints is when the protective boot cracks or gets damaged. Once this happens, the grease comes out and moisture and dirt get in, causing the CV joint to wear faster and eventually fail due to lack of lubrication and corrosion. Usually outer CV-joint boots break first, as they have to endure more movement than the inner ones. CV boots are typically inspected during regular maintenance visits. Your mechanic will look for cracks, tears and other damage.
Grease coming out of a small crack or tear is the early sign of the CV joint boot failing. If the damage is bigger, you might see dark grease splattered on the inside of the wheel rim and around the area inside of the drive wheel like in the photo.
If a car is continued to be driven with a damaged CV joint boot, the CV joint will wear out and eventually fail. A most common symptom of a badly-worn outer CV joint is a clicking or popping noise when turning. Usually the noise gets louder when accelerating in turns. In worst cases, a badly-worn outer CV joint can even disintegrate while driving. This will make your car undriveable.
Inner CV joints failures are rare. One of the symptoms of a failed inner CV joint is shudder or side-to-side shake during acceleration. A worn-out inner CV joint may also cause clunking when shifting from Drive to Reverse.
If a damaged CV joint boot is caught early, simply replacing the boot and repacking the CV joint with a fresh grease is all that is usually needed. This is much cheaper than replacing the whole CV joint or drive shaft. The CV joint boot replacement costs from $180 to $350. The part is usually not very expensive, but a fair amount of labor is involved to replace it. A CV joint boot is typically sold as a kit, with a fresh grease and new clamps.
If a CV joint itself is worn out, it cannot be repaired; it will have to be replaced with a new or reconditioned part. Sometimes, a CV joint does not come separately. In this case, a whole drive shaft will need to be replaced. The replacement of the drive shaft could cost from $380 to $800 in a repair shop.
If you are planning to replace the CV joint boot or a drive shaft yourself, you will need a strong torque wrench (or a breaker bar) and the right size socket to break loose the main CV joint lock-nut or hub nut (in the photo) because it's very tight. Also, be prepared that the lower ball joint will have to come out, and it could be quite difficult to do without special tools. The hub nut will also have to be re-torqued to the specified torque after the repair is completed. Check the repair manual for instructions and torque specifications.