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OE vs. Aftermarket


GA new car dealerships are happy to leave you with the impression that you should have all of your scheduled automotive maintenance performed at the dealership during the warranty period. Some go so far as to imply that your warranty protection depends on it. In fact, nothing is further from the truth. Federal laws in both the United States and Canada specify that you do not have to have your vehicle serviced at a dealership to maintain warranty protection. The laws further state that a vehicle manufacturer cannot mandate that you use their particular brand of replacement parts or fluids. This certainly means you have many more service options, but what about quality?

First off, it is important to know that vehicle manufacturers do not make all of their own parts. They look to thousands of independent suppliers to manufacture the parts that go into your car or truck. Many of these same manufacturers that make the parts that are original equipment for a new vehicle, also supply parts for the automotive aftermarket. That means that your local service center such as Cooper Lake Automotive has access to quality parts that meet or exceed auto makers’ specifications. Your service consultant can offer a range of parts solutions that give you the option to save some money or to upgrade to a higher performance part.

While TV commercials for auto dealerships will tout “genuine” parts, your Smyrna service center has the option to not only use that same part, but to help you choose one that better meets your driving needs. Dealership ads often promote the notion that only their technicians are up to the task of servicing their particular make of vehicle. That may be true if you drive a Ferrari, but for the rest of us, the training that your local service technicians receive is transferable to any vehicle.

Today’s service databases enable your Atlanta or Marietta service provider to get the right parts and to follow the right procedures to take care of your car. The diagnostic technology and equipment your service center uses enables them to get you back on the road as economically as possible. Speaking of economics, aftermarket labor rates are nearly twenty percent lower than dealership rates.

So there you have it. Your local Atlanta area service centers are more convenient than auto dealerships, are more economical and provide high quality parts and products. And, your warranty is protected unless the manufacturer can demonstrate that a particular part lead to a warranty failure. In addition, you have more options as to where you have your vehicle serviced or repaired and you can take advantage of innovations and improvements that aren’t available at the dealership.

Serpentine Belt Replacement


Don’t you hate it when you hear that squeal from under the hood? 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.

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 Atlanta automotive 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 service technician 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 to a service center for repairs. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. To schedule a belt inspection, call Cooper Lake Automotive at 770-431-1936. We are located in Smyrna at 4739 South Cobb DR. SE.

Timing Belt


Ever heard the sad tale of a staggering repair bill from a broken timing belt? Bad news. Let’s take a lesson from their woes and remember to think about our timing belt.

First, let’s review what a timing belt does. The top part of the engine, over the cylinders is called the cylinder head. The head contains the valves. There’s at least one valve that lets the fresh air into the cylinder. This air, mixed with fuel, burns to create power. Then another valve or two open to allow the exhaust out of the engine. Each cylinder has 2 to 4 valves – that’s 12 to 24 valves for a V-6, up to 32 values on a V-8. The opening and closing of the valves is done by a camshaft. The timing belt uses the rotation of the engine to drive the camshaft which opens and close the valves. It’s called a timing belt because it has to be adjusted to rotate the camshaft to keep proper time with the engine so that everything’s in sync.

The timing belt is a toothed rubber belt . But some cars use a timing chain or timing gears instead of a belt. Timing chains and gears are much more durable, but manufacturers are using belts more because they are quieter – and cheaper. If you have a small or mid-sized passenger car, crossover or mini-van, chances are you have a timing belt.

Unfortunately, timing belts fail without any warning. That shuts you down right away. A technician can inspect your timing belt and look for cracks and looseness. But getting to the belt to take a look can be almost as much work as changing it on some cars. That’s why manufacturers recommend replacing the belt from time to time. For most vehicles it’s from 60,000 to 90,000 miles or 95,000 to a 145,000 kilometers. If your owners’ manual doesn’t specify an interval ask your service advisor.

One AutoNetTV producer has had two timing belts fail. The first was while he was waiting at a stop light – that repair cost several thousand dollars. The second was while driving on the highway – that one cost more than twice as much. Both had the cars out in the shop for three weeks. His cars had what we call “interference engines”, meaning that the valves and pistons are very close to each other. If the timing belt slips even one notch, the pistons will slam into the open valves. That’s why our friend’s highway failure was so much more expensive – his engine was traveling so fast that the valves were smashed and they chewed up the cylinder head.

A non-interference engine will just shut down if the timing belt breaks. You’re stranded, but the engine doesn’t suffer permanent damage. In both cases, our hapless friend was just a couple oil changes past the recommended interval for changing the timing belt. This is one of those things that you just cannot put off. Now replacing a timing belt is not cheap – but repairs for a broken belt can be many times as much.

Check your owners’ manual right away – especially if you have more than a 60,000 miles or 95,000 kilometers. You may need to get that belt replaced right away. And on many cars, the timing belt drives the water pump. So, it may be a good idea to replace the water pump while you’re at it because 90% of the work required for the new pump is already done with the belt change. Doing both at the same time saves you a lot of money because as they say, “timing’s everything”. Parts, Timing Belt