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Bouncy Bouncy – Are My Shocks Bad?  – July 8, 2015return to top

When Smyrna motorists think about preventive maintenance, what usually comes to mind is oil, fluids and brakes. We don’t generally think about our shocks or struts, but these critical auto parts keep our tires on the road.

Smyrna motorists don’t think about shocks as often as oil changes because shocks and struts last a long time and wear out slowly. They don’t need to be checked as often as our brake pads or air filters. By the time your shocks have fifty thousand miles on them, their performance will have noticeable degraded. If you want to restore the handling and ride designed for your sedan, consider replacing your shocks and struts.

Of course, if you drive off-road around Smyrna, carry heavy loads, tow a trailer, or put in a lot of mileage on poor driving surfaces, your shocks or struts will wear out more quickly. You’ll need to replace them more often or upgrade to better shocks.

Your suspension system uses springs and shocks to absorb the “shocks” and vibrations of driving over road surfaces. Springs support the sedan’s weight, suspending it above the axles so the body of the sedan is protected from most of the bumps on the road. Shocks control the bounciness of the springs by moderating rebound. They also push your tires down onto the road’s surface, maximizing traction. Without shocks, your wheels would bounce over bumps and lift against curbs and corners. Shocks are critical to the safe handling of your sedan as well as a comfortable ride. Struts are a combination shock and spring in one unit.

Worn shocks result in lowered vehicle handling performance. If your vehicle “squirms” around corners or gets “floaty” over bumps, then you need to check your shocks. If the rear end of your vehicle squats while accelerating, the front end dips while braking, or one corner sags, you probably need new shocks.

Uneven tire wear may also be an indication of bad shocks. If shocks are damaged or leaking, they definitely need to be replaced.

If one of your shocks needs to be replaced, you need to replace them all. This will maintain an even ride and predictable, safe handling.

If you’re unsure whether you need new shocks, or if you’re considering upgrading to a higher quality shock, then consult with your Personable Cooper Lake Automotive technician. They can give you vital auto advice on the condition of your shocks and how to match your driving needs to the quality of your shocks.

Good car care is essential to the safety, performance and efficiency of your sedan. It can improve the comfort of your ride as well.



The Cooper Lake Automotive Guide to Saving Fuel: Car Weight – June 25, 2015return to top

The team at Cooper Lake Automotive in Smyrna and GA car owners are all talking fuel efficiency right now. Better gas mileage. Fewer emissions. Smyrna car owners want to save the environment and their pocketbooks.

And we all know—or should know—that preventive maintenance will help maximize gas mileage. But is there something more Smyrna auto owners can do? After all, some of us Smyrna folks can’t cut back on our driving, and others would like to do more to economize.

Weight is one major enemy of fuel economy. The more you lug around in your vehicle, the more fuel you have to burn to get from Smyrna to Atlanta. And that means buying more gas in Smyrna and producing more emissions.

Of course, your sedan’s weight isn’t negotiable. And you can’t do much about the weight of your passengers. And this isn’t an article about diet and exercise.

But look around your sedan. Are you hauling a bunch of unnecessary weight around GA? Do you really need your golf clubs every time you leave your Smyrna home? Store sports equipment in the garage. Load it when you need it and store it when you don’t. Who knows? The extra exercise just might reduce the other type of weight in your vehicle.

The same goes for anything else in your car: make-up kits, music collections, extra electronics, spare clothing; whatever your particular extras may be. Pack it when you need it; store it when you don’t.

Clean out your Smyrna. You’d be surprised how much weight you’re lugging around Smyrna in plain old junk. Toss old papers, leftover food, and regular old dirt. Even if it’s not a lot of weight, you’ll feel better when you get into your car. A good cleaning is also part of good car care.

Now, don’t toss stuff you really do need. You do need that spare tire—the one in your trunk. And a kit of emergency essentials is not a bad idea. But just carry around the day-to-day essentials. You can pack a more extensive kit and store it in your garage, then toss it in your Smyrna when you go on a longer trip, but you don’t have to lug it around all the time. After all, are you a driver? Or are you a junk chauffeur?

Lose the junk and save some money in Smyrna
.


The Straight and Narrow: Power Steering Service at Cooper Lake Automotive – June 24, 2015return to top

Service to a vehicle’s power steering system is a critical part of preventive maintenance for brilliant Smyrna motorists. This system provides power to the steering wheel so you can turn it with ease. Without power steering, all of the power to turn your sedan’s wheels would have to come from you.

The central element of most power steering systems is a pump. The pump pressurizes the power steering fluid, and it is this pressure that provides auxiliary steering power. A belt connected to the engine usually powers the pump, although some systems use an electric pump. Some newer sedans have an electric motor that directly provides the power steering boost.

Pressurized fluid moves from the pump to the steering gear through a high-pressure hose. A low-pressure hose returns fluid to the pump. Power steering fluid cleans, cools and lubricates the system.

Smyrna motorists should remember that fluid levels in the power steering system should be checked at every oil change. Low fluid levels can damage the pump, which can be expensive to repair. Low fluid levels may also indicate a leaky hose in the power steering system, so it is a good idea to inspect the hoses, especially if your fluid levels are low.

Power steering fluid breaks down over time, losing its effectiveness. It also gradually collects moisture, which can lead to corrosion in the steering system. So the fluid needs to be replaced occasionally. You should check with your owner’s manual or ask your Personable Cooper Lake Automotive service specialist to learn how often this fluid should be replaced.

When your fluid is replaced, your Personable Cooper Lake Automotive tech will remove the old fluid and replace it with new. Power steering fluids are not all created equal; the fluid has to be compatible with your hoses and seals. Your Cooper Lake Automotive technician can ensure that you get the right fluid for your vehicle, or you can consult your owner’s manual.

Signs that your power steering system is in trouble can include the following: a steering wheel that is hard to turn, auxiliary steering power that cuts in and out, or a whining sound coming from the pump. Also, Smyrna car owners who are not topping off the power steering fluid on schedule may hear squealing coming from the engine belts.

To protect your steering system should never hold the steering wheel in the far right or far left position for more than a few seconds at a time. This can wear out your pump in a hurry.

Preventive maintenance for your steering system primarily involves the power steering components, but your steering system has other parts that can wear out or be damaged by rough GA driving conditions. Such parts include the ball-joint, idler arm, steering gear, steering-knuckle and tie rod. Signs that they are in need of attention include play in the steering wheel, a vehicle that wanders, uneven tire wear and a steering wheel that is off-center. Smyrna auto owners should have their alignment checked annually. This check-up can reveal bent or damaged steering components.

For answers to other questions about your steering system, or for auto advice on any type of vehicle maintenance, check with the team at Cooper Lake Automotive. We can steer you in the right direction when it comes to quality car care.


Shake It Up in Smyrna!: Why Wheel Balancing  – June 17, 2015return to top

Our vehicles are not massage chairs. While we may enjoy a good vibration in an overstuffed recliner, us Smyrna auto owners generally want as smooth a ride as possible in our vehicles. One way to achieve this is to keep a vehicle’s wheels in balance.

When a tire is mounted onto a wheel, it is usually out of balance. This means that as the wheel spins, there is a slight wobble to the path of the tire. For best handling performance and safety on the road, Smyrna auto owners want to minimize this wobble as much as possible. So we balance our tires. To balance a tire, your Personable Cooper Lake Automotive service professional spins it on a machine or drum to determine where it is off-balance. He then attaches weights that counter-balance the uneven weight. Most Smyrna car owners are surprised at how much balancing improves the smoothness of their ride.

High-quality tires generally hold their balance well. But over time, wear and tear take their toll and tires can become unbalanced. Smyrna motorists can tell when a front tire is unbalanced if they feel a vibration in the steering wheel. If a back tire is unbalanced, you’ll feel a vibration in your seat. You may not notice these vibrations until they get fairly serious — or until someone else drives your sedan — because they usually develop slowly. If a vibration starts abruptly, it usually means you’ve lost a balancing weight.

The average tire rotates at about 850 revolutions per minute at 60 mph. When a tire is out of balance, it actually hops down the highway, rather than rolling. So at 60 mph it is slamming into the pavement 14 times a second. That’s what creates the dangerous vibration. When Smyrna drivers’ tires are out of balance, they wear out more quickly. The lack of balance also causes extra wear on shocks, struts, steering components and important suspension parts.

Getting a balance job at Cooper Lake Automotive in Smyrna can prevent pricey repair bills and even an accident. It will improve the safety of your sedan as well as its handling performance, and it will improve your fuel efficiency. When you change your rims or get a flat repaired at Cooper Lake Automotive, you’ll need to get your tires balanced as well. When you rotate your tires, you may want to have them balanced as well.

Some Smyrna vehicle owners, however, only balance their wheels every other rotation. You can check your owner’s manual to see what the recommends for your sedan. Balancing your tires is part of important preventive maintenance. It keeps your vehicle in good repair and prevents damage to many of its components, including some costly ones. So practice good car care and make it a point to keep your tires balanced. It’s quality auto advice from Cooper Lake Automotive. Massages chairs may vibrate away our worries, but unbalanced tires will just rattle Smyrna car owners’ nerves.


Servicing High Mileage Vehicles at Cooper Lake Automotive – June 3, 2015return to top

The price of gas and the uncertain economy are both causing GA residents to review their finances. More and more Smyrna motorists are opting to keep their vehicles longer and put off purchasing a newer car. It is estimated that two-thirds of the vehicles on the roads of North America today have over 75,000 miles on them. And the average age of vehicles is now over eleven years. That translates to some car care issues that many Smyrna men and women haven’t dealt with in the past.

Older vehicles simply have different maintenance requirements than newer ones
. Learning those requirements presents a challenge for Smyrna auto owners because many owner’s manuals only publish maintenance schedules up to 60,000 or 90,000 miles. Vehicle owners have to keep good records and be more involved in planning preventive maintenance if they want to keep their sedans on the road. First of all, any service in your owner’s manual that comes with a recommended mileage interval should be continued at that interval.

For example, if it is recommended that you change your oil every 5,000 miles, you should continue to change your oil every 5,000 miles. The owner of an older vehicle has to recognize that his engine is operating under higher stress than a new one. It’s just starting to show its age. So many experts suggest that the “severe service schedule” should be followed once a vehicle has racked up some serious miles. On this schedule, the mileage interval for many services is shortened or should be performed more often. Check with your Personable Cooper Lake Automotive technician.

Smyrna car owners who own older vehicles should also be careful not to neglect or postpone oil changes. A full-service oil change is more critical for an older sedan than for a new one. Older engines have had a lot of time to build up sludge in their oil compartment, so changing the oil at regular intervals is a must. Skipping an oil change compounds the sludge problem. With a full-service oil change, the vehicle’s fluids are also checked and topped off. Your Personable Cooper Lake Automotive tech will also let you know if these fluids need to be replaced. Older sedans have older seals and gaskets, which often develop tiny leaks. Regularly checking fluids will compensate for these leaks and offer a heads-up about any serious ones. So, again, it is important to stay on schedule and not skip or procrastinate a fluid check.

Older seals and gaskets begin to dry out and show their age by becoming brittle. High-mileage formulation oils and fluids can help extend the lives of these gaskets and seals. These products contain additives that recondition seals and gaskets and keep them from leaking. High-mileage formulas cost more than standard products, but in the long run they can pay for themselves by preventing more costly repair bills.

If a vehicle is getting on in years or mileage, its parts are as well. High-mileage car maintenance requires necessary repairs and replacements. Timing belts, radiator hoses, parts of the suspension system, anti-lock brakes, air bags, water pumps, alternators and batteries will not last forever and will wear out in higher-mileage vehicles. They need to be inspected regularly by your Personable Cooper Lake Automotive tech and replaced as necessary.

But don’t go running for the new car lot just yet. These repairs may sound like a lot, but in total, they’re still cheaper for Smyrna auto owners than new car payments. And if you stay on top of them and budget for them, they aren’t as burdensome as it may appear.

If you plan on driving your vehicle into its high-mileage years, there are two relationships you need to develop. The first is with your Smyrna service center. Your Cooper Lake Automotive tech can offer you invaluable auto advice and help you develop a service plan that is right for you and your vehicle. Second, you need to develop a relationship with your sedan itself. You don’t need to name it, but you should become familiar with its noises and idiosyncrasies. Pay attention to changes in its habits such as new or unusual sounds, smells, vibrations, etc. Taking note of such things and sharing them with your service advisor can help stave off a lot of big-ticket repair issues.

As we get older, keeping up with a diet and exercise plan becomes more and more critical to maintaining good health. It’s the same with our vehicles. A preventive maintenance plan and smart car care will keep them on the road and keep them safe for a good many years to come.


Below 45 Degrees in Smyrna: Consider Winter Tires  – June 3, 2015return to top

Remember snow tires? They were basically just regular tires with big, knobby lugs to get them through deep snow. They were loud and rode hard, and Smyrna drivers couldn’t wait to get them off the car. Then along came television advertisements for “all-season” radials. GA auto owners ran out and bought some and we thought we were done with snow tires forever.

Tires have come a long way since then. Modern winter tires sold in the Atlanta area are much better designed for the wide range of harmful conditions that come with GA winter weather. They are made with a rubber compound that helps them stay flexible in cold weather. Regular tires become hard and stiff at Smyrna temperatures below 45°F, which reduces their traction. That’s a vital concern in winter, especially with snowy or wet Smyrna conditions. But it also means that Smyrna motorists are better off with winter tires in cold weather even when it’s dry.

The tread design on winter tires has been improved to actually move snow, slush and water. The lugs and grooves actually throw packed snow out of the tread as the tire rotates. This means the tread is open and ready to move more snow when it rolls around again. Summer tires can actually pack up with snow, which makes them more harmful than a bald tire.

Many winter tires use a micro-pore compound that lets the tire bite into ice and snow. They have wider grooves around the tire that help expel snow. They have a rounder casing to better cut into the surface of snow. Modern winter tires available at GA tire shops also have sipes, or thin slits cut into the tread. The edges of these sipes can grab ice and snow so that the tire retains traction on almost any surface. The sipes also help to expel water and slush from the tread. In short, a lot of time and engineering has gone into improving winter tires.

The all-season tire that is popular among Atlanta drivers is actually a compromise between summer and winter performance. This means they give adequate performance for Smyrna auto owners in either season, but aren’t great in either. Summer tires give great performance in hot weather, but lousy performance in winter. Smyrna car owners need to put more thought into their tire choices these days, but that also means they get a lot better performance for their income.

If you want the performance that new winter tires can give you, you should have them properly installed at your Smyrna service center or Cooper Lake Automotive. It’s best to purchase four snow tires and put them on all the wheels of your vehicle. But if you only want two, you need to put them on the rear of your vehicle, even if you drive a front-wheel drive vehicle. Smyrna drivers always want to put the tires with the best traction on the rear of the vehicle.

Imagine this: You take a corner on an icy Atlanta road and your rear end starts to slide. What happened is that the front end slowed for the turn, but the rear end hasn’t figured that out yet. If you have high-traction tires on the front of your vehicle, that makes the problem worse. You’re slowing the front end faster and harder, which makes the back end fishtail even more.

Putting the higher traction tires on the rear will give Smyrna auto owners more control for turns, regardless of the type of vehicle driven. Of course, that makes putting high-traction tires on all of your wheels even smarter. Why not give all of your tires the best traction they can get? Some Smyrna assume that four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicles only need winter tires on two wheels. Why? Doesn’t it make sense to give all four wheels the same level of traction and control? Four-wheel or all-wheel drive cannot compensate for poor traction.

Another false assumption held by many Smyrna motorists is that if you have traction control and anti-lock brakes, you won’t need winter tires. Traction is critical for good acceleration, steering and stopping. And tires provide traction. Traction control and anti-lock brakes can only improve on that traction. The better the traction, the better the traction control and anti-lock brakes will work. In other words, the better the tires, the better those systems will work for Smyrna motorists.

A Canadian law requires all passenger vehicles, rental cars and taxis registered in Quebec to have winter tires on all four wheels from November 15th until April 1st.

If you’re shopping for winter tires and live where there is a lot of snow in GA, look for a mountain with a snowflake in it molded into the tire’s sidewall. This symbol means the tire complies with severe snow standards. All-season tires have an M&S stamped on the sidewall. M&S stands for mud and snow.

For more vital auto advice about tires for any GA season, speak with your Personable Cooper Lake Automotive tire professional. They can help you opt for the right tire for your area and for your driving needs. For the best performance from your tires, whatever the season, don’t forget preventive maintenance. Keep your tires up to pressure for best durability, safety and performance, but don’t overinflate them. Remember, good car care provides the safest road for all of us Smyrna car owners.


Good Timing: Proper Timing Belt Replacement Saves Money for Smyrna Drivers  – May 14, 2015return to top

Knowing how their engine works can help Smyrna auto owners make informed decisions about car care and prevent pricey repairs to their vehicles. This is especially true when it comes to timing belts.

An engine’s power is generated in the cylinders. Inside the cylinder is a piston that moves up and down while the engine is running. Power is generated in a cycle that includes four strokes of the piston. First, the piston drops and a valve at the top of the cylinder opens to let in fuel and air. The piston then rises, which compresses the fuel and air. At this point, the spark plug fires, igniting the fuel and pushing the piston down. This downstroke transfers energy to the engine, which provides the power it needs to run. The piston rises again, and a valve opens to release the exhaust.

All of this movement is orchestrated by a timing belt. The timing belt is so named because it keeps the pistons and valves operating in synch with each other, just as a conductor keeps all of the instruments in an orchestra in time with one another. Thus, the timing belt is critical to the proper operation of your engine.

Not all vehicles in the Smyrna area have timing belts. Some have timing chains. A timing chain is more durable and rarely breaks, but timing belts are cheaper, so many auto manufacturers use them to save money.

Timing belts wear out and break, so an important part of preventive maintenance for Smyrna drivers is to replace the timing belt on schedule.

The results of failure of a timing belt depend on the type of engine in your vehicle, but they are always inconvenient and can be very costly for Smyrna car owners. If your engine is a non-interference engine and the timing belt breaks, the engine simply stops running. Now that can be an incredibly harmful situation depending on where you are driving around Smyrna when it breaks, but it won’t cause any engine damage. On the other hand, if your vehicle has an interference engine and the timing belt breaks, the valves on your cylinders will actually fall into the path of the pistons. Then things start getting chewed up by the motion of the engine and it will cost thousands of dollars to get everything sorted out again. Compounding the problem is that there aren’t any warning signs before a timing belt breaks. A visual inspection of the belt is difficult also. In some vehicles, parts of the belt may be visible, but most vehicles hide the belt under a cover.

The timing belt doesn’t even have to break to cause major engine damage. If it slips, even one notch, the result could be engine damage with repair costs in the thousands of dollars.

Our only car care option is to simply replace the timing belt periodically. You can check your owner’s manual to find out how often your timing belt should be replaced. Many vehicles need a replacement at 60,000 miles, but the recommended replacement mileage could be as high as 90,000 or 100,000 miles. If your owner’s manual recommends replacement at 60,000 miles, however, don’t wait until 65,000 miles to get it done. Remember what you’re risking.

Replacing a timing belt is not a cheap part of preventive maintenance for Smyrna car owners. The belt is usually difficult to get to and often requires removal of some of the engine accessories. The cost of the replacement, however, is a lot less than the repairs may cost if the timing belt fails.

For more auto advice on timing belts and other engine components, you can always consult with your Personable Cooper Lake Automotive service professional. When it comes to car care, ignorance is not bliss. It can end up costing you in a big way.


The Cooper Lake Automotive Guide To Servicing Your Differential – May 8, 2015return to top

Differential? What’s that? And what’s it for? I’ve been told by my service specialist that I need to get it serviced, but is that on the level?

Do these questions sound familiar? They’re not uncommon for Smyrna drivers. A lot of us in Smyrna don’t know what a differential is or what it’s for. Every vehicle has a differential, and, yes, it does need to be serviced. In fact, it’s more critical to the operation of your sedan than the air conditioner or windshield wipers.

A differential allows your sedan tires to move at different speeds. This happens more than you think. The best example is when a vehicle is turning. The inside wheel travels a much shorter distance than the outside wheel during a turn. This means the outside wheel has to move faster than the inside wheel. Without a differential, your tires would hop and skip while turning. They would also lose traction in sand or snow.

The location of your differential depends on what kind of vehicle you drive. On a rear-wheel drive vehicle, the differential is located in the back. For a front-wheel drive vehicle, it is located on the front, but it is usually called a transaxle. Four-wheel drive vehicles have three differentials: one on the front, one in the back, and one in the middle. This center differential compensates for differences in speed between the front and rear wheels.

Your differential contains strong gears that need to be protected from dirt, debris, water and other contaminants. A differential is sometimes referred to as a “gear box.” The work of these gears is to transfer power from the sedan drive train to the wheels.

Your differential needs fluid to lubricate and cool the gears. This fluid, even though enclosed in the “gear box,” can get dirty because the gears grind down over time, releasing tiny bits of themselves into the fluid. Also, the additives in the differential fluid break down and need to be replaced. That’s why important preventive maintenance for your sedan needs to include servicing the differential.

Your owner’s manual can give you recommendations on how often to service your differential. But you should also consult with your Personable Cooper Lake Automotive service professional. Cooper Lake Automotive can give you some good auto advice on whether your vehicle needs to be serviced more frequently. For example, if you drive in hot or cold Smyrna weather conditions, your differential will need to have its fluid changed more often.

Severe conditions will also affect your car care routine, and your differential. Check your owner’s manual for a definition of “severe service” conditions that affect your vehicle. Examples may include driving with frequent stops and starts, a lot of short trips around Atlanta, hot or cold GA weather conditions, and towing.

Off-roading is particularly hard on a vehicle’s differential. If you are an off-roader, especially if you cross GA streams or waterways, it is essential that you service your differential more frequently than the recommendations suggest.

Properly servicing your differential will extend its life and keep you out of Smyrna auto repair shops. A smooth ride for Atlanta auto owners is the result of proper preparation and smart choices.


When Do My Shocks Need to be Replaced? – April 29, 2015return to top

A good suspension system gives a vehicle a smooth, even ride while providing Smyrna car owners with good handling and control. But like any system on your sedan, vital parts of the suspension system can wear out, leading to a lower ride quality and safety concerns. So it’s a good idea for Smyrna auto owners to remember an inspection of their suspension system in their schedule of an essential preventive maintenance. Springs do most of the work of the suspension system. The most common types of springs are coil and leaf, but air springs and torsion bars are becoming more common. The body of the vehicle is “suspended” by the springs.

If springs were the only working component in your suspension system, however, you’d spend your travel time bouncing up and down like a bobblehead. That’s where your shocks come in. They keep the rebound, or bounciness, of the springs under control. Shocks also keep your tires on the road, which keeps the driver in control of the sedan. Some vehicles have struts in their suspension system. Struts are a compact combination of springs and shocks. They do the same critical job but in a single package.

Shocks wear out gradually, so it can be difficult for Smyrna car owners to notice when they need to be replaced. There’s no definitive point when a vehicle’s ride goes from smooth and controlled to a bit imprecise. To check if your shocks or struts are worn, you should first do a visual inspection on them. If they are leaking fluid, they need to be replaced.

There are other less obvious signs that your suspension system needs vital attention. For example, an uneven, cupping wear on your tires may indicate that your shocks are worn. If your vehicle feels “floaty” when you turn, or, in other words, you don’t feel that you have full control of the vehicle, you should check your shocks. Also, if the front end of your vehicle dips noticeably when you stop, it’s time for new shocks.

Your owner’s manual gives recommendations on how often the shocks should be checked, usually between 15,000 and 30,000 miles (24,000-50,000 km). If one of your shocks does need to be replaced, you should replace all four. This will keep your suspension even and ensure good handling of your vehicle. If you carry heavy loads, tow a trailer or drive on uneven Atlanta area terrain, you might also consider upgrading to a heavy-duty shock.

Regular shocks contain hydraulic fluid. The essential fluid helps them absorb the bumps or “shocks” of the road so the impact doesn’t transfer to the sedan’s body. Premium shocks are filled with compressed nitrogen gas, which costs more but does a better job of controlling body motions. Regular shocks can develop air bubbles that reduce their effectiveness; the premium shocks don’t have this problem. So if you want higher handling performance, if you drive off-road around GA or if you just want added comfort, you should consider upgrading to premium shocks or struts.

Replacing struts can put your sedan out of alignment, so an alignment check should always follow this type of repair. Talk to your Personable service advisor at Cooper Lake Automotive in Smyrna.


Road Trip: Be Ready for Anything With a Trip Inspection at Cooper Lake Automotive – April 24, 2015return to top

Road trip, anyone? Nothing spoils a great vacation for us Smyrna auto owners then ending up stranded on the side of the road or spending a week in a rundown motel while our vehicle sits in the shop. Long days on the road can bring out the worst in your vehicle, so before you leave, prepare it for the journey by getting an inspection at Cooper Lake Automotive in Smyrna. After all, you wouldn’t travel without clean socks, why ask your vehicle to travel with a load of detrimental dirty oil?

The first step in a trip inspection at Cooper Lake Automotive is to look at your travel plans. What kinds of roads will you be driving on? Will you be in the GA backcountry or on the freeway? Will you be crossing mountains? Off-roading? What will the weather be like? How many miles away from Smyrna will you be traveling? How much are you hauling? Will you be towing a trailer or lugging a rooftop carrier? Will you encounter dust, mud, snow or sea salt? All of these questions can help Smyrna auto owners confirm which Cooper Lake Automotive services are the most needed. And don’t hesitate to speak with your Cooper Lake Automotive service advisor. He can give you good auto advice on what trip conditions are hardest on what systems of your car and what kinds of services your vehicle realistically needs. Start with the tires and check them for tread wear and proper inflation. Replace or rotate them as needed. If you need to change them out for winter tires, then do so.

Then check your shocks or struts for wear. Replace them if needed. You’ll want that extra comfort on your trip. Be sure to review your alignment. Steering a vehicle that is out of alignment is tiring, and dangerous. Don’t overlook your brakes. With extra passengers and baggage, your brakes are going to get a workout. You want them in top condition.

In addition, survey belts and hoses. If any of them are close to wearing out, have them replaced before your long trip does them in.

Change your engine air filter if it needs it or if it’s close to needing it. For every gallon of gas you burn, your air filter processes 12,000 gallons of air. A clean air filter will protect critical electronic sensors that effect how your engine runs.

Get an oil change at Cooper Lake Automotive in Smyrna if it’s coming due. Make it a full-service oil change while you’re at it. That way, all of your fluids will get checked and topped off. Change any dirty or old fluids. Smyrna auto owners don’t want to overstress their cooling systems or transmissions with dangerous dirty fluid during a long trip.

Does your vehicle smell? Check the cabin air filter. The bad smell could also indicate an exhaust leak, which can be fatal on a long trip. So don’t ignore bad odors; check them out.

If your air conditioning hasn’t been up to snuff, then give it an overhaul. You want your vacation to be relaxed and pleasant, and that means keeping the passenger compartment comfortable.

And be sure to survey your wiper blades and your headlamps. You may find yourself driving in unfamiliar territory at night after a long day. You’ll want to be able to see as much as possible.

Of course, almost everything listed here is just part of critical preventive maintenance for smart Smyrna drivers. If you keep up with your car care on a regular basis, a trip inspection will be a breeze at Cooper Lake Automotive.

Taking care of your vehicle before you leave for a road trip will pay you back in safety, peace of mind, improved comfort and better fuel economy. It will also help your vacation go as planned by keeping you on the road and headed for that next great adventure. Just don’t forget to pack your socks.


Your Vehicle is NOT Maintenance Free, Smyrna Car Owners – April 17, 2015return to top

A generation ago, Smyrna car owners seemed to be more inclined to keep their vehicle’s preventive maintenance on schedule. One reason for this may be that vehicles back then were a lot less reliable than they are today. Having your sedan in to your Smyrna shop every year or two for repairs seemed to be a good reminder to keep the oil changed.

For example, almost everyone in Smyrna used to take their vehicles in for regular tune-ups. Vehicles had mechanical ignition systems, which meant ignition points, spark plugs and coils had to be replaced and the timing adjusted every few years. As long as the sedan was in for a tune-up at Cooper Lake Automotive, the vehicle was inspected and you took care of any needed repairs at the same time.

Today’s engines have electronic ignition systems and engine control computers. Spark plugs can last for up to 100,000 miles. Vehicle reliability has vastly improved in the last few decades, and surveys report fewer problems with new vehicles than ever before. That also means that our sedans don’t experience a huge performance drop when they’re ready for some car care. But it doesn’t mean that they don’t need it.

Modern Smyrna auto owners need to rely on calendars and mileage intervals to know when to schedule maintenance. Owner’s manuals contain recommendations on when different types of maintenance should be performed. Also, your Smyrna service center can provide advice about auto maintenance schedules. At Cooper Lake Automotive in Smyrna, we know that benefits of staying on top of preventive maintenance are substantial. First, you’ll get better engine performance and MPG. Those two things alone return the cost of preventive maintenance: in fuel savings and safety. Also, routine maintenance has been proven to prevent major car repairs later on. Again, the cost savings can be significant. As the old saying goes, “Spend a penny, save a dime.”

Modern sedan engines may be more durable and reliable than their predecessors, but they’re more sophisticated and complex as well. For this reason, preventive maintenance today is even more critical than the old tune-up. Modern engine systems have a lot of important parts that have to stay lubricated. These parts can be made of aluminum, plastic or steel. Special additives in lubricants are required to keep each of these materials from breaking down or corroding. Over time, these additives are depleted, even if the sedan isn’t driven. This makes fluid changes a critical part of scheduled maintenance if you want to keep your car on the road.

As an example, coolant fluid in your engine is a sophisticated mix that not only keeps your sedan engine cool but also protects and maintains its components. However, this fluid gradually gets contaminated and anti-corrosion additives are depleted. It can become corrosive and actually damage the sedan engine parts it was designed to protect. It can actually eat holes in your radiator and other engine parts. Changing the coolant could have prevented this expensive damage, and it’s a whole lot easier and cheaper than replacing a radiator.

Timely oil changes are more critical for Smyrna motorists than they used to be. Skipping just one oil change can start the build-up of oil sludge in your engine. Sludge can clog small engine passages, which cuts off the supply of lubricant to essential engine parts. Just this small bit of sludge can reduce the life expectancy of your engine. If the build-up continues, it could lead to engine failure within two or three years.

One word of warning to anyone in Atlanta who purchases used automobiles: take care when buying a leased vehicle. Smyrna folks who lease vehicles only intend to drive them for two or three years, generally the years when the vehicle is least likely to experience any problems. One of the reasons people lease vehicles is that they don’t want to be bothered with maintenance or car care. Before buying a pre-leased vehicle, be sure to inspect it for signs of damage that result from lack of proper care.

Smyrna drivers can all be grateful for the improved reliability of our modern vehicles. With proper maintenance and care, we can expect them to last longer, perform better, get better gas mileage, and require fewer repairs than ever before. We just have to be more conscientious about scheduling time for their care.


Cool Running In Smyrna  – April 10, 2015return to top

Unless you live in Death Valley, you really don’t hear much any more about cars overheating. That’s because cooling systems in vehicles have been much improved. That doesn’t mean you can’t overheat your sedan engine, though. Without proper preventive maintenance, you could still find yourself on the side of the expressway in Smyrna waiting for your sedan engine to cool down.

When you service your cooling system at Cooper Lake Automotive, your technician will check the condition of the coolant. It can become corrosive over time, which can damage a radiator — leading to an overheated engine. Changing the coolant periodically is good car care. Your sedan owner’s manual can give you guidelines on how often to replace it.

If your engine overheated, your Personable service advisor will also check your coolant system for leaks. Check the sedan radiator for cracks and the radiator hoses for leaks. He’ll also check your water pump. They don’t need to be replaced on a regular schedule, but they do need an inspection regularly. They can and do wear out.

The water pump is a critical component of your sedan cooling system. It pumps the coolant to keep it circulating through the engine. The coolant is cooled in the radiator, then it travels through the engine, where it absorbs heat, then it returns to the radiator, where it releases the heat. And so on. But a water pump is something of a misnomer. The fluid pumped through your sedan cooling system is not just water. It also contains coolant, which is actually poisonous. You should never consider your radiator as an emergency water supply.

There are many types of coolant. It varies from vehicle to vehicle, and using the wrong kind could damage your engine. Your service specialist will know which kind your vehicle’s manufacturer recommends. The team of automotive professionals at Cooper Lake Automotive is always a good source for auto advice. We’ve been providing quality automotive services at our convenient location in Smyrna for 40 years.

Keeping your cooling system in good repair will help keep your engine running well, and keep you out of the Atlanta repair shop. This means that a regular cooling system inspection should be on your schedule for routine preventive maintenance of your vehicle. Your owner’s manual will tell you how often you need to do this. It varies depending on what kind of car you drive, what type of driving you do and where you live in GA.

At Cooper Lake Automotive, we help you keep your cool which will keep you in the driving lane.


Super Slick at Cooper Lake Automotive in Smyrna: Synthetic Oil  – April 3, 2015return to top

When you get an oil change, it’s always a safe bet to just use the type of oil the vehicle manufacturer recommends. But sometimes we’re asked if we’d like conventional or synthetic motor oil. We glance at the price tags on the two options and choose the cheaper one. But in this case, the more expensive oil might be the better bargain for Smyrna car owners.

Conventional oil is made from petroleum. Its molecules form long hydrocarbon chains. Synthetic motor oil is either more highly refined petroleum or completely man-made. Its molecules are more uniform. This provides essential advantages over conventional motor oil.

First of all, the molecular structure of synthetic motor oil makes it more slippery than conventional oil so it lubricates better. This translates to better wear protection for Smyrna drivers, cooler operating temperatures, more engine power and increased fuel efficiency.

Further, synthetic oil is more heat-resistant than conventional oil, and it doesn’t vaporize as easily. It provides better protection for severe conditions like stop-and-go driving around Smyrna and very hot or freezing GA temperatures.

Also, synthetic oil doesn’t generate harmful oil sludge like conventional oil. This prevents small engine passageways from becoming clogged, which can significantly extend the working life of your sedan engine.

Manufacturers are aware of the advantages of synthetic oil, and many of them are using it to fill their sedans before delivering them to be sold. Many automobile manufacturer’s owner’s manuals now come with the recommendation to use only synthetic oil. Because synthetic oil wears better and protects better than conventional motor oil, it can be changed less often. If your sedan came with a recommendation for synthetic oil, you may have noticed that the recommended period between oil changes is longer than what you’re used to. However, if you switch to conventional oil, you need to be aware that you can’t follow this longer service interval. You’ll have to change your oil more often.

On the other hand, if you are using conventional oil and you switch to synthetic oil, you may be able to lengthen the time between oil changes. You can speak with your Personable Cooper Lake Automotive service advisor. He can offer you good auto advice about oils and service intervals based on your driving habits and requirements.

Oil changes are the hallmark of vital preventive maintenance at Cooper Lake Automotive. All Smyrna drivers need them. So we should get excited about a product that reduces how often we need them. Synthetic oil is more costly, yes, but it can pay for itself by lasting longer than conventional oil. And when you add in the hidden savings of an extended engine life and improved fuel economy, not to mention increased engine power, there’s a good chance that synthetic oil actually saves in the long run. All Smyrna motorists pay for car care. But understanding what we’re paying for can make us more savvy shoppers.


Viva la Differential At Cooper Lake Automotive In Smyrna  – March 26, 2015return to top

There are a lot of Smyrna people who are due for a differential service, but had never heard of a differential before. With front-wheel drive being so common in GA these days, the differential is just taken care of during a transmission service, so most Smyrna folks don’t even have to think about it. And rear-wheel drive differentials don’t need to be serviced for years, so it’s understandable that it’s not something on the top of mind. So it’s not uncommon for Smyrna people to not know they have a differential let alone know that it needs service.

To better understand what a differential does, think about a track at any GA high school. There are lanes marked off on the track. For the longer distance races, the starting lines are staggered. The starting lines for the outside lanes are ahead of the starting lines for the inside lanes. That’s to compensate for the longer length of the outside lanes. Staggering the starting lines means that each runner has the same distance to run.

The differential compensates for the difference in speeds between the inside sedan wheel and the outside wheel in a turn, because they have to travel together through slightly different distances.

It’s a very important function. When you think of it, all the power to get a sedan moving goes through the differential. Most cars weigh between three and six thousand pounds – trucks even more. The power from the engine goes through the transmission and then through the differential to the drive wheels.

That’s a lot of work and requires very heavy duty parts. And those parts need protection. The differential fluid lubricates the gears in the differential and keeps them cool. The fluid eventually gets dirty and worn down. Some kinds of differentials require special additives that break down over time. So manufacturers recommend intervals for when to replace your differential fluid.

Your Personable Cooper Lake Automotive service technician will drain the used fluid and check it out for metal bits, which could be a sign of excessive wear on the gears. He’ll then replace the fluid and install the additives if necessary.

Your Cooper Lake Automotive service advisor can look up the sedan manufacturer’s recommended service interval or you can check your owner’s manual.

At Cooper Lake Automotive, we’ve been providing quality automotive service for our valued Smyrna customers for 40 years. If you need to schedule differential maintenance, or any other automotive service, give us a call at 770-431-1936.


Time Out: Suspension Problems in Smyrna  – March 18, 2015return to top

Your vehicle’s suspension system has two important jobs: to prevent the passengers from getting tossed around inside the vehicle every time it hits a bump in the road and to keep the tires firmly planted on the road around every corner and over every bump.

To see your suspension system, you’ll have to look under your vehicle. Anything that connects the wheels to the vehicle’s frame is part of the suspension system. They’re heavy-duty parts that work hard while you’re driving and take a lot of wear and tear. Because of this, you should have your Personable Cooper Lake Automotive service professional look at them once a year as part of your preventive maintenance routine. A good time for a diagnostic examination is every time you get your alignment checked.

If your suspension is in trouble, you often feel it in how your vehicle drives. If the vehicle pulls to one side or wanders, if the steering is erratic, if your ride isn’t as smooth as it should be, or if your vehicle handles poorly, you should get a diagnostic examination of your suspension system. Uneven tire wear can also indicate worn parts in your suspension system. If your shocks are leaking oil then they definitely need to be replaced. All in all, if you don’t feel in control when you’re driving, go get your suspension inspected.

Shocks and struts wear out. Wheel bearings may need to be repacked every few years. Some parts of your suspension may need to be lubricated whenever you change your oil. Preventive maintenance is the key to keeping your vehicle under control. Good car care can prevent accidents for Atlanta motorists.

If you are in an accident, even a minor one, it can damage your suspension system or knock your wheels out of alignment. Even hitting a curb, pothole or large rock can damage your suspension. A wheel balancing or alignment won’t correct a suspension problem, and after any suspension work, you’ll may need to get an alignment.

At Cooper Lake Automotive, we advise Smyrna drivers never to procrastinate important repairs to their suspension system. A damaged suspension system can lead to loss of control of a vehicle in an emergency situation and serious accidents.

Potholes are unsightly nuisances around Smyrna, but they’re also a major cause of suspension damage for Smyrna car owners. To avoid this, Smyrna drivers should always keep their tires properly inflated. This gives the tires maximum resiliency. When you’re driving around the Atlanta area, avoid potholes if possible. If you can’t avoid one, then slow down before driving over it. Slower speeds limit pothole damage. But if you’re a little late detecting a pothole, don’t brake on top of it. This will throw the vehicle’s weight forward and increase the damage.

The suspension system may not be pretty to look at, but it provides Smyrna car owners with a safe, comfortable ride — as long as they maintain it properly. You don’t have to show it off, but you should be proud of it.