Select Page

Our Blog

Your Engine Air Filter

Today we want to talk about your engine air filter. That’s the filter that cleans the air before it’s burned in your engine. Many people wonder how often they should change their engine air filter. The simple answer is “when it’s dirty.” That’s a function of how much air has passed through the filter, so your vehicle manufacturer will recommend a mileage interval for replacing the air filter. But you can imagine that how dirty the air is would affect how quickly the filter gets filled. If you drive in anywhere there’s lots of dust, pollution or pollen, your engine air filter will get dirty more quickly and need to be changed sooner. That’s why we check the air filter with every full-service oil change at Ryan’s Servicenter. We can visually tell if the filter needs to be changed. Your filter can only hold so much dirt. Once the filter is full, dirt will pass through to the engine. This dirt gums up the combustion chamber, hurts fuel economy and may cause damage. It can also contaminate the Mass Air Flow Sensor which will affect drivability and can be fairly expensive to replace. A dirty air filter would also restrict the amount of air that gets to the engine, which hurts fuel economy. We can replace your engine air filter with one that matches the factory specifications or you can upgrade your filter for enhanced performance and usually the length of time until the next replacement. So when your service advisor at Ryan’s Servicenter shows you your dirty air filter, you know how important it is to get it... read more

Your Timing Belt & Preventing Engine Damage

Let’s address a maintenance item for preventing your vehicle from suffering severe engine damage – timing belt replacement. Your timing belt, though seeming so insignificant, choreographs the timing of your combustion process. Meaning, it is what controls your pistons and when they travel up and down in the cylinder. Also, making sure the intake valves open at the right time to let in air and fuel, and that they close at the right time to allow the fuel to burn and then the exhaust valves open at the right time to let out the exhaust. All this happens thousands of times a minute and it’s your timing belt that makes sure the valves are opening and closing at precisely the right time. If the timing is off, your vehicle engine won’t run. And that’s the best case. The worst case for any driver is that a valve is opening at the wrong time and collides with the piston. The result is bent valves and maybe even more damage to the cylinder head. Repairs can run several thousand dollars. Now, timing belts just wear out naturally so you want to replace a worn belt before it slips or breaks. Check your owner’s manual or with your friendly and knowledgeable pros at Ryan’s Servicenter to see when they recommend you replace the timing belt. If you’ve never replaced your timing belt and have had your vehicle for a while, talk with your service advisor right away to see if you’re due. On some engines, the water pump is driven by the timing belt as opposed to the serpentine belt. If that’s... read more

Vehicle Maintenance

Your vehicle isn’t the only aspect of life with recommended intervals: you have dental cleanings, physical exams, laundry, mowing the lawn and paying the bills. What would happen if you didn’t follow these intervals? Well, you’d get more cavities. You might miss health issues that benefit from early detection and treatment. And you’d wear dirty clothes, be embarrassed by your overgrown lawn and have your utilities shut off. We would hope that as time goes on, the responsibility of taking care of yourself as well as your car become almost habitual. If we don’t, there are negative consequences. For the people who want to be more proactive with their car care, here are some simple ways to remember what has a maintenance interval. First: Fluids. If it’s liquid, it’s got a replacement schedule. Oil, transmission fluid, coolant, power steering fluid, brake fluid, differential fluid, etc. We can take care of all of these for you at Ryan’s Servicenter in Lanoka Harbor. Then think Tires. They need air, rotation, balancing, and alignment. And while you’re thinking tires, think brakes and shock absorbers. And what makes your vehicle go? Air and Fuel. Air filter replacement, fuel filters and Ryan’s Servicenter fuel system cleaning. Of course there are more items, but if you remember to take your vehicle in for these things, your friendly and knowledgeable Ryan’s Servicenter will help you with the... read more

Muffler

Driving around town, we’ve all heard a car or truck that needs a new muffler. But there’s more to the exhaust system than just the muffler. The exhaust system has three main functions: To safely get hot exhaust gas from the engine out the tailpipe Treats the exhaust to remove harmful pollutants Muffle the engine noise Exhaust gas is poisonous; no one wants the exhaust getting into their passenger compartments. For example, carbon monoxide can be deadly. That’s why you should never run your engine in a closed garage. If you have a leak somewhere in the exhaust system, exhaust could get into the passenger cabin and make you sick or even kill you. If you ever happen to smell exhaust in the vehicle, roll down your windows and get it inspected at Ryan’s Servicenter. You may smell or see exhaust coming from the engine compartment or under the vehicle if you have a leak. Sometimes the sound from an exhaust leak is loud and obvious. Sometimes it’s a ticking sound when you start the engine that goes away as you drive. That could be a small crack or a bad fitting that leaks when it’s cold but seals up when the metal heats and expands. Exhaust gas contains a number of pollutants and particulates. The catalytic converter scrubs some of those harmful substances. And diesel vehicles have systems to deal with soot. Catalytic converters eventually wear out and need to be replaced. They’re expensive so you want to help them last as long as possible by keeping the fuel system clean and replacing your air filter. These components... read more

Automotive Fluids

If your walking through the automotive fluids section at an auto parts store, you’ll know how overwhelming the sheer number of products available can be. How can drivers know what’s right for their vehicle? As you know, these fluids all serve a function in making your car run. The manufacturer of every vehicle has specified a particular type of fluid for every system from the motor, to the cooling system, brake fluid and so on. When you realize that not every variation is applicable to your vehicle, the task becomes more manageable. Why are there are so many varieties; starting with motor oil, every vehicle requires specific viscosities of oil. Meaning that in order for the engine to run as designed, it is necessary to match the properties of a particular weight or type of oil with the required oil. For example, engines with sophisticated valve trains often require a thinner weight of oil. Some vehicles come from the factory filled with synthetic oil and the recommendation to use it for life. The safe bet for all drivers is to always use what the manufacturer recommends. The recommendation is what’s been proven to work in function and durability tests. The recommended oil is also a factor in determining oil change interval schedules. A good quality oil has more additives that are engineered to clean and protect the engine. They cost a bit more, but are worth the extra protection. If you buy budget oil, you might want to consider shortening your oil change interval. Sometimes fluids are developed specifically to meet the needs of a particular family of engines. An example would be coolant. Because... read more

Check Engine Light

When your check engine light comes on, you may be torn between utter panic and just wanting to ignore it and hope it goes away. That’s perfectly understandable. That same check engine light could come on for anything from a serious engine or transmission problem all the way down to a loose gas cap. There’s a very common misconception that the trouble codes stored in your engine computer when your check engine light comes on will specifically identify a problem. It’s really more like pointing to the symptoms of a problem. Call Ryan’s Servicenter at 609.693.2966 for help with your check engine light. Think of taking your temperature. Say it’s 101. Your heat sensor – the thermometer – tells you that your temperature is out of the normal range. But it doesn’t tell you why you have a fever. Is it the flu or a sinus infection? You need more information; more tests. For any given trouble code, there could be a number of causes. So your trained technician takes the trouble code as a starting point and begins a diagnostic process to determine the cause of the problem. And some problems take longer to solve than others. When your engine management system logs a problem and illuminates the check engine light, this is when a technician will plug in a scanner, download the trouble codes and go to work tracing the cause of the problem. That’s just the first step. That’s when our technician’s training, equipment, databases and skill get put to work diagnosing the problem and fixing it. If your check engine light is flashing it means... read more

Wiper Blades

Wiper blades may not be the most exciting topic for most of us,  but they are pretty important. We have all had an experience when a sudden snow or rain storm hits while we’re driving; then when we turn on the wipers – nothing but streaks and bumps . This can be especially bad at night when the glare of on-coming headlights distorts your vision. Simple answer: change your wiper blades BEFORE they fail. Check them out every couple of months just to see how they are working. Of course, the more you use your wipers, the sooner they’ll wear out. Areas with lots of storms or those who drive a lot in NJ where there are bugs and road grime will use their blades more. Remember they are exposed to sunlight, ozone, soap, and extreme hot and cold NJ temperatures which lead to deterioration. The blades can just rot away, fall apart, rip or tare before you think you need them. If the blades are torn it lead to scratches in your windshield. There are two elements to the blade. First, the wiper blade itself: Some have a single wiping edge. Others have multiple edges – kind of like a multi-blade razor. The idea is to maximize wiping power during both swipes of the blade. The other part is the wiper frame. This is the structure that applies pressure on the blade as it passes over the windshield. A conventional frame has four to six contact points on the blade. These apply pressure used to clear water and snow. A beam frame provides uniform pressure along the entire... read more

Cooling System

The cooling system in an engine has five components: the radiator, the radiator cap, the hoses, the thermostat and the water pump. The water pump is literally the heart of the system. Just as your own heart keeps your blood circulating through your body, the water pump keeps coolant circulating through your engine. The water pump is driven by a belt, chain or gear and only operates while the engine is running. It has a limited life span and sooner or later will have to be replaced. You can check your owner’s manual to find out how long your water pump should last. Some can fail at only 40,000 miles, but almost all of them fail by 100,000 miles. Water pumps don’t gradually wear out; they fail. Basically they’re either working or they’re not. A failed water pump has to be replaced. Water pumps can fail in two ways: they can spring a leak or their bearings fail. Leaks can come from a cracked pump, but usually develop at the gasket where the pump attaches to the engine. If you hear a low-pitched grinding sound coming from the water pump, it’s time for a new one. If you see coolant leaking in the area near the pump, it needs to be replaced. Also, coolant on the driveway could indicate water pump failure. Many water pumps aren’t visible because they’re under a plastic cover, so you may have to take your vehicle to Ryan’s Servicenter to know if the water pump has failed. If your water pump is run by the timing belt, then it should be replaced when you... read more

Spark Plugs

Way back when we  changed  spark plugs every couple of years , that has ended. Back in the day, spark plugs really did wear out that often. A couple of things are different now…   First, spark plugs are made of better materials that last longer for Lanoka Harbor drivers and they’re designed better. The second reason why spark plugs used to have to be changed in vehicles and other autos was that they were fouled up with carbon deposits. The deposits built up when fuel wasn’t burned completely. With modern engine management controls that just doesn’t happen as often.   Engine control computers precisely time when fuel is injected into the engine and when spark plugs fire. Unless something’s wrong, spark plugs just don’t foul like they used to.   Electricity from the battery goes into a coil that allows power to build up to anywhere from 12,000 to 45,000 volts, depending on the vehicle. The engine management computer tells the coil when to release the power to the spark plug. The electricity travels through a wire from the coil to the spark plug. At the tip of the plug, a spark jumps between two electrodes and ignites the gas in the combustion chamber.   Some engines have more than one coil. Coils wear out and need to be replaced occasionally. Also, spark plug wires can wear out and need to be replaced.   Modern engines used around Lanoka Harbor are delivering more power and better fuel economy all the time. That’s largely credited to fast engine control computers, advanced sensors, electronic ignition and improvements to the lowly... read more

Wheel Alignment

Try to imagine that you are up in the arctic on a dog sled. Your dog team is pulling straight and true. You can cover a lot of ground fast. Now imagine what would happen if one or two of the dogs wanted to go their own way and were pulling off to the side. It would slow you down. It would make you and the dogs  work harder to keep the sled going where you want it. The dogs are all working as hard as before, but you’re covering less ground for the same effort. You’re wasting kibble and freezing your butt off.   The same is true of your vehicle when the wheels are out of alignment. That wheel that’s pulling to the side is dragging down the rest of the car – so you push a little harder on the gas pedal to keep up your speed on Lanoka Harbor roads. You’re wasting gas.   So have your wheel alignment checked at least once a year. We can help you with that at Ryan’s Servicenter in Lanoka Harbor. Get it checked right away if you feel the car pulling to one side. Sometimes we bump a curb or hit a pothole and knock our wheels out of alignment. An accident can take the wheels out of alignment as well.   So make sure you’re riding straight.  You’ll save at the  pumps and your tires will  last longer. Now, mush on! Ryan’s... read more