C&A Transmission and Auto Repair

Servicing Spring, Houston, and surrounding areas since 1988

C&A Transmission and Auto Repair - Servicing Spring, Houston, and surrounding areas since 1988

Automobile Fluids For Your family car

If you’ve walked through the automotive fluids of an auto parts store in Houston, you’ll know how overwhelming the sheer number of products available can be. How do you know what’s right for your vehicle?

As you know, these fluids all serve a function in making your car run as you drive around the Houston area. Your vehicle manufacturer 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.

First let’s talk about why there are so many varieties. Starting with motor oil, we see that manufacturers match the properties of a particular weight or type of oil with the design needs of the engine. For example, engines with sophisticated valve trains often require a thinner weight of oil.

Some vehicles around Houston come from the factory filled with synthetic oil and the recommendation to use it for life. The safe bet is to always use what the factory 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.

Spring TX Auto Fluids 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 of the different materials used to build the cooling system, the coolant has to be formulated to protect those parts, which vary from manufacturer to manufacturer, from corrosion. We’ve seen special coolant in Houston for General Motors, Volkswagen, Chrysler and others.

The same is true of transmission fluid and brake fluid in recent years.

The really good news is that your Houston service center has databases that tell them the recommended fluids for your vehicle. This takes all the guess work out. If you have some special needs, like a higher mileage engine or want enhanced performance, ask your service advisor for upgrades or additives that’ll meet your needs while being consistent with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Of course, your full-service oil change will top off your fluids. But it’s a good idea to have some of everything at home in case you need to top something off yourself or to take on a trip. Ask your Houston service advisor at C&A Transmission & Auto Repair or check your owner’s manual for fluid specifications.

It’s important to know that there are national warranty laws that say that a manufacturer cannot require you to use their brand of fluid to maintain your warranty. That said, there are two things that may affect your warranty.

Using the wrong type of fluid may void the warranty. Going back to radiator coolant, the correct type protects against corrosion and the wrong type will not. So it’s important to be right.

Also some warranty protections are conditioned on taking care of scheduled preventive maintenance. Please review your warranty if you have questions.

Fuel Filter Service in Spring TX

There are a surprising number of small, inexpensive parts that can lead to expensive engine damage when they fail. It doesn’t seem right.

Fortunately a lot of those things can be taken care of in routine maintenance. They may not be easy to remember, because it is a long list, but your service center at C&A Transmission & Auto Repair can help you know what’s scheduled to be taken care of.

Some of us in Spring TX really don’t look forward to going in for an oil change and then getting a list of the other things the manufacturer recommends.

But automotive maintenance is all about prevention, and addressing small problems before they get big. Let’s take the fuel filter for example.

You may not know this but the median age for private vehicles on our Spring TX roads is over nine years. When cars get older, five years or so, they’ve accumulated a lot of dirt and rust in their gas tanks. If that dirt gets into the engine it can cause thousands of dollars worth of damage. So somewhere between that dirty gas tank and the price of a great vacation – is the lowly fuel filter: a very inexpensive part that doesn’t cost too much to replace. And your car’ll just run better too.

A clogged fuel filter can’t let enough fuel through. You might notice at first that your car is running fine around town, but struggles or sputters on the Spring TX freeway or when you accelerate. Enough fuel can’t get through to meet the demands of higher speed. If it gets bad enough your engine might just shut off or not start at all, which could be dangerous.

Some fuel filters have a bypass. When they get clogged, they allow dirty fuel to move around the filter element so dirt ends up in the engine. We’ve already talked about how expensive that can be.

The fuel filter is even very important for newer cars. The fuel is still dirty even if there isn’t rust in the tank. It’s just that the fuel filter will need to be changed more frequently as the vehicle gets older.

How often should you change your fuel filter? Check your owner’s manual. Your Spring TX service advisor at C&A Transmission & Auto Repair can tell you as well. It’s usually around thirty thousand miles or so. Ask if it’s time for a full fuel system cleaning as well. They often go hand in hand.

It’s good to know that your Spring TX service center has your back. When you’re motivated to maintain your vehicle’s performance and to reduce operating costs, you’ll think of C&A Transmission & Auto Repair as your ally – and maybe even your memory.

Tire Tread Depth for Spring, TX




Driving on bald tires is like playing roulette. Though you may be fine today, eventually your luck is going to run out.

The Feds don’t have any laws for tread depth, but 42 of the states, and all of Canada, do have regulations. They consider two-thirty-seconds of an inch to be the minimum legal tread depth. Two other states, including California, consider one-thirty-second to be the minimum and six states have no standards at all. Call us at C&A Transmission & Auto Repair; (just call 713.896.1107) to find out what your requirements are in the Spring, TX area.

Since 1968, U.S. law has required that a raised bar be molded across all tires. When tires are worn enough that this bar becomes visible, there’s just 2/32” of tread left. But does that older standard give you enough safety?

Consider this: Consumer Reports recommends tire replacement when tread reaches 4/32”. And the recommendation is backed by some very compelling studies. Now before we go into the studies, you need to know that the big issue is braking on wet surfaces.

We tend to think of the brakes doing all the stopping, but you also need to have effective tires to actually stop the car. When it’s wet or snowy in Spring TX, the tread of the tire is critical to stopping power.

Picture this: you’re driving in Spring over a water-covered stretch of road. Your tires actually need to be in contact with the road in order to stop. That means the tire has to channel the water away so the tire is actually contacting the road and not floating on a thin film of water – a condition known as hydroplaning. When there’s not enough tread depth on a tire, it can’t move the water out of the way and you start to hydroplane.

This is where the studies come in. We think you’ll be surprised. A section of a test track was flooded with a thin layer of water. If you laid a dime flat on the track, the water would be deep enough to surround the coin, but not enough to submerge it.

A car and a full-sized pick-up truck were brought up to 70 mph and then made a hard stop in the wet test area. Stopping distance and time were measured for three different tire depths. First, they tested new tires. Then tires worn to legal limits. And finally, tires with 4/32” of tread were tested (the depth suggested by Consumer Reports.)

When the car with the legally worn tires had braked for the distance required to stop the car with new tires, it was still going 55 mph. The stopping distance was nearly doubled. That means if you barely have room to stop with new tires, then you would hit the car in front of you at 55 mph with the worn tires.

Now with the partially worn tires – at the depth recommended by Consumer Reports – the car was still going at 45 mph at the point where new tires brought the car to a halt. That’s a big improvement – you can see why Consumer Reports and others are calling for a new standard.

Now without going into all the details, let us tell you that stopping the truck with worn tires needed almost 1/10 of a mile of clear road ahead to come to a safe stop. How many Spring motorists follow that far behind the family car ahead? Obviously, this is a critical safety issue.

The tests were conducted with the same vehicles, but with different sets of tires. The brakes were the same, so the only variable, was the tires.

How do you know when your tires are at 4/32”? Well, it’s pretty easy. Just insert a quarter into the tread. Put it in upside down. If the tread doesn’t cover George Washington’s hairline, it’s time to replace your tires. With a Canadian quarter, the tread should cover the numbers in the year stamp.

Now you may remember doing that with pennies. But a penny gives you 2/32” of an inch to Abraham Lincoln’s head. The quarter is the new standard – 4/32”.

Tires are a big ticket item and most people in Spring, TX want to get thousands of miles out of them. Just remember: driving on bald tires is like playing roulette.

Have Mr. Washington look at your tires today. If he recommends a new set, come see us at C&A Transmission & Auto Repair in Spring.

C&A Transmission & Auto Repair
20336 Holzwarth Road
Spring, TX 77388
713.896.1107

On Board Diagnostics For Your family car

Make an appointment with C&A Transmission & Auto Repair to have your on board diagnostics analyzed.
20336 Holzwarth Road
Spring, TX 77388
713.896.1107

Today we’re going to talk about on-board diagnostics and the questions we hear from folks around Spring TX who need answers about diagnostic services. They want to know what diagnostics are, what’s involved and what the benefits are. They really want to understand the value of diagnostic scans by a trained technician in Spring TX.

These are valid concerns. If you don’t understand something it’s really hard to know its value. Let’s start with some history.

Since 1996, all cars and light trucks in Spring TX have been required to use a standardized diagnostic system to help repair technicians determine what’s wrong with your vehicle. The diagnostic system works with the vehicle’s Engine Control Module – the computer that controls many engine functions.

The computer monitors dozens of components and processes. Depending on what the sensors read, the computer will make adjustments to compensate for conditions and minor problems. When there is a condition that it can’t adjust for, the computer will turn on the check engine light.

It is also called the ‘service engine soon’ light on some vehicles. The warning light signals you to get into your Spring TX service center so that the trouble code can be read and the problem can be fixed. Your service center will have a scan tool and powerful software that will help the technician diagnose the problem.

If you’ve searched for check engine light on the internet, you may have seen that you can buy an inexpensive scanner or go to an auto parts store to have the trouble code read to tell you exactly what’s wrong.

That’s a common myth. The code itself doesn’t tell you what’s broken. It starts you looking in the right place. It tells you what engine parameter is out of range – but it won’t tell you what’s wrong or how to fix it.

Let’s say you think your daughter has a fever. You take her temperature and it reads one 102 degrees. You’ve confirmed a fever, but you don’t know what’s causing it. Is it a 24 hour flu, an infection, appendicitis or leukemia? A fever is a symptom of all of these medical problems, but it takes a skilled physician’s examination and additional diagnostic tests to find out what is actually causing the fever.

An example of a trouble code could be: P0133, which reads ‘Bank 1 sensor 1 circuit slow response’. This means that the front oxygen sensor has a slow response time to changes in the air-fuel mix. If that’s all you knew about cars, you would think your oxygen sensor was broken and would replace it. Now, it could be the oxygen sensor – but it could also be a bad or contaminated airflow sensor, exhaust leak, electrical problem, an intake manifold leak or any of a number of other things.

You can imagine a lot of oxygen sensors have been replaced because of that code. So the on-board diagnostics point the way to where the trouble lies, but it takes some skill and high-tech equipment to actually pinpoint the problem. The cheap scan tools that a consumer can buy do not have the ability to retrieve some of the operating history that’s stored in the engine control computer. That history’s very helpful in diagnosing the problem. Service centers like C&A Transmission & Auto Repair invest a lot of money in high-end diagnostic tools to help solve the mystery and get you back on the road as soon as possible without replacing a lot of parts that don’t need replacing.

So, on-board diagnostics provide a powerful starting place for a highly-trained, well-equipped technician to get to the bottom of your problem. When your check engine light comes on, get it checked at C&A Transmission & Auto Repair. If the light burns steady – don’t panic. Get in to C&A Transmission & Auto Repair soon to have the engine scanned. A flashing check engine light means that there is a severe engine problem. Get in as soon as you can – waiting too long can lead to very expensive damage.

And try to not drive at high speed or tow or haul heavy loads with a flashing check engine light.