This Week In Automotive History: VW Bus Enters Production

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On March 8, 1950, the iconic Volkswagen Bus began production. Officially called the Volkswagen Type 2 — and the Microbus, Splitscreen, or Splittie by modern fans of the vehicle — it remained on the market in the US and in Europe until 1967.

The Type 2 was, as the name implies, the second car produced by Volkswagen, coming after production of the Volkswagen Type 1, which was the much more boring name for the Beetle. At first, the Bus was powered by the same engine as the Beetle — a 1100 Volkswagen, an air-cooled flat-four-cylinder “boxer” engine mounted in the rear. The engine was upgraded in 1953 to the bigger 1200.

Credit for the concept of the Type 2 is generally given to Dutch businessman Ben Pon. Pon had visited Germany intending to buy Type 1s. He instead had a realization that there could be a market for vans, which could easily be produced using the Type 1’s basic architecture. He sketched out a design for the Bus in 1947 and was able to get VW on board to start production by 1950.

After it had been on the market for some time, the Bus became especially popular in the United States during the counterculture movement of the 1960s, leading to another nickname for the T2: The “Hippie Van.” In present popular culture, in fact, the VW Bus is still often used to designate characters as of the Hippie Type (think Disney’s “Cars”).

Today, VW Buses are rare, especially in the United States, and are relished by collectors. Despite the lack of real world examples of the Type 2, it continues to live on in replications, concepts and in pop culture.

By Amanda Cox • March 29, 2013 • 8:45 am • Leave a comment

Trip Inspection

North Americans love their cars. And nothing goes with cars better than the road trip. Freedom from daily schedules, new sights and the open road – it’s great! But there’s nothing like car trouble to bring the fun to a grinding halt.

Now you can’t always avoid problems, but you can take steps to reduce the probability of getting sidelined on your trip. The first step is to look at your trip plan from your vehicle’s perspective. What kind of roads will you be traveling – winding byways or super-highways? Mountains or plains? What weather conditions are you likely to encounter? How many miles will you travel? How much weight will you be hauling – passengers and luggage? Lugging a trailer or roof top carrier? Will it be dusty?

Armed with the answers to these questions, you can start a trip inspection to help you prepare your Houston vehicle for your big adventure. A lot of our Houston customers prefer to go through this exercise with an automotive service advisor at Mobile Tune Up and Repair to get their input and make sure they haven’t left anything out.

A great place to start is with the tires. Inspect them for tread wear and proper inflation. Is it time to rotate your tires? Replace them? Are they up to the job – you wouldn’t want to drive regular highway tires on a muddy off-road adventure.

Shocks and struts play a major role in both driving comfort and safety. If they need to be replaced, you’ll really be glad you did once you hit the road. Is it time for a wheel alignment? Fighting a car that’s pulling to one side all day can be tiring and dangerous.

And don’t forget your brakes. Any strange noises, grabbing, soft or hard peddle feel? If there is any doubt, get a brake inspection before you leave.

Moving under the hood, have your belts and hoses inspected. If something is excessively worn or near failure, the stress of a long road trip might just be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

Your engine air filter will be important. For every gallon of gas you burn, your car will filter and use 12,000 gallons of air. If the filter needs to be changed, you’ll notice the fuel savings on your trip.

How close are you to your next oil change? Will you be able to complete your trip before it’s due? If not, just get it taken care of before you go so that you don’t need to interrupt your trip. In fact, a full service oil change is a great idea because they will top off all your fluids and check to see if any other maintenance items are due, such as transmission or cooling system service.

Do you notice any unusual odors in your vehicle? If so, it could as harmless as a dirty cabin air filter. But if it’s an exhaust leak it could be fatal on a long trip. Of course you’ll want to be comfortable, so get an air conditioning service if you aren’t getting the cold air you used to.

Are you wiper blades still working well? If not, that is quick and inexpensive to fix. Headlamps are often overlooked when planning for a trip. If you haven’t changed the bulb in six months or so, replacement bulbs will really light up the night on your trip.

All the items mentioned are part of any good vehicle maintenance plan. These are things that you want to take care of anyway, but they all come into focus as you plan for your trip.

They will always save you money in the long run and may prevent inconvenient delays on your trip. After all, you wouldn’t want to miss the world’s largest ball of string, would you?

By Amanda Cox • February 26, 2013 • 7:27 pm • Leave a comment

Severe Service Requirements

A lot of our viewers have asked whether or not they should use their severe service maintenance schedule, which is listed in their car owners’ manual. It can be confusing. Let’s clear the air on this subject. Cricket Killingsworth is from QMI/Heartland, a manufacturer of automotive products and fluids. She’s been in the automotive business for 20 years and is a speaker, a trainer, and a writer. Cricket says there’s so much confusion on this topic because, “Most owners’ manuals actually have two maintenance schedules. Sometimes these are called ‘regular service’ and ‘severe service’. Sometimes they’re simply called Schedule 1 and Schedule 2. A severe service schedule recommends that things like an oil change, air filter replacement, and transmission service be done more often: either in fewer miles or in less time.

Manufacturers create these specific schedules for each vehicle they make. So there isn’t one generic schedule that applies to all cars. In addition to your owners’ manual, Houston automotive repair centers subscribe to information services that provide the maintenance schedules for every vehicle – so they can help you know when to take care of needed services. Below is a typical definition for severe service.

Most trips are less than four miles
Most trips are less than ten miles and outside temperatures are below freezing
You drive in very hot weather
The engine is at low speed most of the time (not on the highway)
Stop and go driving
You operate your vehicle in dusty or muddy conditions
You tow a trailer, regularly carry heavy loads or carry a car-top carrier
It’s common sense: Just a few minutes at freeway speeds allows the moisture in the oil to evaporate. Very short trips, or trips of less than ten miles when it’s very cold, don’t allow the engine to heat up enough to get rid of the water. And water in the oil leads to damaging sludge. Also, towing and heavy loads raise operating temperatures and cause fluids to breakdown more quickly. Dusty and muddy driving means that more dirt will get past the air filter to contaminate the fuel system and engine oil.

The bottom line is that you need to decide for yourself if the regular or severe service schedule is right for you, based on your driving. Look at your owners’ manual, or talk with your Mobile Tune Up and Repair service advisor who can help you know which schedule to follow. Mobile Tune Up and Repair is located at 17807 Kieth Harrow Blvd , Houston TX.,

Here is what a fleet manager said recently: “Since city miles are generally tougher on vehicles than highway miles, we use the manufacturer’s severe service schedule as the basis for our preventative maintenance program. We massage those schedules over time, increasing or decreasing the service intervals so that they make the most sense. There is a little bit of art to go along with the science.

Make an honest evaluation of your driving habits. Unless you do mostly TX highway driving in moderate weather, you’ll likely have a fairly good amount of severe service mixed in. Some people just want to play it safe and follow the severe service recommendations, rather than analyzing how they drive each month.

By Amanda Cox • • 7:26 pm • Leave a comment

Mobile Tune Up and Repair Radiator Service

The coolant system is a vital part of your vehicle. It is also the second most common cause for vehicle failures. Even though coolant system failure is fairly common, it is easy to prevent.

Mobile Tune Up and Repair
17807 Kieth Harrow Blvd
Houston, TX 77084
281-463-4211

The most recognizable part of the coolant system is the radiator. It is connected to the engine with hoses and is filled with coolant. The coolant draws heat off the engine and then goes into the radiator. Air passes through cooling fins to reduce the temperature of the coolant and then it’s back to the engine again.

There are several ways for the cooling system to fail. Most common is with the coolant itself. Coolant is a mixture of water and antifreeze. The proper mixture keeps the coolant from either boiling away or freezing. Both of which can result in massive engine damage.

Another very important coolant issue that is often overlooked is the age of the coolant itself. Antifreeze has additives that protect the coolant system from corrosion. As these additives are depleted over time, they can’t protect the radiator and other parts from rust, scaling and corrosion. Old coolant may still keep your engine cool, but it won’t protect it from corrosion.

If you see a warning message to check the coolant or if the temperature gauge is in the hot zone your cooling system needs to be checked. It’s OK to add water or antifreeze yourself. But you need to be cautious. Remember four things.

First, you never want to open the radiator pressure cap. You could be severely burned.
Second, try to get to your Houston service center at Mobile Tune Up and Repair immediately if your coolant is low. If that is not possible, follow the directions in your owners manual – it will direct you to only make additions to the coolant overflow bottle.
Third, remember that you need a proper mixture of water and antifreeze. If you make an emergency addition to your cooling system, follow-up with your Mobile Tune Up and Repair service center where we can make necessary corrections.
Fourth, not all cars use the same type of antifreeze. You need to check your owners manual to make sure you use the right kind. Mixing antifreeze types or using the wrong kind of antifreeze may void the manufacturers warranty on your cooling system. Again, another reason to rely on your Mobile Tune Up and Repair service center in Houston to do things right.
Remember, your Houston service center has the equipment to change your coolant quickly and inexpensively.

By Amanda Cox • • 7:26 pm • Leave a comment

Differential Service

Here at AutoNetTV, we have viewers, like you, from all across the country who write to us with questions or feedback. One common question we’re asked is: What is a differential and what does it do? You may have been told your differential needs service, or seen it as an option up on the service menu. Differential service covers a lot of things, so let’s first talk about what a differential does.

As you drive through a turn, your outside wheels and inside wheels turn at different speeds. Kind of like the cars going around a race track – the ones driving in the outside lanes have a greater distance to travel than the cars in the inside lanes. The differential is what allows the outside and inside drive wheels to rotate at slightly different speeds so that the tires don’t hop or skip while taking corners, or lose traction in dirt or snow. Differentials have gears in them that transfer the power from the drive train to your wheels – which is why they’re often referred to as gear boxes. The gears need to be very strong to do this work, and they need to be properly protected so that they’ll last.

All vehicles have some form of differential. If you have a front-wheel drive car, your differential is often called a transaxle and is located in the front. If you have rear-wheel drive, the differential is in the back of the car. If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, you will have a differential in the front and the back – and in the middle as well. The center differential adjusts for differences in speed between the front and rear wheels.

Differential fluid lubricates and cools the gears. Over time, the fluid can get dirty from bits of the gears grinding off. The additives that keep the fluid clean and protect the differential break down over time. So your vehicle manufacturer has scheduled intervals for you to have your differential fluid changed.

Differentials are hard working mechanisms, and, along with the gears in a manual transmission, need to be serviced regularly with high-quality, replacement fluid. Your Houston automotive service advisor can give you more information as to when your next differential service is recommended. You can also ask if they have a record of when the service was last completed.

As with most service intervals, if you are driving under more severe conditions, you will want to service your differential more frequently. “Severe service” conditions are defined in most owners’ manuals, and include: frequent starts and stops, short trips, cold weather, hot weather and towing. All these conditions add to the stress of the vehicle and its parts. Also, off-roading in TX can be especially hard on differentials, especially if you cross streams. Proper service will extend the life of your gears and keep them running more smoothly. If you have never had your differential checked, visit http://johnhoffner.autotipsvideo.com/contact-us/ for more information.

By Amanda Cox • • 7:25 pm • Leave a comment
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