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A Publication of Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales & Service
Vol. 11  No. 1         Winter 2005

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Modern Technology Tracks Teenagers

    Every parent’s nightmare can be a teen that is getting his or her driver’s permit or license. Now the worries start: Where are they going and how fast? How far away are they and are they headed home? Concerned parents can finally breathe a sigh of relief with a new service that provides a combination of global positioning and cell phone technology.

    The Teen Arrive Alive Service allows parents to monitor their teens by using a Nextel phone equipped with a Global Positioning System (GPS). As long as the phone is on standby it will transmit location signals that parents can access on line via the Internet. The system is so accurate that it can track the speed of the person if they are in a moving vehicle. Already Teen Arrive Alive customers are checking in on their teens location and if necessary calling them or the driver to slow their car’s speed. In addition, parents can check on the whereabouts of their teen at any time of the day or night, (providing the teen has taken the phone with them).

    Teen Arrive Alive ( costs $15.00 per month after a $50.00 activation fee. The GPS Nextel phone is free, but you must sign on with Nextel for their cell phone service.

    Ulocate offers a similar tracking service. Their system also requires a Nextel phone service and one of 5 Motorola GPS phones. Subscribers can watch a drivers’ progress and receive reports of vehicle speed, direction and location at 2-minute intervals. Ulocate ( is $11.00 per month. Phones can range between $80.00 and $150.00 before optional discounts.

Car Care Inspection Lanes Reveal Pattern Of Overdue Services

Source: Under Hood Digest

National Car Care Month, a nationwide effort to focus motorists’ attention on the importance of vehicle care and maintenance, is now in April.

The Car Care Month check lane inspections can include volunteers checking fluid levels, tires, lights and other system components. After the inspection is completed, volunteers review any discrepancies with the motorist and provide information about proper vehicle maintenance and repair. The nationwide results of check lanes underscore the continuing need for vehicle maintenance education. Statistics show that 77% of vehicles brought to the check lanes are found in need of repair or maintenance. Failures noted in the check lanes over the past five years include:

    * · 27% had low or dirty engine oil
    * · 26% had inadequate cooling protection
    * · 23% had low tire pressure
    * · 21% needed new belts
    * · 17% had dirty air filters
    * · 11% had low or contaminated brake fluid

For more information about National Car Care Month, visit the Car Care Council website at

Is Your Vehicle’s Battery Ready For Winter?

Source: AAA

One of the best ways to protect against winter car trouble is to be certain your battery is fully charged and in proper working condition, according to AAA Southern New England.

"When the temperature drops to near zero, the number of calls AAA receives from stranded motorists soars," said AAA Auto Repair Manager Alfred Ruggiero. "The most common cause of these cold-weather breakdowns is a weak or dead battery."

AAA recommends motorists have a load test to closely monitor the condition of the vehicle’s battery, especially batteries more than two years old. "Although batteries can carry warranties of four years or more, a warranty is no guarantee an older battery will continue to work in severe weather," Mr. Ruggiero said.

The most common sign of a weak battery is an unusual sound coming from the starter motor when the ignition key is turned, indicating difficulty in starting the engine.

If the vehicle is difficult to start, check that the battery connections are tight and no corrosion is present on the battery terminal. To remove corrosion, use an old toothbrush to clean the cable connectors and terminals with a solution of baking soda and water. Next, inspect the tension of all drive belts. They should flex no more than one-half inch. If the battery’s fluid level can be checked, make certain the fluid covers the battery plates. If no problems are found and the vehicle is still difficult to start, drive to a service station to have the battery and charging system tested.

In addition to weak or dead batteries, starting problems can be caused by malfunctioning alternators or starter motors. If the vehicle will not start, use caution and follow instructions in the owner’s manual when attempting a jump start. If unsure about the proper procedure, call a qualified professional for assistance.

To help avoid winter breakdowns, AAA recommends motorists have their cars and trucks thoroughly inspected before cold weather arrives. In addition to the battery, fluids, belts, hoses, filters and tires should all be checked.

Stop by our service department the next time your in the area and ask to have your vehicle’s battery, starter and charging system tested.

Are You Sure Your Headlamps Are On?

Back in the mid 90’s, auto manufacturers started building cars with daytime running lamps, (DRL). DRL is a system in which the car’s front headlamps or park lamps are automatically turned on during the daytime. When the DRL is on, customers should remember that all the rear lamps are still off. Some vehicles dash lights come on when the DRL system is on. When this happens, customers are lulled into thinking all their other rear lights are on, when in reality, they are off. Make sure you understand the particular system your vehicle has to prevent an accident caused by driving without rear lighting. If you have any questions about your vehicle’s operation, check the headlamps section of your owners manual or stop by our service department so we can assist you.

How Important Are Your Wipers and Washers?

By: Mark Giammalvo

This January's negative degree weather brought out the typical battery and starter problems we see year after year. A more frequent complaint that surprised me was "inoperative windshield washers." We had several complaints of this in a one-week period. One of the vehicles was found to have ice in the washer bottle and another had ice in the washer nozzles. Being somewhat concerned about this issue, I decided to do some research on the freeze point of washer fluid. As typical with many things, I get involved with a "little research" turned into a full-fledged investigation. I figured a starting point in my research would be to test the freeze point of the washer fluid we were using. The parts supplier we use generally alternates between two different brands of washer fluid. Both brands bottle labels state they protect against freezing to -20F.  If the labels are correct, neither brand should be icing over as our lowest temperatures here lately have only gone down to -2F. I decided to test both brands with our refractometer. Surprisingly, the refractometer showed that the two different brands had a freeze point of +10F and +18F. If the refractometer readings were true, this would explain why several vehicles were experiencing washer fluid icing. As an additional test, I left a new bottle of washer fluid outside on an extremely cold night to see if it would freeze or slush over. On the Internet, I was able to check the New Bedford Airport’s electronic weather data center. The weather data center showed that the coldest temperature that night was -7F. When I got to the shop I checked the bottle of washer fluid. Much to my surprise, the washer fluid had not frozen. Now I felt more comfortable that our fluid was not the cause of the washer freeze-ups. Now we were left with only two possibilities. Perhaps some of the cars had some watered down fluid in their washer bottles or the water/snow on the hood froze inside the washer nozzles. Just out of curiosity, I decided to do some research to see if there was any published baseline rules for recommended washer fluid freeze point.

A check of the National Highway & Transportation Safety Administration's, (NHTSA) web site linked me to Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard, (FMVSS) #104 for new vehicle "Windshield Wiping and Washing Systems". Although there was no reference given to a mandated freeze point of washer fluid, I was very surprised at the thoroughness of the governments test procedure for wipers and washers. This test, which is required on all new cars, is designed by The Office of Vehicle Safety Compliance, (OVSC). The OVSC hires independent contractors to carry out the special test procedures. The test results are used to determine if a specific vehicle, or item of equipment meets the minimum performance requirements for the FMVSS. The OVSC will send a new vehicle to the contractors test site. The contractor is responsible for many items including: a secure facility, securing test procedure information, calibrating test instruments, protecting test results, preventing unauthorized personnel from witnessing any test procedures, and more. In addition, the contractor must also supply the following:

1) A time keeping device that can record 0 to 60 minutes with an accuracy of + or - 2 seconds.
2) An engine tachometer ranging from 0 to 8,000 rpm.
3) Soft water with a "hardness" of 12 grains per gallon.
4) A water spray system with 2 nozzles that can spray water at 10 - 100 cubic inches per minute.
5) Non-abrasive windshield washing compound.
6) Wiper counting device that counts 0 - 1,000 cycles.
7) Oscillograph recorder at 10 ipm minimum chart speed.
8) Thermocouple sensing device ranging from 0 to 250f.
9) Anemometer that can show wind speeds of 0 to 20 mph.
10) Grease pencil.
11) Camera.
12) Test dust, fine grade, as described in SAE (Society of Automotive Engineers) code J726.
13) Measuring device for volume of test dust and water ranging from 0 - 32 fluid ozs.
14) Hand type atomizer.
15) Windshield washer fluid.

FMVSS 104 also calls for certain standard reporting definitions.
Some definitions are:

Ballooning - Un-wiped areas within the wiper pattern that are round and varying in size.
Chatter - Irregular movement of wiper blade usually accompanied by temporary visible radial lines and/or noise.
Growth - The additional windshield glazing surface cleaned as the wipers cycle at high speed.
Hazing - An aerated film spread by the blade and resulting in a transient trailing band on the windshield glazing surface.
Lace Curtain - A maze of fine individual water droplets which are formed after the blade passes over the windshield glazing surface.
Scalloping - Uneven wipe at the outer periphery of pattern.
Streaking - Fine actual lines of un-wiped moisture within the wipe pattern.

Wiper cycle frequency is carefully tested under a controlled water spray pattern of 50-100 cubic inches per minute. Water temperature must be less than 100F. The vehicle's transmission is placed in neutral. The wipers are run at high speed for 6 minutes. During the first 3 test minutes the engine is set at idle. During the last 3 test minutes the engine is set at 2,000 rpm. The frequency of sweeps is averaged between the 2 test periods. In a second test, the wipers are set at low speed for 6 minutes. Again, the fist 3 minutes the engine is at idle and then set to 2,000 rpm for the last 3 minutes. The test results are again averaged.

Other tests include a water and dust spray combined with 75 degree air blown at the windshield at a wind speed of 1 mph. While the wipers are on high speed, a technician using a grease pencil outlines the cleaned area (including growth) on the inside of the windshield. Upon completion, the wipers, water and air are stopped and the windshield is cleaned. A piece of clear vellum is placed on the outside of the windshield. The outline of the visible grease pencil marking is traced onto the vellum. Then this test is repeated with the vehicle's windshield washers and not the contractor's water spray system. All test results are sent  to the OVSC.

Although I did not find any base line rule for washer fluid freeze point, I did learn how complex and thorough the government is regarding vehicle safety and design. It is these FMVSS standards  that make certain all vehicles meet minimum safety standards in a variety of areas.

Checked Your Gas Gauge Lately?

Often times we are asked to diagnose vehicles with strange intermittent noises or running problems. Unfortunately, the amount of time testing your vehicle can be compounded by having to stop at a gas station for more gas. Worse yet is running out of gas entirely, thus requiring additional service expense by sending another employee out with extra fuel.

If you are bringing your car in for a procedure that will warrant a test-drive by us, please try to have at least 1/4 to 1/2 a tank of fuel. Just a small reminder like this can save time for the service technicians and also allow you to get your car back repaired and without further delay.

In Passing.

(Obituaries Courtesy The Standard Times)
Note: Due to recent requests, we will be adding family survivors to our customer’s obituaries as space allows.

Henry A. Gardner, 96, of New Bedford died Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2004, at St. Luke's Hospital after a brief illness. He was the widower of Aurore (Michaud) Gardner. Born in New Bedford, he was the son of the late Arthur and Marie (Bussiere) Gardner. He lived in New Bedford most of his life and was a communicant of St. Joseph-St. Therese Church. Mr. Gardner graduated from New Bedford High School and from Boston University with a degree in business administration. He was a certified public accountant. He was a Tech 4 in the Army during World War II. He fought in the Rhineland and central Europe. He received the Good Conduct Medal, European African Middle Eastern Theater Campaign ribbon and the Bronze Star. He enjoyed traveling and loved to walk. Survivors include a son, Raymond A. Gardner, and his wife, Diane, of Fairhaven; five grandchildren, Marc Duhamel, Michael Duhamel, Matthew Duhamel, Peter Gardner and Stephanie Gardner; two great-grandchildren, Cendrina Duhamel and Jacquelene Duhamel; and a son-in-law, Raymond Duhamel of California. He was the father of the late Louise Duhamel, and the brother of the late Daniel Gardner, Paul Gardner and Yvonne Gardner.

Roger Poitras, 75, of Fairhaven died Friday, Dec. 3, 2004, at St. Luke's Hospital after a brief illness. He was the husband of Lorraine (Patnaude) Poitras; they were married 55 years. The son of the late Joseph Henry and Lilllian (Lebrun) Poitras, he was born in New Bedford and resided for 46 years in Fairhaven. He was a communicant of St. Joseph Church in Fairhaven. Mr. Poitras was the owner of K.P. Electric Co. until his retirement. He later worked part time, helping his son who took over the business. He was a former member of the Master Electrical Association. He enjoyed flying, working on model railroads, fishing and hunting. Most of all, he enjoyed being with his family and coffee shop buddies. Survivors include his widow; a son, Roger Poitras Jr., and his wife, Cheryl, of Rochester; three daughters, Claire Lacourse and her husband, Robert, of Colchester, Conn., Vivian Coccia and her husband, Anthony, of Gilbertsville, Pa., and Claudette Coutu and her husband, Raymond, of Rochester; nine grandchildren; a great-granddaughter; and several nieces and nephews. He was the brother of the late Roland Poitras Sr. and Marcel Poitras.

We appreciate your business.
Please drive carefully.
Sam Giammalvo's Auto Sales, Inc.
1476 Purchase Street
New Bedford, MA 02740
Phone: (508) 999-3213

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