Uh Oh…My Check Engine Light Is On

March 30th, 2017

So you come out to start your car one morning and the Check Engine light on the dashboard comes on…and doesn’t go back off again. You can’t really notice any difference in the way the car runs and drives, but it’s on anyway.

What does it mean?Check Engine Light

Since the late 80s, most engine functions have been controlled by a central drivetrain computer. This includes emissions controls, fuel metering and delivery, ignition timing, shift points and many other elements of drivability and performance. The drivetrain computer relies on information from a chain of sensors that monitor exhaust composition, camshaft position, throttle position and many other factors.

The voltage readings from any of these sensors are supposed to fall within a certain range. When ...[more]

  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

What's Leaking From My Car?

July 14th, 2016
You go out to your car, start it up, pull out of your parking space and see a puddle of...something...where you were parked a moment ago. This is never a good feeling. What could it be? 
 
Fortunately, some automotive fluids are dyed different colors to make this a little easier to narrow down. 
 
Does it appear to be water? Were you recently running your A/C? Chances are that's just condensation from the A/C system, which drips out through a rubber tube and is perfectly normal. No worries there. 
 
For years, antifreeze was dyed a bright green to make it easy to identify. Today, other antifreeze formulations can be colored pink or orange, but it's still not hard to figure out -- antifreeze has a swe ...[more]
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

A/C Problems Demystified

June 30th, 2016

Believe it or not, the A/C system in your vehicle is fairly simple in principle and design. Like your refrigerator, it operates on a cycle of compression and expansion of a gas, known as refrigerant. The compressor turns the gas into a liquid, and as the gas evaporates it provides cooling. Like your refrigerator, its main components are: 
 
  • Compressor
  • Condenser 
  • Receiver/dryer
  • Thermostatic expansion valve
  • Evaporator
  • Refrigerant
  • Blower 
The good news is most automotive A/C systems have become very robust and reliable compared to cars from a generation ago. Most of the time, poor performance is due to low refrigerant levels due to lea ...[more]
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

Questions You Shouldn’t Be Afraid to Ask Your Auto Repair Tech

March 17th, 2016

Often, drivers are mystified by how their cars actually work. It’s to be expected. Even an older car is a complex machine with many sub-assemblies that all work together to move it down the road.Car questions? Ask them!

As a result, drivers tend to be a little intimidated by auto repair and often tend to not inform themselves by asking the necessary questions of a tech or a garage. Too often, that ends up being a big mistake. Here are some examples of the kinds of things you really should know before any auto repair work starts:

  • Does your shop work on any kind of vehicle? Of course, most shops can service a product from GM, Ford, Chrysler, Nissan, Toyota and the other leading makes. Some makes, however, require a lot more training and experience, o ...[more]
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

Differential Service: Too Often Neglected by Drivers

February 11th, 2016
Differential Service – Why Is It Important? 
 
Of all the various things on a vehicle that need regular service and maintenance, the differential is too often neglected. But what exactly is it, and what does it do? 
 
Visualize a rear-wheel-drive vehicle making a right-hand turn. As the car turns to the right, the left rear wheel will have to actually cover a longer distance and spin at a different speed than the right wheel. If the rear axle was delivering the same torque to both wheels, the left rear wheel would be binding and skittering as it made the turn. The differential is designed to allow the wheels to turn at different speeds around corners, eliminating that problem. 
 
...[more]
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

How To Update Your Auto Repair Routine

September 30th, 2015
Time has a way of sneaking up on everyone, and so does mileage on a vehicle. If you have a long commute or regularly put lengthy interstate trips on your car, you can easily rack up 15-18,000 miles a year. Even though today’s cars don’t need as much maintenance as cars from a generation ago, it’s still something you can’t neglect. Here’s a reminder of some important milestones for service on your vehicle: 
 
Monthly 
• Check tire inflation
• Check oil and transmission fluid levels
• Check all lights
• Check windshield washer fluid
 
Every 5,000 Miles
• O ...[more]
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

Mark Auto Repair off Your Back-To-School To-Do List

August 27th, 2015
The kids are going to be headed off to school again before you know it, and then of course, the holidays will start coming one after another between Labor Day and the end of the year. There’s a lot to stay on top of, and auto repair should be one less thing for you, the grownup, to worry about as the year marches on. Here are some suggestions for things you might want to take care of before it all starts rolling again: 
 
• Oil Change – Can’t remember the date of your last oil change? Then it might be a good idea to go ahead and set up another one. Dirty motor oil is so loaded with carbon and other contaminants it will begin to form sludgy carbon deposits on internal engine assemblies and moving parts. 
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

Six Hot Tips on Cool Air Conditioning

June 24th, 2015

Summer is here, and it’s time to start thinking about your car’s AC system! Nobody likes driving around in a hot, stuffy car, and a car with an AC system which only works marginally is somehow almost even worse than one which doesn’t work at all. Let’s go through a few tips which can help you keep your ride a little more comfortable this summer…

Remember a cars AC system is really a heat exchanger which moves hot air out of your vehicle, then replaces it with cold air. One thing you can do to help improve its efficiency is to leave your windows down an inch or two (if possible) when you park the car, helping to prevent excess heat buildup. When you start the car and begin to drive off, lower all the windows for the first minute or two to help move hot air out of the car more quickly, giving the AC system a chanc ...[more]

  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

4 Budget Friendly Ways to Improve Mom’s Ride

May 14th, 2015

So we all know that May is devoted to Mother’s Day. In honor of mothers everywhere, here are a few helpful suggestions for you to show mom just how much you care.  
 
1. Oil Change - Getting Mom’s car an oil change would be a nice way to help her get the most miles out of her car. Regular oil changes keep moving parts lubricated, reducing friction and heat buildup, and prevent deposits of sludge and gunk from building up on internal engine assemblies. 
 
2. Wiper Replacement - Even the best windshield wipers need to be replaced every 12 months or so. We’ll get a look at the wi ...[more]
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

9 Tips for your Spring Vehicle Checkup

March 31st, 2015

The temperatures are inching upward, the days are getting longer and the first buds are starting to appear on the trees. Spring is on its way, and  soon it’s going to be time to do a little preventive maintenance on your ride. No need to dread it -- it’s all pretty routine stuff!

  1. Air filter - If you haven’t changed your air filter since last year (or can’t remember when you changed it at all), it might be time. It’s an easy and cheap fix, and it pays off in your vehicle’s performance and fuel economy.
  2. Cabin filter - Older vehicles often don’t have a cabin filter, but it can make a lot of difference in how pleasant your vehicle is to drive. Stale, smelly air? Change it!
  3. Wipers -- Get a good look at them. Are they showing signs ...[more]
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101