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

The Holidays Are Coming – Is Your Vehicle Ready?

November 26th, 2015
Where did this year go? Before you know it, it’s going to be time for the holidays, and that can mean travel in some pretty trying conditions (and we don’t just mean restless kids in the back seat). Is your vehicle ready for some interstate miles?

 
Tires: It’s a good idea to have your tires rotated every 5,000-7,000 miles to ensure even wear. With that in mind, it’s easy to just schedule a tire rotation with every oil change, since the vehicle will be up in the air on a lube rack anyway. Have you checked your inflation lately? Your proper 
inflation levels will be on a sticker on the driver’s side ...[more]
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101

Winter is Coming

October 15th, 2015
The days are getting shorter, there’s a snap in the air, and before you know it, the winter months are going to be upon us. Is your vehicle ready? 
 
Wipers: Even the best windshield wipers are only good for about a year; normal wear, the sun’s UV rays and the elements take their toll on them. Get a good look and check them for chunks, strips or chips missing, and replace if necessary for a streak-free field of vision in wet weather. Hint: a fresh application of 
Rain-X on your windshield and window glass can help visibility greatly. 
Brakes: Are you hearing any squeaks, squeals or ...[more]
  Posted in: Auto Repair 101