Articles:

The Daily Grind (Grinding Noise)

If your vehicle makes a grinding sound when you turn the steering wheel, it's speaking to you.  No, really, it is.  So listen to what it's saying and you could avoid a much more costly repair down the road. A grinding sound coming from the front of your vehicle when you are turning can offer some very informative clues as to what's going on.  One cause could be that there's a problem with the mechanical linkage that enables you to turn the wheels.  Another is that the hydraulic system that makes turning the steering wheel easier may have its own problems.  Think of it.  Hydraulic power steering has many components that need to work in tandem.  The power steering fluid may be too old and contaminated.  Or its level may be low. That may be caused by a leak somewhere in the system. A technician can check things over to find out exactly what's happening. Other causes of grinding while turning can be problems with the suspension in the front.  Yo ... read more

The Truth about Tire Pressure (Tire Inflation)

Most light vehicles (under 10,000 pounds/4,500 kg) in North America sold from 2008 model year on have a feature that many people are confused about.  It's the tire pressure monitoring system (TPMS).  You may have some experience with it yourself if you own a newer vehicle.  Vehicles with TPMS have sensors in each tire that are supposed to warn the driver when tire pressure gets dangerously low.  That's important because tires that are significantly under-inflated can cause very serious accidents. Unfortunately, many drivers think the TPMS does all the work keeping track of tire pressure. To them, as long as the warning light or gauge isn’t giving a warning, the tires must have the proper amount of air pressure in them.  That's not the case. Tire pressure monitoring systems aren't all created equal.   Some give you a digital readout of the pressures in each individual tire.  But many simply have a warning light that looks like the cross sect ... read more

Categories:

TPMS

A Hot Mess (AC System-Compresser)

Air conditioning used to be a real luxury in a vehicle, but now it's standard in most.  Your vehicle's air conditioning system is built to last a pretty long time, but like anything mechanical, sometimes it fails.  It helps to know a little about how the A/C works. There's a compressor that pressurizes the refrigerant (you probably recognize the term Freon).  That makes it hotter, so it then goes through a condenser that cools it off.  Then another component takes out impurities and humidity before the Freon goes to a device that makes it lose pressure before it goes to the evaporator.  That's where it gets colder and takes the humidity out of the air. Then your vehicle's ventilation system blows air over the evaporator, cooling the cabin air that gives you such relief on a hot day. Of all these parts, one that does a lot of work is the compressor.  It has to compress that refrigerant and circulate it through the system.  It turns on and off several t ... read more

Categories:

Air Conditioning

The Little Valve that Could (PCV Valve Replacement)

It's easy to get letters like PVC and PCV mixed up.  PVC is a plastic that's used in a lot of things, especially plumbing pipes.  And PCV is a valve that helps your engine burn off excess fumes rather than having them pollute our atmosphere.  PCV stands for positive crankcase ventilation.  When your engine ignites gasoline in the cylinders, some of the gases produced make their way into the crankcase, where oil is held to lubricate the engine.  In earlier days, those gases would be vented out through a hose and go directly into the air.  It was a waste of gasoline (since about three-fourths of the gases were unburned fuel) and a nasty source of pollution. So engineers devised a one-way valve that directed those gases back into the engine's air intake system to be burned again.  After a while, the PCV valve can get clogged up with gummy oil.  Not only does that reduce the recirculation of the gases, but it can also cause pressure in the crankcase ... read more

Categories:

PCV Valve

Straight to the Point (Alignment Signs of Problems)

It’s just common sense that your vehicle will drive better if all the wheels are lined up with each other and the road the way the engineers intended.  When they’re not, that is called being out of alignment.   Here are some signs that your alignment has problems. Your steering wheel isn’t straight when your vehicle goes straight down a straight road. This one’s pretty easy to notice.  If your vehicle’s logo on the wheel is tilted, that’s probably not the way designers wanted it to be. Bring it in and have us check it out. Your steering wheel is vibrating on a smooth road or when you are accelerating.  While this could be caused by several different things, one possibility is misalignment.  If your steering wheel is shaking, it should be examined by a trained technician. Your vehicle is pulling to one side without you wanting it to.  Sometimes the configuration of the road will cause it to pull slightly left or rig ... read more

Categories:

Alignment

Plugging Away (Spark Plug Replacement)

If you drive a vehicle with a gasoline engine, thank the spark plugs for igniting the gasoline/air mixture in each cylinder that keeps your vehicle traveling smoothly down the road every day.  Your spark plugs work hard, firing thousands of times in a well-choreographed order, and you usually don't pay much attention to them until one of them stops working the way it should. Signs that spark plugs are wearing out include: Engine runs more roughly than it did Vehicle doesn't start as easily as it used to Vehicle hesitates when you press on the accelerator Your fuel economy has gotten worse When a spark plug stops working altogether, you will find your engine has likely lost a lot of its power and isn't running smoothly.  Your Check Engine light may  come on.  Then it's time to head to come to our service center to have it diagnosed. If your plugs need to be replaced, they're usually done all at the same time. And if your vehicle has spark plug wires, experts recomm ... read more

Categories:

Spark Plugs

The Last Gas (Fuel Pump Replacement).

You're heading down the road and you notice your vehicle is sputtering, like it's running out of gas.  But the gauge show's it's still got a quarter of a tank.  So what gives? It could be that your fuel pump is failing, meaning your engine is not getting enough gas to run properly.  While fuel pumps are built to last a long time, sometimes they fail.  Other symptoms you may have a bad fuel pump include your vehicle stalling and then refusing to start again, the engine overheating or a hum or whirr coming from around the gas tank.  Or, your Check Engine light may come on. Most fuel pumps are in the gas tank. They have a small electric motor in them.   When you bring your vehicle to our service center, a technician will run tests to confirm the fuel pump is getting power to it but has failed.  Some vehicles have an access panel so the fuel pump can be removed and replaced.  But in some vehicles that don't have that access panel, the technician ... read more

Categories:

Fuel Pump

Don't Blow a Gasket! (Valve Cover Gasket Replacement)

When you head out to your vehicle after it's been parked and notice oil leaking underneath it, that's something to have looked at right away.  Oil leaks mean your oil level is probably low and running a vehicle in that condition can lead to expensive repairs. While there are many reasons oil leaks develop, one possibility is a bad valve cover gasket.  Vehicle engines have a cover bolted over the spot where the engine valves are, and that cover keeps the oil inside the engine. In between the cover and the engine is a gasket that keeps that seal tight.  But after many years of high engine temperatures and vibrations, that gasket or the bolts that hold on the valve cover can fail or loosen, and oil can leak. You may see dirty oil on the valve cover in the engine compartment, near the spark plugs, or around the bolts that hold the valve cover on.  All those are signs of leakage and time to bring your vehicle in for our technicians to check out. In some vehicles, taking ... read more

TCB your PCV (PCV Valve Replacement)

Your gasoline engine goes through some exhausting work.  Yes, it's truly exhausting, as in: it produces exhaust! And when your engine starts behaving like it's exhausted, such as running poorly or getting lousy fuel economy, the trouble may be something called a PCV valve. Did you know it's a series of explosions that creates the power in your engine? The spark plugs ignite a mixture of gasoline and air and BANG! A whole bunch of those and you're engine is humming away. Leftover vapors from those explosions go into your crankcase, which is also a place where engine oil goes.  Those vapors still have a lot of unburned fuel in them, and if they had nowhere to go, they'd turn your oil into a thick mess called sludge, not good for a smooth running engine.  Engineers came up with an idea. Re-direct those gasses building up in the crankcase into the engine's air intake and mix them with fresh air.  That way the unburned fuel could go through the engine again and produce p ... read more

Categories:

PCV Valve

Shifty Letters PRNDL (Transmission)

You probably figured out those shifty letters.  They're what you see on your automatic transmission shifter and stand for Park, Reverse, Neutral, Drive and Low.  Your automatic transmission is one of the great automotive inventions; here are some ways you can keep yours working well. Maintain your transmission regularly.  A technician will check your transmission fluid's level and even its appearance and smell.  If it's dark or has an unusual odor, that could be a sign of trouble. Change from one transmission direction gear into another only when your vehicle is stopped.  So many drivers want to switch from Reverse to Drive quickly or the other way around.  If you do that when the vehicle is moving, you can damage your automatic transmission. Keep your vehicle's cooling system in top shape.  What does the cooling system have to do with the transmission? It helps keep the transmission fluid from overheating.  Follow the manufacturer's recommendati ... read more

Categories:

Transmission
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