Maintaining your vehicle is essential for a variety of reasons. When you take care of your car, you are protecting your investment, preserving your safety, and saving yourself money in auto repairs down the line. One of the most important ways that drivers should maintain their car is by checking the brakes. When you bring your car in for a wheel rotation, alignment, or any other service, you should ask your auto specialist to check out your brakes. There are several parts of the brakes that need to be routinely maintained and sometimes repaired if maintenance is forgone; brake pads, brake drums, and rotors are the most typically repaired or replaced brake-related parts. If there is a problem with any one of these components, then you may notice different symptoms depending on the part that is faulty or damaged. It is important as a diligent driver to pay attention to the slightest of differences in your vehicle’s performance; your vehicle sometimes lets you know when parts are going to fail or need repair. It is often that drivers may hear odd noises coming from their brakes, and it is crucial to listen because brakes directly affect your safety.
When brakes are going bad, you may notice a grinding noise. You should also notice that when you apply the brakes it feels like a grinding sensation as well. The brake pads are what cushion your brakes and rotors from grinding together, so when you feel a grinding sensation or hear a grinding noise, it means exactly what you think it does; the metal of your rotors and brakes are making contact without any padding between them. Brake pads become worn and need to be replaced because they keep the rotors from becoming damaged. If the brake pads become too worn, then it is safe to assume that the rotors will quickly follow it their path. If you hear a grinding sound, bring your car to the nearest trusted automotive shop. If you continue to drive on brakes that are grinding, you could end up needing to replace the entire brake system. Any auto mechanic will enlighten you of how expensive this procedure is.
Another sound your brakes might make when they are damaged is a squeaking noise. This is usually the most common sound that drivers hear, warning them to have their brakes checked out. Squeaky brakes are not always a sign that you are in danger, and definitely not as scary as grinding noises, however, you should always take any symptom seriously when it comes to your safety. If your brakes are squeaking, it is usually due to low-quality brake pads. It is important for any car owner to know what automotive shops are using when it comes to the quality of the replacement parts they use. Sometimes mechanic shops use low-quality brake pads and charge full price for them as if they were good quality material; this is problematic, because the average car owner does not know the difference between a good quality brake pad and a poor quality brake pad—that is, until they hear the squeaking.
Bring your car to a trusted automotive shop
Squeaky brakes can also be due to the wear indicator making contact with the rotor. The wear indicator does precisely what it is named to do: it lets you know when brake pads are worn and need to be replaced. When the brake pad is worn, the indicator rubs on the rotor making a squeaking noise while driving. This noise typically goes away when you press your foot on the brakes. While a little bit of squeakiness is not a huge cause for concern, it will become one relatively quickly. It is imperative that you bring your vehicle to a trusted automotive repair shop to have them assessed as soon as possible. As mentioned before, when brake pads become extremely worn, it can cause damage to the other vital parts of the brakes, and then you may be in real trouble. Having your brakes checked out each time you come across the opportunity is always in your best interest; it keeps your car running well, it keeps you and your passengers safe, and it keeps money in your pocket.
Preventive automobile care is in every driver’s best interest; maintaining your vehicle extends the life of your car, improves gas mileage, and saves you time and money in expensive visits to the auto mechanic. Following your car’s recommended scheduled maintenance plan is proven to elevate the driving experience and keep your car in working condition; however, sometimes despite our best efforts issues occur anyway. The problems that can come up are numerous and range in severity, although some issues are more likely than others. Some of the most frequent automobile repairs are involving fluid leaks. One fluid that can be particularly alarming to see under your engine is coolant. Not only is coolant dangerous to the environment, it is a vital part of your engine. In order to troubleshoot or resolve the coolant issue, it is important to first assess what is causing the leak. Coolant leaks can be caused by a number of issues; however, it is often the case that a coolant hose is faulty.
Take your car to a reliable automotive shop
It is critical to understand how vital coolant is to the health of your engine. Coolant hoses are responsible for transporting the coolant fluid between the engine and radiator to keep the engine at the desirable temperature. If the coolant does not reach the proper parts of the vehicle, then the car may overheat. There are several hoses that transport the coolant, and if you have a coolant leak, any one of them may be the culprit. One hose attaches to the radiator and connects to the top portion of the engine; the other host attaches from the radiator to the engine’s water pump. Attaching or detaching these hoses requires certain materials and tools that only automotive shops may have. You can bring your vehicle to a trusted auto mechanic shop to help you diagnose the issue. A coolant leak is not the only symptom of a failing coolant hose, although it is a common sign.
High engine temperature is also a sign
Another typical sign that a coolant hose is faulty is increase in engine temperature. If you have an overheating engine, it is likely that one of the coolant hoses is damaged and needs to be replaced. Often engines overheat at the most inconvenient of times, and if you don’t have any extra coolant in your trunk, you might be in trouble. Furthermore, adding more coolant may not be the solution to the issue. An overheated engine can be extremely problematic. If you get stuck on the roadside because your engine has overheated, you should first check your coolant level. If there is coolant in the engine, then the problem may be due to a radiator or coolant hose; this means that the coolant is unable to travel to the proper destinations in order to cool the engine.
Perform routine maintenance on hoses
Over time, coolant hoses become worn, and they crack and can cause leaks. In order to prevent a leak from occurring, you should perform routine maintenance on your hoses. If you are knowledgeable about auto mechanics and are familiar with the inner workings of an engine, you may be able to check out your hoses on your own. However, it is important that you have your auto mechanic take a look at the coolant system as well; auto specialists have access to tools and materials that the average person does not. It is important to check the hoses for cracks and kinks. If there is any obstruction or hole in the hose that the coolant comes into contact with, then you are likely losing coolant. If there is a kink in the hose, that’s a relatively easy fix; but, if the hose is damaged, it will need to be replaced.
The heat can damage hoses; they’re made of rubber and they are a relatively destructible material. If one of your hoses is damaged, it must be replaced immediately. In order to troubleshoot or resolve a coolant hose problem, you should enlist the help of an automotive expert. If hoses are improperly attached or the wrong hoses are attached, it can cause significant damage to your engine costing you hundreds or thousands of dollars in repair costs. The potential for mistakes is great, so ask an automotive expert for help.
You hear all the time the importance of your radiator in your car, it acts as a cooling unit for your engine and allows hot coolant to pass through it and lower the temperature of the engine to avoid overheating and potential damages and issues. When there’s a problem with the radiator, it can have catastrophic effects on your entire car, rendering it with either expensive to fix damages or possibly even a total loss beyond any repairs. Fortunately, there are a lot of signs to look for that signal a leak in your car’s radiator and knowing them when you see them and having them diagnosed and repaired quickly by a professional technician could mean the difference between saving your car or shopping for a new one on the weekend. Here are some of the most common symptoms that your radiator is leaking and needs to be repaired immediately.
- Frequent Engine Overheating– If you notice your engine temperature continually spiking into the red and staying exceedingly high, then this can signal a leaking radiator. It’s the radiator’s job to prevent the engine from overheating so if coolant is leaking out, then there’s no chance it can cool the engine down at all.
- Visible Leaking– A bit of a no brainer but before jumping to any conclusions is to be sure to check under the car to see if any fluids are leaking into the street or driveway. Coolant is typically a neon color, usually green, orange or pink and will smell sweet. If your engine is still warm, a radiator leak may cause steam from wherever there is a leak.
- Drop In Coolant Levels– Even if there isn’t a radiator leak, over time the coolant levels in your car will drop. This is why coolant should be replaced as needed, however, if you see a drastic drop in your coolant levels and there are no other visible signs of a leak then take your car in to a professional service center and have them check to ensure that the radiator is actually leaking.
- Corrosion and Discoloration– If coolant is leaking out onto the radiator, this can cause a discoloration as buildup occurs. Check under the radiator for any signs of discoloration, as this is the most common place it will occur. Also clean the engine and check surrounding parts for discolorations or dried coolants. You can also check the radiator and hoses for corrosion after cleaning them thoroughly, if there’s a leak in one of the hoses, it’s fairly easy and inexpensive to repair while an actual leaking radiator will be a much more involved process.
- Damaged Radiator Hoses– Just as likely to cause a leak as a damaged radiator, the hoses will wear out over time. Whether the radiator hose is actually damaged and worn out or just loose, it’s important to check the condition of all of your vehicle’s hoses so that you can replace and repair them as needed if you find any splits, cracks or bulges.
- Sludge in the Radiator– While this isn’t a sign of a leak in the radiator, it is an issue that needs to be addressed immediately should you notice it. If you see sludge in the radiator as opposed to standard coolant, this is because contaminants in the engine are making the coolant rusty or discolored. As it builds up more and more, the fluid will not drain properly and will stay in the radiator. If you or your auto mechanic notice sludge in the radiator, it needs to be replaced immediately or else you may seriously damage your engine and transmission.
Don’t drive with a leak in the radiator
If your vehicle is showing any of these signs or symptoms that the radiator is leaking, then it’s important to have them checked out and repaired by a mechanic as soon as possible. Driving with a leak in the radiator is extremely ill advised as you’ll need to constantly replenish coolant to avoid engine overheating and you run the risk of making the leak worse. Eventually, if you do drive with a leak long enough, your engine will break down on you, causing extensive damages and possibly rendering your vehicle unfixable. Knowing the signs of a leaking radiator is a great way to make sure your vehicle is kept as well-maintained as possible.
First let’s state the obvious: owning a car is a constant and expensive, commitment. Depending on the model and brand you choose, it can even require you follow strict and specific service and repair plans to make sure your vehicle stays running in perfect condition.
With this in mind, oftentimes owners will look for ways to cut costs and expenses a little, usually by buying less than manufacture brand parts or in some cases looking for service centers that are a little easier on the wallet.
While this isn’t necessarily a wrong approach, it’s important that you consider what exactly it is that needs service and decide from there whether or not it’s worth saving a few dollars now or if it’ll eventually cost you much more later on.
Use reliable mechanics for transmission work
For instance, when you hear the dreaded phrase; “it’s the transmission,” you know that the cost of whatever comes next is going to be anywhere from “use the credit card” to “here’s the key to my house” in terms of price. When it comes to the transmission though, it’s important to make sure you always use reliable (and yes, likely expensive) service mechanics that will use high quality parts and have years of experience working on transmissions.
It’s safe to say that the transmission is one of the most essential parts of your vehicle, next to the engine; it’s arguably the most important so you must remember to treat it like it is.
Question to consider before repairing transmission
Here are a few questions to consider when it comes to repairing your transmission:
- What does the transmission even do? The transmission is what lets your vehicle shift gears and pick up speed and power. Whether you have a manual transmission or an automatic one, the amount of wear and tear that can occur requires routine maintenance to keep it free of debris and build-up as well as to make sure there are no fluid leaks or damaged parts. Experienced mechanics will usually perform extensive diagnostic testing to make certain they know exactly where the problem is before suggesting any repairs, let alone costly transmission repairs. Going somewhere cheaper could result in less attentive testing and misdiagnoses of issues that will cost far more in the long term.
- Why is transmission work so expensive? Contrary to popular belief, not all transmission work is as expensive as the stories would make you think. If you have your transmission checked and the transmission fluid changed regularly every 30,000-50,000 miles you can limit the build up of fluids or other debris. Where transmission work can get expensive is when these routine service checks go unattended to, allowing more and more fluid build up which can lead to needing your transmission rebuilt or replaced completely. Rebuilding a transmission is a labor extensive process and whether the needed repair is simple like a fluid change or replacing a sensor or it’s a bit more in depth like a malfunctioning computer system, the labor will be a majority of the expense. When it comes to complete transmission replacements, that’s where you’ll find the most expensive repairs. The average cost to replace an automatic transmission is between $1,000-$2,000 and can be substantially more depending on the vehicle you have. Fortunately for manual transmission drivers, replacing the transmission will normally cost less than an automatic one.
- So Why Can’t I Go Somewhere Cheaper? Of course, there’s no one forcing you to go the most expensive work possible done but there aren’t many more times that the phrase “you get what you pay for” rings quite as true. When you try to save on costs, you’ll usually run into one of two things: less knowledgeable mechanics that don’t have the years of experience and confidence in their work or less than quality parts used for repairs that won’t be able to hold up as long as the more expensive, manufacture parts, not to mention the warranties and guarantees that usually come with the more expensive parts or from the more expensive mechanics.
Lastly, cutting costs now can lead to more expenses later on should the part break or malfunction early or the work performed be poor, there could be much more concern for the condition to get worse. When it comes to your car, it’s too important to your day to day life to take the risk, you need your vehicle working dependably and the best way to obtain that piece of mind is to make sure you take your car to trustworthy and experienced mechanics for repairs.
Unless you’re a savvy person when it comes to dealing with auto repairs, finding a mechanic you can trust can seem like a very daunting process. Unfortunately these days there are as many stereotypes of lying mechanics that exaggerate issues and price gouge unsuspecting motorists while performing less than quality work. Even more unfortunate is the fact that in some cases, there can be mechanics like that, prepared to take advantage of your lack of mechanical knowledge.
When it comes to finding an auto repair shop, it’s important to find an auto repair shop you can trust not just to be honest with you, but so you can trust their work on your vehicle. These are just a few of the best ways to differentiate between a good repair shop and a bad one.
A Bad Mechanic Will:
- Try To Scare Potential Clients– A less than reputable mechanic will likely employ scare tactics and phrases to get you paranoid enough that your car is moments away from colossal breakdown. If they begin discouraging you from leaving the lot, you should probably find the quickest way that you can to find another mechanic.
- Not Have Certifications– Most trustworthy mechanics will have certifications from ASE, ASA, AAA and a variety of other auto groups proudly displayed prominently either in the windows or up at the front counter. These seals are meant to help ease your mind and build your trust so if a mechanic doesn’t have any of these certifications or others; they better have a good reason. Don’t be afraid to ask tons of questions to try and find out why.
- Tell You Your Coolant Needs to be Flushed– This is one of the most common suggestions from a less than reputable mechanic. Some mechanics will suggest that coolant or power steering flushes are necessary repairs every time you bring your car in but consulting your vehicle’s manual will usually show you that your vehicle’s fluid is ready to go at least 100,000 miles before needing to be changed. There is a number of things they’ll also suggest that can easily be fixed at home so never be afraid to seek a second opinion to be certain.
- Have an Extremely Messy Shop– This is a bit more of a subtle thing to look for but reputable mechanics will usually keep a neat and tidy workspace. If you see tons of oilcans and other empty and dirty containers and old tires, while it may not be a telltale giveaway, it should be cause for concern.
A Good Mechanic Will:
- Explain Everything– A trustworthy mechanic wants to make sure that you understand everything your vehicle may need along with any and every option you have. This is important, as most untrustworthy mechanics will usually tell you just that things are wrong and need to be fixed so clarity is key to look for.
- Clearly State Rates and Prices– Rather than surprise you after the fact with unnecessary expenses, an honest mechanic will give you an up front quote. They’ll also usually have clear pricing breakdowns to avoid any confusion or miscommunications.
- Have a Friendly and Helpful Staff– Whether you talk to the master mechanic or the newest employee hired, a quality service center will have a staff of helpful and courteous employees.
- Sometimes Have Snacks– This isn’t a completely obvious or sure thing, but if a repair shop has comfy chairs, TV’s, magazines and coffee or snacks, then you can trust that management cares about the customer’s comfort. Little tendencies put fourth to make the experience a memorable and positive one show that the owners are concerned with satisfying the customer and that care will extend to your vehicle.
How To Differentiate a Good Repair Shop From a… by importautomaintenance
It’s unfortunate that there are still mechanics that take advantage of customers with less than quality work or overpriced and unnecessary repairs, especially when it involves something as important and as needed in your day-to-day life as your vehicle. It’s important that you know the signs to look for to find a mechanic that you can trust for your vehicle’s lifetime and beyond. Even if you notice a mechanic that seems trustworthy, it’s important to remember that you can always seek a second opinion to be sure or to help ease your mind before agreeing to any services being performed. With all this in mind, you can find the mechanic best suited to fit your vehicle’s needs.
Though it is a common misconception, coolant and antifreeze are actually the same thing!
This fluid, which is mixed with water in your engine sometimes called “radiator fluid,” circulates through your vehicle’s engine and cooling system to keep it running at the optimum temperature.
As your engine operates, it creates a lot of heat. The combustion of fuel combined with friction from its many moving parts means the engine runs very hot, even when it’s cold outside.
The primary job of the coolant and cooling system is to prevent your engine from overheating. An overheated engine is a common cause of engine breakdowns on the road. But this is preventable! With proper maintenance, like cooling system inspections and coolant flushes, your cooling system is designed to keep up with the high demands of your vehicle’s hot engine.
Coolant is also known as antifreeze. Just like you don’t want your engine to become too hot, you also don’t want it to become too cold. Like Goldilocks, your engine needs the temperature to be just right.
The antifreeze in your vehicle’s engine prevent the key fluids and parts from freezing in extreme temperatures. This fluid combines with the water in the system to lower the freezing point and raise the boiling point. Even on mornings below freezing, you’ll still be able to start your vehicle.
But you can’t just dump the coolant or antifreeze into the system and hope for the best, and you can’t put it in once and ignore it. The fluid must be mixed at a specific ratio to be most effective. If the level is incorrect, the fluid can lead to rust and contaminants that will do more harm than good.
If your fluid level is too low, the vehicle’s system likely has a leak. Coolant isn’t used up in the engine, but circulates continuously. Fluid can get out and contaminants can get in. Have it inspected right away to avoid bigger problems that leave you stuck in the cold.
Make sure your vehicle is ready for any season by keeping your coolant in prime condition! Whether you call it “coolant,” “antifreeze,” or “radiator fluid,” this fluid is vital to your engine’s operation and the health of your vehicle.
Call our team of certified technicians to schedule your next appointment: (615) 327-9600