Author Archives: Express Auto

What are the signs of bad brakes?

bad brakes after being removed from a vehicle

Keep Your Brakes in Shape

If there is anything you’re going to skimp on with your car, brake repair is not the one to choose! Running out of gas or needing to jump your battery can be annoying. Not having any brakes is downright dangerous and scary! Just as important as having good tires and air pressure on the ground, you want to make sure your brakes are in good working order too. 

How can you tell you need new brakes?

The brakes on your car are essential for your and your passengers’ safety. They will often work for thousands of miles without any problems. And that can be a problem. They say the squeaking wheel gets oiled. That same thing can be said of brakes. The noisy, malfunctioning brakes need brake repair! 

Most of the time, your car brakes are quietly doing their job. So, what kind of sounds will tell you that you should take your car in for a brake repair job? Here are some tell-tale sounds you should be listening for: 

  • Squeaking: If you’re hearing a high-pitch squeak as you apply your brakes, it is probably the brake pads are wearing thin. Brakes today have indicators built-in on brake pads that make shrill, squeaking sounds at a certain point. This is your notice that you need either a brake inspection or maybe a brake repair. 
  • Grinding: Okay, what if you can’t get your car in the shop when that squeaking sound starts, what happens? You’ll start to hear a grinding, growling sound. What is the grinding noise when I brake? The brake pads have worn down further. If you wait much longer to get a brake repair job, the caliper and rotors will get damaged, and that brake repair job is going to be expensive! 
  • Responsiveness Reduced: Not only will brakes that are wearing out begin making noise, they also won’t be as responsive, meaning they aren’t going to stop as quickly as they have been. If you’ve noticed you’re having to start stopping sooner than before, or you’re pressing harder on the brake pedal, you need a brake repair service pronto! It may not be the brake pads, it could be the hydraulic lines where the brake fluid flows, or your car could be low on brake fluid. Regardless, if they aren’t working as they should, have them checked. 
  • Pulling: If your brakes are pulling to one side when you press on them, this is an indicator that you need to have them checked. Typically, this will be because the brake pads on one side of your car have worn different than the other side. It could be the hydraulic lines too. Regardless of the reason, a brake inspection is needed now. 
  • Vibrations: A car will vibrate from time to time as the pistons move up and down rapidly inside the engine. That is not a bad vibration. When it comes to the brakes on your car, vibration is not good. It could be as simple as the front-end needs an alignment, or the tires need to be balanced. It can also be from worn-out pads or rotors. Take your car to get a brake inspection. 

Why is my car shaking when I brake?

As you drive your car, the brake pads accumulate dirt, dust, oil, and more and this can cause the brakes to vibrate when the pedal is pressed. If the rotors are wearing out or the pads are getting thin, excessive heat builds up and warps the rotors, resulting in vibration. A brake job will stop this shaking as the pads are replaced, possibly the rotors. 

How long do brakes typically last?

It isn’t possible to put an exact number on the lifespan of brakes. The average will typically be from 25,000 up to 65,000 miles, with some exceptions up to 80,000 miles. With proper maintenance and as little abuse as possible, 40,000 miles would be the number if you were to give an exact number.

What causes brakes to malfunction?

The three most common issues for malfunctioning brakes are: 

  • Loss of brake fluid. Each time you push on the brake pedal, fluid transfers to the brake disks. If a leak develops in the lines or at the disk, your brakes will malfunction. 
  • The brake cylinder fails. The brake cylinder is a crucial part of a car’s braking system. This is where the brake fluid gets compressed and if the cylinder is bad, your brakes won’t stop. 
  • The brake booster goes bad. This part of the brake system takes the force pressing on the pedal generates and amplifies it. When the brake booster goes bad, the force you push onto the pedal will not produce.

Should you replace all your brake pads at once?

Yes, it is recommended by expert mechanics, brake manufacturers, and car manufacturers to replace all the brakes at the same time. 

What are the symptoms of a bad brake line?

The brake lines are the pipe for the brake system. They are what helps works the hydraulic pressure, taking brake fluid from the master cylinder and sending to the wheels. Most brake lines are steel because of the high pressure they are put under. There are three things that are telling you that your car needs a brake repair job:

  • Brake fluid leaking: This is the common indicator your brakes are going out. Overtime, even though they are made from steel, they can get damaged and wear out, getting a small hole in them and start leaking. A professional brake repair job is needed. 
  • Warning Light: Like the check engine light, never ignore the brake warning light. This is telling you that something is right with the braking system, and you need to get your car to a brake repair shop quickly. 
  • Corrosion: When your brake lines become corroded, this usually means the lines are getting weak and starting to leak or it could be from exposure to the elements. Either way, your brakes need to be inspected. 

What happens when a brake caliper goes bad?

When brake calipers go bad, they will either freeze up or stick. When this happens, you’ll start hearing noises from the damaged part. Ignore getting a brake repair job for too long, the brakes could lock up and keep the wheels from turning. 

What happens if your brake rotors are bad?

When the brake rotors go bad, it can get dangerous driving. Not only is braking delayed, but the handling is affected and that can cause an accident. Once you have a brake repair where the rotors are replaced, your car will handle better. 

close-up of brakes being repaired

In Closing

The brake system on a car requires regular routine maintenance and service. Each year as you get your car inspected, they will also inspect the brakes. As the driver, if you notice any of the things we’ve discussed, take your car to a shop a soon as possible for a professional brake repair job.

How often do you need a brake job?

close-up of a driver's shoe on the brakes

How often do you need a brake job?

While we’re concerned about what makes our vehicle go, we also need to think about stopping too. The motor, transmission, wheels, and tires, and all the other components that keep a vehicle are running and moving are important, and so are the brakes. That’s why when the brakes go bad, a brake job becomes a necessity. 

How do you know when your brakes are bad?

A vehicle with bad brakes is dangerous and it can get expensive if not addressed immediately. Some indications that your vehicle needs a brake job are: 

  • Brakes Pads: 

The brakes pads on a vehicle press next to a rotor on the front wheels. This creates the resistance that makes your vehicle stop. Over time, they begin to thin, and they get to a point where they can’t make the friction needed to stop the vehicle. A visual inspection can be done by looking at the spokes of the two front wheels. If you see a thin pad or nothing but metal, it is time for a professional brake job. 

  • Squealing Sounds: 

Newer vehicles today have a small metal piece that will make an irritating sound as brake pads get thin. Once you hear that irritating, shrill screech while depressing the brake pedal, it is time to schedule a brake job.

  • Poor Performance:

If the brakes on your vehicle aren’t working well, take the vehicle in for a brake inspection. This could be what they call a “soft” pedal, meaning that as you press on the brake you aren’t feeling it stopping the vehicle, requiring you to press harder. If the brake pedal is going all the way to the floor before it stops, your vehicle definitely needs a professional brake job. 

  • Vibration

When you press on the brake pedal and you feel it vibrating, this is the brakes telling you that it is time for a brake inspection and a possible brake job. Sometimes the problem is deformed rotors, in which case “turning” them to even them out is all they need. However, by the time this kind of work is needed, a complete brake job may be the better option. 

  • Driveway Puddles

Finding small puddles under your car can mean many things such as a leaking radiator, leaking transmission, or an oil leak. It can also mean your car has a brake fluid leak, as it can be another sign of a leaking brake line. Can you repair a broken brake line? Yes, taking your vehicle immediately to a professional mechanic that knows how to repair a brake line is recommended at this point. It is often safer with a broken brake line to have them come to collect your vehicle with a town truck instead of risk driving the vehicle. 

  • Pulling

If you feel your car going to one side or the other as you press on the brakes, you need to have your brakes inspected right away. 

  • Metallic Sounds

If your vehicle’s brakes make grinding metal sounds when you press on them you need a brake job now. This indicates they have worn through the brake pads, and if you don’t get them replaced soon, your vehicle is going to need even more extensive brake repairs.

  • Warning Lights

When the anti-lock brake light or “ABS” comes on and stays on, you have a brake problem that needs immediate attention. It may only need brake fluid added, but it should not be ignored. If a “BRAKE!” light comes on, it could be that the emergency brake is still engaged. If both lights are on, call your mechanic to get your vehicle in for a brake job. 

When is brake pad replacement needed?

The basic rule-of-thumb is between 10,000 miles and 20,000 miles for brake pad replacements. At 10,000 miles, have your brakes checked and the mechanic can advise you on if you need that brake job then or when to come back. The brake rotors typically need replacing at 50,000 miles, though some vehicles can wait until 70,000 miles. Again, have an annual brake inspection and have your mechanic advise you. 

Can you repair a brake master cylinder?

The master cylinder is one of the most common brake job repairs needed. Over time, these begin to leak around the seal, and most of the time, they can be rebuilt. Each make and model of a car can be different in this regard and depending on how old the master cylinder is and how damaged it is, replacing the master cylinder may be required. 

Can you repair brake hoses?

Brake hoses usually require total replacement rather than a simple brake job when you are having problems with them. They become brittle with time, and repairing them isn’t possible. 

How long does it take to do a full brake job?

Depending on the make and model of the vehicle, a brake inspection will take between thirty minutes to an hour. This will include inspecting the brakes pads, rotors, and other components of the brake system. A brake job can take between forty-five minutes to an hour unless the brakes are severely worn and damaged. 

close-up of mechanic working on car brake pads

Coming To A Halt 

So, how much does a brake job cost? It can vary from make and model to make and model, but the complete brake job where calipers, pads, and rotors are replaced, will cost between $300 to $800. With higher-end cars, the brake job could cost up to $1,000 or more. With that expense, you may be asking how many miles should a brake job last? Your driving habits will affect this, but the average brake life can be as short as 25,000 and up to 80,000 miles. Other factors that determine this are the quality of the brake pads and rotors. An average lifespan is around 40,000 miles.

Will a clogged heater core cause overheating?

close-up of car heater knob

What is the Heater Core?

With fall coming in fast and winter already knocking on the door, you want to make sure your home heating system is in working order right? What about your vehicle’s heating system? It won’t hurt to have it checked out too, cause if your vehicle has a clogged heater core, you are going to have one cold ride to work. 

What is the heater core and why is it so important for helping your vehicle stay warm inside? Let’s review how the heater core works:   

A heater core is like a small radiator, with the key difference being it diverts the coolant in the motor from the cooling system and heats the interior of the vehicle. As the engine runs and warms up the coolant (aka antifreeze), the water pump sends it through the cooling system. It is passed through the main radiator to keep the engine from reaching a boiling point and overheating.

When the heater inside the car is turned on, a valve opens, allowing that heated coolant to flow to and through the heater core. There, a door opens, and the air is directed through the heated heater core. As the coolant reaches 200 degrees, it delivers heat to the vehicle’s interior. Depending on where you have the controls placed, it warms the feet or defrosts the windshield. If there is a clogged heater core, that heat won’t reach your feet or windshield. 

What are the symptoms of a clogged heater core?

If there isn’t warm air coming into your vehicle’s cabin, that would be a possible symptom you have a clogged heater core. However, that isn’t the only indicator you have a clogged heater core. Other indicators would be: 

  • Airflow from the vents is weak or there is no airflow
  • Airflow is cold coming from the vents
  • The floorboard is damp
  • There is the smell of coolant (antifreeze) inside the cabin

Where there is an obvious difference in airflow, it can be the heater core fins are bent or there is a clogged heater core restricting the airflow. The smell of coolant or a wet floorboard usually means the heater core is leaking or there is a hole either in the heater core or a hose connected to the heater core. At this point, the only remedy is to replace the heater core. 

How Do I Know When to Replace a Heater Core?

What happens when a heater core goes out? When the heater core is bad, the coolant isn’t running through the engine as it should, keeping it cool, so a lot of expensive and extensive damage to the engine can happen. So, if you notice any of the following, this could indicate your vehicle has a clogged heater core, or the radiator could have a problem:  

1. Coolant Fluid Leaking Into Floorboard

When there is fluid dripping down from behind the dashboard, that is the worst! Your floorboard is wet, and it smells inside your vehicle.

2. Heating System Not Working 

A broken or clogged heater core will keep the engine heat from transferring to the vehicle heating system to warm the interior. You can diagnose this problem yourself by driving for 20 minutes, then turning the heating system on inside the vehicle.  If the interior doesn’t start getting heat immediately, then you probably have a clogged heater core. 

3. Engine Losing Coolant

A leaking heater core or a  partially blocked heater core will affect the engine’s cooling system. A leaking heater core means the engine isn’t getting the coolant it needs either. Check the radiator for coolant level and if it is low, then there is a leak somewhere in the engine or heating system.

4. Condensation and Fogged Windows 

If there is a clogged heater core, it can’t get hot, and then only cold air will blow through the vents.  If the windows get fogged and steamed up and you can’t get the defroster to clear them, it is a typical indicator of a clogged heater core. If the windows have an excessive amount of condensation, feel the carpeting, and if it is damp the vehicle’s heater core is probably leaking. 

5. Overheated Engine 

While your vehicle’s heating system needs coolant to warm the interior, the engine needs coolant to keep it from overheating. If there is a clogged heater core, it will keep the coolant from flowing through the engine, causing it to overheat.        

How do you unclog a heater core?

There are several maintenance steps your vehicle needs, including flushing the radiator, transmission, and the heater core. The radiator and transmission flushing should be done by a professional mechanic.  The heater core is something you can do yourself, even with minimal mechanical inclination: 

  • Locate the Heater Core: This is found on the vehicle’s firewall and will have two hoses – an inlet and an outlet.  Trace those to the engine.
  • Disconnect the Heater Hoses: Place a bucket under the car then disconnect those hoses from the vehicle’s firewall. There are usually clamps holding them in place that can be removed by squeezing with pliers or loosening screws. Once you disconnect these hoses, you should have water pouring into the bucket. If not, your vehicle either doesn’t have enough coolant and water or you have a clogged heater core. 
  • Apply the Pressure: Connect an air compressor to the outlet house, seal it up with duct tape, and turn the compressor on. Let this “pressurize” the heater core for 10 minutes, and then turn the compressor off. Now, let the system drain into the bucket. 
  • The Water Hose: After everything is drained thoroughly, attach a water hose in the same manner as the air compressor. Turn the water on and it let run through the system 10 to 20 minutes, or maybe longer if your system is dirty. You’ll know when the water starts coming out clear. Now, using the air compressor, blow off the excess water.
  • Reconnect the Hoses: With the flush and pressurizing completed, reconnect the heater hoses using the same clamps and one additional clamp on each for security. 
  • Refill the Coolant: Now add new coolant back into the heater core system through the radiator – a 50:50 ratio of antifreeze and water is recommended. You will need to add some, start the car, and let the fluid get into the system, then add some more. This will ‘burp’ the system, getting all the air out. 

Will a clogged heater core leak?

Yes, and of all the components a vehicle has under the hood and behind the dash, this is the one that will leak inside your car the most.

Can the heater core affect air conditioning?

Not usually – the air conditioning and the heating are two different systems. Your vehicle’s heater relies on the coolant being heated by the engine. The air conditioning, however, uses its own refrigerant. 

mechanic inspecting vehicle interior

In Closing

During the winter, while the heater core may seem small, it is a powerful component to your comfort and the operation of your vehicle.  Taking your car in now for “winterizing” is being proactive before winter arrives. This includes flushing the transmission, radiator, and making sure you don’t have a clogged heater core. If you need this kind of help you can reach out to us by calling 847-895-9131.

Car Emissions – What You Need to Know

Busy road with several cars surrounded by car exhaust.

What can cause a car to fail an emissions test?

What happened to the days when we could just get in our cars, start them up and take off without having to worry about car emissions? And for those of us who aren’t sure, what are the emissions of a car anyway? Car emission is what comes out of a car as it is running. Emissions consist of these primary substances: 

  • Nitrogen oxide
  • Non-methane organic gases
  • Carbon monoxide
  • Particulate matter
  • Formaldehyde

What causes car emissions?

Car emissions are the worst contributor to the air pollution problems we have today according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). With that said, what is it that causes these car emissions? The answer is simple – gasoline. Car emissions are explained as simple as that – it is the gasoline you pump into it once a week at the neighborhood gas station that forms the pollution that comes out of the tailpipe. Those same pollutants are escaping from the gas pump too as you gas up your car and as the car engine idles at the signal light. 

How much emission does a car produce?

The average passenger vehicle discharges almost five metric tons of carbon dioxide annually – if it is running properly. With an average fuel economy of just over 20.0 MPG and roads traveled over 11,000 miles a year, each gallon of gasoline in a car will create almost 9,000 grams of CO2. 

Maybe these numbers don’t mean much to you personally. You may be thinking, “I don’t drive 11,000 miles a year,” and maybe you don’t. But many do, and some drive even more. And you’re not the only driver on the road are you? If you were, there wouldn’t be a need for traffic reports at rush hour, or traffic enforcement and wreckers. 

In 2020, the year that we were “quarantined” to our homes, there were still 280 million vehicles on the roadways of America in the 4th quarter. Just for basics, multiply that by 280 million times the 9,000 grams of CO2 discharged in a three-month period. Apparently, not everyone was staying quarantined. 

What happens if your car fails an emissions test?

While there are federal laws about car emissions and testing for them, each state in the country has their own laws that typically follow suit. In Illinois, if your car emissions test fails, it is required to be retested. You’re even given a piece of paper stating that the test showed the car emissions were high and you didn’t get a sticker. 

When this happens, you will have a deadline for getting the problem resolved and the car brought back in for retesting. The State of Illinois provides a limited test extension, during which the garage you visit for your car emission tests will advise you on your next steps.

But what else happens when your vehicle can’t pass the state car emissions testing? Keep the numbers we mentioned above in mind and remember – you’re not the only one on the road. The large amount of gases and solid matter that cars emit are affecting several things, like: 

  • Contributing to global warming
  • Causing acid rain
  • Harming the environment 
  • Harming human health

But maybe this is exaggerated? Or are there facts to back this up? Keep reading and you can make your own conclusion: 

  • Global Warming – Greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and others are a major part of global warming. Yes, most of the country was buried under snow in early 2021, but there is still proof of global warming everywhere you look. Global warming is affecting farms, nature, sea levels, and wildlife. 
  • Air, Soil and Water – Car emissions and the pollution they create are having a widespread effect on the quality of our air, soil, and water. While the nitrous oxide is a contribution to depleting the ozone layer that protects the Earth from the UV rays of the sun, the sulfur dioxide mixing with nitrogen dioxide is changing our refreshing rainwater to acid rain. That is damaging our buildings, crops, forests, and any vegetation. With oil and fuel spills, even more is seeping into the soil and contaminating the water from our lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands. Have you noticed your water tasting different over the years? 
  • Human Health – The pollutants from car emissions have a high number of particulate matters that can become airborne, like metals and soot. These are causing eye and skin irritation, aggravating allergies and, as they become lodged in our lungs, more of us are experiencing respiratory problems as well. At ground level, the reactions of hydrocarbons with nitrogen dioxide and sunlight form ozone. While this is beneficial to a point, it can also damage human health by causing breathing difficulties, chest pains, and making us cough more. 
Car tailpipe with a green leaf coming out of it.

In Conclusion

If this article has shined a light on problems with car emissions and the environment, you may be asking yourself, “How can I reduce my car emissions?” Well, many would say buy an electric car, but that brings about a whole new batch of concerns. However, there are some things we can all do that will help reduce car emissions and in turn, help the planet. 

  1. Drive less and wiser.
  2. Drive fuel efficient cars.
  3. Don’t sit idle if you don’t have to.
  4. Use the home delivery services that COVID brought to us.
  5. Keep your car, garden, and lawn equipment in good condition. 

If your car failed its car emissions testing, things you can do that may help pass it next time would be: 

  1. Put a fuel additive in the gas tank – be sure to follow the instructions
  2. Put top grade premium fuel in your car 
  3. Get oil changes more frequent and stay regular with them
  4. Keep the basic services up-to-date like changing the air filter

Need help with car emissions testing for your vehicle? Or are you looking for a way to make sure your vehicle is producing as few emissions as possible? Contact the team at Express Auto Repair & Emissions by calling 847-895-9131 to get the help you need.

What’s Wrong with My AC in My Car?

car ac knob

What does it mean when your car AC blows hot air?

It is only June, but the heatwave of 2021 has started, and now is not the time for anyone’s car air conditioner to quit working!  But then, if it is, getting it to a car ac repair shop now should be a priority, be cause the heat is only going to get worse car ac repair and service shops are just going to get busier. 

The air conditioner in your car is a complex system and if it isn’t blowing cold air, it could be one of these four reasons: 

1. REFRIGERANT LEAKING

A car air conditioner needs refrigerant just like the A/C in your home, and if it low or out, then it is going to blow hot air. That refrigerant is like the refrigerant in your HVAC system a liquid that circulates through the A/C system. It contracts and expands as it removes the heat and humidity from inside your car. Without that refrigerant, the other A/C components aren’t able to function.

Why is it leaking? It could be an old hose, a punctured or rusted evaporator. When A/C refrigerant leaks, it doesn’t leave a puddle under your car like an oil leak. The refrigerant, also referred to as freon, evaporates when it is exposed to the air. 

You’ll need a professional car ac repair technician to inspect the system to determine if this is the problem. They do this by injecting a dye into the A/C system which will show them if there is a leak and where, then they are able to repair and recharge the system. 

2. BAD CONDENSER

When a car’s A/C system pulls that heat and humidity out of the car, that refrigerant we mentioned absorbs them. Then, the condenser keeps that refrigerant cool to continue the cooling cycle you know as cold air blowing from the vents. When the condenser isn’t working right, the whole cooling process quits. 

The condenser is located under the hood at the front of your car, usually between the grill and the radiator. The air that flows through the grill help with the cooling and if the condenser has anything blocking it or it becomes clogged, the air can’t the refrigerant cool.

If you have had a fender bender where the grill has been bumped or smashed, the condenser may be broken. Take your car to a car ac repair shop and they can confirm it is the condenser, and install a new one, recharge the system and get your car cooling again. 

3. COMPRESSOR BROKEN

The heart of any air conditioning system is the compressor. That is what circulates the refrigerant through the A/C system and if it isn’t circulating the refrigerant, then the condenser isn’t cooling. 

This is a common issue after a long winter where the A/C wasn’t used (who need air conditioning when its 10 below right?). You can prevent this from happening by running your A/C once a month for a few minutes throughout the winter.  Many cars activate the condenser when the defroster is on, so check with your car ac repair shop about your car’s mode of operation. 

4. THE ELECTRICAL SYSTEM

When all the components we’ve mentioned here are working, but your  A/C is blowing hot air, then it could be the electrical wiring. Anything from a blown fuse to frayed wiring will keep an A/C system from working as it should.  Your car ac repair technician can evaluate this for you and make any repairs or replacement needed. 

Why do we recommend that you take your car to a car ac repair shop for these issues? Because a professional car ac repair shop will have all the proper tools for car ac repair as well as the experience and knowledge. Remember, the A/C system is a complex system and recharging the refrigerant takes specialized tools and the knowledge to know when it has enough. 

Why did my car AC stop blowing cold air?

When a car air conditioner starts blowing mild cool air or warm air, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why did my car AC suddenly stop working?”.  It can be any number of things, some of which we mentioned above. Any of those things could be damaged, like the condenser we mentioned, or simply just worn out from use.  A few things that and car ac repair technician may find wrong with your car’s A/C could be any of these:

  • The Freon Leaked – a connection, gasket, or hose could be the culprit. 
  • Recharging Needed – all A/C units in cars will loose some freon/refrigerant over time. 
  • Stuck Blend Air Door – a small door that opens/closes the vent system could be stuck closed.
  • The  Compressor Isn’t Engaging – the heart of your car’s A/C system may need to be replaced.
  • Condenser – as we described earlier, where this part is located if vulnerable to getting blocked or broken. 
  • Electrical  – again, mentioned earlier, the wiring could be broken or frayed, or a fuse blown. 
adjusting car ac knob

What are the symptoms of a bad AC compressor?

The air conditioner compressor in your car is under a lot of stress. It gets turned on, turned off, and these puts a lot of wear and tear on it. After a few years, it can wear it out to where it doesn’t work anymore. A few warning signs that you may need to take your car into a car ac repair shop soon before the compressor is totally gone are: 

  • Strange Sounds: When the air conditioner in your car makes strange sounds, it could be a sealed bearing or a number of the components inside the compressor.  A trained car ac repair technician can diagnose those sounds and determine what is happening, or not happening.
  • Hot Air: When the A/C in your is turned on and blows hot air, this could be the compressor going out.  Again, have a car ac repair technician inspect the system and diagnose the issue. 
  • Fluid Leaking: Anytime your car has fluid leaking, it isn’t good, and that is especially true of the AC compressor. The internal bearings needs that pressurized fluid to work correctly. Your car ac repair technician can determine that is the problem and replace them if possible. 
  • Belt Skipping or Squealing: When your car air conditioning system has a loud squealing sound, it has a belt problem. Take your car to the car ac repair shop before you use the A/C again. 
  • A/C Compressor Clutch Stuck: The clutch on the A/C compress  allows the compressor to work from the engine power, but if that clutch gets stuck or seizes up, then it isn’t getting power. This is definitely something your  car ac repair technician will need to inspect.

Okay, so now you know some possible issues with the A/C system in your car. So, how much does it cost to get air conditioning fixed in a car? The range of  car ac repair costs will vary based on the make and model of your car, and the problem with the A/C. 

General ballpark pricing can range between $200 and as much as $800 or more. When it is the compressor, you can expect that to cost you as much as $1,000 and up.  To have the A/C recharged, that can average between $100 to $150. Need your car air conditioner repaired in Schaumburg, IL? Call 847-895-9131 today.

Why Does an Engine Stall?

engine stalled on a road

What causes an engine to stall at idle?

Is there anything more nerve raking and worrisome than your car engine stall at the intersection, or in the fast food line?  What is stalling? When a person is stalling, it is usually because we are procrastinating doing something, like washing dishes or filing taxes. When a car engine stalls, this means the car has died. It means you’re not going anywhere until you get it started again. A car engine stall can happen even while you’re going down the road! 

Today, we’re going to answer some questions about Why would an engine stall and what to do when that happen.  Often an engine stall isn’t any major problem, but it could be.  If you know a few things about what causes for a stalled engine, it won’t be as scary if it does happen to you. 

No matter what kind of car you drive, every engine needs 3 key things to operate with a smooth idle:

  • Good air to fuel ratio
  • Sufficient idle speed
  • A strong spark

If a car is lacking any one of these three things, it will stall at an idle. There could be any number of things that cause these three important things not to be working properly.  Some possibilities are the idle air bypass motor, or the idle speed control motor is bad. When these two devices aren’t providing the right idle speed, it can cause the engine to die. Another device that can cause an engine stall is the PCM.

The PCM is the power-train control module, which is a control unit. It works with two other devices: ECU (engine control unit) and the TCU (transmission control unit). If any of these three are working in conjunction with each other, it can cause an engine stall.

What causes rough idle and stalling?

There can several reasons why a car engine is idling rough. Those reasons could be something minor or major, if the engine stalls while idling rough, it could be a bigger problem. In either situation, it isn’t just something annoying and inconvenient and the car should be inspected by a professional mechanic.   Some of the most common reasons for a rough idling and engine stall are: 

  • Fuel Injectors: The fuel injectors could be dirty and not mixing the air and fuel right, cutting back on the amount of fuel is getting to the engine. 
  • Idle Speed:  The idle speed on a car is typically between 600 to 1,000 RPMs. A car that has a rough idle may be the speed setting is incorrect. A professional mechanic can reset this for you. 
  • Vacuum System: Every car has a vacuum system and if it develops a leak, the computer isn’t able to regulate the ratio of the air and fuel mixture, leading to a rough idle and possible engine stall. 
  • Spark Plugs: Spark plugs create the spark that allows a car’s engine to bur the fuel. When they are damaged or have been installed improperly, it can case the car to idle rough.  
  • Fuel Pump: Fuel delivery problems can cause a rough idling car. If the fuel pump is clogged or about to go out, it can’t get the fuel where it needs to be. The car will idle rough and the engine stalls. 
  • Fuel Filter:  Just like the fuel pump, if the fuel filter becomes clogged, it will cause a rough idle and engine stall too.
  • Electrical Components: A car has several electrical components and if any of them fail or are having problems, you can get a rough idle or the engine stalls. The electrical components include the spark plugs, plug wires, coil, or the ignition module.  
  • Airflow Sensor: If the airflow sensor goes bad, it can cause a rough idle because the engine can’t get the right amount of air the computer is telling it needs. This can also lead to an engine stall.
  • Oxygen Sensor:  The oxygen sensor measures if the gas is lean or rich and tells the computer ow to adjust the ratio to the air. When oxygen sensor is bad or dirty, it isn’t sending the right signal to the computer and causes the car to idle roughly and can cause the engine stall.

Why does my car stall when I stop?

An engine stall while a car is stopped could be the air to fuel ration, the fuel not pumping, or something electronic. A common reason why this happens is because there isn’t enough fuel getting to the engine to keep it running while stopped. What should I do if my engine stalls?

burst engine smoking

Is stalling bad for the engine?

Manual shift cars are known more for experiencing an engine stall, but automatic shift cars will stall too.  In the case of a manual shift car, it is usually because you didn’t engage the clutch. Simply restart your car and you’ll be on your way in most cases.  In the case of an automatic shift car, you’ll notice the engine stall when your power steering quits, then the power brakes won’t work. At this point, do your best to coast to a safe place off the road, turn on the hazard flashers and try to restart the engine. If it won’t start, call for help. 

Should you have any of these issues of engine stalling with your car, keep your safety in mind first.  Then get your car to a professional mechanic that will know how to fix a stalled engine. The sooner the better because while it may be a small issue know, ignoring it could allow that small issue turn into something bigger and more expensive. Call 847-895-9131 today for your engine repair needs in Schaumburg, IL.

What are the 7 fluids in a car?

car fluid inspection

The different kinds of car fluids

Well that could be a surprise to a lot of folks!  Who knew there were 7 different car fluids?!  Even the most non-car person will know there is gas and oil, right? What other car fluids are there?  

For the person that isn’t mechanically inclined, it can be confusing and difficult to know which car fluids is which, what it looks like, and where it goes. Here we provide the following list with their general colors so that when you have car fluid leak, colors tell you which fluid is leaking. 

  • Motor Oil: Even for the least mechanical person, basic knowledge tells you that a motor needs lubricating. Low oil levels can be detrimental for your car, so keeping it checked is important. Motor oil is typically a dark brown to black in color, with the black being the worse of the two, meaning it is burnt or dirty.
  • Radiator Fluid: This fluid is found in the radiator and inside the engine. From your perspective, you can only see what is the in radiator, and this is what keeps your engine running without overheating. Radiator fluid is generally green in color and has a sweet like smell, there are newer types of radiator fluid that are red. 
  • Transmission Fluid: The transmission is an important part of what makes a car move and it needs fluid designed for transmissions, it works the same way engine oil works for the motor. Transmission fluid is typically reddish in color. 
  • Power Steering Fluid: A car with power steering needs fluid to lubricate the power steering system for smooth turning operation. Power steering fluid is reddish in color. 
  • Brake Fluid: The braking system in a car is operated by hydraulics and fluid is needed for that hydraulic system to work smoothly. Brake fluid should be a clear-yellowish color, if it is any darker, then you should have a mechanic check your braking system.
  • Air Conditioning Coolant: The coolant in your air conditioning is like an oil that keeps it running smoothly and cooling your car. Over time, it can dissipate, and your air won’t be as cool as it should, even though it is blowing air. It is a clear gas like substance but can be detected with ultraviolet light and appear yellowish. 
  • Windshield Washer Fluid: This may be the last fluid you think of for your car, but it is important because it keeps a clear visibility.  Most windshield washer fluids are blue, there are some pink colored one that include a freon to keep the water from freezing up. When you see blue car fluid leaking, it is probably the reservoir for the windshield washer fluid. 

Is power steering fluid and transmission fluid the same?

In some ways, yes.  Both automatic transmission fluid and power steering fluid are hydraulic car fluids. Automatic Transmission Fluid can be used for power steering fluid, but not the other way around. pump. However, you should check the manual that comes with your car and read the manufacturer’s specifications. Some cars must have automatic transmission fluid and a substitute won’t work. 

What fluid levels should I check in my car?

Each car is different and each fluid in every car is different. The standard schedule for an oil change is every 3,000 to 5,000 miles, however, you need to check the oil more frequently.  Depending on the age of your car, a weekly oil check is sufficient, you could go 10 to 14 days in between oil checks. 

Make sure your car is parked on a level area and only when the motor is cold. Checking the oil while the motor is warm will give you an inaccurate reading. The brake fluid and power steering fluid should be checked while the car is parked on a level area too. When checking the transmission fluid, leave the engine running and have the transmission in neutral. Checking both of these once a month or as recommended by the manufacturer. 

Most auto shops that do oil changes will check all the fluids for you while they have your car. The windshield washer fluid is one that you’ll need to check periodically and add more fluid based on how much you use the wiper system. 

Is it oil or transmission fluid leaking?

Any type of puddle under your car is a sign that your car needs mechanical attention. How quickly it needs it depends on what the leak is from and how bad it is leaking. 

With an oil leak, it generally will not create a puddle under your car, but if it does, do not drive it, call your mechanic. Oil leaks tend to be more of a drip or seepage, and it takes a good amount before it leaves a puddle or spot under the car, then it will be a brownish color in most cases. In a car that has engine problems, the oil could be black. 

A transmission leak can be fairly simple to diagnose by the location of the leak. The fluid is a distinct reddish color to a brownish color. If you aren’t sure it’s the transmission, move your car and place a piece of cardboard or paper where you park. After driving your car for a bit (go to work and back), park over the cardboard or paper. If there is a reddish spot or stain on that paper, you have a transmission leak. 

If you have a car leaking fluid and smoking, where the smoke is coming from is a general idea of what fluid is leaking. Oil leaks will usually have smoke coming from the exhaust area or under the hood.  Oil is one car fluid you’ll know the smell when it leaks. There are car fluids on the market you can add to the oil or transmission that is a stop leak fluid for cars as a temporary fix. 

What color is transmission fluid when it leaks?

A transmission car fluid leak is going to be a reddish brown in color with a thin layer of fluid on top or a  thicker brown layer on top.          

oil change

How do I change the fluid in my car?

The oil and transmission will require you to have your car on a level area and drain the car fluid that is in the car now by removing the oil pan or transmission pan, then remove the oil or transmission filter.  Clean the pan edges off and apply new gasket or sealant on the clean surface.  Replace the filter then replace the pan. Next, add oil or transmission fluid in the amount recommended by the manufacturer. 

For changing brake fluid, simply empty the reservoir, clean out with a rag and add the new brake fluid. There isn’t a screen or pan to remove as there is with oil and transmission fluid changes.  Same is to be said of windshield washer fluid, although that isn’t one of the car fluids that needs to be changes. 

For the radiator fluid, you’ll pull the drain plug out on the bottom of the radiator and allow all the water and antifreeze to run out. When it is emptied, replace the drain plug, and add half and half water to antifreeze or antifreeze that is 50/50. 

When it comes to your car fluids, they each are important and play a significant role in how your car performs. Car fluids like the transmission can cause your car to stall at the worst possible time and car fluids like the oil are important to keep your motor in good condition.  Finding a mechanic you can trust is essential for car ownership. Need help with your car and its fluids in Schaumburg, IL? Call 847-895-9131 today.

What is factory scheduled maintenance?

scheduled maintenance light

Upkeep on your vehicle

A new vehicle isn’t cheap these days, even the bottom line of all makes is going to cost you upwards of $5,000. However, one thing they all come within different levels is a factory vehicle warranty and factory vehicle maintenance. The factory vehicle warranty is what comes from the vehicle manufacturer providing you their guarantee that if anything breaks or goes out within a certain time, the dealership will repair or replace it at no charge to you. 

What is the basic maintenance of a vehicle?

The basic factory maintenance can vary from manufacturers to manufacturer, but the overall goal is to keep the vehicle you purchased in top condition. This is done by checking the important components and systems of the vehicle so that it is operating at an optimum level safely. The first scheduled factory vehicle maintenance is usually between 7,500 miles and 10,000 miles. Some manufacturers will suggest the first factory vehicle maintenance at 100,000 miles.  The mileage will vary between manufacturers and the model of the vehicle. 

After the first factory vehicle maintenance, How often should vehicle maintenance be done? Depending on the make and model, the frequency is typically measured by the mileage and can vary on the make and model of the vehicle. The mileage could be anywhere between 5,000 and 10,000 miles, with a few car manufacturers stating 100,000 miles. Other vehicle manufacturers recommend every 6 months. 

What is the basic maintenance of a vehicle?

During a factory vehicle maintenance appointment, the technician will have a factory vehicle maintenance checklist to assure they check the important things such as: 

  • Lights – headlights, brake, and taillights, turn indicator lights
  • Steering
  • Brakes
  • Tires

These are things that provide safety for you, your passengers, and others while driving the vehicle. Some factory  vehicle maintenance appointments will include the following on their checklist:  

  • Coolant Level
  • Oil Level and Oil Filter
  • Air Filter
  • Cabin Filter
  • Tire Pressure

Most vehicle dealerships will include a free car wash and vacuum of the vehicle and offer an upgrade at your expense for an interior detail and exterior wax while you’re there for your factory vehicle maintenance appointment.  They may also offer or recommend that you follow up soon with tire rotation and other vehicle maintenance matters not covered under the factory vehicle maintenance plan. 

Should I take my car to the dealer for scheduled maintenance?

When you purchase a new car, depending on the make and model, there can be several bells and whistles included in the purchase, like factory vehicle maintenance. Do you need to return to the dealership for your factory maintenance and repair though? What if they aren’t close by and you can’t find a time that is convenient? 

In short, no, it isn’t a law to return to the original dealership for your basic factory vehicle maintenance. The regular maintenance you do for any car, new or old, like oil change and tire rotation, can be done at your local mechanic’s shop. You don’t even have to return to that specific dealership for warranty work. 

Yes a vehicle manufacturer’s sponsored dealership is supposed to honor a vehicle warranty irrespective of where the factory vehicle maintenance is completed. However, yes, there is a however to this question. Like anything else, the dealership can find a reason to void that warranty and not acknowledge the factory vehicle maintenance or warranty work was done correctly or by the recommended schedule. 

This becomes a matter of you said – they said and if they don’t have documentation within their files, it doesn’t exist. You can combat this by keeping every receipt of every type of work you have done on your vehicle. Such going to your regular mechanic for an oil change, fluid flush, tire rotation, or other basic maintenance while your vehicle is still under warranty. With your receipts in hand, should the dealership or the sponsoring vehicle manufacturer deny any type of warranty with a service issue, you have proof it was done according to the manufacturer’s factory vehicle maintenance recommendations and requirements.

This includes any warranty work. For example, you’re traveling out of state when your vehicle has a warranty issue. Getting the vehicle back to the original dealership may not be possible, so get your car to a dealership for that model is recommended. Or to a certified mechanic for that make of vehicle. Any receipt for warranty or basic factory vehicle maintenance work should have the vehicle details stated, the date of the work, and detailed description of what was done by the mechanic.

engine being checked

Should I do my own car maintenance?

Again, this is your vehicle and by law, a dealership or manufacturer cannot tell you not to do your own recommended factory vehicle maintenance, and in most cases, especially if you have experience in working on vehicles, you’ll be okay. This is especially true for things like the  brake fluid, oil, power steering fluid, transmission fluid, coolant, tire rotation, etc. 

Then there is the “however” factor again. By doing this work yourself, no matter how meticulous you may be with the work and the materials used, you won’t be using the factory maintenance tools nor will you have any proof of the work done like a detailed receipt. You may have a receipt for the purchase of the oil and other products used, but not that the work was done.  Taking your car to a manufacturer’s approved and the sponsored dealership is always the better option. 

Vehicles today can come with an awesome warranty level. Gone are the days of the basic 10,000 mile warranty, vehicle manufacturers now offer 50,000 to 100,000 mile warranty. Some are extensive warranty, others are basic. 

Still, cars do wear out over time with things breaking down. If you keep your car that long, what should you replace at 100k miles? You should have been doing the following all along, not waiting for the 100,000 mile mark: 

  • Oil and filter change
  • Coolant and transmission flush
  • Checking brake and power steering fluid.

At the 100,000 mile mark, have your mechanic check the following and replace as needed, if they haven’t been already within the last 10,000 miles: 

  • Timing belt
  • Water pump 
  • Brakes and rotors 
  • Tire tread, air pressure, rotate if needed
  • Wheel alignment 

Your vehicle may not be as big of investment at your home, but it is an investment. The better you take care of it, the longer it will last you. Call 847-895-9131 today for your scheduled maintenance in Schaumburg, IL.

When should I change my oil?

oil being poured into engine

Can you just add oil instead of changing it?

The motor in your vehicle requires oil or proper and smooth operation. Depending on the make and model of your vehicle determines the type and amount of oil needed. From time to time, an oil change is required based on the manufacturer’s recommendations and how you drive the vehicle. A vehicle that sits in a garage more than it is on the road won’t need an oil change as frequently as a car that is driven every day. 

Yes you can, and that is better than letting the vehicle run completely out of oil. However, mixing new and old oil will thin the oil down, reducing the interfacial tension of the oil and making unable to do the job that motor need to do for the motor. An oil change keeps the oil fresher throughout the engine and keeps everything running smooth.

Today, we live in at a fast pace, and our vehicle maintenance is often put on a back burner, so simply adding oil is faster than getting an oil change. By delaying the oil change and continuously adding new oil to the existing, the is the chance of overfilling, which can cause several issues, some that are costly.

Is it OK to change oil once a year?

A vehicle that isn’t driven much still needs fresh oil. Oil loses its effectiveness as it ages. When the engine doesn’t get started and warmed up, moisture forms in the engine that can’t be removed and takes a toll on the engine, shortening its lifespan. 

With the vehicles today, most automakers suggest an oil change every 7,500 to 10,000 miles. For the normal driver, this is typically twice a year. The older the car, the more frequent that oil change and filter change are needed. A good rule of thumb for a car that is over 5 years old, the oil change should be every 3,000 miles. 

How long can I really go without an oil change?

Vehicles older than ten years can to up to 7,500 miles before an oil change is needed, and if it uses a synthetic oil, you can safely drive it up to 15,000 miles before getting an oil change. After that point, you’re risking serious issues with the engine.  Here are some indications that you may need to get an oil change sooner than later:  

  • Color and consistency changes: Oil in your vehicle should be an amber color that is clear and translucent. As the oil works through the engine, it collects debris and become black and gritty. When the oil in your vehicle is black and gritty on the dipstick, it is time for an oil change. 
  • A burning smell: If you are noticing the smell of burning oil inside the vehicle, there is probably an oil leak. With an oil change, that may disappear for good or it may get better for a short time and then start again. Your mechanic can advise you accordingly whether an oil change is sufficient or if you have bigger problems with the engine.
  • Knocking noise: Oil keeps the parts moving in the engine without grinding against other parts, so without an oil change, the old oil is getting thinner and not properly lubricating the engine. This can lead to a loud knocking sound and is an indication that an oil change is needed soon before the engine becomes overheated and quits altogether.
  • Dashboard warning oil light: Vehicles have lights on the dashboard that signal when there is a problem, and one of those is an oil light. When the oil light comes on, it is telling you that you need an oil change or service is needed.  

What happens if you don’t change your oil?

When you don’t have the oil changed in your vehicle, a common problem is the engine parts get too hot and it becomes less efficiently. Over time, the components of the engine begin to warp and wear, leading to a complete shutdown which can lead to costly repairs or replacement.

oil cap on engine

Does oil go bad if you don’t drive?

Yes, it will begin to degrade and build up moisture, creating a sludge that won’t lubricate the engine as needed. Even if you don’t drive the mileage recommended between oil changes, a bi-annual oil change is recommended.

Can I get an oil change with my own oil?  Yes, absolutely, especially if you’re doing your own oil change.  Using your own oil at a service center may or may not be cheaper, it depends on the service center. Most oil change centers will not use a customer’s oil due to liability issues. 

As far as the mechanics of your vehicle, using your own oil is acceptable as long as it is within the specifications stated by the manufacturer, in regard to type and weight of oil used. Call 847-895-9131 today for an oil change.

Does cold weather affect car battery?

car batteries being tested

Powering your car through the cold

Car batteries first purpose is to provide the car power to start the motor, which we will discuss in more detail. The next purpose of the car batteries is to be a surge protector for the computer. Additionally, the car battery without engine running powers a car for a short-term where the GPS, lights, stereo, or wipers can be used once the car engine is off. 

As we mentioned at the start, car batteries provide power for the car to start. Within the system that starts the car, car batteries have three key things that happen with the help of the battery: 

  1. The ignition switch where you insert your key or push the starter button.
  2. The switch control where the solenoid sends an electrical current to the starter relay and closes the set of contacts.  
  3. Once those contacts close, the battery transmits voltage to the starter, engaging gears to turn and the car starts. 

Car batteries are seemingly simple, relatively inexpensive item that is essential to a car. If the battery isn’t working, the car isn’t going anywhere on its own power. In this piece today, we’re going to answer questions about car batteries, giving you an idea how important this item is to your car and why it needs your attention from time to time. 

Can a car battery just die without warning?

Yes it can, but you don’t have to wait for a car battery to die before you replace it. Out of a thousand drivers surveyed, over half of them admit they wait to replace the battery once it dies. This means that over 500 of those people were left waiting for emergency roadside assistance. 

Car batteries are a 12-volt source of electricity that turns the engine on and keeps a car running until the alternator takes over. The alternator recharges the battery, allowing the battery to have power to start the car again. The alternator used briefly to start the car’s engine and keep it running. As the engine’s power activates the alternator, it generates electricity and recharges the battery so it can start the car the next time. Both the car battery and  alternator need to be in working order because they require each other to keep the electrical system functioning. Both are needed for the headlights, horn, radio, and any other electrical device on a car.

If you want to avoid being one of the 500+ people stranded and waiting for roadside assistance because your battery died, here are 5 things that need your attention: 

  1. The Battery’s Age: Today, most cars require a 12-volt battery, providing your battery with an average life span between three and five years. By paying attention to the battery’s ‘birthday’, you can replace the batter it before it reaches that 5th  birthday. 
  2. Warning Sign It is Dying: If the engine is slow to crank when the ignition is turned, that is often a telltale sign. Another indicator is dim headlights when turned on without the engine running. There should be enough power in the battery and alternator for the headlights to be bright. If your car doesn’t turn over when you turn the key, you only hear the buzzing sound and a clicking sound, which is usually an indication the headlights were left on after you turned the motor off. Your car should start with a jump from another vehicle using jumper cables. If it won’t your car battery’s lifespan has been reached. 
  3. Test Battery for Free: Most auto parts stores and mobile car service companies offer free testing for car batteries for free. With the purchase of a new battery, installation is free, and the disposal of the old battery could be free, or a small handling fee may be added to the price of the new battery. 
  4. Before You Are Stranded: If you have your car battery tested and it fails, or it is slow to cranks, go ahead, and buy the new battery.  The store clerk or technician will be able to help you determine the right size and type of battery you need. 
  5. Battery Maintenance: Just like your home, car batteries need a visual inspection from time-to-time too. Check the battery cables for corrosion – a chalky white substance that will be on top of where the battery terminals connect to your car. If they are corroded, the battery can’t get good electrical conduction. These are easy to clean using a wire brush after you have disconnected the battery. Then apply a grease coating over the battery terminals before reconnecting. 

Can your car battery die while driving?

Yes, car batteries can die while you’re driving the vehicle. You need to get your car off the road as quickly and safely as possible then call for roadside assistance.  What can cause this to happen? 

  • Worn out ignition switch
  • Loss of power from a vibration 
  • Fuel pump goes out
  • Electrical system issue

How long can a car sit before the battery dies?

A common question about car batteries and there isn’t a direct, short answer. There are several factors that can affect the life of a battery, but the average lifespan is two months at the most.  For some higher end cars with a lot of electrically powered bells and whistles, you can expect 14 days.  

What are the signs of a weak car battery? And How do I know if my car battery needs replacing? 

Here we provide you a list of six symptoms you need to replace it before your car battery is dead: 

  • Slow Cranking
  • Check Engine Light
  • Low Fluid Level in Battery
  • Battery Case Bloated and Swelling
  • Leaking Battery
  • It is Old 
battery being installed

On Car Batteries

Are there times that a car battery can’t be jumped? Oh yeah … it happens. Your car wouldn’t start, and you called for off road assistance or a friend. They arrive, connect the two car batteries with jumper cables and your car still won’t start. Why? There could be one of several reasons: 

  • Your car battery is completely dead
  • Your car’s battery terminals are corroded, damaged, or loose
  • Your car’s alternator is bad
  • Your car’s starter is bad
  • Your car’s neutral safety switch is bad
  • The jumper cables are bad

It may not be the starting system and with that comes a list of other possibilities: 

  • Fuel pump
  • Out of gas
  • Clogged fuel filter
  • Computer failure
  • Catalytic converter problem
  • Carburetor or fuel injection problem
  • Timing belt problem
  • Spark plugs worn out
  • Water froze in fuel line 

At the end of the day, we recommend that you have your battery checked each time you have your oil changed or any other work is done on your car. Keeping it in good shape is as important as keeping gas in the tank. Call 847-895-9131 today for your auto repair service.