Frequently Asked Questions
About: Cars and/or Light Duty Trucks
Q. My car won’t start, does that mean it’s the starter?
A. It makes a lot of sense, the starter starts the car and the car won’t start, so it must be broken. If only it was that easy. Sometimes starters go bad and need to be replaced, but more often than not your problem is not the starter. There are many other parts that need to be working to start your car. If your lights won’t go on, or are very dim, then try jump starting the vehicle and drive it to our shop. If your lights are working and your car sounds like it is trying to start but won’t then a jump start won’t help. Your best bet is to call a tow truck.
Q. Do I have to take my car to the dealership to keep my vehicle’s warranty?
A. You are not required to take your car to the dealership to keep your vehicle under warranty. If you take your car to an independent repair shop you can get the same services at a much lower price. As long as you keep your receipt for the services performed it will not void your vehicle’s warranty.
Q. How do I know if my brakes need to be serviced or replaced?
A. In most cases your auto mechanic will tell you that you need new brakes before they ever show symptoms of being worn down. Signs to watch for with brakes include shuddering or uneven stopping, pulling to the left or right while braking, squeaking, or the ABS light on your dashboard is on. If you ever have trouble stopping, it is highly recommended that you call a tow truck. It doesn’t make much sense to risk an accident to save some money on a tow truck.
Q. How do I know if I have a problem with my transmission?
A. Slippage is one of the first signs of a failing transmission. If you put your foot on the gas and it takes your car more than a second to start moving then your transmission is slipping. Also, if your car accelerates unevenly or abruptly, this is a sign of transmission slippage. It is important to bring your truck in for service at the first signs of slipping because we may be able to help you avoid a pricey transmission replacement. Even if your transmission needs to be replaced, it is best to take care of it early because it may fail at an inopportune time and/or ruin other parts of your drive train.
Q. How do I know if my exhaust needs to be repaired?
A. If your car is excessively noisy then you have a problem with your exhaust system. Other exhaust problems are difficult to spot. Every vehicle must pass an emissions test for State Inspection so this is when many exhaust problems are diagnosed. Even if your car seems to be running normally you may have a problem that is causing harm to the environment. This is just one of many car repairs where you need a trustworthy auto mechanic so that you know you are not being a sold an unnecessary repair.
Q. How do I know if there is something wrong with my engine?
A. Some signs of engine trouble are check engine lights, rough idling or stalling, difficulty starting, poor acceleration or fuel economy, or burning oil. Burning oil means that you need to continually add oil between oil changes. This is a common problem with older vehicles, and you may just need to add a bit of oil every once in a while, but if you have to put in more than a quart between oil changes this is a problem and you should get it looked at. The good news is that engines very rarely need to be replaced. Usually the problem with the engine is due to a malfunction with one of the hundreds of parts outside of the engine that are easier and less costly to replace than the engine itself.
Q. How do I know if I really have a problem with my suspension?
A. If your car is difficult to drive in a straight line or it pulls in one direction, then you have a problem with your tires, your alignment, your suspension or all of the above. Other signs include a rough ride (feeling bumps in the road more than before) or excessive swaying when driving around corners. A good first step would be to check that all of your tires are inflated properly. We may be able to fix your problem with an alignment, or we may need to replace a part in your suspension. It’s a good idea to look into these problems quickly because a suspension problem may cause your tires to wear unevenly, and replacing all of your tires can be very expensive.
About: Air Conditioning
The following questions about AIR CONDITIONING represent the most common ones asked by vehicle owners. Further information can be found at this location.
Q. What is the Difference between Refrigerants?
A. The refrigerant R12 contains an element of chlorine, and is considered a contributing factor in ozone depletion. As a result, this has been replaced with a refrigerant known as R134a. The two are similar in that they both boil at around -22 degrees Fahrenheit – liquids that boil at a low temperature produce an expanding vapor that has a lower pressure than the liquid, and thus a lower temperature. Heated air must be transferred to a cooler surface before it can be absorbed, and this resulting vapor is cold enough to absorb the heated air around it that is generated by the automobile.
Q. Are Owners Legally Required to Retrofit?
A. One of the most frequently asked questions on any auto air conditioning repair FAQ is whether or not a vehicle should be retrofitted to use the refrigerant R134a, rather than the R12 it is currently using, and if there are any regulations or laws that require retrofitting. At this time there is no legal requirement to convert to R134a. However, R12 was banned for use on all vehicles except those manufactured before 1994, and the remaining supply of R12 is dwindling. Should a major repair be required on a R12 system, it would be best to have the vehicle converted to use the R134a refrigerant.
Q. What are the Causes of Compressor Failure?
A. This question is too complex to answer quickly, but one of the most common causes is a lack of A/C use. A compressor that is not used regularly will need extra lubrication once it is turned on, and this results in excessive wear. The vehicle’s A/C should be used weekly for a short time to avoid this. Other factors contributing to compressor failure are: failing to flush the system, excessively high or low pressure, using the wrong type of oil for the refrigerant, and using refrigerant blends. There is no quick or easy answer to this question, and any compressor problems are best diagnosed by a professional.
Q. What is “Black Death?”
A. “Black Death” is a term coined by technicians and mechanics that refers to the breakdown of the refrigerant’s lubricant. When this happens, a black residue builds up inside the compressor, due to the excessive wear caused by the lack of lubricant. This residue consists of a combination of the compressor’s aluminum shavings and solder flux from the condenser. Once this residue cools, it hardens in the condenser, and cannot be flushed, but it liquefies upon charging and clogs the orifice tube. The result is a lubricant-starved compressor, and the only solution is to replace the condenser.
Q. What About Refrigerant Leaks?
A. Even a tiny leak can affect performance, and many leaks are difficult to see with the naked eye. A halogen leak detector can be used, but these are effective mainly in static conditions, and many of these leaks only occur when the system is running. However, there are dyes that can be inserted and used with a UV lamp that can detect even very small leaks. The dye stains the lubricating oil of the system, and can only be removed by flushing. These trace dyes have been approved by most manufacturers, and they can be used during charging, or after the system is charged.