Crystal Lake Auto Repair & Tire (815) 356-0440 123 E Virginia Rd
Crystal Lake, IL 60014
Barrington Auto Repair & Tire (847) 381-0454 417 W. Main Street
Barrington, IL 60010
Fox River Grove Auto Repair & Tire (847) 639-4552 416 Northwest Highway
Fox River Grove, IL 60021


  • Car Owner Frustrated with String of Alternators

    Posted on 15, May, 2017

    Q. I have a 1992 Toyota Corolla with 105,000 miles on it. I am the second owner. I bought it used at around 40,000 miles. The concern I have is that I have replaced the alternator three times with an aftermarket alternator in the last five years, and when I looked at the history of the vehicle, I noticed the alternator was also replaced twice while the vehicle was under warranty with the original alternator.

    Any idea if there is something that could cause the alternators to go bad? Or was there a problem with the alternators on these vehicles?

    The only thing that seems odd to me on the vehicle is that when the turn signal is blinking (when other accessories are turned on -- headlights, wipers, etc.), the vehicle's RPMs seems to surge.


    A. I could not find any pattern failures for your car on the charging system. The only thing I can suggest is to make sure you are getting a good quality alternator and that you have the shop check that every positive connection is good.

    I would also have all of the ground connections checked and since you have had so many problems consider having a ground strap connected right to the alternator case to be extra sure that you have a good ground. I hope this helps!

  • Worry-free Road Trips - Be Prepared for the Unexpected!

    Posted on 08, May, 2017

    I love this time of the year! I love boating and sitting on the back porch enjoying the outdoors, and I love going on a road-trip vacation.

    I also love to help my clients get ready for their road trip, unless of course it goes something like this …

    Client: "Hi Doug, I would like to get my car checked over for a trip we are going to take."

    Doug: "That's great. We would be happy to check it out. Where are you going?"

    Client: "We're towing our camper out to Yellowstone and to see the sights out West. I thought it would be a good idea to have the Tahoe checked before we leave."

    Doug: "Sounds like a lot of fun, and I definitely think it's a great idea to get your vehicle checked out before you go. When are you leaving?"

    Long pause …

    Client: "Tomorrow. Do you have time?"

    Doug: (Gulp) "Yea, we can fit it in." (In my mind I am trying to figure out how I am going to get this car into the schedule).

    I definitely recommend a thorough vehicle inspection before any kind of a road trip, but I also recommend scheduling your appointment no less than a week or two in advance. You want to give the shop time to repair any problems that may be uncovered, especially if parts have to be ordered.

    The other reason is to give you some time to drive the vehicle locally after a repair to make sure everything is right before getting too far from home. This is especially true if it is a major repair.

    With gas prices as high as they are, you will definitely want to pay attention to the maintenance that affects gas mileage. Things like the ignition components, air filter, tires, steering and alignment can all play a part in affecting your fuel economy. Don't ignore a Check Engine light; if it is on, you will want to get this repaired as it could have an effect on gas mileage and the drivability of the vehicle.

    While it may be necessary to add a car-top carrier or a bike rack, the addition of them to your car will have a significant impact on your fuel economy. Try hard to get by without it, and you could save quite a bit at the pump.

    As for safety, nothing is more important than good tires. You can have tires that have fairly decent tread on them but should still be replaced. Make sure you don't see any cracking or checking on the sidewall of the tire. We sometimes refer to this as dry rot; if you see this, do replace the tires. These tires could be prone to a blow out at speed on the highway, especially with the extra vacation load and the higher summer temperatures.

    If you are towing a trailer of any kind, don't forget that it needs service, too. Have your shop inspect and repack the wheel bearings, especially if it's a boat trailer. Going in and out of the water can be very hard on the wheel bearings. Pay attention to the condition of the trailer tires as well; if you don't have a spare for the trailer, you should get one. Be sure you have a jack and a lug wrench that will work on the trailer wheels because the one for your car may not fit.

    Lastly, make sure all of the lighting on the trailer works -- marker lights, brake lights and turn signals.

    With a little planning and preventive maintenance, you can have a trouble-free driving vacation.

  • Road trip? Check your tires first

    Posted on 24, April, 2017

    Good tires are important all the time, but if you’re planning a summer road trip, they become even more essential.

    How do you know if yours need to be replaced? The rules have changed, said McAllister.

    “We used to say a tire down to 2/32 of tread was considered bald, and wouldn’t pass a safety test,” McAllister said. An old rule of thumb was if you placed a penny upside down into the tread and saw the top of Lincoln’s head, it was time for new.

    “Now, If you use a quarter and see the top of Washington's head you’re at 4/32nds of tread,” McAllister said. “That’s kind of the new standard.” Road tests have proven that even that small difference can lead your car to need 180 feet more to stop.

    Worn tires also are more prone to injuries. “And who wants to be bothered on vacation getting a tire repaired or replaced?” McAllister said.

    McAllister recommends a good all-season tire for wet weather traction, but noted that not all tires are created equal.

    There’s a big difference between a $59.99 tire and a quality tire, depending on size. An inexpensive off-brand tire is not going to perform the same. You really do get what you pay for. Just because it’s round and black doesn’t mean it’s the same.”

    Douglas Automotive, with locations in Barrington, Fox River Grove and Crystal Lake, carries Michelin, BF Goodrich and Uniroyal.

    Tagged: Tires
  • Diagnosis code often only a starting point

    Posted on 17, April, 2017

    Q. I have a 2007 Camry that has a "check engine" warning light on. I took it to one of the parts stores and they told me the code was for an oxygen sensor, which I bought. I installed the sensor and cleared the codes but the light came back on. I'm a little frustrated because now I have spent money and time and still have the problem. Any ideas?


    A. First off, you have learned a valuable lesson with a fairly inexpensive part. You cannot make a diagnostic decision based on a code alone. This is why the so-called "free diagnostics" that some of the parts stores offer is a bit misleading.

    I like to make the analogy that a code will generally tell you what aisle of the supermarket where you can find an item, but it does not tell you what shelf it is on. It takes a skilled diagnostic technician armed with the code, the right tools and the proper information to get to the bottom of most DTC's (diagnostic trouble codes)

    With theses codes, there is research to be done and pinpoint tests to perform to accurately rule out good components and condemn the faulty one. While you have to invest some money into the diagnosis labor, in the end you often save money by replacing or repairing only what's needed as opposed to replacing parts that you don't need -- like in your case the oxygen sensor.

    At this point the only advice I can give you is to take it to a good shop that you know and trust, tell them you would like to have this problem diagnosed and also tell them what you have already done. The more information you give will save the technician some time and you some money. Good luck and I am sure you will get this resolved quickly.

  • Changing fluids on a used car is a starting point

    Posted on 10, April, 2017

    Q. I am getting a 2005 Toyota Camry from grandma in Arizona. It has been garaged-kept (never driven in summer months) and has only 25,000 miles on it. What parts and fluids should be changed? I would like to keep it another 10 years.

    A. What an opportunity for you to get a great car with such low mileage! Because of its age and how it was driven, I would recommend changing/flushing all the fluids. This would include the coolant, transmission fluid, power-steering fluid, brake fluid and the engine oil.

    If it has a timing belt, I would change that, too, and I would scrutinize all the rubber parts of the car for any signs of dry rot or deterioration. These parts would include, but not limited to, the belts and hoses, axle boots, tires and brake hoses.

    Finally, don't skip the normal inspection you would give any older car like the brakes and filters. Make sure all the lights work. If there are any leaks, you might want to get these taken care of now, too.

    If you put a little money and time into this car now, I don't see any problem with you getting the 10 years out of it that you would like. Best of luck with it!