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


  • How much gas should your car have during winter?

    Posted on 20, February, 2018

    You may have heard the old saying that you should keep your gas tank at least half full, especially in winter when the temperature dips below zero.

    There are arguments both for and against this practice, and your location and driving habits will likely dictate what you will ultimately do.​

    It's true that the "old days" it was important to never let your tank get lower than half full. That's because colder temperatures can cause condensation to form in the area of your gas tank that's not filled with gas. The water droplets that form are heavier than the gas so they sink to the bottom of your tank. This is where problems can arise.

    Allowing your gas level to fall below half full in winter can cause corrosion in the tank (if it's metal). If the water freezes it can block the fuel line so the gas can't get into the engine. Condensation can keep your car's air pump from staying cool, which can damage the air pump. Vehicles nowadays have sealed fuel injection systems but condensation can still occur when there's more air in your tank.

    Fuel pump failure can also occur when fuel is low because it sucks in air, causing your fuel pump to wear out, resulting in a hefty repair bill.

    In addition to the possibility of causing damage or preventing your car from starting, letting your tank from below half full can also affect your car safety. If you stall out or get stranded in winter, which can happen on a slippery or snowy highway where cars backed up for miles, you could end up waiting hours for traffic to start moving again. Having a full tank of gas will keep your from running out of gas and having to be towed, or worse, yet, from freezing.

  • Check out these winter safety driving tips

    Posted on 16, February, 2018

    It’s been a cold, snowy winter so far in the Midwest, and unfortunately, there’s plenty of time left for more. With that in mind, the following tips can help you stay safe when you have to venture out in your vehicle in not-so-friendly weather.

    When you park your car overnight or for an extended period, make sure your windshield wipers are turned off. In other words, don’t just turn off the car with the wipers running. Cold temps and precipitation can freeze them to the windshield and they’ll try to work when you start the engine, which can damage the wiper mechanism. If you expect foul weather, stand your wiper blades upright, away from the glass. Likewise, to prevent damage to the blades, and so that you can see to drive safely, scrape your windows before you head out.

    Don’t have your car washed when the temperature dips down to the low teens or below. This can freeze the doors closed or freeze door locks.

    A winter driving checklist should include a window scraper and snow brush, folding snow shovel, and sand or cat litter to spread under tires if you get stuck.

    Always keep your gas tank at least half full so that you’re prepared for any weather-related traffic delays, and have your battery checked to make sure it starts when temperatures drop. Keep jumper cables in the car, just in case.

    Check the air pressure in your tires monthly or more often in cold weather. Not only will driving on low tires result in unsafe handling, it can cause tire damage. Also, check your tire tread. As far as winter driving goes, there’s nothing scarier, or more dangerous, than sliding on an icy road because your tires have no traction. For some vehicles, a set of snow tires can make a big difference.

  • What you should know about winter tires

    Posted on 16, January, 2018

    Winter snows have already started in the Chicago area and careful driving is more important than ever.

    Do your tires stand up to the challenge?

    Most drivers today use all-season tires, which do give a smoother, quieter ride than winter

    tires, also called snow tires. But if you do a lot of driving in heavy snow and ice, a winter tire may be a better choice for you. 

    Winter tires are manufactured to specifically for cold driving conditions below 45 degrees. Their tread is made to grip the road better with more grooves than all-season tires. The tread is shaped to channel snow, ice and slush away from the tire, giving you more traction and making your vehicle less likely to slide. You’ll also be able to stop better when you put on the brakes.

    Winter tire treads are designed to operate when the temperature drops below 45 degrees.  Winter tires also help cars with ABS brakes to grip the road better because ABS brakes do not improve traction.

    It’s important to have all four winter tires at the same time so you don’t lose traction. If you do choose to use the all-season tires already on your car this winter instead, make sure you have sufficient tread. You can do this by placing a quarter upside down into your tire tread. If you can see the top of Washington’s head, you don’t have enough tread to keep you from sliding in winter weather conditions. It’s time to replace worn tires because tires need plenty of tread to grip the road - at least 4/32 of an inch.

    If you do install winter tires, however, don’t forget to have your mechanic switch them out with your all-season tires in the spring. 

    Tagged: Brakes , Tires
  • Should I put money down when buying a car?

    Posted on 05, January, 2018

    Traditionally, buying a car meant putting 20 percent down. However, the cost of new vehicles has risen dramatically over the years. In fact, according to automotive resource Edmunds, car buyers today put only about 12 percent down.

    But should you put any money down at all when buying a vehicle? Putting as much as possible down on a new or used vehicle has important advantages. It makes your monthly payments smaller, and, if you’re buying new, it can offset the depreciation that takes place when you drive off the lot, adds Edmunds. - a full 20 percent in the first year alone. If you put down very little or no down payment at all, you’ll owe more on your car than it’s worth, you’ll have higher monthly payments and higher finance charges.

    Simply put, it’s better to put money down when buying a car, but your down payment should be one you can reasonably afford. Depending on the condition of your current car, your trade-in can be your down payment, or at least part of it.

    If you’re buying used, know that used cars don’t depreciate as fast as new ones, but if you buy from a dealership the price has likely been jacked up. According to Edmunds down payments on used cars bought from a private party are around 12 percent of the selling price, so if you buy from a dealership, you should negotiate, and hold onto the car for at least two years so you don’t lose money.

    It is possible to buy with zero percent down, but you have to have stellar credit to be approved to do so. If it isn’t stellar, making a larger down payment will give you a better chance of getting your car loan approved. 

    Tagged: Douglas Q&A
  • Timing is Everything For Timing Belts

    Posted on 31, July, 2017

    ​Q. I have a Nissan Maxima and was told I should replace my timing belt and water pump. I have owned the car since it had about 42,000 miles on it and have been good about keeping the oil changed. Other than tires and brakes it has not needed much service. It has 122,000 miles on it now and runs fantastic; I don't understand why I need to spend $800 to have this work done when I am not having any problems?

    A. I am glad to hear that you have had such good luck with your Maxima. My advice would be to replace the timing belt if you want to keep having good luck. If you wait until you need one (the belt breaks) you most likely will be spending over $2,000 to do the belt and repair the bent valves.

    A timing belt is made out of rubber and over time it deteriorates to the point where it can break. Most manufacturers have a maintenance interval ranging from 60,000 miles to 105,000 miles. Your Nissan is overdue; how overdue depends on the year of the car. The reason you will want to replace the water pump at the same time is to save money. You have to take the timing belt off to replace the water pump so it makes perfect sense to do it while the belt is already off. You are saving almost all the labor and your water pump will most likely not make it until the next timing belt interval.

    We have a car in the shop right now that had this happen. The timing belt broke and when it did, the engine crashed and damaged all of the intake valves. It is an expensive repair and could have been avoided with a little bit of preventive maintenance.

    It is a good thing you have been good with your oil changes but there is more to good maintenance than just changing the oil. I would encourage you to take a look at the owners manual and see what other services should have been done along the way. The big mileage intervals on your Accord will most likely be at 60K, 90K and 105,000 miles.

    I am quite sure Nissan calls for the transmission fluid, engine coolant and brake fluid to be changed somewhere in those intervals. In addition, the spark plugs should be replaced and the valves adjusted. Your Nissan has been good to you and there is no reason why you can't drive it to 200,000 miles or more, but you will need to step up a little on the maintenance. When you do the math you will find that in the long run it is really inexpensive.

    Q. When I'm driving and it's cold outside, I feel cold air on the left side of my head while the heat is on almost at the highest speed. When I turn it down a little, I still feel the cold air on the left side of my head. What do you think the problem is? It's a 2006 Pontiac G6 GT Coupe with 44,000 miles. It does not have dual zone heating, and warm air is not coming out of the vents.

    A. The first thing you want to take note of is the temperature gauge on the dash. If your engine is not heating up to operating temperature then not only will you have poor heat, but you will be using more fuel than you should be.

    Generally on a newer car like this when the engine is not heating up properly you will have a "check engine" light on and a code stored. If the engine is getting up to operating temperature and you don't have proper heat then there must be something wrong with the heating system in the dash.

    Some possibilities are a bad control head, blend doors stuck or broken, plugged heater core or a bad heater control valve. If the air is switching properly between the different modes on the dash and you are just experiencing a temperature problem then I would focus first on the last two items. I expect an experienced technician would get to the bottom of this fairly quickly.

    Tagged: Timing Belts