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


  • Best Car Advice Comes From Shop Owners

    Posted on 20, July, 2017

    I've had a lot of calls lately from my clients either looking to buy or sell a car or truck.

    Have you considered speaking to your repair shop when you are in the market to purchase a replacement vehicle or sell your existing one? It's a great place to go for either of these transactions.

    When you are looking to buy, your shop may not only know of a client who is looking to sell, but you will be able to buy with confidence knowing no one will know the car or truck better than those at the shop who serviced it. They will have records for when various services were performed and would most likely pass any service guarantees on to you as the new owner.

    When you are looking to sell your car, no one knows it better than your shop and staff may just have a buyer looking for a car like yours. Everybody wins and the new owner can drive away with confidence.

    I always encourage my clients who are purchasing a replacement vehicle, if they don't know anything about it, to bring it in for a pre-purchase inspection. Worst case, it can save you from making a really bad decision and, best case, you will have an idea of the maintenance that needs to be done over the next couple years.

    Either way, the investment of time and money to have a thorough inspection is well worth it.

    Don't put off repairs

    When your car is leaking antifreeze, don't put off getting it repaired. We had a client who just tried to deal with a leak by adding coolant here and there to put off spending a few hundred dollars to repair the leak. The problem is that he got caught a few times running low and overheated the engine.

    The engine overheated so bad one time that the head gasket let go and now we need to not only do the work that he put off but he needs to spend a couple thousand on major engine work.

    The moral of the story is, don't put off known problems … they are not going to just magically get better and could lead to a much larger expense. This goes for any part of the car.

    For example, if you hear a brake noise, don't ignore it. By letting it go, you could have to replace a brake rotor instead of just the brake pads. If you ignore a misfiring spark plug, you could actually damage a catalytic converter.

    Sometimes it is hard to part with the cash to get stuff repaired but think of it this way -- you have made a substantial investment to buy your car, so keeping the car maintained protects that investment.

  • Fuel Efficiency Tips For The Summer

    Posted on 13, July, 2017


    Summer is here which means more traveling for you and your whole family. Fuel efficiency is on our minds more when we are driving more. Most of us can't just dash out and buy a new, more economical car. Also, for many of us, a smaller economy car just does not meet the needs of our family or business.

    In reality, replacing a good reliable car just to gain a few miles per gallon may not be the most economical or environmentally friendly move anyway.

    Today I thought I would offer some tips that can help you get the most out of every gallon of gas for the vehicle you drive now.

    Let's start with the basics like tire pressure, since low tires can rob you of several miles per gallon. For every 1-pound drop in pressure on all four tires, you increase your rolling resistance by 1.4 percent. Based on that, you can see how being down several pounds on air pressure can increase rolling resistance by quite a bit. Look on the door sticker of your vehicle for the proper inflation pressure and keep tires inflated to the maximum pressure recommended by the manufacturer.

    For safety and efficiency, make sure your tires are in good shape because tires that are worn out or worn unevenly will also affect the performance of your car. Closely related to tire wear is wheel alignment … a car that is out of alignment will also have increased rolling resistance. Not only will this condition kill your fuel economy, it will wear out a good set of tires prematurely.

    The next easy item on the list would be the extra weight you are carrying in the trunk. I am amazed sometimes by all the stuff people cram into their trunk. If you are not using the golf clubs until next week, you can increase your efficiency by leaving them home in the garage. As the weather warms up you can save on fuel by not using the air conditioning and rolling the windows down, with the following caveat. If you are on the highway and at higher speeds, it may be a wash between running the air conditioning and the loss in aero dynamics from having the windows down. I would opt for comfort.

    The following items are more about keeping up with the maintenance, which if you have been reading me for a while you know I am a proponent. All of the following will positively affect fuel efficiency if properly maintained.

    • Air filter: A dirty air filter will restrict air flow to the engine.

    • Spark plugs and other ignition components.

    • Oxygen sensors.

    • Any time a check engine light is on.

    • Dirty fluids or wrong fluids in differentials, transfer cases and transmissions.

    • The wrong viscosity motor oil.

    • Bug deflectors and roof racks can impact the aero dynamics of your vehicle.

    The last thing you can do to conserve fuel is to adjust your driving habits. Accelerate slowly and control your speed. When approaching a red light, come off the accelerator earlier and coast longer rather than charging up to the light and braking hard. The difference in fuel you will use at 55 mph compared to 70 mph is enormous and you have the added bonus of not having to worry about a ticket. According to the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, at 70 mph you lose 17 percent of your fuel economy and at 75 mph it's 25 percent. The numbers get worse from there.

  • Decisions, Decisions Decisions- Ethanol

    Posted on 26, June, 2017

    Q: Hello Doug. Love your column every Sunday in the Daily Herald; it's helped me out a few times so thanks. I have a question regarding grades of gasoline. We travel to Iowa about 1-2 times a month. At one gas station, they sell gas with 10% ethanol and gas without ethanol. The price difference is 40 cents more for ethanol-free. Is there an advantage of using ethanol free as far as performance and mileage, assuming a car gets about 30 mpg?

    A: Thanks for the question. I don't know for sure if you would see a significant enough performance or mileage increase to offset the 40 cents per gallon. You may want to try it once and see if you notice any improvement. Today's cars tolerate the 10% ethanol fine; it is when you put the 15% or higher in where you could start having problems unless it is a flex fuel vehicle. I do not recommend using the E15 in your car or truck unless it is a flex fuel vehicle. Using fuel with 15% or higher ethanol could damage your vehicle and in fact, if you put E85 in a non-flex fuel vehicle it may not even run. So, if your choice is between no ethanol and E15 go with no ethanol. I hope this helps.

  • Don't Cut Corners on Brake Lines

    Posted on 19, June, 2017

    traffic jam, brake lightsQ: I have a 2001 Ford Pickup Truck that I am getting ready to sell, and I noticed that the brake line going to the rear is wet with fluid. Is there a way to splice in a line or is there a cheaper way to repair than to replace the line?

    A: Unfortunately, you will need to replace the line. Anytime you are dealing with the hydraulic side of the brake system, you don’t want to cut any corners. If you have a brake line blow out on braking, it could be catastrophic. The proper repair would be to replace all rusted brake lines as well as flushing out the system with new brake fluid. This type of repair can run between $500 - $1000 depending on how much of the systems will need to be replaced. On some vehicles, the brake lines and the fuel lines are bundled together; the minute you touch one of those lines, the others can be compromised and begin to leak, so be prepared. We have a big problem with this on older cars as they have been exposed to so many winter seasons with all the road salt, which just eats away at the exposed metal lines. The lines we have been using as replacement have a high content of nickel and they don’t corrode like the steel ones do. If you sell this vehicle as is, make sure you disclose the problem area to the buyer; you wouldn’t want them to have a problem. Good luck, and I hope this is helpful. 

  • Keep that Light Shining Bright - Headlight Restoration

    Posted on 12, June, 2017

    The headlight lenses on my 2001 Honda Odyssey have clouded over the years, and I have had them professionally restored/polished to make them clear. I have also done the restoration polishing twice myself. While I have been successful in restoring the lenses to almost new condition each time, my questions are:

    1) What causes the lenses to cloud over time—is it UV exposure, chemical exposure or something else?
    2) Is there something I can do to prevent, reduce or mitigate the cause of the plastic getting cloudy?
    3) Since the headlight restoration product I use (Rain-X Headlight Restorer) acts like a mild abrasive, is there a limit to how many times I can use this product until I wear out or damage the headlight lens to the point where polishing will not work anymore?

    I have two newer cars in the family that have not shown any headlight lens clouding yet, and I would like to do what I can to avoid having to keep on polishing the lenses. What do you suggest?


    Doug:  Great Questions. It is primarily the UV exposure that degrades the plastic lenses. When they are new, there is a coating on there that inhibits the exposure but over time, it wears off. The natural impact from sand and road grime does not help either.

    When we do the headlight restoration, we use three or four grades of abrasive with the final sanding being extremely fine (3000). We do the sanding with orbital pneumatic tools that run at different speeds. We then finish off with a polish that has a UV inhibitor. We have had good luck with this process, and it seems to last, so I am not sure why you have had to do them so often. I am sure the farther you sand into the plastic, the less effective it will be.

    The best thing you can do for the headlight lenses that are still in good shape is to keep them clean and waxed; this will help protect them as best you can. Taking the time or spending the money to clean up those cloudy lenses is well worth it. Not only will you have better vision at night, but it makes the whole car look much better.