Crystal Lake and Barrington Auto Repair

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Don't neglect your timing belt!

Don't neglect your timing belt!

We had a VW Passat in the shop this week on which it appears the client forgot to replace the timing belt at the recommended interval. The car is in perfect condition otherwise and all of the other maintenance items had been taken care of. The original belt went over 190,000 miles, well beyond its recommended life, before it broke.

When the belt broke it left the customer stranded on the highway at night, but worse than that, it did significant damage to an otherwise perfectly good engine. We had to remove the cylinder head to have all the bent valves replaced along with the normal items you would replace with a timing belt. The long and short of it is what would have been a several-hundred-dollar maintenance service turned into a several-thousand-dollar engine repair.

If your car has a timing belt, check the mileage against the recommended service interval for your car and be sure to perform this service on time. Not doing sot can be very inconvenient, not to mentio

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Trust matters when things do go as planned

Trust matters when things do go as planned

Occasionally I like to write about an oddball scenario that we come across in the shop and how it turned out.

Recently we had a Buick come in and the owner complained about a coolant leak and overheating. After filling the coolant level and putting the system under pressure, our technician noted two fairly significant coolant leaks. One of the leaks was coming from the water pump and the other from the intake manifold gasket.

These are two fairly common problem areas and, at this point, it seemed like a fairly straightforward repair scenario, especially after confirming the vehicle did not overheat when it was full of coolant. With the work approved and the parts located, we set out to perform the recommended repairs.

The repairs went as expected and the car was back up and running in the allotted time. After testing the vehicle in the shop, it was taken for a lengthy test drive. With all systems go, the car was then delivered to the owner. Another successful

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HID headlights

HID headlights

Q. I read your column weekly in the Daily Herald and have learned some interesting information about automobiles, but I have a question on headlights. I was wondering if there is an industry standard for brightness of automobile headlights?

I have noticed lately that some of the headlights are so bright that I am blinded by them. It used to be they were just normal brightness and it did not interfere with your driving ability but sometimes I have to squint to stay on course. Any thoughts on this?

A. Thanks for your question. It could be that the lights that appear extra bright to you are actually the bright lights that someone inadvertently left on or maladjusted headlights. If a headlight is adjusted too high it will appear very bright to an oncoming driver.

I suspect however that you are referring to HID (high-intensity discharge) lights that are more and more common on cars today. It used to be they were reserved for the expensive luxury import market but

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Categories:

Headlights

Check your tires before any road trip!

Check your tires before any road trip!

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 lead 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-sea

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Categories:

Tires

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Tires

Air blender motor fails

Air blender motor fails

Q. I have a 2005 Grand Marquis with 61,000 miles (out of warranty, of course). I recently had to have the blender motor replaced because the old one stopped working. The cost: $864! Six hours labor at $114 per hour to remove the instrument panel, plus the part. This is a part inside the car, infrequently used to change air flow from warm to cool and not exposed to the elements.

I complained to Ford and got a computerized letter saying "sorry." I complained to the car dealer from whom I have purchased three Grand Marquis since 1993 and been a regular customer and he gave me a $200 service credit, which was very nice but a long way from $864 for a seldom-used part that really should last forever.

In my complaint I pointed out that I had been involved with Ford for 26 years as a supplier, and they were a frequently unreasonable and demanding customer, which was OK as long as they make a product that is reliable. But this part had to be borderline defective whe

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Categories:

Engine

You could be taking a financial risk extending the life of your antifreeze

You could be taking a financial risk extending the life of your antifreeze

Q. My comments and questions are about antifreeze. Some say it lasts two to three years when you buy a car new. Some say you can extend that to five years or 150,000 miles. Then others recommend a heavy-duty extender to 400,000 miles. I need help here.

I have been taking care of my cars since I was 16, back in 1962. I have learned throughout the years, while living through antifreeze shortages, that you can extend the life safely.

I have extended it in my 1998 I30T Infiniti with the standard ethylene glycol antifreeze. I know they have made antifreeze improvements over the years, making it last to 150,000 miles. What I do is add rust inhibitor every-other year. The car currently has 220,000 miles, and the antifreeze was changed at 200,000 miles when the car was 14 years old.

I am now doing the same thing in my new 2007 M35x Infiniti. It has 80,000 miles and I have just begun adding rust inhibitor every two years. I do the same thing to my wife's 2008 RX

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Categories:

Antifreeze

Vacation time is more than what is in the suitcase

Vacation time is more than what is in the suitcase

It’s spring vacation time and families are preparing to head out on the open road.

While you’re packing, don’t forget something much more important - a car that’s ready to take on hundreds of miles you’ll put it through.

Check the following before you take off.

1. Fluids. Check the oil and all the other fluids under the hood as well. Your car can’t function if your oil is so old. Also, make sure there IS oil. Let it run dry and you’ll lock up your engine because they require clean oil to function properly.

2. Battery. Make sure yours has plenty of life, fluid, and the terminals aren’t corroded. If your battery is more than 5 years old you may want to replace it.

3. Brakes. You don’t want to think about what might happen if your brakes fail. Get ‘em checked.

4. Belts and hoses. If they’re old or cracked, you’re in for a breakdown soon.

5. Cooling system.&nbs

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Categories:

Maintenance

Most likely your Diagnosis code is only a starting point

Most likely your Diagnosis code is only a starting point

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 these codes

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Be on the lookout, pothole season is upon us.

Be on the lookout, pothole season is upon us.

If you haven't noticed yet, pothole season is definitely upon us! If you haven't hit one, you may before too long.

We have had several folks come into the shop with tires and wheels damaged so badly they had to be replaced. If you are unlucky enough to bang into one of these bad boys -- and you always know if you do, make sure you get things looked over by your shop to be sure nothing is damaged.

If you hit a pothole that's deep enough to damage a wheel, you could possibly damage other components of the suspension, as well. Sometimes an alignment is all it will take to get you back in shape and back on the road.

We will also need to be just as careful in parking lots because many of them are disintegrating before our eyes. My shop in Crystal Lake was a victim of this before we resurfaced it. The parking lot started to show problems with the first thaw and proceeded to crumble as the weather continues to warm up.

The other thing to be watch

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Categories:

Maintenance

Gas is cheap… but you can still save money!

Gas is cheap… but you can still save money!

Fuel economy, according to the Car Care Council, is directly related to vehicle care and driver behavior. Both can have a significant impact on how much motorists pay at the pump.

•Underinflated tires can impact the vehicle's fuel economy. When tires aren't inflated properly, it's similar to driving with the parking brake on and can cost a mile or two per gallon.

•Dirty air filters also can waste gas and cause the engine to lose power. An air filter that is clogged with dirt, dust and bugs chokes off the air and creates a "rich" mixture, which is too much gas being burned for the amount of air. Replacing a clogged air filter can improve gas mileage by as much as 10 percent.

•Worn or dirty spark plugs can cause misfiring, which wastes fuel. Vehicles can have four, six or eight spark plugs that fire as many as three million times every 1,000 miles, resulting in a lot of heat and electrical and chemical erosion. Spark plugs t

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Categories:

fuel
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