Crystal Lake and Barrington Auto Repair

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Follow-up: Fuel gauge, fuel pump still not connecting

Follow-up: Fuel gauge, fuel pump still not connecting

I recently received a follow-up question from the driver of a Pontiac Montana minivan whose fuel gauge was malfunctioning, always reading full. I had recommended he use a scan tool to measure the signal coming from the fuel sending unit on the fuel pump.

Q. I finally got around to looking into your advice on the weird behavior of our Montana. I unplugged the connector coming from the fuel tank and put an ohm meter between the purple wire (upper end of the sending unit) and the black/white wire (lower end of the sending unit) going to the PCM (protection circuit module). I read an open (…very strange). But when I rocked the van, the resistance was changing as the gas was sloshing around. After several seconds the ohm meter once again read open.

Unfortunately I only had access to a digital meter that doesn't give as precise a reading as an analog meter would. I guess when the van sits still for several moments (open sending unit reading), the PCM must interp

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fuel

Deep snow and bitter cold temperatures take a toll on your vehicle

Deep snow and bitter cold temperatures take a toll on your vehicle

If you've been thinking about getting your car checked over, this may be a perfect time for a thorough inspection of your vehicle. I say this because of the harsh weather we just came through here in Chicago.

The double whammy of the deep snow and bitterly cold temperatures tend to really take a toll on our automobiles. Here are some things we have noticed in the shop that relate to both of these severe weather conditions.

Snow-related issues

Transmission problems can result from being stuck and having to rock your car back and forth for long periods of time to get out. Sometimes it's as simple as changing out the burned transmission fluid, but it can be more serious to the point of having to replace the transmission assembly.

Sliding around a corner and into a curb not only can blow out a tire and bend a wheel, but it can also bend some of the steering linkage or suspension, causing your car to be out of alignment.

We

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Maintenance

Excited about the car show? Think again.

Excited about the car show? Think again.

My guess is, if you're like me, you will be looking for areas to keep costs down. One place you can do this is by taking good care of the car you own.

It used to be when our clients had a major repair come up, the quick response was, "I will just go get a new car." Now the more common response is "Make the repair" and keep the current car going.

There are many reasons for this. The most common is the client does not want to go further into debt for a new car and good used cars have gotten very expensive. If you don't have cash the interest on a used car loan cranks the payments up.

Unlike the government, most Americans have worked very hard over the last few years to get debt cleaned up and get some savings going. One way to reverse that very quickly is to buy a $30,000 vehicle.

As I have said before, buying a new car is very emotional. It really touches that "feel-good button" we all have, while spending money to

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Uncategorized

Be sure to tell auto shops of minor symptoms

Be sure to tell auto shops of minor symptoms

Q. I drive a 2006 Buick Lucerne. Recently I took it upon myself to bring my car into my mechanic for a new battery. I figured five years driving on this battery was cutting it close. I started noticing some little glitches with my vehicle that were making me feel like getting a new battery might be a good idea.

So I bring my car in to the mechanic and drive it home. The next morning I get in my car, go to start it and it will not start. I also discovered the door and trunk auto lock/unlock will not work from the remote. I thought replacing the battery would prevent the glitches I have been noticing, and would provide me with the peace of mind that my vehicle would start.

Now I have a vehicle with a new battery that absolutely will not start. What could be the problem?

A. I have more questions than answers on this one.

First off, when you took the car into the shop, did you tell them about concerns you were having or did you just ask them to replace th

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Categories:

Douglas Q&A

Your battery needs a jump start on winter

Your battery needs a jump start on winter

The two coldest months of winter - January and February - are closing in on us.

Is your car’s battery ready?

Even a new battery loses a third of its power when it’s below freezing outside, and half its power when the temperature drops below zero.

That’s why it’s important to make sure your battery - the most important part of your vehicle’s electrical system - has all the power it needs to get your car started.

If it’s more than 2 or 3 years old, you should have your battery, cables, connectors and fasteners checked by a trusted mechanic to determine if it needs to be replaced. The cables could be corroded, which isn’t always visible, or they could be loose. If you check them yourself, always do this with the engine off.

Your cables should have a tight fit. If they slide off the battery posts when slightly pulled, they’re not properly attached, and your car could end up inconveniently dying on yo

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Categories:

Battery

Understand the symptoms to pinpoint a heater problem

Understand the symptoms to pinpoint a heater problem

Most of us have probably turned the heater in our cars on at some point over the last couple of weeks. It's very possible that heater did not work the way it should. Here are some of the various problems we have seen with heater systems on some of the cars brought in to see us.

Poor heat

This condition can be caused by many things but sometimes it is as simple as a bad thermostat. Take note of the temperature gauge on your dash and if it is runs lower than normal the thermostat is most likely the source of the problem. On many newer cars this could also activate a "check engine" warning light as a car that runs too cool will not get optimal fuel economy. Another cause for poor heat could be a restricted heater core. This is a small radiator-looking core that fits up in the dash. When the fan blows air across it, its heat is blown into the car. If this system becomes plugged up, the coolant can't transmit the heat to the core and it

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heat

Problems can arise with long oil change intervals

Problems can arise with long oil change intervals

I feel like a broken record on this but I feel like it bears bringing up again because we continue to see cars coming into the shop with little or no oil in the crankcase.

The longer car manufacturers push out the oil change interval, the more drivers get a false sense that the oil is just another one of those maintenance-free parts of the car.

When you drive 6,000 miles between oil changes, you had better check your oil a couple times in between those changes because there is a good chance you need to add a quart once or twice before the next oil change. This is what we are seeing in the shop.

Some of these smaller cars today only hold 3 quarts and if you go down 2 quarts, that puts your engine at great risk. As the oil gets low, it will get dirtier and have a tendency to sludge.

The other thing you need to know is that oil in today's engine does more than just lubricate. It is used as a hydraulic fluid for controlling different engine functions

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Categories:

Oil Changes

Mice can cause significant damage to vehicles

Mice can cause significant damage to vehicles

We have seen several cars brought into the shop this year with rodent damage.

I don't know if this is because of the extremely long and cold winter we experienced here in the Chicago area but, whatever the reason, we have seen more of this damage recently than in years past.

The damage has ranged from fairly minor, about $200 in repairs, all the way up to more than $1,500 worth of repairs.

On the minor side, typically you find a nest under the hood and then some wiring to one of the sensors on the engine has been chewed through. After we clean out all of the nest material and repair the wiring, the vehicle is usually good to go.

We always check the air filter box and the cabin air filter for more debris because they can get in there, too.

The car that suffered the worst damage, by far, was a Mustang. It was parked in a garage for several months while the owner was out of state over the winter. The damage under the hood was minor compared t

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Horror Stories

Brake plates need to be cleaned of rust

Brake plates need to be cleaned of rust

Q. I have a 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe and I've been told the rear disc brakes need to be cleaned of rust and lubricated every 15,000 miles, because of the weather and salt. Is this true or is the dealer making an extra profit? I've asked why the front rotors don't need that service and the dealership told me different metal is used for the front rotors.

A. I think you are getting good advice from your dealer on this. The Santa Fe's we have seen do have some fairly significant rust issues on the rear brake system. This rust can create all kinds of issues from noise, sticking calipers, rusted backing plates and emergency brake issues.

Regular maintenance will help keep optimal rear brake performance. We do see rust conditions on other cars and trucks as well, but for some reason the Santa Fe seems to have a tendency for this to occur.

We see a fair amount of braking plates that rust away on GM trucks and SUVs as well. This used to be a fairly expens

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Categories:

Brakes

Ice buildup can cause blockage from A/C

Ice buildup can cause blockage from A/C

Q. I own a 2009 Mazda 3 with a 2.0 liter engine and mileage of 26,000. The air conditioning works fine under normal driving conditions. I recently took two long 600-mile trips in 90-degree weather. After about four hours of driving at highway speeds the cabin of the car started to get warm. The temperature gauge read in the usual range but I noticed the air was not blowing at full force from the vents.

The air was cold and the fan sounded as if it were at full speed but only a minimal amount of cold air was coming through. I tried adjusting the fan speed and I could hear the fan motor change speed but not the air flow. After stopping for lunch the A/C worked fine for another hour before the same thing happened. I repeatedly needed to turn off the air for a period of time to get the full fan speed blowing.

After the first trip all fluids checked out fine. I let the car run for extended periods of time and the A/C operated normally until the same thing happened on the

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Categories:

Winter
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