Crystal Lake and Barrington Auto Repair

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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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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

Performance cars often times need winter tires

Performance cars often times need winter tires

Q. My granddaughter's 2011 Ford Focus SES has traction control and good tire tread. When trying to get out of her driveway, the car's tires just spin on the ice we have had lately.

Her only option is to push the car free of the ice. She has turned the traction control on and off and still has the result. Two other family cars have no traction problems at all under the same conditions.

Any ideas as to what she can do to overcome the problem?

A. When you say the tires have good tread, what does that mean? They should have at least 4/32nds of an inch tread and even at that they might not be the best for traction in the snow.

Typically we recommend replacing the tires at 4/32nds to get the best snow and wet traction. If the tread is low, replace the tires with a good quality all-season tire.

The other thought I have is what type of a tire is it? If it is more of a performance tire you will not get adequate traction in the snow.

Man

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Categories:

Tires

Tags:

Tires , Winter

New parts can cause unforeseen headaches

New parts can cause unforeseen headaches

Q. My 1996 Sonoma four-cylinder does not start sometimes. It can start flawlessly for weeks, then not start. It can happen when the truck has been sitting, or if it was just running. There's no rhyme or reason for the pattern. When it doesn't start it may take only one more turn of the key, or five minutes’ worth of attempts.

I replaced the starter, since it had a few years on it. The battery is relatively new. The connections are all good and clean. One quirk I discovered was, when I tried starting it without engaging the clutch, it should not have turned over, but it did. So I replaced the neutral safety switch. No luck. My next move may be the ignition switch. Is there anything else to consider here?

A. This is a little tough to answer without doing some of my own testing but it seems as though you are on the right track. If there is any adjustment on the clutch lockout switch make sure it is correct. There should be a starter relay in or near the po

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Uncategorized

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new car

Don't over fill oil with new cars

Don't over fill oil with new cars

Q. I have a 2001 Buick Regal which, I understand, should take 4.5 quarts of oil on an oil change, not five quarts. Is the higher amount harmful to the engine? It does read considerably over the full mark on the dip stick when this happens.

A. You are correct on the oil capacity for your car; it is 4.5 quarts. If it is over filled by half a quart, it should not hurt anything, but I would take it back to the oil change shop and have the level adjusted to the proper level.

It is always hard to know exactly how much oil is too much, so it's best to get it right on the nose. While the oil level being exactly on the line is not as critical on your car, it is extremely critical on some of the newer vehicles. The oil level has to be right or it can set computer codes in newer models, and in fact some of the hybrids won't even start.

As long as we are talking about oil, let me use this opportunity to remind our readers not only of the importance of keeping the

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Categories:

Oil Changes

Helpful Tips for Vehicle Winterization

Helpful Tips for Vehicle Winterization

With winter coming, I think, "What should I be taking care of on my vehicle to get ready?"

This is a question we get asked almost daily these days and the answer is fairly simple; take care of all the needed maintenance and you should pull through the winter weather just fine.

The things you want to pay attention to would be the following:

•Be sure the oil is changed and that you have the correct oil in the car

•Be sure all the fluids are clean and topped off to the proper level. If they are dirty or have not been changed per the maintenance schedule, you should have that done.

•Have a brake inspection performed, including making sure the anti-lock brakes are working.

•Inspect the tires for good tread life and to be sure there is no cracking on the sidewalls.

•Inspect all lighting and replace any burned out light bulbs. If the plastic headlights have become dull and degraded, have them replace

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Categories:

Winter
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