Crystal Lake and Barrington Auto Repair

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Moisture from your brake fluid can cause failure

Moisture from your brake fluid can cause failure

Q. Over the past few years, I've had an auto repair shop tell me the brake fluid needed to be flushed in the car since the oxidation level was high. Is this something that needs to be done, or is really unnecessary?

I've been tinkering with cars for about 35 years, and I don't ever recall this problem in cars of yore.

A. Great question! You did not share what kind of car you have or how many miles it has on it, so I will speak to this generally.

The brake fluid system of today's automobile is very complex, especially when equipped with traction control and anti-lock brakes. Even if you do not have these features, it is very important that the brake fluid be clean and free of moisture and other contamination.

Brake fluid is hygroscopic, which means it attracts moisture. Over time brake fluid will accumulate a certain amount of moisture; a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 20 percent of the cars they

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Brakes

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Brakes

Mild winters still play havoc with your vehicle

Mild winters still play havoc with your vehicle

Cold temperatures, snowy and icy road conditions and road salt all can be extremely hard on the many different systems of your automobile. While this mild winter may not have been severe enough to push some of these systems into failure, perhaps they are right on the edge. They may be vulnerable to the first hot spell that's sure to come our way.

Cold and heat are equally hard on components such as batteries and electrical systems, belts and hoses, gaskets and water pumps. Our wonderful roads tear up the shocks, struts and other suspension-related components.

As you drive around, pay attention to the sounds your car is making; it might be trying to tell you something.

If you hear a squeaking or growling sound coming from the engine compartment, you may have a water pump, belt or another accessory bearing going bad. A screeching sound while rolling or braking could be an indication that you need to replace your brakes or perhaps a wheel bearing is on the w

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Winter

Can you tell when shocks, struts need replacement?

Can you tell when shocks, struts need replacement?

Q. My Impala has about 88,000 miles on it and it is not riding as well as it used to. I have noticed this lately, especially with how bad all these roads are right now. I was told I might need new shocks and struts to correct this problem. It seems like I don't have enough mileage to need such a major repair already. What do you think?

A. Your car is right in the sweet spot for needing shocks and struts. In fact, most suspension manufacturers indicate that at 50,000 miles the performance of the shocks and struts is starting to degrade. This is not true for every car and every driver but it is possible they could need replacement that early.

It's fairly easy to determine whether or not you need to replace the shocks and struts. Remember the job of the shock and or strut is to keep the tire in contact with the road and to control the bounce. There are seven handling characteristics that when present are a pretty good indicator.

1. Body roll. You would n

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Shocks

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Shocks , Struts

Time to tune up!

Time to tune up!

Q. I am getting a 2005 Toyota Camry from grandma in Arizona. It has been garaged-kept (never driven in summer months) and has only 25,000 miles on it. What parts and fluids should be changed? I would like to keep it another 10 years.

A. What an opportunity for you to get a great car with such low mileage! Because of its age and how it was driven, I would recommend changing/flushing all the fluids. This would include the coolant, transmission fluid, power-steering fluid, brake fluid and the engine oil.

If it has a timing belt, I would change that, too, and I would scrutinize all the rubber parts of the car for any signs of dry rot or deterioration. These parts would include, but not limited to, the belts and hoses, axle boots, tires and brake hoses.

Finally, don't skip the normal inspection you would give any older car like the brakes and filters. Make sure all the lights work. If there are any leaks, you might want to get these taken care of now, too

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Winter weather freezes up cruise control

Winter weather freezes up cruise control

Q. I have been using the cruise control on my 2006 Grand Marquis on a regular basis. It works just fine except when temperatures get below about 40 degrees. Then I need to wait until the car warms up before it can be made to activate.

Since this can take as long as 20 minutes, I cannot use it for my frequent short distance trips. I tried a few ways to active the function but had little success.

Is there any way I can trick the cruise control to think it is at operating temperature?

A. It seems as though you may have a problem with the switch itself or the wiring going to the controls. There is also a clock spring just under the steering wheel that could potentially be the problem, but it seems more likely it is the switch itself.

With a little diagnosing a good technician should be able to figure out what part is failing. You will definitely want to leave it at the repair shop overnight so they can test the car while it's cold.

If you want

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cruise control

Speed sensor and traction control powers down engine

Speed sensor and traction control powers down engine

Q. I have a 2009 Lexus ES 350, purchased new in May 2009, now with 35,000 miles. I have been trying to resolve a problem believed to be associated with the traction control system. I have been dealing with this problem since 2010.

Occasionally when I make a left turn, just after starting my turn, there is a 100-percent loss of engine power. This is on dry pavement without any slipping of the tires occurring. I am 65 and don't do jack rabbit starts. The only time I had the traction actually kick in was our last big snowstorm. I started to accelerate, the tires spun, and the engine lost all power for 2 or 3 seconds. This was exactly what occurs on dry pavement.

It doesn't occur when I go straight from a stop or on right turns. My car has been into Lexus four times and they found nothing because I can't reproduce the 3-second hesitation on demand. The last visit they had the area engineer and, like the other visits, they found nothing unusual, saying the tra

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traction control

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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Douglas Q&A
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