Crystal Lake and Barrington Auto Repair

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The Douglas Automotive Basic Guide to Synthetic Oil

Synthetic motor oil has been around for a long time, and more and more new vehicles are leaving factories with synthetic in their engines. But a lot of drivers don't really know much about it.

Let's start with conventional oil - the kind folks are used to. Conventional oil is made up of naturally occurring hydrocarbon chains, which means its molecules are long and have various lengths. Like a pile of pencils. Some synthetic oil starts with a petroleum base that's modified and others are entirely synthesized from other materials.

Synthetic motor oil works better in both hot and cold temperatures. It's more chemically stable so it doesn't readily evaporate or break down in the high heat produced inside your vehicle engine. This means it resists turning into sludge, which is a real engine killer.

Remember that marbles and pencils thing we were talking about? Well, that makes synthetic oil slipperier than conventional oil which means less fric

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Categories:

Oil Changes

When to use your car's fog lights

When to use your car's fog lights

If you've ever driven in thick fog, you no doubt know not to use your car's high beam headlights. That's because regular headlights shine directly into the fog, bouncing the light right back at you, making it more difficult to see. 

That's where fog lights come in. As the name implies, your car's fog lights are intended to be used so that you can see better while driving in heavy fog, mist, snow and even sand and dust, according to Lifewire. Fog lights are different from regular headlights, which have high-beam and low-beam functions.

The difference lies in their shape. They are bar-shaped and aimed sharply toward the ground, providing short-range visibility only just in front of your vehicle, according to Lifewire. By contrast, regular high- and low-beam lights aim straight ahead, lighting up the road to a further distance. When it's foggy, that light reflects back into your eyes, making it difficult to see. By aiming downward, fog light

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Categories:

Headlights

The importance of turn signals

The importance of turn signals

Your car's turn signal exists for a reason. Yet, many drivers hardly or never use their signals, which is a mistake. According to the Society of Automotive Engineers, two million vehicular accidents a year occur due to a driver's failure to use a directional signal, and the Society of Automotive Engineers says that more than a fourth of drivers don't use them. And, did you know it's illegal in all states not to?

Turn signals let other drivers know your intentions to turn or change lanes. If you don't signal those intentions, others naturally assume you will continue on as you are.

While switching lanes, you should activate your turn signals at least five seconds before merging, according to Traffic School Online. Always turn them off, after you've completed your lane change.

When turning, activate your turn signal well before you start to slow down to make the turn. Waiting until you're already into the turn is not only frustr

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Categories:

Douglas Q&A

Check your car's headlights

Check your car's headlights

Have you ever been pulled over by police becuase one of your headlights is out? You may not have noticed it. Headlights are one of those components of your car that you probably take for granted - until they don't work.

Headlights are necessary in order for you to see to drive at night or in rain, snow or fog. But they are also important in the fact that they allow others to see your vehicle so that everyone on the road can drive safely. In fact, some states require headlight use in the daytime.

Check your headlights periodically, to make sure they are in good working order. Problems can include a burned out or dim bulb, or inability to switch to low beams. Causes can be your car's battery, bad wires, a bad alternator or a loose alternator belt. If one bulb has burned out, replace both at the same time for consistent lighting. Your vehicle's owner's manual lists what type you need.

In addition to a burned-out bulb, headlights may malfunction f

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Categories:

Headlights

Check your car before a road trip

Check your car before a road trip

Summer is not far away, and if you're planning on taking a road trip, don't wait to get your car in rop running condition to avoid any breakdowns that could ruin your fun.

Check your battery to make sure it's connection is not only tight but clean. Does it have a good charge? If it's nearing its life expectancy, buy a new one. Check all your car's fluid levels and top off, if necessary.

Do your tires have adequate tread? Check tread by inserting a quarter into the tread with George Washington's head upside down. If you can see the top of Washington's head, it's time to replace your tire. Check tire pressure. The correct pressure is listed on your car's door jam and your owner's manual.

Do your brakes squeak? Sounds like it's time for new brake pads.

Bring along emergency supplies, adds Consumer Reports. Include a flashlight, jumper cables, extra windshield washer fluid, first-aid kit, a small tool kit

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Categories:

Maintenance

When is it time for new tires?

When is it time for new tires?

Once we put tires on a car, many of us don't give them another thought, until something goes wrong.

It's important to check your tires regularly to make sure they are inflated properly so they last a long time, and to make sure they have adequate tread on them for safety. Driving on bald or nearly bald tires is dangerous. If you're forced to brake suddenly, your car may not stop in time.

There are a number of signs to look for in determining if it's time to retire your tires. Cracks in the sidewalls are red flags. So is uneven tread wear, which can be the result of under-or-over inflation, wheels that are out of alignment or suspension problems, according to consumer reports. If the tread is REALLY worn, less than 1/16th of an inch, replace your tires. Most tires come with tread lines that show you how much tread you have left.

Another way to determine tread wear is to take a quarter and place it on edge with George Washington's head upsid

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Categories:

Tires

Tags:

Tires

My Window Won't Roll Down

My Window Won't Roll Down

Ever pulled up to a drive-through only to find that your car window won't go down when you push the button to order. It's frustrating.

If you have electric (power) windows in your car - and most people do these days - the causes range from simple to complex. If the window won't budge if could be one of the simple causes, such as a loose connection or a blown fuse, which are easy fixes.

The reason could also be a faulty switch. If the window has been acting up, sometimes working and sometimes not, but seems to be getting worse over time, the switch is often the culprit. If, when you play with the switch, it works intermittently, that's also a clue that the contacts might be coming apart. You can try pushing if several times to get it to open temporarily. Obviously, however, you'll have to have the switch replaced.

Another reason your window may not be moving is the gaskets. Those are the rubber strips around the inside of your car's win

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Categories:

Maintenance

What to do if your car's check engine light comes on

What to do if your car's check engine light comes on

It's an instant feeling of dread - heading down the highway and your check engine light comes on.

Don't panic yet. It's not necessarily a big-ticket fix, although it could be.

If you're lucky, it's just because your didn't screw the gas cap on tightly the last time you gassed up. However, other causes could also cost your thousands if there is major damage to your engine. In any case, you definitely want to have it checked right away by a trusted mechanic who will use an onboard diagnostics system code reader to determine the exact cause of your problem.

One common cuase is an aging, faulty oxygen sensor, which can cause gas mileage to plummet and emissions to soar. If you ignore it, it can damage your catalytic converter, which can also cause your check engine light to go on. Its job is to render carbon monoxide nontoxic. If it doesn't work, it really affects gas mileage. Replacement cost is around $2,000. 

Another re

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What to do if your car's heater is not working

What to do if your car's heater is not working

There are few things more annoying than jumping into your car on a freezing winter day only to discover that your heater isn't working.

Unfortunately, there are quite a few reasons that could cause this.

If you heater fan isn't blowing it's likely the blower motor has gone out. But it could also be that a switch has gone out. If, however, your fan does blow but only when you're driving at certain speeds, the culprit could be a bad blower resistor. The good news is that the repair is likely not expensive.

If you've got heat but it's just not up to par, you could have a bad thermostat, especially if your dashboard temperature indicator is low. This condition could turn on your "check engine" light.

Another cause of less-than-adequate heat could lie in your car's heater core. If it's blocked it won't heat. A flush can solve the problem. If you hear a clicking sound and no air is blowing from the vents, a blen

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Categories:

Douglas Q&A

Tags:

Coolant , heat

How much gas should your car have during winter?

How much gas should your car have during winter?

You may have heard the old saying that you should keep your gas tank at least half full, especially in winter when the temperature dips below zero.

There are arguments both for and against this practice, and your location and driving habits will likely dictate what you will ultimately do.​

It's true that the "old days" it was important to never let your tank get lower than half full. That's because colder temperatures can cause condensation to form in the area of your gas tank that's not filled with gas. The water droplets that form are heavier than the gas so they sink to the bottom of your tank. This is where problems can arise.

Allowing your gas level to fall below half full in winter can cause corrosion in the tank (if it's metal). If the water freezes it can block the fuel line so the gas can't get into the engine. Condensation can keep your car's air pump from staying cool, which ca

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Categories:

Winter
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