Crystal Lake and Barrington Auto Repair

Articles:

After driver retires, car gets worse fuel mileage

After driver retires, car gets worse fuel mileage

Q. I have a 1994 Dodge Spirit and for years I got 20 to 22 miles per gallon. I retired in June last year, and since then the mileage keeps going down.

I know no longer driving 28 miles a day to work will drop the fuel mileage a little, but it is now down to 17 mpg.

I have taken my car to my place of service many times, for checkups, oil changes, etc. Each time they check everything they can think of.

Do you have any ideas? I know she is old, and maybe should be retired herself. But I have had no major problems with her in 18 years, and I'd like to keep her around for a while.

A. It seems you have done all you can maintenance-wise to get the best mileage, but some simple things can make a big difference, such as the condition of your tires and proper air pressure. You should also make sure the car is in proper alignment; all these items can work together to negatively impact your fuel economy.

You will also want to be sure that the proper o

... read more

Categories:

fuel

Vibration problem shakes driver of Toyota van

Vibration problem shakes driver of Toyota van

Q. I read your column all the time and love it so when this problem came up with my van, I thought, who better to get a straight answer from than you.

Some history -- in July I purchased a 2007 Toyota Sienna certified vehicle from a Toyota dealership. The van had 70,000 miles and was in excellent condition. Shortly after taking possession (and a road trip), I noticed between 30-35 and 45-50 mph (especially 1,300 to 1,400 rpm) there was a louder "droning noise," as Toyota calls it. Along with this noise was a vibration that reverberated throughout the cabin and was felt in my seat.

I should mention that right after I purchased the van, I had a set of Hankook H737 Optimo tires put on with an alignment.

The first time I took the van back to the dealer, they indicated they could not find a problem and they would want to try driving another van (same year, mileage, model, etc.) to determine if this is just how the van operates. They did not have such van

... read more

Categories:

Vibrations

Rust usually excluded from warranties

Rust usually excluded from warranties

Q. I read with interest your recent column regarding the Santa Fe and rust, which is a related issue with my 2003 Santa Fe. In December I spent almost $2,300 at the Hyundai dealership replacing the front exhaust pipe assembly, which had rusted out and fallen off the car.

When I took it to my regular mechanic in January for an oil change and checkup, he told me the rust on the bottom of the car -- brake backing plates, gas tank shield, etc. -- was so bad it looked like the car had 300,000 miles on it instead of the 90,000+ miles it does have.

I still have a few thousand miles left and about six months on my 10-year, 100,000 mile warranty. Do I have any recourse to get the car repaired or the rust problem addressed before the whole car falls apart? I believe there have been multiple lawsuits against Hyundai on the rust issue in "Salt Belt" states but not much came of it. Your recommendation?

A. Thanks for reading the column and sorry you are having all

... read more

Categories:

Douglas Q&A

Mice can do significant damage to autos

Mice can do significant damage to autos

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

... read more

Loose wire remains elusive for a decade

Loose wire remains elusive for a decade

Q. I purchased a new 2000 Lincoln Cartier Town Car. Within a few years, the whole system just stopped; no air, no heat, no blower. For about the last ten years, this has continued about every three to six months after service by the Lincoln dealer. New modules, new blower, new wire, etc.

This June when in Michigan, it again went out. The Lincoln dealer put in another module and it worked fine for one day. I took it back to the same dealer, and when they opened the hood and touched a wire in front of the firewall, the system started up. So he replaced the wire

The car worked fine until I sold it to a friend of mine three weeks ago. Guess what? It went out again. After about a week, it started to work again. This pattern of working and then not, driving a half-hour or sometimes a day or two before things are fine, has been going on for years and has the Lincoln mechanics stumped. Have you had any problems like this with the Town Cars?

By the way, the car had

... read more

"What causes engine 'tick'”

"What causes engine 'tick'”

Q. When I first start my car in the morning, I hear a ticking noise coming from the engine. It's a 2003 Ford Escape Limited with a V-6 engine and 70,000 miles. It goes away after 30 seconds or less and doesn't do it upon subsequent warm startups, like after a visit to the grocery store. I've changed oil on a routine basis, but just to be sure I didn't get inferior oil or the wrong weight put in on the last oil change, I had it changed again at the Ford dealer using their super blend oil. That didn't help -- it still does the "ticking" noise on cold starts.

Is this something serious to worry about? I've heard differing opinions. What could be the problem and how can I get it properly diagnosed?

A. Good question, John! It really depends on how severe the noise is and how long it lasts. It sounds, from your description, like you have a lifter or two that is bleeding down when the car sits overnight. When you start it cold it takes a few

... read more

Categories:

Oil Changes

Tire pressure systems

Tire pressure systems

Q. I worked for an automotive center and I'm wondering if TPMS (tire pressure monitoring system) is really necessary as opposed to traditional valve stems for automobile tires. Considering the fragility of TPMS units and the product cost and expense associated with replacing them, are motorists paying unnecessarily high replacement costs for an item that has little or marginal value for a car?

A. There is no doubt about the fact that the TPMS can become a considerable additional expense when dealing with tires on today's cars. Let's spend a minute and talk about the negatives of TPMS and then we'll talk about the positives.

We'll start with the fact that it is a government mandate. The push for TPMS started when we had the Firestone tire recall in the late 1990s. The Clinton administration enacted the Tread Act that required TPMS technology to be phased in starting in 2005. By 2008 the whole U.S. fleet weighing less than 10,000 pounds was outfitted

... read more

Categories:

Tires

Tags:

Tires

Stalls can be related to coolant loss

Stalls can be related to coolant loss

Q. My wife and I live in Alexandria, Minn. and were passing through Chicago on May 29. I bought the Daily Herald and saw your auto article about a 1996 Lincoln Town Car that would die when temperatures rose above 70 degrees. My daughter, who lives in Atlanta, has a 1998 Buick Regal that seems to be doing the same thing. It has the 3800 engine with 217,000 miles on the odometer. Sometimes it kills or abruptly hesitates upon acceleration or sometimes seems to sputter under load while going uphill. During the winter in Atlanta it hardly ever happened. However when it gets more warm and humid the frequency increases. Sometimes it kills on her when making a turn.

We have suspected the MAF sensor, which to my knowledge has been an issue with that car but have not tried changing it. The fuel filter has about 16,000 miles on it. When the car gets to cruising speed it seems to run absolutely fine so I don't suspect a fuel filter issue. There is no check engine light that indicate

... read more

Categories:

Coolant

Tags:

Coolant

New tires are better served on the back of your car

New tires are better served on the back of your car

Q. Why would the tire store have put two new tires on the back of my car when it is a front wheel drive vehicle? It seems to me you would want the better traction in the front of the car going into winter.

A. It does seem counter intuitive but they did the right thing. Whether it is front-wheel drive or not and you are only replacing two tires, you always put them on the back of the car. The reason they go on the back is for safety while stopping. If you have your best traction on the front and you go into a panic stop or a hard stop on slippery pavement, there is a possibility the front of the car could stop faster than the back causing a bad skid. So for safety and liability purposes, the tire manufacturers require new tires be put on the rear of the car

Categories:

Tires

Tags:

tires

Winter tires best on performance cars

Winter tires best on performance cars

Q. I have a BMW rear-wheel drive car and last year I really struggled to drive the car when the roads got snowy. It was actually scary to drive because it did not want to stop -- and the acceleration was really bad, as well.

The car seems fine on dry roads. Do I just need new tires?

A. This is a great question and I actually had this same experience with a BMW I owned at one time. The tires still had some tread on them but the car was undrivable in the snow.

I chose to buy a set of winter tires on all four wheels and it was amazing how well the car handled in the snow. You will probably get some traction with a new set of regular tires but I highly recommend a set of winter tires for your car to get maximum performance.

This advice holds for any performance car with a low-profile tire.

I recommend buying winter tires already mounted on another set of wheels so you don't have to mount and balance tires twice a year. It is much better for the

... read more

Categories:

Tires

Tags:

Tires
If You Are Using A Screen Reader And Are Having Problems Using This Website, please call Crystal Lake Auto Repair & Tire (815) 356-0440, Barrington Auto Repair & Tire (847) 381-0454, Fox River Grove Auto Repair & Tire (847) 639-4552 For Assistance.