Crystal Lake and Barrington Auto Repair

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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

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Tires

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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

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Coolant

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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

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Tires

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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

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Tires

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Tires

Injector cleaners do help in the long run

Injector cleaners do help in the long run

Q. I try not to miss your column in the Daily Herald. It is very informative. You have helped me with questions about my 2000 Jaguar in the past and I thank you for that.

The new question I have is a general one. Where do you stand, or do you wish to comment, on the many additives sold by auto supply stores (i.e. STP, injector cleaners, etc.)?

The only one I have tried is an injector cleaner and I can't really tell if it did anything. I am ready to winterize my car using the information in your last column.

A. Thank you for being a loyal reader. I really appreciate it and I am glad you have found the information I have shared helpful.

As you have indicated, there are many additives on the market and they all claim to be the best, so it can be a bit confusing. When it comes to fuel injector cleaners, here is my advice. First, use a good quality Top Tier Fuel. You can find a list of these gasoline brands on the internet under Toptiergas.com. If you h

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How low is too low in your gas tank?

How low is too low in your gas tank?

Q. I enjoy reading your column in the Daily Herald and have a question. You mentioned that letting the gas level get too low can result in damage to the fuel pump. My question is: How low is too low?

I usually don't let the level drop below one-eighth of a tank just to ensure that I don't run out. Is that a sufficient safety factor?

A. Thanks for reading the column and taking time to write. I love getting questions from drivers like you who are interested in taking good care of their cars.

You are probably OK at one-eighth of a tank but I would start thinking about getting gas when the gauge reads one-quarter tank; this way if you don't get to the gas station right away, there is a good chance you won't go below one-eighth. Additionally, if you get caught in a traffic jam and one-eighth of a tank is not enough, you could run out.

And don't wait until the next day; the price might go up like it did recently when I waited until it was

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fuel

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gas

Fuel lines can wear under harsh conditions

Fuel lines can wear under harsh conditions

Q. I was told the other day that my Buick needs to have all the brake lines and fuel line replaced from the front to the back. It's a lot of money and I don't understand why the brake lines have to be done when it was a gas smell that caused me to bring the car in.

Can you offer any insight?

A. This is actually a fairly common problem today on many cars that have steel fuel and brake lines. It is more common on vehicles that are not kept in a garage.

The reason you typically need to replace all the lines is because they are bundled together as they run the length of the car. As soon as you disturb the bundle, the other lines will fall apart. It is actually a good thing your shop caught this before one of the brake lines started leaking because you might have lost some of your braking ability.

The replacement of all the lines tends to be a fairly time-consuming repair and that is why it can seem a little bit on the expensive side. Once this rep

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Brakes

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Brakes

Your A/C system doesn't take the winter off

Your A/C system doesn't take the winter off

Q. Why would I want to get my A/C repaired before heading into winter?

A. This question comes up quite often as we get toward the end of the summer cooling season and it came up again last week when we had a couple of those warm days. The client realized they were no longer getting cool air out of the vents so they brought the car in to see why.

After finding the vehicle was low on refrigerant, we isolated the leak at one of the hoses going to the A/C compressor. The client was of the mind to put the repair off till next year so as to not have to part with the money right now. We explained to them why that might not be such a good idea.

Anytime you have a leak in an A/C system, refrigerant is replaced by air, and air contains moisture. One of the biggest threats to an A/C system is moisture. By not repairing the hose you will expose the system to moisture for several months, rendering the Drier that is in the system fouled and in need of replacement at a mini

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Douglas Q&A

What makes the most sense: Buying new, used or just make the repair?

What makes the most sense: Buying new, used or just make the repair?

When considering the age-old dilemma of whether to buy—new or used—or simply repair your vehicle, the first question you should ask is if your current vehicle meets your needs and isn’t a junker? If it meets your needs and isn’t trash, it may be worth making some repairs. But the bigger questions is, does making a repair make more sense than buying new or used?

Let's say $5,000 takes care of everything wrong with your car and puts it in perfect running condition. Let's also assume the car is worth about $5,000. Most people might be willing to pay $5,000 for a perfect $5,000 car. It wouldn’t make sense, however, to buy another used car for two reasons: You already have one and you can’t be certain how well a previous owner took care of any vehicle you might consider purchasing. Rather, if you spend your available money on repairs, you know exactly what you are getting.

The other option is to buy new. According to st

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Uncategorized

VEHICLE RECALL: What should I do?

VEHICLE RECALL: What should I do?

It’s happening more and more. Owners are getting vehicle manufacturer recalls and have no idea what to do. Is this urgent? Should I continue to drive my car? Who should I contact?

When you receive your recall letter in the mail or via email, don’t panic. Call the nearest dealership that sells your brand of car to make an appointment for the repair. All dealerships are required to replace the recalled part free-of-charge. Be aware; although the recalled part will be replaced for free, additional parts on the vehicle the dealer suggest be repaired might not be covered under the recall. To avoid headaches, when presented with these recommendations, ask the dealer if the additional part repairs are included under the recall and ask for it in writing.

If you feel that you would like a second opinion on the suggested repair, Douglas Automotive can provide an inspection of the vehicle free-of-charge. 

Douglas Automotive cannot replace the recalled p

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