Crystal Lake and Barrington Auto Repair

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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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Rear brakes and emergency brake are not always one in the same

Rear brakes and emergency brake are not always one in the same

Q. I have an S-10 Blazer that I took in for brakes the other day. When I got the call to tell me what was wrong I was shocked by how much it was going to cost. Not only did I need rear brake pads and rotors, which I expected, I needed some kind of a dust shield on both sides and rear emergency brake shoes, too. Does that sound right; I always thought the rear brakes and emergency brake were one in the same?

A. Yes, it does sound correct. Most of the GM trucks and sport utility vehicles have this type of rear brake design. Your vehicle has rear disc brakes and then a separate set of emergency brake shoes that contact a surface on the inside of the brake rotor.

The dust shield you referred to is designed to keep all the road gunk and debris out of the emergency brake mechanism. This dust shield is also the backing plate for the e-brake shoes. The shoes are mounted to the plate and they need t

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Categories:

Brakes

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Brakes

Throttle body can causes vehicle to lose power

Throttle body can causes vehicle to lose power

Q. Last winter and the winter before when it was below freezing, my 2006 Chevrolet HHR displayed a "reduced engine power" message, and I couldn't go over about 5 miles per hour. This past winter when I was driving my Bichon to the vet, I had to pull over and stop the car. After a short time, I restarted the engine and had power back. Thank heavens. I didn't want my little dog and me to freeze to death.

I took the car to the Chevy dealer with the Check Engine light on. They said I needed a throttle body assembly. Condensation was found in throttle body assembly and PCV system, with a need to remove and clean the intake ports and valve cover. Estimate cost, $1,154.36.

They must have done something because the Check Engine warning light went out. I'm a senior woman with a really tight budget and no room for this expen

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