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Make sure to do the online research

Make sure to do the online research

We had a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt towed in the other day because it would not start and, in fact, had to be jump started several times leading up to that point. We charged the battery but quickly determined the battery was bad and needed to be replaced. After replacing the battery the car started and ran fine but on a test drive we noted the check engine light was on and the car was stuck in second gear, basically a "limp in mode." A conversation with the customer indicated no previous problems like this had occurred. A computer diagnostic pointed to a communication problem with the transmission control module, and possibly a bad module. Since there had been no previous problems with this car, it seemed something just wasn't adding up. We started an online investigation into possible known problems with this system and discovered a fair amount of hits where the transmission control module needed to be replaced after charging the battery or multiple jump starts. Now we wer ... read more

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Proper technique is key to change transmission fluid

Proper technique is key to change transmission fluid

Q. I have a question regarding transmission fluid changes. I own two Honda Civics and do not know whether to follow the dash reminder notices or do more regular maintenance. So, for this example, would it be advisable to change the transmission fluid every 45,000 miles or wait for the auto to give me the reminder message, which might pop up at perhaps 60,000 miles? My second question is more direct. Is there a specific test to determine to what degree one's transmission fluid is fouled? I ask this because although I had my transmission changed on Oct. 12, 2012, with 40,000 miles on the car, I was recommended to change it now with 60,000 miles on it -- only 19 months later. The fluid no doubt looks discolored, but without knowing my prior history, maybe that makes it a guessing game for a new mechanic. This has me leaning toward relying on the car's sensor system as to when to make the change. I sure do not think 20,000 miles driven would be enough to warrant a change unless ... read more

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Transmission

Did you know most vehicles have two air filters?

Did you know most vehicles have two air filters?

Q. The dealer I always take my car to send me an email saying On Star had emailed them about a problem I'm having with my car. The problem is with the engine air filter. The check engine light never came on. What is the engine air filter? Is that the regular air filter that you change every six months? A. On Star monitors will vary a little from vehicle to vehicle. It can alert you to what system failed when a SES (service engine soon) light goes on. However, since your light did not go on, I am not sure what the onboard computer is seeing. If an air filter is bad enough to impede the air flow, you might have some drivability issues and perhaps a SES light on. The engine air filter keeps dust and debris from being ingested into the engine, keeping wear to a minimum. There is also a very sensitive sensor known as the Mass Air Flow Sensor that is protected by the air filter. Regardless, it would be a great idea to have the air filter physically inspected. A dirty air filter could a ... read more

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Maintenance

Don’t Fall Short Preparing For the Cold

Don’t Fall Short Preparing For the Cold

Is your vehicle ready for fall? “Every season warrants its own vehicle checkup to make sure your vehicle is ready for the season ahead,” said Doug McAllister, owner of Douglas Automotive, in Barrington, Fox River Grove, and Crystal Lake. Fall runs from September through December, so getting an early start on your vehicle’s routine maintenance before a hard winter sets in will keep you in the driver’s seat, rather than trudging away from your broken-down car through a foot of snow. Don’t forget to change your windshield wiper blades, since you’ll likely be using them more as winter approaches. You should also replace regular windshield washer fluid with one that contains antifreeze. Replace your engine’s air filter with a new one to keep your engine running smoothly. Another good reason to change it:  A dirty air filter will cost you more in gas.  Make sure all lights - headlights, taillights, and turn signals - work. Also, check ... read more

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Maintenance

Squealing noises- What could they mean

Squealing noises- What could they mean

Of all the components that make up your car, brakes should be one of those at the top of your list for maintenance. You certainly don’t want to be on a busy expressway, in rush-hour traffic or anywhere else for that matter, and not be able to stop your vehicle. Ideally you should have your brakes checked on a periodic basis to make sure your brake pads (and possibly the rotors) aren’t worn. Brake pads should last tens of thousands of miles, but our busy lives don’t always let us pay attention to things like mileage, so one way to tell you might need new pads is if you start hearing a squeal whenever you lightly touch the brake pedal. “Most brake pads have a thin metal tab (called a wear indicator) that starts to touch the brake rotor when the pads wear down,” said Doug McAllister, owner of Douglas Automotive in Barrington and Crystal Lake. “When brake pads near the end of their life, it creates a high-pitched squeal when rolling at slow speeds or ... read more

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Brakes

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Brakes

Back-to-school checklist for your car with Douglas Automotive

Back-to-school checklist for your car with Douglas Automotive

You’re sending your kids back to school or off to college soon. You’ve shopped for all their essentials, but have you checked out the one thing that’s more important than all those clothes and books? The car they’ll be driving. Or for that matter, the car you’ll be driving to take the younger ones to soccer practice and ballet lessons. To keep Susie safe on the road, check off the following (Better yet, take Susie with you to check the following): ●       Battery. Check for corrosion on the terminals. Also, if it’s more than four years old, consider buying a new one. Have your mechanic check to see how much life it has left. ●       Fluid levels. Check oil, transmission, brake fluid and coolant, and make sure they’re topped off. ●       Warning lights. They’re there for a reason. Have them checked out. Especially the “check engine” light. Coul ... read more

Check-engine light on? Check with a professional.

Check-engine light on? Check with a professional.

If your vehicle’s check-engine light goes on, don’t ignore it. Having it checked by a professional can make a big difference in long-term cost savings because it can signal anything from an expensive engine repair to something as simple as a loose gas cap. The check engine light is part of your car’s onboard diagnostics OBD system and an indicator of the condition of your car’s emissions system. If it does go on, the light will do one of two things: blink, or remain constant. In either case, you’ll need the problem fixed and the light turned off in order for your vehicle to pass state inspection. According to CarMD.com ten percent of all cars on the road have a check engine light on, and more than half of them have been on for more than three months. If it’s blinking, get to a mechanic immediately, if not sooner. That blinking usually means a severe engine misfire, which lets unburned fuel into the exhaust system, overheating and damaging the cat ... read more

Don’t Start with an Old Battery

Don’t Start with an Old Battery

Your car’s battery provides the power that starts your car, so it’s important to make sure it’s in top condition. If you ever accidentally leave your lights on after you shut off the engine, you know firsthand how you can inadvertently drain the battery. You can tell your battery is getting old when it takes longer for your car to “turn over”. Prevention is in order to avoid being stranded with a dead battery. It is not uncommon for a battery to seem to work fine one day and not the next. They don’t always give warning. A battery can also fail just as easily on a hot summer day as on a cold winter one. Not all batteries are created equal. Different vehicles require different types of batteries. You will want to purchase the correct battery for your car, stay away from the lowest price because in the long run that may end up costing you the most. Do you live in extreme weather conditions, hot or cold, drive long hauls, or make short frequent trips ... read more

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Battery

“Use” it to Your Advantage

“Use” it to Your Advantage

Time to trade in your old car? There are important reasons to consider buying used instead of new. “The biggest reason is the price,” said Doug McAllister, owner of Douglas Automotive in Crystal Lake.   “When you buy a new car it depreciates over a very short period of time very rapidly.” According to Edmunds.com the average new car loses 11 percent of its value the minute it’s driven off the lot. By the fifth year, it’s worth only 37 percent of what you paid the dealership. “That’s the obvious advantage of buying a one- or two-year-old car,” McAllister said. “You eliminate taking all that depreciation on yourself, and you’ve still got a current model vehicle with low mileage and something that’s going to serve you for a long time.” That being said, it’s important to make sure the pre-driven vehicle of your dreams is roadworthy.  Douglas Automotive provides comprehensive vehicle inspectio ... read more

Another Oil Change?!

Another Oil Change?!

Longer oil-change intervals may not be the best way to go. Many vehicle manufacturers have pushed the oil change interval out to 5,000 or 8,000 and even 10,000 miles. These higher intervals may not be the way to go based on some recent findings. In one case the manufacturers' standard oil-drain service for particular vehicles was scheduled at around 7,500 miles, but people following these recommendations were experiencing engine damage. Oil sludge was building up in the engine causing small oil passages to clog and engine parts to fail. The manufacturers extended the warranty on these engines but started requiring shorter oil-change intervals. We have seen several of these cases in our shops where clients let long periods of time go between oil changes, which caused the oil to sludge up in the engine. One of the components that seems to be very susceptible to problems from oil sludge is the Variable Timing Actuator. There are very tiny passages in this component and if oil can ... read more

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Oil Changes
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