Category Archives: Automotive Repair

Changing fluids on a used car is a starting point

Changing fluids on a used car is a starting point

Q. I am getting a 2005 Toyota Camry from grandma in Arizona. It has been garaged-kept (never driven in summer months) and has only 25,000 miles on it. What parts and fluids should be changed? I would like to keep it another 10 years. A. What an opportunity for you to get a great car with such low mileage! Because of its age and how it was driven, I would recommend changing/flushing all the fluids. This would include the coolant, transmission fluid, power-steering fluid, brake fluid and the engine oil. If it has a timing belt, I would change that, too, and I would scrutinize all the rubber parts of the car for any signs of dry rot or deterioration. These parts would include, but not limited to, the belts and hoses, axle boots, tires and brake hoses. Finally, don't skip the normal inspection you would give any older car like the brakes and filters. Make sure all the lights work. If there are any leaks, you might want to get these taken care of now, too. If you put a little money ... 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 222,000 miles on it when I ... read more

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 have do not have a gas ... read more

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 parts free-of-charge. But ... read more

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

Repair in Pairs

Repair in Pairs

The bad news is many of us don't take care of our cars the way we should and that lack of maintenance will eventually catch up to us. I wanted to focus in on one habit I would like to recommend you develop; that is to replace things in pairs. Whether it be a light bulb or a suspension part like a ball joint or a brake caliper, it is a good practice to replace both sides. If you think about it, both sides of the car have the same amount of wear, so if one side wears out or breaks, you can be pretty sure the other side will not be far behind. Even if the part looks good, do yourself a favor and change it anyway. You won't know it, but, trust me, you will save yourself a fair amount of aggravation. Here are some of the parts you should change in pairs that come to mind, though not everything. • Brakes and brake components like calipers and wheel cylinders, drums and rotors. • Suspension parts like ball joints, tie rod ends, struts and springs. • Light bulbs, b ... read more

Don't neglect your timing belt!

Don't neglect your timing belt!

We had a VW Passat in the shop this week on which it appears the client forgot to replace the timing belt at the recommended interval. The car is in perfect condition otherwise and all of the other maintenance items had been taken care of. The original belt went over 190,000 miles, well beyond its recommended life, before it broke. When the belt broke it left the customer stranded on the highway at night, but worse than that, it did significant damage to an otherwise perfectly good engine. We had to remove the cylinder head to have all the bent valves replaced along with the normal items you would replace with a timing belt. The long and short of it is what would have been a several-hundred-dollar maintenance service turned into a several-thousand-dollar engine repair. If your car has a timing belt, check the mileage against the recommended service interval for your car and be sure to perform this service on time. Not doing sot can be very inconvenient, not to mention expensive

Trust matters when things do go as planned

Trust matters when things do go as planned

Occasionally I like to write about an oddball scenario that we come across in the shop and how it turned out. Recently we had a Buick come in and the owner complained about a coolant leak and overheating. After filling the coolant level and putting the system under pressure, our technician noted two fairly significant coolant leaks. One of the leaks was coming from the water pump and the other from the intake manifold gasket. These are two fairly common problem areas and, at this point, it seemed like a fairly straightforward repair scenario, especially after confirming the vehicle did not overheat when it was full of coolant. With the work approved and the parts located, we set out to perform the recommended repairs. The repairs went as expected and the car was back up and running in the allotted time. After testing the vehicle in the shop, it was taken for a lengthy test drive. With all systems go, the car was then delivered to the owner. Another successful repair, or so we though ... read more

Time to tune up!

Time to tune up!

Q. I am getting a 2005 Toyota Camry from grandma in Arizona. It has been garaged-kept (never driven in summer months) and has only 25,000 miles on it. What parts and fluids should be changed? I would like to keep it another 10 years. A. What an opportunity for you to get a great car with such low mileage! Because of its age and how it was driven, I would recommend changing/flushing all the fluids. This would include the coolant, transmission fluid, power-steering fluid, brake fluid and the engine oil. If it has a timing belt, I would change that, too, and I would scrutinize all the rubber parts of the car for any signs of dry rot or deterioration. These parts would include, but not limited to, the belts and hoses, axle boots, tires and brake hoses. Finally, don't skip the normal inspection you would give any older car like the brakes and filters. Make sure all the lights work. If there are any leaks, you might want to get these taken care of now, too. If you put a little money ... read more

Understand the symptoms to pinpoint a heater problem

Understand the symptoms to pinpoint a heater problem

Most of us have probably turned the heater in our cars on at some point over the last couple of weeks. It's very possible that heater did not work the way it should. Here are some of the various problems we have seen with heater systems on some of the cars brought in to see us. Poor heat This condition can be caused by many things but sometimes it is as simple as a bad thermostat. Take note of the temperature gauge on your dash and if it is runs lower than normal the thermostat is most likely the source of the problem. On many newer cars this could also activate a "check engine" warning light as a car that runs too cool will not get optimal fuel economy. Another cause for poor heat could be a restricted heater core. This is a small radiator-looking core that fits up in the dash. When the fan blows air across it, its heat is blown into the car. If this system becomes plugged up, the coolant can't transmit the heat to the core and it won't work. S ... read more

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