In a bad economy, people logically try to make good economic choices but often lack the needed knowledge on which to base them. When they are choosing between AWD and 4WD vehicles, for example, they usually trust their auto dealership to inform and guide their choice. Possibly because car salesmen themselves are not trained mechanics and most car buyers are not either, transmissions are something that are not often discussed during the buying process.
The difference between an AWD and a 4WD is the transmission, and there is far too little understanding of that. Car buyers certainly cannot be expected to know it. Most people are just too busy to do the needed research, so even great online resources do not really help. Furthermore, the vast majority of car salesmen are not fully trained on the actual mechanical operation of the vehicles.
As a result, the transmissions of the cars that buyers are choosing between are often completely overlooked. That only increases the likelihood that the buyers themselves ignore the part that transmissions play in every car’s performance. It is the transmission that directs power differently to the wheels depending on the car’s drive system (AWD/4WD).
Thus, although transmissions take the leading role in a car’s acceleration, they have very little to do with a car’s traction (except when accelerating while turning). Furthermore, transmissions are connected to engines by some combination of “flywheels”, clutches, and/or “fluid couplings”. Transmissions are critical to vehicle performance, and they are complicated; they require regular inspection and servicing by trained mechanics to stay in optimal condition.
To do anything less than have a qualified professional maintain a component so crucial to your car’s performance is just asking for trouble. To the extent that drivers can, they need to familiarize themselves with common signs that something is wrong, since even ‘check engine’ lights can fail. In addition, car owners need to make time, find money, and keep up with both the routine and ‘as-needed’ maintenance recommended in owner’s manuals.
Unless they have money to burn, the only people who should be doing their own auto repairs are mechanics themselves. Handy types who can afford to tinker with their own cars and then pay to have their mistakes corrected are one thing. If they are trying to save some money, however, drivers with no license to take on auto repairs are doing exactly the wrong thing.
Step-By-Step Instructions for Verifiable Insanity
Car owners who look to save money by handling their own auto repairs are setting themselves up for the exact opposite in results. Making your next car in the driveway by yourself sounds like an even better way to save some money… but are you serious? Auto repairs are not something you can do by YouTube; the eyes on your car should not flick back and forth between it and step-by-step instructions.
That is also a way to identify a bad mechanic, by the way, but even a bad mechanic has had training you do not have. This is your car we are talking about. It transports your kids to school, church, and soccer games. The most important things in your life are in this car on a regular basis, so shouldn’t it be repaired by a professional?
You rely on your car to get to work and the bank and the store, and you place your own and other valuable lives within it. It is an extremely complicated piece of machinery full of switches and sensors and parts from big too small. It does not even have to leave your driveway to endanger your own and other lives if you do not know what you are doing.
Do the Right Thing to Really Save Money
Don’t be crazy! Unless you are a mechanic yourself, find one to do your car repairs and save a life along with your money. Only the well-off can afford to work on their own cars. If that’s you, go for it! If it is not, please call a mechanic and have your car properly repaired.
As a car owner, you would hope you could walk into any dealer or independent shop and receive the same care for the automobile. Unfortunately, that is not the case. While there are some items that are best left to the actual dealership, in many cases, using an independent repair shop is the better choice.
Dealerships would have you believe that local shops are not as skilled or do not have the same equipment they have to fix your car. That is simply not true. High quality training to both independent and dealer mechanics is available. In other words, a professional mechanic has the very same resources available that the dealership mechanics have available to them.
One of the more significant problems with dealership repair shops is the turnover of staff. Many mechanics use these outlets as training stops before opening up their own shop or before finding a better paying job. This means that very rarely will the same person be working on your car when it is brought in for work.
Never underestimate the advantage of familiarity, not to mention service that is more personal. Over time, your local mechanic will truly get to know both you and your car. It is unlikely a relationship such as this will ever form with a dealership. In most cases, you are simply a number and work order to be completed. For the local shop, your regular business represents food on the table and paid bills, therefore your business is treated with just a bit more meaning and respect.
A secondary problem is that the dealership can literally have hundreds of cars in wait at all times. Your bring your car in today and you might be lucky to have it back in a week. Local shops generally take less time to turnover cars, therefore, you get your car back quickly. Since most of us demand immediate satisfaction and great customer service, the independent shop is often the best solution to the problem.
Have you ever seen the commercial where the guy is about to close the deal on the used car and the fox tells the customer to ask for the CarFax? The commercial is both funny and true. As a future, current, or past car owner, it is important to know and document the history of the car. It helps in the maintenance of the car, the ability to sell the car, and provides the future buyer with peace of mind.
As the Car Owner
While owning a car, keep a detailed report of everything that is done and happens to the vehicle. Over time, it is easy to forget that at 2,500 miles after a tune up the engine makes a specific noise or the handling starts to feel off. Knowing information such as this can help the mechanic narrow down the causes and fix the problem so it does not continue to happen.
As a Car Buyer
Before buying any car, you should request to see the car’s maintenance history. This could save you significant money on a car that originally appears as though it is a very sweet deal. For instance, perhaps the car uses too much oil or belts are wearing extremely quickly. There may also be a steady decline on the performance of specific parts, which could lead to costly repairs shortly after making the purchase.
As the Seller of the Car
Having an accurate and well-documented maintenance history is only going to make the car more attractive to a potential buyer. First, it lets them know how well you took care of the car while under your possession. Second, it gives them a better picture of what they will need to keep the car running properly in the future. Finally, it offers them peace of mind in knowing they are getting exactly what they are paying for when making the purchase.
When the car begins to experience problems, diagnosing what is wrong becomes top priority. A mechanical issue is usually accompanied by a sound or change in driving experience. During the course of vehicle ownership, drivers subject their transmissions to heavy use. Problems are to be expected after several years and addressing them before they become major issues can prevent a huge repair bill.
If burning transmission fluid can be smelled, the transmission could be overheating. This fluid lubricates the various components of the transmission and cools the system. If the fluid level is low, it may be the symptom of a leak. Dirty transmission fluid should be changed promptly. If the transmission seems noisier than normal while the car is in neutral, topping off or replacing transmission fluid may resolve the issue.
When the vehicle transmission functions normally, the car remains in the designated gear until a shift is initiated. If gears slip, the car may careen out of control, causing a dangerous situation. On a newer car, the check engine light should appear on the dashboard but do not wait for this to have the transmission examined.
Drivers who prefer a manual transmission may notice a problem when they depress the clutch and try to shift the car into gear. The issue can arise when shifting into first gear after stopping or when moving between any other gears. A low level of transmission fluid or incorrect type of fluid may be to blame. The clutch linkage or shift cables could be the issue and may require adjustment.
A grinding feeling or sound when shifting gears is a telltale sign of manual transmission issues. When an automatic transmission experiences problems, the car may shimmy or have a jarring transition between gears. Anything other than smooth sailing down the road may indicate transmission problems, so take the car to a mechanic.
You do not have to be an auto mechanic to spot troubles with your car, especially mechanical ones. We have all seen the funny commercials where a customer makes different noises and the mechanic knows the exact problem. These commercials may be exaggerated just a bit, but they are not far off. Most problems actually do have a very distinct sound and by noticing these sounds, you can recognize the potential problem and get your car to the mechanic to fix it.
- Slipping or refusing to go into gear – on a manual transmission, the car simply will not go into gear when you are attempting to shift gears. Automatic transmissions will sometimes have a slip in the gears or a noticeable jump as the transmission tries to shift. If you experience this, take the car into your mechanic immediately. For a manual transmission, you should listen for a grinding sound, whereas an automatic transmission will have more of a shaking sensation when shifting.
- Burning smell – this is not normal and usually means your transmission is overheating. Transmission fluid serves a dual purpose; it lubricates the transmission as well as cooling it to prevent overheating. If you smell this, the fluid could be low or there may be a leak.
- Leaking fluid – this goes hand in hand with the point mentioned above. Leaks are easily spotted by stains on the ground after you pull out of a parking spot. A leak can definitely be the cause of the burning smell noted above. Transmission fluid is clear and bright red, with a bit of a sweet smell. It is easily distinguishable from the other fluids in the car.
- Check engine light – this is an early warning light that is set off by internal sensors in the automobile. There are diagnostic scan tools available to distinguish whether the car is having engine or transmission problems. Regardless, it is best to take the car into your mechanic to diagnose the problem.
- Abnormal sounds – this is where that funny commercial comes in. If the car is making sounds that are simply not normal, like a loud whining or clunking sound, it is probably time to make an appointment at the local garage. You know your car and how it normally runs, so these sounds will definitely stand out.
People often wonder why it costs so much to have their cars repaired. There is not one easy-to-explain answer, but if you look at the details, you just may get an idea why costs can sometimes go through the roof.
Labor is the number one thing that causes the cost of repair to go up. This is easy to understand, because not everyone has the requisite skills and knowledge to do the job. That kind of skill can cost money. This cost can vary from place to place. If you live in a place that doesn’t have a lot of skilled auto mechanics, you may end up paying more. It will depend on the supply of the service.
The next part that raises the cost is parts and supplies. This will, again, depend on the parts that are used in repairing your car. If the missing part is hard to find, it will typically cost you more. Also, if you request an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) part, look for your costs to go up as well. Sometimes an after-market part is a cheaper way to go.
The last thing that can make it costly is the cost of running a shop itself. The money spent on rent and other production costs cannot be shouldered by the owner alone, or they will simply go out of business. Just remember, keeping the lights on at the auto repair shop will ensure that your car gets the care it needs. Also, the cheapest repair may not be cheaper in the long run. As the old saying goes, “you get what you pay for.”
It is unfortunate how many preventable accidents occur due to faulty or poor car brakes. It is estimated that around 5% of automobile accidents each year are caused by faulty or failed brake systems. Even though complete brake failure is rare for most vehicles, it is one of the major causes of accidents involving trucks and other large vehicles. These types are accidents are more fatal than any other accident, so they are important to prevent. These types are accidents are nearly 100% preventable with efficient brakes.
The first thing you would want to check is the pedal. The pedals are located at the drivers feet. The pedals are the main link between the driver and the entire braking system. Step on the pedal and make sure that you feel that there is a rod pulling the car. It will feel like the car is being squeezed. You do not have to turn the car on to test this. Do this a few times to make sure that the brake does not stop pulling as soon as you try it the second time. If you are having a hard time feeling the pulling motion underneath the car, then it may be time for some dirty work. Check underneath of the car to see whether the connections are still intact. Unless you know what to look for it is best to get help at this point to ensure your safety and that your car’s brakes are properly maintained.
Brake failure (or even the possibility of it) can be a very expensive and troublesome ordeal for car manufacturers. In April of 2007, BMW recalled over 160,000 SUV’s because of a problem that could potentially cause loss of brake fluid or lead to the brake circuit failing completely. During that same year, Chrysler recalled over 60,000 due to an issue that could cause potential brake failure. Consumers need to be aware of these types of recalls, and always get their brakes checked regularly.
Generally, the brakes are one aspect of a vehicle that are easily noticeable if there is a problem. A grinding or squealing noise can sometimes be detected when using the brake. Also, it can become harder to come to a stop. Never neglect your brake fluid. Many vehicle owner’s manuel’s leave out the important fact that brake fluid needs to be changed every year or two. Never underestimate the efficiency of your vehicle’s braking system.
It is important to keep your car’s radiator in good working condition to keep your engine running smoothly. The radiator is responsible for cooling your car’s engine. A clogged radiator will result in the engine overheating, and will cause you extensive repairs or a complete rebuilding or replacing of the engine. With this in mind, always remember to check and flush your radiator every two years or yearly if you are driving an older car. Auto professionals will inspect for leaks, and will do some minor repairs on anything that needs to be fixed.
It is important that you have the necessary equipment to fix a radiator problem. Radiator fluid should be used with proper care, because it can be dangerous when exposed to the environment. Maintaining your cooling system and your car’s radiator is necessary to keep your car in good condition. An engine generates much heat, and it can be destroyed and damaged quickly if the cooling system is not working properly.
Just like a regular check-up, it is advised to regularly take your car for radiator maintenance every 2 years. If your car is over 5 years, take it for a radiator check-up once a year. Radiator and cooler maintenance will involve the following tests.
- Testing the thermostat to ensure a proper coolant flow.
- Testing the pressure on the system to ensure there is no leak under pressure.
- Testing the fan to ensure that all fans – including engine fans – are properly working.
- Testing of pressure on the radiator cap to make sure of the release with proper pressure.
- Flushing and refilling of cooling system.
Some of the things you can do to make your car’s cooling system work better are the following:
- Ensure the coolant is topped off. Having a low level of coolant can damage the cooling system and the radiator. Check if the coolant is leaking, and have your radiator checked by a professional.
- Look for the engine temperature. Check if the radiator is working efficiently, and if there are parts that need maintenance.
- Inspect the cooling system. Check for breaks or corrosion in the radiator cores, rusted clamps and cracked hoses, inspect the gasket of the radiator cap, and look for stains under your car.
If you are not an auto expert, it can be hard for you to understand your car’s brakes, and their many little parts and functions. When you hear noise every time you use your brakes, they may need some work. It is strongly recommended that you deal with the noise right away to avoid running into an unexpected situation. It can also be very dangerous for you and your passengers. A thorough visual inspection of your brake will identify problems with its components. If you can still hear noise, it’s better to take it to a mechanic, and ask them to take a look. Some noises are caused by dirt build-up, and may only need cleaning and adjustments. Otherwise, noise can be due to the shoes or pads that are already in contact with the rotor or drum. This will need a regular brake maintenance that includes resurfacing your rotors and drums. You may also want to change your shoes or pads for this.
A typical brake job includes cleaning, adjustment and tuning. Lubricating is also a part of the brake service. Replace parts that are recommended by the technician. Before replacing the rotor and drums, make a diagnosis first to see if it needs to be replaced or not, because doing so can be very expensive. Your brake technician will assess these parts using a special tool.
You can also try to test your brake for its performance. Try to accelerate to at least 30m/h and then bring your car to an emergency stop. Your brakes are fine if they brake well in a straight line. Your brakes need service if they take too long to respond. A brake fade is a dangerous sign that you would not want to experience. This is usually caused by braking too much during heavy traffic, braking when driving down a slope instead of shifting to a lower gear, and the overuse of your brakes. Brake fluid should be changed to avoid moisture trapped within the brake piston starting to boil. This may lead to brake failure, and will cause you to have an accident as you speed up. If your brake fluid is already watery or off-colored, this may be a sign that you need brake servicing.