Most cars have wear indicators on the brake pads. These are designed to make a high pitched squeal just before the pads are worn out. Often these wear indicators will push back when the brakes are applied and the noise will stop. Get your brakes checked as soon as possible. ”My steering wheel shakes and gets more violent as I go faster”
The most likely cause of this is a bad tire. A tire belt separation will cause a high spot on the tread area that will shake the steering wheel with each rotation. The faster the tire turns, the worse the shake will be. Have your tires checked before you drive at high speed again. ”When I apply the brakes my car shakes.”
Warped brake rotors are the most common cause of this complaint. The high temperatures of brake operation can warp the metal rotors. This can also be caused by someone not tightening the wheels correctly. While this is not normally a dangerous situation it should not be allowed to continue long as the shaking will wear other front end parts. ”When I pull up to a stop my engine stalls.”
Most cars today have an idle speed control motor. This computer controlled gizmo responds to changing engine loads to control idle speed. If the idle control motor responds to slowly the engine will stall. The slow response can be caused by a worn motor or by dirt accumulation in the air passages. We recommend cleaning the idle air circuit every 15,000 miles. ”My check engine or service engine soon light is on.”
Don’t panic. If the light is on steady, not flashing, it indicates a problem that will effect emissions by 1.5 times the EPA standard. This needs to be addressed, but is not a crisis. If the light is flashing you have a more serious problem that need immediate attention. A flashing light indicates a problem bad enough to damage the engine if you continue to drive. ”My brake warning light is on.”
Most cars have 2 brake warning lights, one red and one amber. The amber light warns if the anti-lock brake system has a problem. When this light is on the anti-lock (ABS) system is not working. To diagnoses this complex system you will have to have it checked by a professional with the proper computer to talk to your car. The other light is a red light that warns if the conventional braking system has a fault. This is not to be ignored. Low brake fluid is the most common culprit when this light is on, but several other things that can reduce your braking ability may cause it. Keep in mind that if your brake fluid is low enough to turn the warning light on your brake pads are probably worn to the point of needing service or replacement. I feel a vibration in my car at about 60 mph that goes away at about 75.”
This is usually caused by a tire out of balance. Get your tires checked and re-balanced. We recommend that tires are rotated every second oil change and re-balanced every other rotation. ”I smell a “sweet” odor after I park my car.”
There is a particular odor that comes from antifreeze (coolant) as it evaporates off a hot engine. Often a small coolant leak will seep enough coolant out onto the hot engine surface to evaporate and cause an odor without producing a visible puddle under the car.
A leak in the radiator or cooling system can prove fatal to your engine, have it pressure tested as soon as possible. ”My air-conditioning is not cold enough.”
When an air-conditioning system gets low on freon charge the cooling efficiency will deteriorate. Most late model cars have a small capacity for the freon charge and being as low as ½ pound will have a significant effect on your comfort in hot weather. It is alright to have the system “topped off” once, but if it becomes necessary to recharge the system again the compressor oil level will need to be checked. As the freon leaks out of the A/C it carries the oil with it and can result in an expensive compressor failure if not properly serviced. ”I think I need a wheel alignment.”
Wheel alignment will not cause your car to shake. The normal indicators of a wheel alignment problem are a steering pull and tire wear. If the car drifts to one side when the steering wheel is release it can mean a caster adjustment is needed. If the tires wear unevenly you need to look at the camber or toe in adjustments. We recommend having the alignment checked once a year, or every 4th oil change. ”My owners manual calls for a coolant system service at 150,000 miles, when should I do it if I plan to keep this car.”
Extended maintenance recommendations are becoming more commonplace. In many cases we are seeing failures long before the suggested service time. For vehicle owners that plan to keep a car we strongly recommend flushing the coolant system every 30,000 miles. Many failures can be prevented by getting the dirty coolant out of the engine and replacing it with a coolant that will prevent corrosion and electrolysis. BG Products also offers an extended warranty for 7 years and 150,000 miles if the service is done according to the “common sense maintenance schedule” I am looking for a used car, should I have it checked out before I buy it?
Definitely! Even if you are buying a car from a friend or colleague you should have a neutral party examine it. Your friend may not know about pending problems with the car, or may not consider a problem as serious. If for some reason they are unwilling to let you have the car inspected before making the deal it should raise a red flag. A few bucks spent on an inspection may save you a lot of grief later on. I need a shop to repair my kid’s car at college, how do I find one?”
The first thing to do is ask the shop you usually use, they may have a relationship with a shop in the area you need. The next resource to use is AAA. Each approved shop in the AAA network is required to meet minimum standards for certifications, insurance coverage, and equipment. AAA also provides a solution if there is a problem later on with the work done by the shop. The 20 amp fuse in my car keeps blowing out, can I use a bigger fuse?”
No! The fuse is there to protect the wiring and components. By installing a bigger amperage fuse it may not blow soon enough to protect the circuit. The wiring may overheat from excessive amperage and start to burn. Always use the fuse rated for that system. I understand there are “chips” that can be added to my cars computer that will improve the performance.”
There are aftermarket devices to improve the way an engine runs, but they are generally a trade off. You can improve horsepower, but in most cases sacrifice economy. Unless you have a need for the added power we suggest you leave them alone.