Maintaining the transmission is important. The fluid for it is bright red in color, clear and smells somewhat sweet if everything is working correctly. If this is what you find on your driveway, then all that needs to be fixed is the hole. If the fluid is dark or has a burnt smell then it’s time to get the fluid changed.
Check the fluid
To see if there is low fluid, take your car for a short drive to warm it up and then lift the hood and read the dipstick. Unlike motor oil, transmission fluid is not burned off or consumed by a car so if the level is low then there is a leak somewhere that must be patched. It is recommended to top up the fluid anyway even if the leak still exists to make sure there is enough fluid for the transmission to function properly until you get it fixed.
A car is supposed to run smoothly and without any shaking, or jerking, and without grinding sounds. These all suggest that there is a problem with the gears. Manual transmissions commonly indicate problems by making a grinding noise or feeling when you shift into a gear. If the grinding occurs after engaging the clutch and shifting, this can be sign that the clutch may need to be replaced or adjusted.
Automatic transmissions act a little differently. Instead of making a grinding noise, you will likely feel it take some time to get into gear at first instead of the typical smooth transitions. As the problem gets worse, the transitions into the next gear become more jarring and involve more shaking.
Any burning smell coming from your car is a cause for concern. Overheating transmission fluid is one of the causes of a burning smell. Transmission fluid helps keep the parts lubricated and cooled so that they don’t get worn out and damaged. If the fluid breaks down, the system runs too hot. This results in increased friction and corrosive activity as well as the build up of additional sludge and debris. If this is not taken care of, the transmission will eventually damage itself enough to break down completely.
Brake repair signs are important to notice. You may start to notice when a repair would be needed. An uneven rotor surface may also cause the rotor to hit one of the brake pads as it spins, causing some of the pad material to transfer onto the rotor in that spot. Then you’ll feel shaking when braking, as the pad hits that bump in the rotor.
Another possible cause of rough braking is the brake caliper not releasing properly. The job of a brake caliper is to squeeze the brake pads against your brake rotors, which slows your vehicle down. It’s the motion of the piston inside the caliper unit that causes this contact. Due to wear from heat or road debris, the piston can get sticky. It may not retract the pads back into the full off position when you let up on the brake pedal.
Another cause of bumpy braking could be damage to your brake components from improper wheel lug nut installation. Any time tires are removed, it’s crucial for the lug nuts to be put back on in the right order, evenly, at just the right tightness, or torque.
If you are experiencing a soft brake pedal, look for fluid leaking from the master cylinder or elsewhere in the brake system. The master cylinder is the unit that creates the power for your brakes. It has a reservoir like the one for your wiper fluid that contains brake fluid. When you apply the brakes, this fluid is pushed through thin piping, creating hydraulic pressure. If fluid is leaking from this system, there may not be enough power to force the brake pads to clamp hard to the rotors.
Spongy or Soft Brake Pedal
If you notice a difference in the resistance in the brake pedal, there could be an issue. It may include the pedal feeling softer sinking all the way to the floor mat when you press on it. There could also be air or moisture in the braking system or a problem with the master cylinder.
Maintaining your vehicle is important. A head gasket leaking external would cause coolant to come from below the intake or exhaust manifold and often only happens when the engine is completely warmed up. If there is no other cooling passages or hoses near the head gasket you may be able to positively identify the leak as a head gasket leak. Make sure to contact us so we can inspect your vehicle.
Most head gasket leaks are internal to the engine allowing coolant to flow into the combustion chamber on every intake stroke. When this happens to coolant burns and evaporates with the combustion process and appears as white smoke coming from the tailpipe. This smoke can be differentiated from moisture during a cold start by a sweet smell. It will continue even when the engine is warm. If the leak in the head gasket is large this white smoke can often be excessive and billow from the tailpipe.
Bubbles in the Radiator
Besides allowing coolant into the combustion chamber, an internal head gasket leak allows exhaust gases into the coolant. This can cause bubbles to be in the radiator or coolant reservoir making the coolant look like it’s boiling even when it’s cold. The bubbles are exhaust gases that force their way into the cooling system during the combustion process.
If you’ve got a blown head gasket, your engine usually will overheat after longer drives. This happens both due to the lack of coolant as your engine consumes it. It is also the efficient combustion process, the excess heat from the exhaust in the coolant and the inability of your vehicle’s radiator to cool the dirty coolant. If your engine overheats it can cause lots of problems. The biggest concern is the expansion of metal components past what they were designed for. This can cause cracks and warping. Also, it can permanently damage seals and gaskets cause other leaks in your engine. If you notice an issue, make sure to contact us so we can inspect it for you.
Tire rotation is one of the most important maintenance tasks you can do. Not only do tire rotations help your tires last longer, but it also helps other parts as well. When we take off the tires to rotate them, we also have access to the brakes. We can inspect the brake system to ensure it is efficient and working properly as well.
Why a tire rotation is needed
The reason a tire rotation is needed is so that they can even out wear. Front and rear tires carry different loads on most vehicles. Front tires carry a slightly heavier load and tend to wear faster than rear tires. The front right tire wears faster than the front left tire. This is because we tend to take left turns faster than we take right turns. In front-wheel drive vehicles, the front tires wear out almost twice as fast as the rear tires.
When wear is equally spread out over all four tires, you can go farther with the same set. That means fewer tire changes over the life of your car. Plus, uneven tires can decrease your fuel efficiency. Keep them properly rotated and you can expect to make fewer pit stops at the gas station.
You don’t need a significant investment of time or money, either. Many drivers have their tires rotated during an oil change. Depending on where you go, having both done at once can sometimes lead to a discounted price.
Contact us if you have questions
Knowing when to rotate the tires can be easy to find out. Start with your owner’s manual. The manufacturer will likely offer guidelines for your specific make and model. If your manual is missing, consider rotating your tires every 5,000 miles, the tire rotation frequency that’s generally recommended. You can also bring in your vehicle and we can inspect it for you.
If you do not rotate the tires, you could be decreasing your safety. Uneven tire wear can lead to poor handling, making a flat tire or full on tire failure more likely to occur. If you have any questions when your tires should be rotated, make sure to contact us and we can inspect them for you.
The suspension system is something that is often taken for granted. However, after supporting several tons of metal year after year, eventually the shocks will wear out and suspension repair will be necessary. Some people mistakenly believe the suspension is mainly about having a smooth ride, and therefore these repairs aren’t as important as other maintenance issues like oil changes or brakes. A bad suspension can greatly affect your ability to control the vehicle, especially when stopping or turning, so it’s in your best interest not to ignore this part of your auto care. There are also some signs you can notice when you are driving your vehicle.
Most people can tell their shocks or struts are wearing out when they begin to feel every bump in the road, or when every bump causes the vehicle body to bounce. A rough ride is an obvious sign that your vehicle’s suspension needs work. With a failing suspension system, you’ll often feel the vehicle drift or pull when you’re turning. This basically means the shocks are no longer keeping the vehicle body stable against the centrifugal force of a turn, increasing your risk of a rollover. When the shocks are worn out, you’re likely to feel the vehicle body lurching forward and downward nose-first when you apply the brakes firmly. This can actually affect your ability to stop the car quickly.
Take a look at your tires. If you notice the tread is wearing down unevenly on your tires, bring it in. Also if you notice balding spots, this is often a symptom that the suspension isn’t holding the car evenly. This will result in putting uneven amounts of pressure on the tires. If you notice any issues with the tires, it can result in issues. The first issue being a problem with the suspension. Make sure to bring the vehicle in and we can inspect it for you.
Hitting potholes can puncture your tire or bend or crack your wheel. It can damage your tire’s sidewall or the belts. Even a smallish impact may knock your vehicle out of alignment. The potential problems are more than just tire-based. A pothole strike can result in broken shocks or struts, dents or cracks in the body, or harm to other suspension or engine parts. It is important to get your vehicle checked after hitting a pothole. The same should be done if you hit debris or a large object. Some damage will be obvious, like a flat tire, while some may not be visible.
Damage from hitting a pothole
A tire can be damaged by puncture marks present. You may also notice a slow leak from a bent rim. If you see a bulge on the tire sidewall, it is the tread has separated. You may also notice your vehicle pulls to the left or right when you are driving straight. Your wheels are probably out of alignment. Another issue is any vibration in the steering, seat, or floor. This is a symptom of imbalanced tires. You may notice unusual noises, that only happen when you drive. If you come to a stop and the noise goes away, it could be from the tires.
Potholes will form inevitably. They are formed by extreme cold, heat, and rain. Excess water under roadways increase more cracks in the road over time. If you notice puddles on the road, make sure to try and avoid them. At the very least, be cautious.
Damage from Potholes
Unless the hole is relatively large or you’re going really fast, the pothole strike probably won’t puncture your tire, or damage part of your suspension or engine. But bent wheel rims, internal tire damage, alignment problems, body damage, and shocks and struts issues are common. The steering can get out of alignment when hitting even the smallest of potholes.
Always drive on tires that are properly inflated and in good condition. This will give you the best chance of absorbing the impact safely. Also remember to slow down when you are on an unfamiliar or rough road, and avoid distracted driving. Be alert to what’s ahead, and make sure you keep enough distance between you and the vehicle in front so you can see what is coming.
Know what traffic is around you. Swerving to avoid a pothole can be dangerous at highway speed. Use good judgment and always be conscious of those around you. Recognize that though you miss the first pothole, there may be another ahead.
It is one of those routine maintenance tasks you cannot ignore. Brake parts need to be regularly serviced and sometimes replaced to work properly. Your vehicle will usually give some clear signs that your brakes are in need of some repair. Since the brakes are one of the most important safety components in your vehicle, you will need to fix them as soon as possible.
When one of the red or yellow brake indicators on your dashboard lights up it may mean you are just due for an inspection. It could also be your vehicle’s smart electronics alerting you to a problem. A parking brake on could also cause the light to go on. Be sure it is fully released to confirm that’s not the issue. If you start hearing a high-pitched noise that stops when you apply the brakes, it is likely the sound of the brake pad wear indicators. They’re made of steel so they make this sound when they start contacting the rotor. When this happens, they are alerting you that the brake pads have worn out and need to be replaced before damage is done to the rotor.
Grinding that you also feel in the pedal could mean a number of things. There could just be some gravel or a rock caught in the caliper unit, which can be easily fixed. If you have gone longer without a brake inspection, the brake pads may be worn through, and you are hearing metal on metal that could be creating grooves in the brake rotor. Grinding could also be an indicator of lack of lubrication in vehicles with rear drum brakes.
Poor steering wheel
Shaking in the steering wheel or vibration when you apply the brakes may be the result of an uneven rotor. Brake rotors are big discs that sit inside of the wheels. When you hit the brake pedal, the brake pads hug the rotors, slowing them and your vehicle. You want rotors to be smooth and completely even in thickness. Over time and thousands of wheel revolutions, it is normal for the rotor surface to get slight variations. Rust can also sometimes develop.
If you’re experiencing a soft brake pedal, look for fluid leaking from the master cylinder or elsewhere in the brake system. The master cylinder is the unit that creates the power for your brakes. It has a reservoir like the one for your wiper fluid that contains brake fluid. When you apply the brakes, this fluid is pushed through thin piping, creating hydraulic pressure. If fluid is leaking, there may not be enough power to force the brake pads to clamp hard to the rotors. No matter what issue you notice, make sure to bring the vehicle in so we can inspect it for you.
The tires will needed to be inspected regularly. In the winter, tires can lose inflation more often. If you notice an issue when driving, make sure to bring the vehicle in as soon as you can. This can help prevent a much larger issue from forming in the long run. If an issue is ignored, it can result in a costly repair bill when it comes time to repair it. If you are unsure on the tire condition, bring the vehicle in and we can inspect it for you.
Checking the tread
The first things that should be checked on the tires is the tread wear. If the tread is uneven, it is an indication that the tires are not rotating as they should. The tread should be worn the same around the entire tire. If you notice that the tread is not even, make sure to bring the vehicle in as soon as possible. The same is also true if you notice any flat spots or large areas of worn tread. By bringing the vehicle in, we can inspect the tires to make sure they are aligned and positioned correctly.
Air pressure for your tires
Air pressure is important because a tire that is over inflated or under inflated will not rotate as efficiently as it otherwise should. If the tire is under inflated, it can cause the vehicle to have poor fuel efficiency. It may also increase the chance of it blowing out. If the tire is over inflated, it is more likely to pick up any sharp objects in the road. It will also cause bumpy rides when you are driving. This is because the tires will have less contact with the road.
Dashboard warning lights
Between regular inspections, also be aware if the dashboard warning light comes on for them. This can indicate that the tires have low air pressure. If they are under inflated more often, it can be caused by a leak. They will typically lose air pressure during the colder temperatures in the winter, so you will want to make sure you inspect them if you notice the light illuminating.
Your vehicle will need winter care to ensure the reliability of it. Winter is hard on both your car and the tires. As the air in your tires gets colder, it contracts and has less pressure. Tires correspondingly become under inflated. Check your tire pressure more often than you normally would. It is recommended doing so once a week. You might think a little deflation provides better traction, but doing so can cause uneven or unsafe tread wear.
Check the battery
Winter is especially hard on batteries. If your car won’t start in the extreme cold, one of the most likely problems is that the battery is dead. This is an easy fix by using jumper cables and they are not hard to use. But to avoid a dead battery altogether, keep the connections clean, tight, and free of corrosion. It also recommends replacing batteries that are more than three years old.
As it gets colder, oil gets thicker. At about 20 degrees below zero, the oil gets so thick that the engine’s oil pump struggles even to pick it up and circulate it. It is recommended to switch to low-viscosity oil in the winter. Don’t forget to read your owner’s manual, as the manufacturer may specify an oil weight for cold-weather operation.
If your car has liquid crystal display (LCD) screens, such as for infotainment, you may notice that they become a bit sluggish when the car has been sitting in extreme cold. That’s because, just like the engine’s oil and the battery’s electrolyte, molecules in liquid crystals slow down when the temperatures drop. In vehicles where this is an issue, there is not much you can do beyond waiting for the car to warm up. Installing an engine-block heater will help speed things along. If you notice an issue with your vehicle, it is always best to have it inspected as soon as possible. This will help you to ensure the efficiency when you need to drive this winter.
Winter roads can be tricky to drive on. There are three important keys to driving safe in the winter; stay alert, slow down, and have control of your vehicle. Remember to keep your gas tank sufficiently full – at least half a tank is recommended. Winter driving conditions such as rain, snow, and ice dramatically affect the braking distance of a vehicle. When handling slippery winter roads, the keys to safety are slower speeds, gentler stops and turns, and increased following distances. Drivers need to reduce their speed to half the posted speed limit or less under snowy road conditions.
Inspect the tires
Tire pressure usually lowers itself in winter and raises itself in summer. Under-inflated tires can cause a car to react more slowly to steering. Every time the outside temperature drops ten degrees, the air pressure inside your tires goes down about one or two PSI. Tires lose air normally through the process of permeation. Drivers should check their tire pressures frequently during cold weather, also adding enough air to keep them at recommended levels of inflation at all times.
Sand and salt play a big role in keeping roads safe. Spreading road salt prevents snow and ice from bonding to the road surface. Salt is spread early in a storm to prevent snow build-up and to aid in snow removal. You will want to leave enough room around snowplows to make sure that you do not run into them or have an accident. Being aware of the road condition, weather condition, and surroundings are important.
Correctly operating windshield wipers and defrosters are essential to safety while driving in snow and ice conditions. Properly maintained windshield wipers are a must. You can use special blades that are available to assist in the removal of snow from the windshield. The defroster effectiveness is essential in the initial clearing of snow and ice from the windshield. If you notice an issue with your vehicle or how it is heating, bring it in. We can inspect the vehicle for you.
The battery is important with how your vehicle starts. In the winter, the cold temperatures wreak havoc on batteries because they slow the chemical reaction inside of the battery. Though batteries can function under myriad conditions, the cold weather tends to degrade high-quality batteries and may render other batteries useless. There are various ways to protect them from failure in the cold, and some of them involve taking precautionary measures.
Battery is old
If your battery is old, you may need to replace it. If your car is still running on its original one and your card is several years old, it may be a good idea to get a new one before there is an issue. Battery size will not necessarily provide better starting. It’s important to buy the correct one for the make of your car, which can usually be found inside of the owner’s manual.
Corrosion can prevent a car from starting just as much as a worn-out battery. Corrosion is caused by a faulty connection that allows acid to escape and corrode surrounding areas. Regularly inspect it to keep abreast of issues that may cause corrosion. Carefully clean away any corrosion residue that has formed and make sure the battery is correctly seated.
Turn off electronics
Do not start the car with the heater and the radio on. They can use up the power coming from the car’s alternator and prevent the battery from charging. Do not leave the heat and the radio on while the car is idling. Otherwise the car will not be putting out enough power for the alternator. This is difficult to charge the battery and power the electrical systems. When storing your vehicle in a garage for the winter, disconnect it. Certain devices, such as clocks and alarm systems, continue to drain the power when the vehicle is off. When your car will not be driven enough to recharge it, keep it disconnected. This is when the automobile is being stored. If you notice an issue with how the vehicle is starting, bring it in. We can inspect the vehicle for you.
When you own a vehicle, taking proper care of it is important. One of the most important things you can do for the overall efficiency of the vehicle is to have the oil changed when it is recommended. The oil is needed to help lubricate parts of the engine. If there is a lack of oil, parts will start to wear against each other. This can cause unnecessary friction and strain as well. The old and dirty oil can be removed from the vehicle. It will then be replaced with new clean oil. The oil filter is designed to capture dirt and other contaminants that are in the oil. Over time the filter will become clogged. By changing the oil regularly, you can help to ensure the cleanest oil possible is able to lubricate the engine and parts.
Noise under the hood
When driving, make sure to notice any sounds that might come from under the hood. If there is a squealing noise, it could mean that a belt is loose. If a belt snaps, other parts of the engine could be affected. Other noises like a screeching or other sounds could indicate parts are wearing incorrectly. Any noise out of the norm should be inspected as soon as possible. This helps prevents issues from happening to other parts under the hood like the engine. If the dashboard warning lights come on, you should bring it in.
You will also want to make sure that your vehicle is brought in on a regular basis for maintenance inspections. By doing this, you can make sure that the parts are working at top performance and efficiently with one another. Ignoring an issue for your vehicle may mean that further wear and tear happens to it, as well as damage to the parts. If you are not sure how often to have the vehicle inspected, you can contact us and we can advise you on the right schedule.
Replacing windshield wipers regularly is integral to safe driving. Typically, you should get new ones every six months, although the best ones, often made from silicone, can last indefinitely. If you notice an issue with the windshield wipers, make sure to replace them as soon as possible. Cold and freezing temperatures can crack and split the rubber blades, and can weaken and degrade the blades’ integrity. Over the course of time, dirt and debris can build up. The spring tension on the wiper arms will loosen. Finally, wipers just wear out with regular use.
New blades have a crisp, clean edge that slides evenly across your windshield without leaving streaks. To extend the time between windshield wiper replacements, here are some things you can do keep your wiper blades in good shape. If there is an issue with how your windshield wipers are working, make sure to bring the vehicle in as soon as possible so that we can inspect the windshield wipers for you.
In freezing temperatures, put the wiper arms up when the vehicle’s parked outside. That will prevent them from getting stuck to the windshield. If you forget, turn on the defroster and clean the windshield’s ice and snow. Do not try to chisel the blades free and don’t smack them against the windshield, unless you also want to replace or repair a broken windshield.
When buying wiper blades, measure both old ones, as the lengths usually differ. Use the measurements when you look up your vehicle’s make and model so you can select the right blades. If you have a back window, don’t forget it.
Some blades even leave a hydrophobic layer on your windshield to repel water. The ultimate option, silicone blades, can last the life of your vehicle. If you are not sure what type of windshield wipers to buy for your vehicle, make sure to bring the vehicle in and we can advise you on them. We can also check the condition of your wipers to ensure they work properly and efficient.
When you own a car, inspecting tires regularly is important for the overall performance and safety of your vehicle. The tires are the only part of the vehicle that makes contact with the surface of the road, so you will want them to be in as ideal of condition as possible. If you start to notice that the vehicle pulls in a certain direction, the tires could cause it. Remember to check the tread, air pressure, and condition of the tires on a regular basis. You can also bring the vehicle in and we can inspect the tires for you.
You should always set your tires to the pressure specified in your vehicle’s owner manual or tire information placard. If you drive on the tires when they are under inflated, it can lead to damage to the tire, and risk damaging the rims. Over inflated tires are more prone to picking up sharp objects like a nail on the road.
Remember to check and adjust your tire pressure first thing in the morning before driving on them. Temperature differences affect your tire pressure. Cold winter weather may cause your pressure to drop. Although you should check your tire pressure periodically as part of good vehicle maintenance, it is exceptionally important to check it when the season changes.
Always check your tires with a good quality tire pressure gauge. Many vehicles come equipped with a tire pressure monitoring system. Generally, this system will alert you if your tires are losing air or are below the recommended pressure. You should never try to visually estimate your tires inflation pressure. We recommend keeping a tire pressure gauge in your glove compartment, even if you have a TPMS built into your vehicle, as sometimes the system could fail. This will ensure you are getting a consistent reading each time rather than using multiple gauges at different gas or service stations.
Overinflated tires are rigid and stiff causing the tire’s contact patch to be reduced. That leads to a harder ride as well as uneven tread wear. The most common type of uneven tread wear due to over inflation is referred to as center wear. Exactly what it sounds like, the center of the tire will be smooth and worn down while there will be more tread on the sides of the tire. Due to the rigidity of an overinflated tire, it can be more easily damaged by everyday road hazards such as potholes and imperfections in the road.
Underinflated tires do not hold their shape and are flatter to the ground. Therefore, more of the tire comes in contact with the road, causing the shoulders of the tire to wear prematurely. That is referred to as shoulder wear. There will be a strip of normal tread down the center of the tire while the shoulders of the tire will be smooth and worn down. Underinflated tires are more flexible when they roll, leading to increased rolling resistance and therefore a decrease in fuel economy. If the tires can no longer hold the correct amount of air, then they will need to be replaced. If you notice an issue with the tires, make sure to bring the vehicle in as soon as possible, so we can inspect it for you.
The brake system is often overlooked and taken for granted until you have a significant problem on your hands. When it comes to the most important safety mechanism on your vehicle, letting problems go until that system no longer functions properly is a recipe for disaster. Don’t ignore the warning signs of impending brake failure, keep your braking system functioning at its peak performance.
A soft, spongy feel in the brake pedal is a sure sign of a problem in the hydraulic system. Issues such as air in the lines, failing calipers or wheel cylinders or a weak flex line can feel soft when you hit the pedal. Your brake pedal should be firm and the brakes should feel solid and apply gradually. When the pedal is soft and spongy, your braking system is likely to fail soon. It could be as simple as needing more fluid in the master cylinder.
Once you wear through the actual friction material on the pads, you are grinding metal on metal, which is a bad. If you hear noises when you hit the brake pedal, you likely have a mechanical issue with the braking system. Grinding is a metal on metal sound that means the brake pads are worn out and the base pad is grinding on the rotor. Inspecting the brake system should never be overlooked.
If the rotors are worn, the result can manifest as pulling to one side when the brakes are pressed. This is because the brakes are grabbing harder on one side. The same can happen if the one side is not grabbing at all. As you press the brake pedal, all both left and right sides of the brake system apply equally. If there is an issue with one side, then your vehicle will pull to one side as you use the brakes. This could be a simple adjustment, but most likely the brakes are wearing more on one side than the other. A failing wheel cylinder or caliper will result in uneven wear and application of the brakes. Another issue is worn rotors eating up the pads and grabbing or slipping.
Inver Grove Heights
Monday-Thursday: 7a.m. – 6p.m.
Friday: 7a.m. – 5p.m.
Saturday & Sunday: CLOSED