Car Talk: What You Auto Know
Frequently Asked Questions
I am asked these questions each and every day. I thought I would share some of the concerns of your neighbors with you in case you have the same questions!
Q: I know getting my oil changed is very important and when possible, I will take it to my independent repair center. Sometimes I find I’m just too busy and I often wonder if I wouldn’t do just as well to take it anywhere that is fast and convenient and just let my normal service and repair center take care of the really important stuff when I have more time to spare.
A: No one can argue that there are many convenient quick service centers around that promise to get you in and out in ten minutes. They do a good job overall but the problem we have found is that they don’t have your records and may recommend an additional service to you that you don’t need right then. They don’t know what you have had taken care of and what you haven’t so in trying to care for your vehicle properly they will naturally recommend you have many services taken care of while you are there. Keeping good records is essential if your vehicle is still under warranty and also helps us know when it is time to do your manufacturer’s recommended mileage services. The bottom line is this; it is always better to take your vehicle to one place where they know you and your vehicle. In this way you get the best service that will save you money and time in the long run.
Q: I am constantly bombarded about being “green!” Do I have to get rid of my current vehicle and buy a hybrid? I really don’t want to trade my car in yet but I do want to do my share to help the environment.
A: Many people are confused on this issue. At this time, the final decision still has not been made on the best way to be green as far as fuel alternatives. You might find yourself buying one type of car, only to find out something better is on its way. Even so, you can help the environment now with the car you are currently driving. The automotive industry has been preaching the advantages of regular maintenance for years! It saves you money and the environment. A regularly serviced vehicle keeps emissions in check and saves fuel. Both of these greatly help the environment and leaves you with more money. A properly maintained vehicle also extends its life by as much as 50% and service is always less expensive than repair.
100,000 MILES PLUS
Q: My car is getting close to 100,000 miles. Do I have to get rid of it? It seems to be running fine and it looks great!
A: No, you do not need to get rid of it. The manufacturers have come a long way on design of vehicles. Although they are far more complicated than the cars of yesteryear, they are built to last a long time. The body doesn’t rust out anymore like they used to either. The average car on the road today is nine to eleven years old and many are keeping their car well past 250,000 miles! Again, keeping it serviced regularly increases a vehicle’s life by 50%!
Q: I just bought a new car. In order to keep my warranty intact I have to have it serviced at the dealer, right?
A: You can continue to have your vehicle serviced at your usual car care provider as long as you keep your service records and your car care provider should also maintain a copy of your records. The important thing to remember wherever you get your vehicle serviced is to do it regularly per the intervals recommended in your owner’s manual. Failure to do so will void your warranty.
Q: What does a squealing or scraping sound indicates when I apply the brakes?
A: Most likely your brake pads are worn and allowing their wear indicators or sensor to touch the disc brake rotor. When this occurs the sensor emits that high pitch noise to warn you that your brakes need attention. Have the brakes checked out sooner rather than later before expensive damage or brake failure occurs.
Q: What does it mean when I hear a knocking or pinging noise when my car accelerates or climb a hill?
A: This is a sign that the gas and air mixture in your car’s cylinders isn’t burning properly. The sound you hear is the result of the fuel and air mixture combusting unevenly in the cylinder. Pinging or knocking does reduce the efficiency of your engine and over a very long period of time it can cause damage.
Q: What does it mean when my vehicle makes a chirping sound?
A: A cyclic chirping sound from the vicinity of a wheel often indicates a wheel bearing or axle bearing that is failing. Usually the noise will change with the speed of the vehicle. It may come and go at various speeds. This noise should not be ignored, because if the bearing fails, it may cause the wheel to lockup or come loose from your car!
Q: What is that hissing sound coming from under the hood?
A: If you hear a hissing sound while driving or after turning the engine off accompanied by a sweet, sickly odor, it may mean your engine is overheating and/or leaking coolant from the cooling system. The temperature gauge or temperature warning light should also indicate an overheating condition. Steam may also rise from under the hood. We advise you to stop driving as severe overheating can damage your engine. Carefully open the hood. Look for any evidence of coolant leaking from the engine, radiator or heater hoses. If you see steam or smell a sweet odor, it is antifreeze leaking from the cooling system. DO NOT open the radiator or coolant reservoir cap or add coolant until the engine has cooled. Get this checked out right away.
Q: What is that clicking or tapping noise from the engine?
A: A metallic tapping or clicking sound means your engine may be low on oil, or is not developing normal oil pressure. The clicking noise is coming from the valve train. If the oil pressure is low due to low oil level in the crankcase or there is a problem with the oil pump, the hydraulic lifters that open and close the valves may collapse creating an increase in valve lash. This creates the clicking or tapping noise. Stop the engine, let it sit a few minutes (so the oil can run back down into the crankcase), then check the oil level on the dipstick. If low, add oil as needed to bring the level back up to the full mark. If the noise does not go away, and/or the oil pressure gauge or warning light indicates low oil pressure, it’s not a good idea to keep driving your vehicle. Loss of oil pressure can cause extensive and expensive engine damage.
Q: Why is my exhaust system roaring?
A: If your exhaust system has a leak, you will hear a roar coming from under your vehicle that is loudest when accelerating. The noise means your exhaust system needs repairs. The dangerous part is if the leaking exhaust gases, which contain carbon monoxide, get inside the passenger compartment. Carbon monoxide (CO) is a silent killer. It takes only a small amount of carbon monoxide inside the passenger compartment to affect your alertness, ability to concentrate and react to changing driving conditions. A very small amount can cause dizziness, headaches, nausea, and bring on stupor in two hours. A one percent concentration of carbon monoxide can kill a person in less than three minutes!
Q: Why do my tires make a thumping noise?
A: You may have a tire out of balance. This causes it to impact with road in a slapping sort of manner, causing the thumping noise. Get it looked at as soon as possible as a neglected tire causes flat spots and eventually ruins your tires.