Auto repairs

Keep you ride right! Tips to keep running GREAT!

Auto repairs

Modern vehicles are expensive, but one way to avoid headaches and purchasing a new ride is by properly maintaining your existing car or truck. As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Not only can regular maintenance save you money but it can also prevent unexpected mechanical failures. Nobody wants to be stranded on the side of the road in the middle of the night during a thunderstorm. Keeping up with your vehicle’s needs is critical to a happy ownership experience and fortunately there’s quite a bit the average motorist can do to keep their ride running in tip-top shape.


Lubricating Door Latches

This maintenance tip won’t necessarily extend your vehicle’s lifespan very much but it sure can keep it from getting on your nerves. Squeaky hinges are irritating and can make doors and hatches difficult to open. Fortunately this problem is a snap to correct with a good spray lubricant, such as a lithium-based grease. Not only is this fix easy, it’s cheap, too.


Changing an Air Filter

Noisy hinges may be an insignificant maintenance item but one that’s much more important is your vehicle’s air filter. These elements prevent dust and grit from entering the delicate internals of your car or truck’s engine. Luckily these are generally simple and inexpensive to change.

Disposable paper filters can be purchased for as little as $20. Installing a new one is an easy way of insuring your engine has a good supply of fresh air. If you want a little extra performance and to help the environment you can invest in a washable, high-flow filter.


Checking Tire Pressure

Tires are the only part of your vehicle that ever touches the road — rather they’re the only part that SHOULD ever touch the road. Keeping your vehicle’s rubber properly inflated is critical to safe driving.

Traction and stability can be affected by tires that are either over or underinflated. Having a good pressure gauge is the only way of properly keeping tabs on this. You can get a simple analogue unit or even a battery-operated one with a digital display; either will do the deed without breaking the bank.


Tire Rotation

Of course there’s more the average motorist can do with his or her vehicle’s tires. Rotating them can increase the number of miles they last, saving money in the long run. All that’s needed for this task is a socket or tire iron for loosening the lug nuts, a good quality jack and some jack stands for safety, oh, and a bit of patience. Tire rotation involves removing every wheel.


Serpentine Belt

The serpentine belt is what powers all of your vehicle’s accessories. It takes the engine’s rotation from the crankshaft pulley and uses it to turn other things like the water pump, alternator and air-conditioning compressor. Without a belt your car or truck’s engine would likely overheat, its battery would die and you’d be terribly uncomfortable in summer heat.

Changing your serpentine belt can be accomplished with basic hand tools in just a few minutes. Additionally these rubber components are very affordable so there’s no excuse for not taking care of this maintenance item.


Replacing Spark-Plug Wires (if equipped)

Spark-plug wires are a critical engine component. They conduct tens of thousands of volts of electricity from your engine’s coil to its spark plugs. Over time heat and vibration can break these wires down, leading to potential drivability issues including misfires.

If your ride is equipped with plug wires it’s a good idea to change them when the manufacturer recommends. Luckily this is usually an easy task; if you can plug a lamp into a wall socket you can probably change these.


Swapping Spark Plugs

And while you’re under the hood it might be a good idea to change the spark plugs as well. This task is a little more challenging as they can be a bear to get at in some vehicles.

More adventuresome motorists that are up to the challenge may find the job rewarding, it can also improve performance and fuel economy. Many vehicles these days come with spark plugsthat are equipped with platinum-tipped electrodes. These are often rated to last for 100,000 miles so you don’t have to change them very often.


Doing a Brake Job

What good is a vehicle that goes but can’t stop? Everyone that’s ever had another car dart out in front of them knows that brakes are mission-critical to safe driving. Motorists that want to save some money can do their own brake jobs relatively easily with a few basic tools.

With proper instructions changing your car or truck’s rotors and pads, drums and shoes is affordable and relatively simple. What are you waiting for?


Fuel Filter

As previously mentioned, an abundant supply of clean air is important to efficient driving and the exact same is true of clean fuel. Replacing your car or truck’s fuel filter is a simply way of keeping it running properly.

Dirty filters can restrict flow and cause drivability issues. A damaged filter can even allow containments to enter your vehicle’s fuel injectors causing even more issues, leading to pricey repairs. Head off these woes by changing your fuel filter.


Oil Change

Changing your ride’s oil is one of the simplest and most effective ways of keeping it running well for years to come. A good quality lubricant will protect internal components from the damaging effects of friction, heat and other combustion byproducts. A premium filter will prevent any particles from damaging delicate internal components.


Coolant Flush

With large swaths of North America experiencing winter’s deep freeze keeping your car’s cooling system in order is critically important. Old, worn-out coolantwon’t protect against temperature extremes as well as fresh stuff will. Also, if you’ve never flushed out you vehicle’s cooling system it can be full of gunk and corrosion, which can plug the tiny openings in the radiator or block a thermostat, resulting in overheating.

Transmission Fluid and Filter Change

Now we’re getting really ambitious! Drivers that want to maximize their savings and do a whole lot of good for their vehicle can change its automatic transmission fluid and filter. Self-shifting gearboxes are some of the most complicated components found in modern cars and trucks. A clean, fresh supply of fluid is absolutely necessary to keep these components functioning properly.

With good instructions, a decent selection of hand tools and some patience you can change your vehicle’s transmission fluid and filter. Some manufacturers claim to offer transmissions that are “filled for life” but this is a little suspicious. Changing the fluid and filter every 30,000 to 50,000 miles cannot hurt and will most likely add years and tens of thousands of miles to your car or truck’s life expectancy.


Service Manual

Finally, one of the best recommendations we can make is picking up a good service manual. These books offer invaluable advice on how to repair and maintain your vehicle. They’ll walk you through even complicated procedures once step at a time so you can succeed in making necessary repairs. A service manual is a smart investment if you plan on keeping your ride after the factory warranty expires.

Top 8 Lemons

You may not be aware of the lemon laws. They are state laws that require that an automobile manufacturer provide restitution to owners of cars that have been deemed a lemon. The lemon classification is given to automobiles that have been found to be defective, with reoccurring problems that happen over a short period of time.

“Most states deem a vehicle a lemon when it has been out of service more than three or four times,” explained Steve Lehto, a lemon law attorney based in Michigan.

When a car is found to be a lemon, the automaker is required to reimburse the owner of his or her down payment, all monthly payments, the current registration fee, and any outstanding balance left on the loan of the vehicle. The vehicle is returned to the manufacturer who then brands the title as a lemon law buyback.

The editorial staff of, an automotive website that provides news and reviews of automobiles, has created its first annual Lemon List. The list identifies cars that have received the most reported lemon complaints. compiled the list based on members’ complaints submitted to more than 500 forums that are maintained by AutoGuide Group.

Gear Heads has done research and has identified the problems each car has based on state lemon law reviews.








Here are the 8 cars with the most reported lemon complaints.


1) Chevrolet Cruze. The 2011 Cruze was recalled because the steering wheel detached from the steering column while driving and spilled or dripped oil. In addition, Cruze models manufactured from 2009 to 2011 were recalled because the shaft to the steering gear input separated causing loss of steering control, the transmission shift linkage was not properly installed causing the car not to be able to restart and the vehicle to roll away after the driver exits the car, the fuel tank can come loose in a crash permitting fuel to leak from the tank, and the inability of a pump to activate causing intermittent reduction or loss of brake assist.







2) GMC Acadia. The vehicle suffers a number of problems including surging and stalling, cooling system overheating and/or leaks, loss of power or warning lights while driving, repeated dashboard warning displays, headlights not coming on and fuses burning out, “check engine” light problems, “service engine soon” light problems, consumed too much oil, suspension issues, engine misfiring and knocking, power steering problems, passenger seat airbag problems, problems with the transmission, traction control and stability control system problems, and “ABS brake warning light” problems.








3) Chevrolet Silverado. The 2016 Chevrolet Silverado was recalled because the mounting stud used to secure the air bag sensor and diagnostic module (SDM) may be incorrectly positioned possibly causing it to fracture allowing water into the module and causing it to malfunction and hinder deployment of the airbags in the event of a crash.






4) Dodge Challenger. The 2015 Dodge Challenger was recalled because the instrument cluster may fail that could cause the gauges to oscillate at zero and the “Vehicle Theft Alarm” light to remain illuminated increasing the risk of a crash, possible damage to the O-ring seal and fuel rail crossover hose can result in leaking of fuel and increase the risk of a fire, the driver’s side airbag inflated curtain (SABIC) may have a loose or missing rear mounting bolt that may alter the airbag inflated curtain deployment increasing the risk of injury, and the radio has software vulnerabilities that could permit third-party access to certain networked vehicle control systems.







5) Ford Focus. 2008-2013 Ford Focus models may include problems concerning the “check engine” warning light illumination; loss of power, hard-start, engine stalling, and no-start; suspension and brake problems; SYNC/MY TOUCH infotainment malfunction; warning light illumination problems; automatic transmission problems and transmission engagement and shifting problems; and steering, power steering, alignment and pulling problems.





6) Ford Escape. Complaints concerning 2008-2013 Ford Escape focused on “check engine” warning light illumination; loss of power, hard-start, engine stalling, and no-start; suspension and brake problems; air conditioning problems; SYN/MY TOUCH infotainment malfunction; “Tire pressure” warning light illumination or SRS/airbag warning lights illumination; and automatic transmission problems; steering, power steering, alignment and pulling problems.







7) Jeep Wrangler. There are a number of complaints concerning leaks through the doors, windows, vents and roof; vibration and noise at high speeds or while braking; and dashboard warning lights that do not turn off.






8) Jeep Cherokee. There are a number of complaints concerning airbag deployment; power liftgate control module short circuit due to water entering the module; radio with software issues that permit third-party access to networked vehicle control systems; possible misrouting of air conditioning suction and discharge hose causing the hose to contact the exhaust manifold causing the risk of a vehicle fire.



Pesky Engine Light On?

The Five Most Common Causes of a Check Engine Light and What You Should Do About Them

You’re driving home from work one day when the car owner’s worst nightmare happens: the check engine light pops on. It comes without warning and with no explanation. For most drivers, this means a trip to the mechanic, but it’s not difficult to diagnose (and sometimes fix) yourself.

As Jalopnik recently pointed out, the check engine light is one of the most frustrating and confusing facets of owning a vehicle. It’s just a light with no information telling you what the problem is. It’s a cry from a baby with no explanation. But you can do a few things yourself before heading into the shop for costly repairs.

Unless your car starts smoking or stalls completely head over to an auto parts store and have them run a diagnostic to find the cause of the check engine light. Call ahead and make sure they can handle your make and model, since some cars have special computers. Once you’re at the store, they’ll come out and plug a small computer underneath your dashboard and read back a code stating what happened to the car.

According study conducted by CarMD, five common malfunctions cause the check engine light to come on, and several of them are simple to fix yourself. Let’s take a look at the most common issues.

One: Replace Oxygen Sensor

An oxygen sensor is a part that monitors the unburned oxygen from the exhaust. It helps monitor how much fuel is burned. A faulty sensor means it’s not providing the right data to the computer and causes a decrease in gas mileage. Most cars have between two and four oxygen sensors and the code you get from the scanner will tell you which one needs replacing.

What causes it: Over time, the sensor gets covered in oil ash and it reduces the sensors ability to change the oxygen and fuel mixture. A faulty sensor not only reduces gas mileage, it also increase emissions.

What you should do: Not replacing a broken oxygen sensor can eventually lead to a busted catalytic convertor which can cost upwards of $2,000. Taking your car into a shop will cost you around $200 depending on the car. However, an oxygen sensor is easy to replace on many cars and is usually detailed in the owner’s manual. If you know where the sensor is, you only have to unclip the old sensor and replace it with a new one. Regardless of how you approach it, you should get this fixed right away.

Two: Loose or Faulty Gas Cap

You wouldn’t think a gas cap would be that important, but it is. When it’s loose or cracked, fuel vapors leak out and can throw the whole fuel system off. This causes a reduction in gas mileage and increases emissions.

Three: Replace Catalytic Convertor

The catalytic convertor works to reduce exhaust gases. It converts carbon monoxide and other harmful materials into harmless compounds. If your catalytic convertor is failing, you’ll notice a decrease in gas mileage or your car won’t go any faster when you push the gas.

What causes it: Catalytic convertors shouldn’t fail if you’re keeping up on regular maintenance. The main cause of failure is related to other items on this list, including a broken oxygen sensor or deteriorated spark plugs (we’ll get to those in a second). When it fails, it stops converting carbon monoxide into less harmful emissions.

What you should do: If your catalytic convertor fails completely, you eventually won’t be able to keep the car running. Your gas mileage will also be terrible, so you should try and fix it as soon as you can. Unfortunately, the average replacement cost is around $2,000 and you can’t do it yourself unless you’re an experienced mechanic.

Four: Replace Mass Airflow Sensor

The mass airflow sensor tells the car’s computer to add the proper amount of fuel based on the air coming through to the engine. A faulty one can increase emissions, cause the car to stall, and decrease gas mileage.

What causes it: Most mass airflow sensors fail because of a improperly installed (or never replaced) air filter. You should replace the air filter at least once a year to help prevent the airflow sensor from failing.

What you should do: Theoretically you can drive for a few weeks or even months with a broken MAF sensor. You will notice a decrease in gas mileage and over time the car will eventually start stalling a lot. At a shop, the replacement cost is between $200-$300 depending on the car, but that’s usually the cost of parts because the labor is relatively simple. It’s not terribly difficult to do on your own, but the process is quick enough you may want to let a mechanic handle the project in case the sensor doesn’t end up being the issue.

Five: Replace Spark Plugs and Wires

The spark plug seals the combustion chamber and provides a gab for a spark to jump across and initiates combustion in your engine. When the plugs are failing, the spark plugs misfire. You’ll feel a little jolt in your car’s acceleration when this happens.

What causes it: Most spark plugs in cars from before 1996 should be replaced every 25,000-30,000 miles. Newer ones can last up to 100,000 miles. Still, plugs fail over time and there’s not much you can do about it.

What you should do: Get them replaced right away. It’s easy and cheap and your car will run better for it. If your spark plugs fail and you’ve made your way to the auto parts store, you can replace them easily following the video above. Since this is part of your vehicles regular maintenance, the spark plugs are usually easily accessible from the hood of the car. It’s simple enough that I’ve seen people doing this in the auto parts parking lot on several occasions.

Plenty of other possibilities for a check engine light are out there, but the above five are the most common. How long do you usually let the check engine light stay on before you do something about it?


What causes it: If you get an error pointing to the gas cap it means fuel vapors are leaking out of your cap. This means the cap is either cracked or just wasn’t tightened well enough.

What you should do: If your car isn’t feeling jerky or strange when the check engine light comes on the first you should check is the gas cap. Pull over, retighten it, and take a look at the cap to see if it has any cracks in it. Continue driving and see if the check engine light turns off. Alternately, you can purchase a gas cap for about $3 at an auto parts store. All you need to do is take the old one off and screw on the new one. If you’ve already made it to the store, you might as well just replace it. While not car-threatening, it’s good to take care of this right away to improve gas mileage..