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The dreaded check engine light! What does it mean?

Many people don't understand the importance of reacting quickly to cars messages. Cars give messages to us by way of warning lights and gauges. How quickly you react to a check engine light can often determine the cost of repair! As a result of not reacting quickly to this warning light, a $150 valve cover gasket repair can turn into a $2500 head job. Think of your 'Check Engine' light as a stoplight. No light at all is like a green light...no problems, keep driving. A yellow/steady 'Check Engine' light is like a yellow light...take caution, as something needs attention. A red/blinking 'Check Engine' light is like a red light...stop driving as soon as possible and consult your owner's manual! For some vehicles, these lights can be related to maintenance and systems controls, but they are most often very serious signals from the vehicle, and are related to lubrication and temperature control systems. If these lights are, in fact, related to temperature o ... read more

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'Getting Ready For Cold Weather' Car Tips

A lot of people ask me, 'Do I need to winterize my cooling system this year?' and 'How long should my antifreeze or coolant last?' Most people think that the only thing they need to worry about when it comes to their coolant is AVOIDING FREEZE-UPS. There are 3 things we have to worry about with coolant: Protection against freezing and boiling Rust and Mineral Deposits P/H balance ProtectionA 50-50 mix gives protection to -34 degrees Rust.Rust will grow in the system over time. It's a living entity that eats things. P/H BalanceAcid eats: Radiators Heater cores Hoses Engine head gaskets Alkaline causes: Mineral deposits Clogged up radiators, thermostats, and heater cores What about these $19 or $29 Cooling System Services? A Radiator drain and fill doesn't really fix the big problems. The radiator will still ... read more

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Now That I've Decided To Buy Another Car, What Should I Do With My Old One?

Retail value vs. Trade-in - Know right away: you are going to take a beating. You should only trade in if you just don't want the headache.Sell it yourself - Appearance is a big part of selling your car yourself. Have it detailed (usually less than $100), and make sure your car has good (and good-looking!) tires on. Maintenance - Keep good records of oil changes, repairs, maintenance, etc. Make sure there aren't any weird noises or vibrations. If helps if your fluids are topped off and clean, and make sure your car drives STRAIT! When you're preparing to sell it, know the value of your car using a NADA book and newspapers (The value is determined by miles, equipment and condition.). If you run a classified ad, price the car a few hundred dollars more than you want, so that you can negotiate with potential buyers

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My car makes the strangest noise. Is it dangerous?

Because a car is mechanical, it can develop noises or vibrations when something is wrong. What kind of noise is your car making? Don't be afraid to make the same noise for your technician (even if it's humerous)...Clicky clicky, squeal, groaning, etc. The best solution is to note when it makes the noise or vibration... time temp speed bumps RPMs gear location while under power or coasting braking, etc. Go to the most reputable shop and get the tech or service writer to go for a ride with you and demonstrate the noise or vibration to them. They are blind without your help to identify the noise you're hearing. You know best what your car sounds like normally. And remember: Test-drive the car after you pick it up to make sure they nailed it

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Is My car worth repairing?

So, you've been told your car needs expensive repairs. Should you repair it or trade it? Let's examine some issues that need to be considered... The fact is, some people keep their car too long, and some trade too often. A JD Power study revealed that a person would save over $450,000 during their lifetime if they kept their cars an average of 10 years. Maintaining the car during the 10 year period would cost between $800 to $1200 per year. But this investment would save nearly a half a million dollars in new car buying costs, interest, insurance, registration, taxes, and depreciation over a lifetime. Another study showed that consumers loose over $20 billion per year in fraudulent auto repairs. Solution: If you are near a great auto technician, car dealer and financial analyst, you have a pretty good chance of making good decisions about repairing your car. We would like to give you a list of how to scientifically det ... read more

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Shocks and Struts -- Comfort and Safety

What is a shock or strut?It's a hydraulic stabilizer...it keeps the tire in contact with the road and dampens or stills the car body after going over a bump. If your car is like a big, rubber ball bouncing down the road you're probably dealing with bad shocks. Shocks and struts smooth the ride and keep your tires in contact with road. CONTROL = SAFETY. How often do shocks go bad?Every 50-60,000 miles, when hydraulic oil leaks out or when the seals rupture. What are the effects from bad shocks or struts?The tire looses its ability to maintain maximum contact with the road, causing: Up to 50% loss in braking capacity (stop in 200 feet instead of 100 feet) Loss of stability and control in turns Excessive tire wear (cupping or chopping) Vibration and noises Excessive wear and damage to other suspension and steering parts Structural damage to the frame, strut towers or perches ... read more

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How To Avoid Getting Ripped-off on Brakes

Many so called cheap brake shops end up selling parts or services that you don't need. Have brakes inspected and measured Every time you rotate and balance tires (every 6000 miles) By ASE Certified tech Be sure to keep record of dates and measurements Find a good auto repair shop in Mishawaka or South Bend, which will teach you about brakes before you need them, and who will answer your questions. It is also important to flush your brake system regularly: ABS - annually Non-ABS - every 2 years When cloudy or contaminated (brake fluid absorbs water from atmosphere) I also recommend always installing premium parts...there only two things you always want your car to do: Go and Stop. Generic isn't always the best value

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How To Avoid Theft of Your Car or Contents

Don't leave a running vehicle Park in well lit or occupied areas Don't put stickers on the windows that tell thieves what you have inside (Stereo stickers on the windows, etc.) Use an alarm system and TURN IT ON...most stolen cars with alarms were left turned off Lock your doors, and close your windows and sun roofs Take your keys with you Use THE CLUB or LOW-JACK Install LED or flashing alarm dummy light Turn tires sharply before locking steering wheel Above all, don't leave your valuables in or exposed...if a professional wants your car, almost nothing will stop him

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Used Car Buyers Checklist

Don't Fall in love with the car before you've done your homework. Let someone else take the depreciation hit. (2-3 yrs old is best) Walk around the car and check paint, body panel gaps for evenness, chips, dents, etc. Check maintenance history (any records). Contact the previous owner (get the name from the title)

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Get Ready for Vacations & Weekend Trips

What do you do if you start hearing or have been hearing a weird noise? The easy answer is to get an inspection by ASE Certified Tech. They can find the cause and also find other damage it may have caused. To protect yourself, though, you should take the time to listen to turn off the CD player, roll down the window - and listen to your car: Worn or lose fan belt (high pitched, loud squeal -- especially when cold) Thumping separated tires (thud, thud) Wheel bearing (grinding or growling) Overheated engine (hissing and steam) Brakes (squeal or grinding) Engine (knocking or tapping) Front end/suspension (creaking or knocking) How to save TIME and MONEY on these kinds of problems... Keep a note pad in the car and make notes on problems as they come up: Time of day Description Weather Driving conditions ... read more

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