The Online Mechanic » 2007 » January

Automotive help for amateurs
Jan
24

I know you have heard that groan or creak when opening a car door, especially in the winter time. Usually the best thing to do if to get a good spray lubracant and hose it down (I’ve found that P B Blaster is about the best). But! If you get caught without it like I did recently and it is your wife’s car door that is making the noise and you just can’t find the time to get to the store here is a hint on how to solve the problem. Open the hood. Pull out the dip stick(hopefully you have oil in your motor) and quickly take it to the door hinge that is causeing the problem and wipe the oil off on the hinge. In my case it was the part that holds the door open that caused the noise. It took a few trips back to the motor but it got the job done. 



Jan
22

Have you ever been in a car that went “click, click, click, click, click, click, click…” every time you turned the steering wheel to go around a corner? More often than not, that sound is a drive shaft calling out to the car owner “Notice me! Love me! I’m in desperate need of repair.” A word of advice: listen to it.

Front Wheel Diagnosis

Let me just start by saying that if the clicking sound has already started on your car you could have detected the problem much earlier. The next time you take your car into the shop for tire work ask the shop to have someone check the CV boots to see if they are torn. The shop should then have someone check to see whether grease is splattered on the suspension or the back side of the tires. When a CV boot tears, grease is slung out of the boot and onto the car’s suspension or back side of the tire. You can also check for CV boot tears yourself by turning your car’s wheels all the way in one direction. Then get out of the car and look behind the wheel with the exposed back side. If you see grease on the suspension or the tire, you need to replace the boot as soon as possible. Next, turn the wheels all the way in the other direction and check behind the other wheel. If you let it go to long you will start hearing the clicking noise described above.

When the car starts making that clicking noise it is telling you that there is no longer any substantive amount of grease in the CV boot and that now the boot have to be REPLACED instead of repaired. In fact, once the clicking starts you are better off having the whole axle replaced with a new one.

Rear Wheel Diagnosis

Instead of the “clicking” sound, rear wheel drive vehicles will start making a “squeeking” noise when the car is put in gear to drive. This is because rear wheel drive vehicles have U-Joints that no longer have grease in them. The joint should be replaced when the “squeeking” sound begins. If you don’t replace the U-Joint when it starts to squeek, you will next hear a “clunking” sound when you shift the vehicle from park or neutral into forward or reverse. Not changing the u-joint at this time could result in serious damage to the drive shaft and other parts of the drive train.

I know this post sounds like a song from the Sound of Music, “Ray a drop of golden sun…Soh, a needle pulling thread…click, a CV boot slinging grease…” but it is very important that you listen to your vehicle for possible problems. The earlier you catch them the more likely you are to save yourself major repair bills down the road.



Jan
15

You may have seen the commercial on television where the customer calls the mechanic’s garage and asks whether his car is fixed yet.  The response he gets is “I’ve got two of my best men on you car right now.”  The camera then cuts to the back of the garage where two fat guys are sitting on the hood of the customer’s car eating hamburgers.  Funny commercial; but not if you’re the customer.

As I mentioned in my last post, my son and I are certified with the National Institute for Automotive Service Excellence (or ASE).  The ASE is a non-profit organization established in the early 1970’s to ensure the quality of vehicle repair and service by testing and certifying repair and service professionals.  An ASE mechanic has experienced years of actual “hands-on” experience as a mechanic as well as classroom style schooling in his profession.  A stark contrast to the mechanics in the commercial scenario above. 

It goes without saying (although I’ll say it anyway) that I recommend you only take your vehicle to an ASE certified mechanic.  Shops that have ASE certified mechanics usually post the ASE logo (a blue colored gear with the letters ASE in white in the middle of the gear).  You can also ask at the shop if you do not see the logo.  ASE certification shows that a mechanic has enough skill, knowledge and interest in his occupation to learn what is needed to complete the certification process.  For more information on ASE Certification, check out this site.
 



Jan
11

The first bit of information was about having your motor oil changed every 3,000 miles. This is why you see so many quick lube centers around. It is the one best preventive maintance things you can do for your vehicle. Next to it is having the fluid in your transmission changed. Although it is refered to as a fluid it is actually a type of oil. Since oil wears out, trans fluid does to. I recommend having your trans fluid changed every 30,000 to 40,000 miles. If you have not done this even if the millage is higher I would recommend you go ahead and get it done as soon as possible. Personal experience has proven this as I have a 1993 Plymouth Voyager with 179,000 on it with a perfectly operating trans in it that has had the trans fluid changed every 30,000 miles.



Jan
11

I am a retired mechanic with about 30 years of experience. My specialities were front end and brakes where I was ASE certified. I also have a son who is currently an ASE Master Mechanic and a Toyota Master Mechanic. He will be giving some input as well.  I will be giving maintenance tips as well as how to do specific repairs that are common to most automobiles. I also solicit questions from readers about their specific problems. Toyota owners will have access to 10 years of experience from a Toyota Master Mechanic. Let me hear from you about your problems!