Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Seven Car Problems That Lead to Drops in Gas Mileage

Improving fuel economy is very important to most drivers. Driver-actions, such as idling, jackrabbit starts and carrying extra weight in the car, are often the culprit for ongoing poor gas mileage. However, a sudden change in fuel efficiency absent any obvious driver behaviors can indicate a more serious problem. Keep vehicles in peak operating condition and maximize miles per gallon all the time.

Eight Ways Bad Belts Break Engines

When a high-pitched squeal or whine comes from the engine compartment of a car, one very frequent reason is a belt failure or pending failure. Take the car to a qualified mechanic as soon as possible for diagnostics and belt replacement. Broken belts cause damage to many areas of a car and this damage is far more expensive to fix than the cost to replace a worn-down belt.

  1. Engine and accessory belts power many engine parts, including the power steering, air conditioner compressor, alternator, power steering and more. A broken belt, especially on that affects a critical system, often leaves the car dead until repaired.

  1. Think about how long ago the car's timing belt was changed. If it was over 100,000 miles ago, then have a good mechanic inspect the vehicle and decide if belts need to be changed.

  1. They are made over rubber with small teeth that grip the wheels it operates. As the rubber wears down, it begins to slip. The wheel turning it still moves, but the belt slips or does not move at all. This causes the loud squeal.

  1. The engine belt squeal is a warning sound that it is going bad. It still works, but it will deteriorate and fail quickly due to the excess friction and heat generated by the slipping.

  1. Engine belts that become too worn eventually snap, leaving drivers stranded. Quick fixes, like lubricants, are available. However, a temporary solution like conditioner is no substitute for qualified maintenance.

  1. Different vehicles use different belt systems. Some cars have a different one for each system while others have a serpentine type that runs multiple systems. The air conditioner belt is usually a separate one, so squeals might only be heard when the AC is engaged.

  1. When mechanics replace or tighten engine belts, they should care for every one in the car. Condition and wear are not the only causes of their problems. Often it may just be a matter of tightening them. Mechanics may change every one except the timing belt during a regular tune-up.

  1. During a tune-up, many items including engine belts and spark plugs are changed. Drivers who notice engine squeals should check the time since their last tune-up. It may be time for another one.

Knowing this, you will now know more ways to prevent a all types of them breaking and potentially breaking your engine. You will also know some warning signs a belt going bad.
If you are looking for honest advice, prioritized repairs, options on repairs, maximized fuel economy, and a good feeling with who you are doing business with go to
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Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Des Moines Best Auto repair | Transmission Trouble?

Transmissions take engine power and use it to power a car's movement. Without a working transition, the car will not move. Many transmissions suffer neglect, even though replacing or rebuilding a transmission is one of the costliest auto repair services. Simply following manufacturer or dealer service recommendations for changing transmission fluid can avoid thousands of dollars in repairs.

Symptoms of a Problem

It is important to be alert to early signs of transmission trouble. Early intervention with transmission problems can mean minor, budget-friendly repairs. Delaying maintenance can lead to mechanical failures. In the case of transmissions, this means the engine shuts down completely. The only solution then is either transmission replacement or rebuilding. Get the car inspected at the first hint of trouble.
  • Transmission slips between gears while driving, or it pops back into neutral
  • Grinding, humming or clunking sounds from the engine, especially in neutral
  • Dark, burnt-smelling transmission fluid
  • Clutch stays engaged and grinds when trying to shift - also called clutch dragging
  • Delays or lags between gear changes
  • Thumping or grinding during gear changes rather than smooth transitions
  • Higher than normal RPMs for a speed or gear change
  • Delays shifting out of park
  • Takes longer than one second to engage in drive or reverse gear

Rebuilding a Transmission

If a transmission fails completely or has significant problems, the usual solutions are rebuilding it, replacing it or (hopefully) making smaller repairs that resolve the problem
Rebuilding transmissions is a lengthy and labor-intensive process. Before any rebuild begins, the mechanic should check for easier solutions.
  1. Change transmission fluid.
  2. Check the car's computer system that controls automatic shifting. Replace sensors if needed
If these processes do not resolve the problem, rebuilding or replacing the transmission is the only available option.
  1. Remove the transmission and opening the case
  2. Inspecting and cleaning all components
  3. Replacing damaged or worn out "soft" parts like seals, O-rings, gaskets, bands, valves, filters and clutch components.
  4. Inspect "hard" parts like shafts, pumps, converters, casing and gears for damage.
  5. Test and repair electrical system.
  6. Reassemble transmission and reinstall it
  7. Test drive to ensure repairs are completed
Costs of Transmission Repair

Costs to rebuild a transmission may be less or more than the cost to replace it. It depends on the complexity of repairs needed in the existing transmission.
  • A complete overhaul of a transmission might cost more than purchasing and installing a new transmission.
  • Replacements can cost $2000 to $4000 or more, depending on the make and model of the vehicle.
  • Complete transmission rebuilds and overhauls can cost as much as the higher end replacement costs.
  • Basic transmission repairs such as replacing the clutch on a manual transmission car may cost an average of $1000 to $2000.
Other factors that influence the costs of transmission repairs:
  • Domestic cars generally cost less to repair than high-end or imported cars
  • Extent of the transmission damage
  • Newer, better maintained cars cost less to repair
  • It is harder and more expensive to find parts for older or rare cars
  • Standard transmissions are cheaper to fix or replace than automatics
  • City, state and regional differences in repair and replacement costs

If you are looking for honest advice, prioritized repairs, options on repairs, maximized fuel economy, and a good feeling with who you are doing business with go to
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Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Auto Repair Mechanic West Des Moines | Camshaft Concerns

Camshafts are responsible for timing the opening and shutting of engine valves, and as such are integral to the engine's mechanical performance. Cams may be made of solid steel, low-grade steel or iron. They run the length of the engine head and have uneven-looking lobes set at regular intervals along the shaft. Under normal conditions and with adequate preventive maintenance, camshafts should last a great many miles.

As the engine runs, the cam turns using a chain or belt attached to the end of the crankshaft. This pushes the rods along the lobes, applying pressure to the valves and forcing them open during that phase of the engine stroke. The movement of the lobes then allows valves to close once the stroke ends. Lobe shape regulates engine timing and the time valves spend open. As such, lobe shape directly affects engine performance.

Symptoms of Camshaft Problems

  • Failing camshafts make a "ticking" sound or "valve clatter"
  • Engine makes "popping" sounds or backfires
  • Poor gas mileage or poor engine performance
  • Trouble starting
  • Signs get progressively worse
  • Dark, oily exhaust

If the valve train fails completely, the vehicle is immobilized. Fuel delivery and exhaust removal do not function.

Reasons for Camshaft Problems

  • Failing camshafts usually signal other problems
  • Cams fail due to other problems in the engine's valve train.
  • Oil can be starved in the engine head, causing increased friction where the cam and rods meet, or causing excessive heat on the cam
  • Rocker arm assemblies can be adjusted incorrectly and cause binding
  • Valve springs may bind or break
  • Occasional manufacturer errors of shipping damage to the cam
  • Pitting or scratching on the camshaft from contaminated lubricants
  • Mechanical and material stress over time
  • Failure to change the oil and adjust valves as recommended
  • Poor quality fuel or contaminated oil

Repair and Replacement Costs

  • Replacing camshafts requires disassembling the engine timing components including belts and pulley.
  • Camshaft replacement requires intensive and difficult labor, driving up costs.
  • Camshaft replacement can cost between $1500 to over $3000, depending on the car and the repairs required.
  • The price of the camshaft alone can be between $250 and $1000 or more, depending on the model of the car.
  • Foreign camshafts may cost two to three times more than domestic ones.
  • Labor prices may be anywhere from $20 to $100 per hour
  • The average camshaft repair takes five to seven hours
  • There will be additional costs for engine parts that support the camshaft and the engine.
  • A camshaft position sensor will be needed, costing upwards of $150.

If you are looking for honest advice, prioritized repairs, options on repairs, maximized fuel economy, and a good feeling with who you are doing business with go to
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Thursday, December 26, 2013

Repairing Dings and Dents

Minor fender benders, hailstorms and shopping cart attacks commonly cause damage to your car's outer shell. These imperfections affect the appearance of the car as well as reducing its resale value. It is easy to repair most minor damage with modern technology.

The Department of Transportation National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that up to 70 percent of all car accidents leave vehicles in drivable but damaged condition

  • 30 percent are rear impact
  • 29 percent are side impact
  • 16 percent involve collisions with stationary items like light poles
  • Collisions with animals, especially deer, impact over one million drivers in the US every year.

Repairing scratches in the car's finish can be tricky, too.

  • Superficial scratches in the clear coat or base paint can be sanded and buffed out in just a few hours. Technicians then apply wax to seal in the repairs.
  • Deep scratches that extend to the primer or even the metal of the car body take more time and work to repair.
  • Often cars with deep scratches and creases must be repainted after repairs are done.

Repairing chipped paint is usually fast and easy.

  • Repair paint chips promptly and prevent future rust problems from developing in the exposed metal areas.
  • Many express chip repair shops have opened around the country, offering service in just a few hours.
  • The results are nearly invisible and come at a fraction of the cost of other repairs.

A "dent" is any impact into the metal exterior of the car that causes the metal to stretch and distort from its original shape.

  • Dents go inward and warp the metal outward around the edges of the dip.
  • The depth of the dent determines the type of repair needed to restore the car.
  • Large, shallow dents can be treated with Paintless Dent Removal (PDR) methods.
  • Tiny but very deep impacts stretch the metal too far for PDR methods.
  • Any cracked paint in or around a dent usually indicates the dent is too deep for a PDR repair.
  • Dents in the hood, trunk, top deck and rear quarter panels of cars are usually more expensive to repair.

Paintless Dent Removal (PDR) is a fast, relatively inexpensive way to repair minor dings, dents, hail damage, scratches and imperfections.

  • PDR methods repair the damage from behind, leaving the original finish of the car in great shape.
  • PDR uses no paints, no fillers and no expensive auto body repair shop equipment.
  • Most insurance companies, who recommend it due to the cost-saving measures, approve the procedure.
  • Drivers usually get their car fixed in just a few hours
  • Paintless Dent Repair is also safer for the environment.
  • PDR restores cars to their original condition without owners having to worry about mismatched paint.
  • Technicians do not have to sand the repaired metal
  • Cars stay structurally sound with their factory finishes intact.

Experienced auto body and PDR technicians strongly advise car owners not to attempt fixing dents and ding at home with cheap "do it yourself" kits. These kits usually leave damage looking worse, costing owners hundreds of dollars to get the dents re-repaired at a body shop. Of course, if your car is older and appearance is not an issue, give a "do it yourself" kit a try.

If you are looking for honest advice, prioritized repairs, options on repairs, maximized fuel economy, and a good feeling with who you are doing business with go to
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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Top Eight Check Engine Light Issues

According to CarMD's 2013 Vehicle Health Index, the cost for car repairs has increased 10 percent this year. Putting off car repairs is a bad idea because unfixed problems often lead to repairs that are more expensive. If the check engine light comes on in your car, take the car to a qualified mechanic immediately. Here are the top eight most frequent reasons for the check engine light activation.

1. Oxygen sensor failing

Oxygen sensors keep engines performing at peak efficiency levels, and they manage emissions. O2 sensors monitor gasses leaving the engine. Engines need exact ratios of fuel and air for the most efficient operation. Malfunctions can drop your fuel economy by up to 40 percent. Engine performance is also negatively affected.

2. Ignition coil problems

Ignition coils take electric current from the battery and ignite the spark plugs. Without properly functioning coils and spark plugs, the electric current powering your car's engine are disrupted. All the parts in the car's electrical system take a lot of wear and tear from the electricity passing through them.

3. Spark plugs and spark plug wires

Along with the ignition coils, spark plugs and wires are critical components of the vehicle electrical system. Symptoms of problems with plugs and wires include rough engine idling, engine misses or pings, erratic engine power including power losses and power surges. When engines misfire, fuel economy drops. Ignoring spark plug and plug wire problems can permanently damage the car's catalytic converter, leading to very expensive repairs.

4. Mass airflow sensor malfunctions

The mass airflow sensor, or MAF, measures the air coming into the engine and calculating how much fuel to add to the mix. This data goes to the Engine Control Unit (ECU). Without correct information from the MAF, the ECU cannot correctly balance or deliver the right amount of fuel to your engine. The result is very poor engine performance and 10 to 25 percent decreases in fuel efficiency. Replace this critical component immediately if it begins to fail.

5. Faulty vacuum hose or evaporative emission control system

The evaporative emission control system (EVAP) of a car keeps gasoline vapors from the fuel system and gas tank from release into the air. Leaking vacuum hoses and vents, defective valves and faulty gas caps all contribute to EVAP system problems.

6. Exhaust gas recirculation valve and ports are dirty

The exhaust gas recirculation system (EGR) controls your car's emissions and helps cars run more efficiently. Rough idling, engine hesitation and misfires can indicate an EGR problem. Worsening performance and fuel economy often result from EGR problems. Often the components of the EGR system are dirty or clogged.

7. Catalytic converter failures

Catalytic converters are often the most expensive mechanical repairs made to vehicles. As a part of the exhaust system, it converts dangerous chemicals in car exhaust into less harmful compounds to release into the air. Catalytic converters should last for the lifetime of the car. Most problems with catalytic converters come from underlying problems such as those that occur with bad spark plugs or ignition coil problems.

8. Dead battery and charging system problems

Most cars have computer systems that monitor voltage in the electrical and battery systems. The computers activate the check engine light when anything appears amiss in the charging system of the car. High temperatures in the engine compartment contribute to rapid aging of batteries.

If you are looking for honest advice, prioritized repairs, options on repairs, maximized fuel economy, and a good feeling with who you are doing business with go to
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